Trip Start Sep 09, 2004
394Trip End Ongoing
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The joy was short-lived. What started out as a bitch and a moan has resulted in full-on rebellion. I'm back to hobbling on one leg, the other won't take any weight. Today's ride was as rough as yesterday: all out abuse from the elements and a whole series of long uncomfortable stretches. Tomorrow should be a breeze though. Ceduna is a measly 110 kilometres or so north so I shouldn't be doing too much to antagonise the hoof. He says.
We're in Streaky Bay, in an identical replica of the cabin in Port Lincoln but with a noisier heater unit. The holiday park is right on the waterfront, on a bay so tranquil it's magic. The water's crystal clear and almost still. Sarah's been down there ages taking pics. I'm sitting here on the rocks with my throbbing hoof taking it all in. She's just gone to great lengths carefully inching herself closer and closer to a huge mighty pelican. They're almost touching. And they're both of equal size. This might get interesting..
It's not so cold up here either, nor as windy. Sarah says it's because we're getting nearer the warmer weather - it's warmer out west apparently. She's doing alright young Sarah, seems quite happy plodding along at random. It's probably been more of an adjustment for me but it's actually working out better than I could have hoped. She's incredibly easy going and shows immense patience and composure at the times when I could never be, often diffusing me without even knowing it. That's amazing.
Tomorrow things should start rolling, but already it's been a proper eye-opener. Physically riding over this great southern land bears no real resemblance to what you see on the map. The Eyre Peninsula is a popular getaway spot and sees many visitors come and go all year round. On the map it's bustling with all sorts of attractions, stops, lookouts and coves like any other coastal route, but sit on the highway flat out at a loose '120' and it's a whole different story. I'm starting to understand what people mean when they say 'There's nothing out there.' That's because there isn't anything out there. The roads are long, straight and lifeless and offer very little in the way of diversity. At each side you'll see a strip of loose gravel and dust providing a makeshift border to the barren land that sits either side. Apart from the low, shapely half-starved trees and clumps of scrub pressed into the dirt there's nothing other than a whole sprawl of vast open space. Everywhere. But then this is nothing, absolutely nothing compared to what lies ahead. The Nullarbor Plains, or so they say, is as good an example of desolate nothingness as you're ever going to get.
But already it's apparent. All of it is so radically different and so dismally enlightening as to what the real Australia is about. Aside from all the tiredness and discomfort riding a sports bike across long distance brings, I'm actually quite enjoying the 'enlightenment'. Occasionally a red dirt track will shoot off at an angle into its own dusty vanishing point, or a gathering of brightly coloured parrots will suddenly materialise out of nowhere and flutter out of your way right at the last second. You can see for miles and miles ahead, usually as far as the brow of the next distant hill, where you then find - with a wash of mild disappointment - that you're presented with a whole new panorama of exactly the same barren land divided by the same colourless road undulating away in long wavy stretches, like they'd illustrate in a cartoon. This goes on. And on. And on.
Occasionally you'll see a sign displaying some pleasurable activity like enjoying oysters. It will actually tell you: 'Enjoy the oysters!' while an accompanying picture shows an Aussie in a hat enjoying some oysters. Then bingo, your in the next town - no real warning or build up or any kind of excitement, just a sudden drop in speed limit before you find yourself chugging along sniffing out your new check-point. Then you sort of glide past, regally, as if leading some parade or procession for the town to enjoy. And that's it. That's what you do. You leave town, ride across hundreds of kilometres of desolate open space enduring whatever the elements decide to throw at you, before exploding into the next town. Then you do it all again. And again, which is why the whole journey is like being in a long continuous recurring dream - so surreal, yet so so real..
Kilometres eaten: 2219