Sunday, 13 January 2013

Ride the Nullarbor

Coffee at Gibson Soak

The longer the list of “things to do,” the more the open road beckoned. When we finally pulled out of our driveway on Wednesday 9th January 2013, I never looked back, not even to make sure the gate was closed. The house had the last laugh of course. Steve thought he had a win by remembering to move the bikes out of the garage and onto the driveway before the reticulation fired up. Unfortunately he overlooked the strength of the south westerly wind and when we were ready to leave my bike was soaked to the frame with bore water.

It seemed like it might take 1000 miles before the magic of motorcycling found us but luckily only half an hour from home I was chasing the vanishing point and looking for the road markings and the tree line around every bend.
Steve’s Red Dwarf (R1200GS) and my Red Devil (F650GS Twin) are not equipped with radio communication. The second rider has only two messages to convey to the rider in front. 1) Stop as soon as it is safe to do so (hazard lights flashing). 2) Stop at the next available opportunity (left indicator flashing); there is nothing else to say. The rider in front can do whatever they like.

The sweltering weather at Southern Cross and Coolgardie forced us to ride south from Perth in search of a more temperate latitude to begin our journey eastward. We stopped for tea at Williams. While Steve was admiring his new Kevlar jeans he noticed they were covered in oil. Turned out the oil filler cap was loose. From Williams, Red Dwarf led all the way to the Kojonup Bakery. On the outskirts of town, a lone emu made a nuisance of himself by standing in the middle of the road. We slowed to a stop waiting for the big bird to move out of the way. When we finally got going again, the emu decided to race us to the bakery and I clocked him loping along the road verge at 40km hour.

Day three breakfast near Fraser Range.
I led the way from Koji to Mt Barker. While we were queuing for fuel, a car full of local dudes pushed in. When it was our turn at the pump, Steve decided to mention the error in their ways. Perhaps he hadn’t noticed the large dog sitting on the back seat. Luckily the dudes just mumbled and carried on their way.

We were safely tucked away at the Porongurup’s by mid afternoon. Before we were allowed a cold beer, our bikes were checked over and our helmets cleaned ready for the next day’s ride.

We crept out of the Porongurup National Park long before the kangaroos had gone to bed. We enjoyed the view of the Stirling Range until the mountains disappeared in our rear view mirrors and by 9am we were fuelling up at Jerramungup. The weather was cool and the riding most enjoyable. I peered down many a gravel road and wondered about the remote communities that live within their boundaries. The old town halls tell the tale of a time long ago. We stopped for tea many times. At Salmon Gums Steve popped the question “how about pushing on to Fraser Range?” But me and the Red Devil were looking forward to happy hour and were psyched up to end the days ride at Norseman. While we were registering at the caravan park at Norseman, our hostess said “it was 45 deg here yesterday.” I said to Steve “looks like we dodged that bullet nicely.”

No shortage of trucks across The Nullarbor.
Our little three man tent is a breeze to put up and take down and it was easy to self cater at the camp kitchen in the caravan park. We were back on the road at dawn and there is something magical about turning eastward at the start of The Eyre Highway. A pink ribbon, tied to a roadside post, confirmed that the wind was slightly behind us. People in cars started to wave, so I did my bit for motorcycle awareness and I waved in return. We always enjoy hanging out at the remote roadhouses. At Caiguna we met Andy, a fellow biker on a new Triumph Tiger. Andy was riding bare knuckled as his riding gloves were rolled up inside his sophisticated biker tent. He said it was easier to wear sunscreen that to unpack the tent again. East of Caiguna the road was covered in road kill; a large wedge tailed eagle standing proudly on each fresh kill. When we arrived at Eucla, Andy was there too and we talked and laughed about the wild horses we had seen, and the camels we hadn’t. Life on the road was turning out to be as good as we remembered.

Eucla campsite.
We were riding out of Eucla town just after sun up for the last day of our Nullarbor crossing. While we were negotiating some slippery blue metal at Nullarbor Roadhouse, I noticed a tourist filming us from inside a tour bus. I said to Steve “whatever you do, don’t fall off now because it will be all over Youtube in an instant.” Apparently during the Christmas – New Year break, six cars filled up with fuel at Nullarbor Roadhouse and left without paying. The guy, taking the money for fuel, though it was caused by a lack of preparation and some people simply didn’t realise how far and how expensive it would be. The weather remained kind to us until we were 100km west of Penong. Then a fierce SE wind set in; if I had remembered the lean angle of some of the trees I wouldn’t have been surprised. We stepped up our concentration and we allowed the bikes to drift with each and every gust. Luckily I narrowly missed clipping the wing of a large wedge tailed eagle; that would have been ugly for both me and the bird.

We arrived in Ceduna and checked into the tent friendly caravan park right in town. That night we drank beer and celebrated with fresh scallops and prawns from the local fish and chip shop. We had just completed our easiest Nullarbor ride.


  1. How awesome, what a trip....Next year Dakar? Jeff has been riveted to the SBS catch up every day...Ha HA

    1. Hi Lesley,
      yes we are having a great time, off to the Island Classic next week, then Tasmania. :)