If nothing else, years of watching Neighbours (that rather dire but addictive soap opera) when growing up has taught me that if you go into the Australian bush, you will either get lost, become trapped in a bush fire, fall off a cliff or end up in some other rather unfortunate and slightly implausable situation.  With this in mind I set off from my home of 3 months or so in Denmark (Western Australia) deep into the bush armed with my reasonably detailed cycling guide of the route, a good few litres of water, 11 days worth of food, a replenished first aid kit and everything else that has swelled my bike to its all time highest weight as I made my way across The Nullarbor to 'over East' as they say.  

Given that I have done very little cycling over the past few months, I was glad to have a four day warm up as it were to Esperance where I took a day off to recover, relax and prepare myself for the journey ahead.  This day soon turned into two days as I spent much of the weekend with a someone who passed through the hostel I stayed at in Denmark and together with her friends I was walking up hills, eating lots of good food and reintroduced to my old friend Mr Glenfiddich which I had not sampled since I left Scotland.  I even managed to watch the Champions League final at silly o'clock in the morning which wouldn't have been ideal preparation for a day of cycling ahead.

For those of you whose geography of Australia was as bad as mine when I first got here, according to Wikipedia, our old favourite source of sometimes suspect knowledge, 'the Nullarbor plain is part of the area of flat, almost treeless, arid or semi-arid country of southern Australia.'  I can verify the claims of Wikipedia in this instance.  Basically it is a pretty barren place in which not many folk live at all.  In such places, wind direction and strength plays a huge role in whether I have a happy day or not.  When there are no trees or hills to shelter you from the wind, it can be relentless if you are riding 8 or so hours a day into it.  Not only does a tailwind give you a constant hand on your back, allow you greater warning of approaching road trains (lorries with multiple trailers) that are about to overtake you as it carries their deep menacing roar towards you, but also allows you to see the dead kangaroo at the side of the road before you smell it.  I saw hundreds of these in one day in various stages of decomposition and discovered how difficult it is to cycle when holding your breathe regularly.  Despite the numerous corpses I saw, I didn't see a single live kangaroo in the 1200km between Norseman and Ceduna.  I had roughly half the time with the wind as a help and half as a hindrance.

Although there is very little civilisation across this area of Australia, apart from the very expensive roadhouses (service stations) which are dotted along, it was a fairly sociable section of riding.  Aside from the road trains who I got a friendly wave off very infrequently, there are a good number of caravans that go across, mostly carrying very friendly, fruit carrying individuals who are more than happy to pass me a banana out of the window as they go past.  Each night I camped in parking areas at the side of the road where these predominantly grey nomads also stopped.  I was also stopped by a very nice chap with a video camera and a rabbit in the middle of nowhere.  He is the man behind Fast Ford, the number one place for all your recycled auto parts and repairs (www.fastford.com.au), and Fast Bunny Promotions, hence the fluffy bunny.  After a good chat I was stocked up with lots of energy which had me buzzing for the rest of the day.  I'd forgotten how much of a difference energy drinks and sweets make when riding.

After a day off in the cheapest and roughest looking caravan park in Ceduna, not fully recovered, I made my way rather lazily round to Adelaide into which I arrived rather surprised at how busy cities actually are, where I sit enjoying a Domino's BBQ Meat Lovers' pizza, some rare internet access and the thought of a comfortable matress to sleep on tonight.  Having survived the last few weeks in the Australian bush, it seems that you can't believe everything you see on TV. 


In addition to the various food I was kindly given on my way across the Nullarbor, this was what my bike was packed with for the 11 days between Esperance and Ceduna:

3 loaves of multi-grain bread
1 pot of cheap but sweet honey
3kg of pasta spirals
2 jars of green pesto
3 tins of tuna in spring water
1 tin of cheap, watery baked beans
2.7kg of traditional muesli
8 royal gala apples
4 mandarins
1kg of chocolate chip cookies
25 apricot and yoghurt flavoured muesli bars
1 bag of dried fruit, courtesy of the potato farm
1 pack of salted peanuts
4 packs of emergency noodles with a pig on the label which I have been carrying since Russia and which I finally ate half of when I arrived Ceduna.
Simeon of Rzhyshchiv
8/6/2012 19:41:05

Hey Mr C!

Still loving reading your updates and pleased you're safe and sound. We're in Scotland just now, waiting for baby. Saw Natasha not long ago - she was passing through on an EEPPIICC bike ride from Torridon to Inverness. She dropped in for lunch before her train back south.

Is this you on the road for a while again now? You were talking very loosely about thinking you might get back to Britain 2013 some time - that still on the cards?

Take care, Simbo.

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tash
9/6/2012 19:24:48

where are the vegetables?!

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Phil Richards
21/6/2012 00:43:04

Hi Chris,
I keep checking your website at lunchtimes and was pleased to see this blog. Glad you are able to get going again. I was surprised to see on your map that you had "suddenly" reached Adelaide! No doubt it was not so sudden to you! I have just read a book called "The man who cycled the world" by Mark Beaumont. He describes in detail the trauma of riding into head winds in the Nullabor. He was after the world circumnavigation speed record so this did not help! Anyway you are in good company.
I'll be interested to see news of your ongoing travels.
God bless,
Phil

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