The odometer showed I had ridden nearly 3,000kms from the Pacific Ocean to Eucla, on the eastern edge of the great Nullarbor Plains in Western Australia. The evening before had been an 800km day, a huge amount on my little 250cc motorbike. The wind had come from the southeast, blowing me over only slightly to my right- an improvement from the last big winds I’d experienced in Patagonia the year before when I had become used to riding at a 45 degree angle. I was lucky. In this part of the world, the westerly winds normally blew strong, thwarting progress for motorcyclists riding east to west.
In Ceduna,the last real town before entering this desolate strip of Australia, I had stopped to talk to a young motorcyclist clearly on a long journey of his own. He had started in Germany sometime before, and was thrilled to be out of the Nullarbor region and talking to another rider. He’d warned there was nothing there, saying “Nos-sing to see! Nos-sing to do! Nos-sing to eat! Get srew it as fast as you can! Ride as much as you can!” in his strong German accent.
True, I thought that evening. There had been little to see along the way. No kangaroos, wallabies or wombats. No echidnas. Only a few birds, and even those surprisingly sparse for a continent so full of wildlife and nearly always singing with birdsong. Shrubs hung low to the barren landscape, but few trees dotted the horizon, and even fewer buildings and people. I kept a wary eye on my gas tank, but wasn’t ever required to use the jerry can I had strapped, half full, to the back of my bike. It was empty, but peaceful and beautiful in its rugged, pristine state.
After unwillingly handing over my last piece of fruit to the border agents protecting Western Australia’s ecosystem from produce coming from the east, I made my way across the dusty Eucla caravan park, weaving around shiny white RVs flush with retirees cooking their evening meal.
In the empty car area, I found one lonely little tent next to an orange-dust covered Holden, a typical Aussie car. With my bike turned off, I could hear the faint voice of a young woman reading aloud in a leisurely voice, another young woman interrupting to ask her a question. It was a good spot to stop.
I gave a big stretch, trying to loosen up the muscles in my neck and shoulders, bunched from the long ride. Stripping off my armored pants and jacket, I made my way to the women’s showers and happily plunked a handful of quarters into the device next to the shower, sore shoulders and neck reveling in the heat of the water and the cleansing effect it had on body and mind. The sweat and grime of the last several days washed away, and I felt immensely grateful to have made it so far without any problems.
I had finally reached the Nullarbor, but I still had a long way to go. That night, I’d head to my tent early to spend an hour or two reading before the quiet evening twilight lulled me to sleep.