IP Day 14 – Border Village to Nullarbor Roadhouse

Sunday 3rd April. 2022

187.07km   +242m
Moving 9:04 Elapsed 12:29
Avg speed 20.6km/h  Max: 32.5km/h

Strava: Totally shattered. 😓

Headwind the whole day meant having to pedal even the slight downhills.

Guess which way the wind was blowing… no lull.

Sunrise on the road again.

We left Border Village at 4.15am ACWST, and, with the end of Daylight Savings in SA, immediately leapt 45 minutes ahead – not that time really mattered, I guess. The only important thing, really, was making the roadhouse before the kitchen closed!

Ride notes: Lookouts at 13, 17, 25, 38, 42, 52, 111k Best photos at the 111k one

There are distance ‘pegs’ every 2km, running east from the border, and the rest areas/lookouts are named for their distance from the border, eg. 13k Peg Scenic Lookout. (Marc informs me that he entertained himself throughout the following days – up until Port Augusta – by doing mental arithmetic using the peg distances as we passed them versus the town distance signs to calculate how far we had till we reached a certain place. Clearly, that increased in degree of difficulty the further we got from the border!)

The Eyre Highway runs relatively close to the Bight for about 120km – from the 13k Peg lookout till the road heads north away from the coast at about the 133k Peg lookout. So much for those first five ‘Peg’ lookouts though. It was still dark as we passed them. I was disappointed to miss the opportunity to check out all these possible amazing views, but we were never going to have the time in a 190km day to stop at them all anyway.

With the sunrise we got fog, which wasn’t real flash from a safety/visibility point of view, as the road trains rumbled past us. We pulled off at Peg 52k Lookout. It was chilly- showing 5 degrees on the Garmin – and breezy. At my insistence, we hauled out the rainjackets for some windproofing. He was grumbling at the hassle at first but subsequently told me that it was a very good suggestion. Thanks! I do come up with some good ideas sometimes!

Well, we got our first view of the Bight, and stuffed around for over half an hour, eating, taking photos, and waiting for the fog to clear. (I did look wistfully at the campervan parked nearby… vehicle camping, self-contained, across the Nullarbor, looked like a mighty fine option to me right then!)

The scrub was so low near the cliffs, not only was there no shelter from the wind, but also nowhere to hide for.. you know… so we had another stop 10 minutes up the road when we spotted some clumps of scrub that were high enough to hide behind.

We slogged on some more, with occasional rest stops – this one at 100k/6 hours in:

Another ten minutes further on there was a rest area with a bin, so we stopped to get rid of some rubbish. South Australian bins were definitely not on par with the Western Australian ones for servicing, but as observed before, it seems like half the population doesn’t even know what a bin is.

Then only another ten minutes on again (about midday SA time, and 107km in) a car slowed and drew alongside, the window wound down and the passenger calling out to us. We managed to interpret that this couple must be Dotwatchers: “TwoUp!”…”something bacon and egg something…!” “Border Village!”. They pulled up ahead, and we stopped to say hello. Helen and David had brought us still-warm bacon and egg toasties from Border Village! I only managed to eat half of mine, having already eaten at our various stops. Cycle tourers themselves (albeit unable to tour at the moment for health reasons), they had already ticked the box of having ridden across the Nullarbor – although they did it in the slower, camping-out style.

We had been aiming for the 111k lookout for the ‘best’ views of Bunda Cliffs – and they were only another 10 minutes up the road! I wasn’t going to miss this though. It was a busier spot (I guess everyone else had read about it being the ‘best’ view as well), about 500m off the road, and then with a walk up a track to the fenced lookout.

It was a mighty fine view and worth it.

But we still had another 70-odd kilometres to go. No choice but to slog away – into the wind – at it, and use our, by this time, usual MO of just taking regular breaks from the saddle, pretty much every half an hour. The wind was still horrible, and we struggled to get over 20kph. After veering away from the coast, every ten degrees or so that the road headed slightly to the north of east, the better it was by a couple of kph. We felt every metre of the last 3-kilometre, and slightly more easterly, straight.

We had reached the official (if signs were anything to go by) Western End of the Nullarbor, aka Treeless, Plain. (Any shrubby trees above waist height had been few and far between for quite some distance before this, but anyway….)

Here’s a screenshot from Google Streetview, because we sure as hell weren’t stopping with the roadhouse in sight ‘just’ up there on the left. ‘Just’, in this case, meaning another 1.7km!!

Nullarbor Roadhouse had the same owners as Border Village, so it had the same room-price gouging.  $165 for two people ($150 for one) in a pretty average QS motel room. No choice. Just getting to the room was sweet relief. It was Marc’s turn to jump in the shower first. I started to put all the electronics on charge. Oh, bugger – the power point near the kettle didn’t work (and there was only one other in the room low down under the window!). I went to reception and her immediate solution was to give me the key to move into the room next door. What?! We were already unpacked with stuff strewn everywhere (and we were just a wee bit tired.)  I was hardly feeling very impressed about having to move everything; at least I had the sensible thought to first check that the power point in that room was working.  Fortunately, as I was doing that the Manager came out and told me it was all fixed – they’d had someone in doing work during the day and some circuit was accidentally off. That would have been a good first thought for the receptionist to have!

The other standout memory of Nullarbor Roadhouse was the traveller in a neighbouring room who started ‘chatting’ (if you could call it that) to us. He was a rather large bloke (ok, basically, wearing a singlet top with his rather large gut hanging out, not that there’s anything wrong with that!) He asked about our tandem and where we’d ridden/were riding, but then – with one of the loudest voices I’ve ever heard – proceeded to regale Marc (by then I’d hidden in the room) with the story of his life – including his multiple fitness exploits (which didn’t quite match the current … physique…)

Marc finally escaped, but later in the roadhouse restaurant, this guy came in and basically verbally (and extremely loudly) pinned down some poor other patrons sitting at the bar. I could barely hear myself think! Couldn’t get out of there quick enough! I guess the ‘interesting people’ that you come across are part of the whole experience.

The meal was pretty good. It turns out that on the edge of the Nullarbor we could drop our Coolgardie lesson about avoiding seafood inland.  The roadhouse was close enough to Ceduna that they got weekly deliveries of fresh fish (and apparently had business interests in a fishing enterprise) – so although the recommended whiting had been frozen, it was pretty decent.

The sunset, from just outside our room, was pretty specky. (For any overseas readers, that’s Aussie slang for ‘spectacular’!)

Tomorrow we had 144km to Nundroo, but from now on, hopefully, we wouldn’t have to do *quite* that daily distance again.

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