Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Ride Bright to Perth

Last of the twisties, Germein Gorge
We weren't trying to break any records on our ride home to Perth and we rode away from Bright in search of the English custard tart. On previous rides in South Australia we had found many bakeries making custard tarts the English way (4 eggs, 1pt milk, 1tbsp sugar, nutmeg). This year, as we peered in the bakery window of every town we passed through, and sampled a custard tart or two, it seemed that the English custard tart was now extinct.

When you are travelling you need to pay attention, and adjust your provisioning, when crossing the strict state boarder quarantine stations. We nearly got caught out at Pinnaroo but were cheerful to find out that washed potatoes, carrots and corn (without the husk) are no worries (different quarantine ports have different restrictions).

Rest stop at Streaky Bay, on the way to Ceduna.
We overnighted at Swan Hill, then Strathalbyn, lunched in Harndorf and made camp at Kapunda. We wandered into the local hotel at Kapunda and leaned on an old wine barrel in The Kidman Room, enjoying $6 pints and listening to the local banter. We always have one eye on the weather and a forecast of 39deg at Port Augusta had us dialling the caravan park and booking a cabin for our single night at the head of Spencer Gulf

The cops were there to meet us as we rode into Ceduna and no matter how hard I tried I couldn't manage the breathalyser without taking my helmet off. Steve was asked to present his licence too but I was excused from that ritual. Fisheries and load checkers were also in attendance at the road block, which is manned 24/7, for two weeks, so no one can sneak through.

Nullabor Roadhouse
We rode west from Ceduna with the wind on our shoulders and the sun lighting the way, making the 300km ride to Nullarbor Roadhouse easily by mid morning. We remembered the whales as we passed the turn off to The Head of the Bight and I noticed that the sign read "open all year round." In November it can get very hot on The Nullarbor Plain, but we enjoyed a cool day in the desert and kept warm inside our winter gloves with a little assistance from the heated grips.

Great view and great lunch
We prepared ourselves a delicious lunch of cheese, dried fruit, nuts and biltong, overlooking The Great Australian Bight and rode into Eucla early afternoon. The attendant at the quarantine check point at Eucla just asked "tell us what's in each pannier" and did not request to see inside. However we were talking to a fellow traveller later in the afternoon and they recalled a time when they had to completely empty every cupboard in their caravan to prove they were not carrying any banned agricultural products.

Heading West from Eucla
We were away at first light for the 700km ride from Eucla to Norseman. At the first rest stop the winter gloves and fleeces were stowed away as the desert sun made her presence felt. We holed up at Cocklebiddy for awhile, drinking iced coffee on the veranda, and learning about the two wedge-tailed eagles that were being rehabilitated at the roadhouse after being injured in road accidents. Cocklebiddy is the home of the Wedgetail Inn, and behind the desk at reception is the acronym YCWCYATDDFTRFDTY. My curiosity got the better of me and it cost me $2 (for charity) to find out what it meant; if you want to know what it means you'll have to take a ride out to Cocklebiddy Roadhouse.

The caravan park at Norseman is comfortable and clean and it didn't take long to make camp and walk into town to The Norseman Hotel for a couple of pints and a good square meal of lamb chops, mashed potato and veg. Three German backpackers were dining at the pub too, they were on their way to six weeks work at Madura Station in exchange for full board and a little bit of money; I just hoped that the station manager was kind to them.

The persistent south easterly wind made the 780km ride from Norseman to home in Safety Bay an easy one and we were on the outskirts of the big smoke by 3pm. All of a sudden our journey of seventy days and 13,000 kilometers was coming to an end. Someone asked me was I "happy or sad?" to be going home. I pondered this question for many a mile while I was riding across The Nullarbor and I concluded that I was both happy and sad. Happy to enjoy some of the comforts of home, but sad to leave behind the freedom of life on the open road.
Payback for the Crests, Dips and Curves

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