After a night without any connectivity which made for a relaxed evening away from the dreaded devices we arranged to meet up at one of the Scenic Lookouts for this part of the Nullarbor (there are four of them located over about 100 km between Border Village and Nullarbor Roadhouse). This was the last of them (no 4) about 23km east of our campsite at Koonalda. We were now officially on Australian Central Daylight Time meaning that we are 2.5 hrs ahead of where we started in Perth WA. We haven’t really adjusted so didn’t get on the road until around 9am. While it wasn’t particularly hot with the temperature in the mid to high 20s, the winds were very tough for Steve, especially for the first 50 km.
At the lookout I decided on a pastel landscape looking out across the low shrubbery that populates the rather dusty rocky soil in this region. The most abundant plants are saltbush and blue bush with some pigface and other succulents providing some pinkish colours here and there. After working on it for about an hour Steve arrived, he wasn’t enjoying the ride too much…but went to enjoy a different view of the cliffs before continuing on his way.
I spent another hour drawing before packing it in – I also wasn’t enjoying the wind (it is quite difficult to draw or paint under those conditions, so Steve and I can sympathise with each other). As you can see, my pastel needs work, but I think it is beginning to take shape.
I caught up with Steve just on 50 km, almost exactly halfway for today as it worked out as a real 100 km day from Koonalda to the roadhouse at Nullarbor. We pulled up in an emergency phone bay and rest area for a much needed break and top up of some food and water. We agreed that he would be another 3 hours at the rate he was going and planned a pick up if it was too much.
Onwards to Nullarbor – this really is the treeless plain now (null–no arbor-tree) – not an aboriginal word at all as some might think. Checked in to the caravan park, which was the most uninspiring dustbowl that we had come across so far. I parked and unhooked the van in preparation for driving back for Steve if needed, and retired to the snack bar with our information poster and some merchandise in the hope that some donations would come our way. Sometimes this passive fundraising works well, sometimes it doesn’t – on this occasion it was great with staff and passing tourists interested and generous.
One family had heard us on the radio in Esperance, so our media foray had a little win, and others just like to have a chat and find out what we are doing. Usually they will give a small donation or buy a postcard or two. As things had improved on the road with the wind, Steve was fine for the second half of the ride and rolled in a bit sooner than anticipated and joined me in the snack bar. This elicited even more interest from people, and we were pleasantly surprised by one of the managers of the roadhouse, Dingo, giving us a $50 donation from the staff social fund. We couldn’t resist getting a shot of the bike outside the snack bar which, according to the sign, was the first bike ridden helmeted across the Nullarbor in 1963 – no information on unhelmetted rides though.
Not long after the other manager, Kira, arrived back from Border Village and when she heard what we were doing offered to put us up in one of their very nice motel rooms for the night. Fantastic – it was so lovely to shower in a bathroom rather that an enclosed cubical for once! And out of the dustbowl. After enjoying the facilities of our room we retired to the bar to catch up on blogging and have a light dinner and one or two drinks. We were very industrious, getting four posts uploaded! Unfortunately with the lack of wifi we are chewing through data on our devices…we had not anticipated this, but when we are back in more populated areas we hope that we will be able to take advantage of more freely available wifi to keep up to date.
As we sat at the bar we got the real story of Dingo’s name (apparently there are many and varied versions). It had to do with him carrying some meat with him one night when walking home and being stalked by a pack of local dingos – he ended up returning to the roadhouse and getting a lift from the boss! I had wondered if the golf link at the roadhouse was named after him (Dingos Den), but no, just a coincidence. If you are wondering, there is a set of 18 golf holes that exist between Kalgoorlie and Ceduna – a pretty tough and rocky course, and the world’s longest: you can read about here. We have resisted the urge to partake in this activity!