IP Day 15 – Nullarbor RH to Nundroo

Monday 4th April, 2022
144.35km   +638m

Moving 6:31   Elapsed 8:02
Avg 22.1km/h max 52.4km/h

After yesterday’s huge day we got on the road a bit late with an 8:24am departure. (A reprieve from the pre-dawn eating/nausea for me at least.)

About 18km along the road we passed the ‘NULLARBOR PLAIN -Eastern End of the Treeless Plain’ sign on the other side of the road. I guess that 20k section was, technically, the most treeless of it all since leaving the woodlands between Norseman and Balladonia, with only really low scrubby bushes that wouldn’t have got much above knee height. (It’s all a bit arbitrary, really, as to where the ‘Nullarbor’ technically begins and ends – and how one defines a ‘tree’ versus a bush or shrub!)

Fair call on the ‘Eastern end’ part though, as not far beyond that we could tell that we were leaving the plains behind us. The road got a bit more and more ‘undulating’, and, gradually, higher and higher vegetation appeared. About then we also hit what I’ve dubbed ‘the March fly corridor of hell’. Dotwatcher, David, yesterday, had warned us about them. (Why was this the first I’d really heard about this?!) He reckoned they were bad for about 20k; I’m saying 40k. They swarmed around us, on us, and bit us through our clothes, even as we rode – never mind when we stopped. It was horrendous while going slow uphill, but they managed to stay with us downhill as well. It goes without saying that stopping at a rest stop wasn’t really that pleasant. I have many reasons I would never ride across the Nullarbor again, but those march flies would be right up near the top of the list.

On the plus side, today we finally had no headwinds, and finally some coasting downhill, along with some tandem-cranking flats. On the downside, in the lee of the hills and trees, it got really hot, hitting over 30 degrees – and staying over – from about halfway through the day. In parts, the Garmin temp records show it hitting 37-38 degrees, particularly up the hills. (And maybe if it had been windier, the march flies would have been blown away!)

We were too busy slapping the bloody march flies to take many photos!

Wished we had a dollar for every bit of truck taut liner ratchet strap we saw lying by the roadside.

At one rest area, we chatted with a guy doing the rest areas garbage collection run.
What a job.

Yalata Aboriginal community (and caravan park) at around 90km was closed due to covid, but we stopped for a rest at a shelter and table right near the road. This memorial sign is hard to read, but it’s worth zooming in (plus googling) to read about the shameful history of Maralinga atomic bomb testing and the displacement of the Aboriginal people of those lands. 

What with the march flies, and the heat, we were both feeling a bit tired and cranky. Marc recalls that this was the stretch where, after overhearing some truckies on the UHF making disparaging remarks about us (actually it was something a bit crude referring to me on the back.) He demanded I pass him the radio. “It’s an open channel *********’s” – or words to that effect, along with a couple of other things. Silence.

We got into Nundroo Roadhouse at about 4.30. It didn’t have the best reviews for accommodation, and it was pretty run-down and dilapidated, but we were just happy to get there. Not happy that, while we were having a drink and snack, someone came in and said “Um, I don’t think your bike is meant to be lying on the ground, is it?” A gust of wind had blown it over. Eeep. Not ideal.

Other than an extremely noisy aircon, the room was ok. Beggars can’t be choosers. It was still better than sleeping in the dirt with the ants. We hand-washed a set of bike clothes to get us through another day and strung them up out the back near the empty pool (yep, another one for the empty pool album!)

Over snacks, and later, dinner, we got chatting with the young Indian guy serving in the roadhouse. He had an engineering degree, but he was doing his ‘time’ working a stint in a low-paying job to meet visa conditions – and not really enjoying it that much, to be honest.

We also chatted a bit with a bloke who was solo motorbike touring across the country. He was limping a bit from dropping his bike right at the beginning of his trip and was suitably impressed with the hours we were spending on the saddle every day given how he was struggling – butt-wise- with the hours he was spending on his motorbike. He had raised his eyebrows at staying in Nundroo, and so we said ‘see ya’ as he set off to make it to Ceduna. Next thing we find him parked up outside the motel room next to ours – he hadn’t actually clocked that they had accommodation until he was pulling out and saw the rooms around the side.

For dinner Marc took advantage of it being an Indian-owned roadhouse, noticing a curry option scribbled on a small board. (Turned out the cook was Nepalese.) Old mate, the motorbike tourer, having ordered something bland (like fuss-bum Tracey who doesn’t like hot spicy food) saw the curry being brought out to our table and went ‘Whoa!! hold up! Is it too late to change my order?’

Both he and Marc really, really enjoyed it (but, having tasted it, it would have been too hot for me.)

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