Sunday 20th December 2015 – South Australia
A great day on the road sees us travelling approx 250km from Ceduna, along the Eyre Highway to the famous Nullarbor Roadhouse in South Australia.
How amazing to be sitting, this afternoon, inside The Nullarbor Roadhouse eating a veggie burger. Not particular amazing that I am eating a veggie burger, but that I am in The Nullarbor Roadhouse!
To my delight the food and drink available was not triple the price that it would be in Adelaide. One hears stories about extortionate prices at the roadhouse but in my opinion it was reasonable considering the freight charges.
Last night we stayed in the East West Motel in Ceduna, South Australia getting a good nights sleep after 12 hours driving. A shared bottle of Coopers Stout and some boil-in-the-bag fish pie was our sumptuous dinner with tiredness hitting us pretty hard soon after. Lights out at around 22:30.
The alarm rang at 06:30 the next morning and we very smartly donned cycle clothes and took the bikes off the roof rack of the Patrol. The rack on the Patrol is a lot higher than we have been used to on our Subaru Outback, even though the Patrol has side steps it’s still a mission to get the MTBs on and off. We wanted to have a quick look around Ceduna before heading west again so we cycled to town into a brisk headwind. The central roundabout in Ceduna has one of those signposts that is a travellers delight. Pointing off in all directions to cities around the world.
There is no beach to speak of in Ceduna, the foreshore is built up of rocks however the Ceduna Jetty is a legendary local fishing spot. Apparently the squids are delicious. The temperature had dropped overnight from the crazy 40-45F of the last few days to a pleasant 20F with an overcast sky. As we rode around the bay Maree noticed one solitary, lonely seal a few meters off shore. Fun to watch as we cycled along. A 13km round trip to start the day was pleasant.
We were packed and out of the room by 09:00 and headed into town where we had breakfast in the Foreshore Hotel. The service was slow, we were in there for about an hour and a half but took advantage by reading papers, checking emails and plotting the day’s road-trip along The Eyre Highway west.
I was very pleased indeed to have received an email from Angus the cycle tourist who we had met the previous day. He made it to Port Augusta which against a hot headwind was a great ride.
On The Road Again
So we had a good breakfast in the hotel and then filled up with diesel. We hit the A1, passed through Penong and onto the Nullarbor Plain proper.
I decided that it would be foolhardy at this time to cycle the Nullarbor until I really have to. I reached this conclusion after witnessing several Road-trains running onto the gravel shoulder. If there was a cyclist there i.e. Me, that said cyclist would be history. There were also a couple of very wide loads taking up some of our lane as well as theirs, quite scary.
Around 15:00 we arrived at The Nullarbor Roadhouse. Very interesting to see the variety of vehicles stopped there. Everything from bashed up station wagons containing two or more backpackers to fully locked and loaded Toyota Troopy Landcruisers with full rigs behind. There must be hundreds of thousands of travellers on the road in Australia at one time all with their own story to tell. Ours is just one of many.
After some discussions and a “mud map” from one of the workers at the roadhouse we decided to head 12km into the bush to stay the night at the Murrawijinie Caves campsite. We dropped the Patrol into high range 4WD and Maree drove out along the track. Somewhat hesitantly as the camper trailer is not suitable for off road we ambled along the track. The land is extremely dry and devoid of trees. A flat plain with absolutely no features to be seen in any direction horizon to horizon. I had never been in such a landscape before and found it quite remarkable.
The caves and sinkholes were interesting and well worth heading out to see. One cave has some aboriginal hand prints unfortunately they had been defaced with some felt pen signatures.
The camper trailer proved difficult to set up as a blustery southerly wind had picked up. We struggled more than usual with the tent canvas as the wind tried to take it from our hands. With no trees to shelter us we were taking the full brunt of the southerly that had picked up, a couple of bottles of beer assisting us greatly and lubricating our swearing . We were both amused and amazed to be here and viewing it as an experience that was unique. As the sun set the evening stars began to appear and with no visible light the stars put on a spectacular show that night. We had the luxury of camping alone, free camping in the Australian Bush.
Read Day 3 here – Still on the Nullarbor Plain