The weather is at least warming up out here for now and I'm hoping it stays that way. Still a bit chilly in the morning and misty but eased to the sun coming out enough for me to have my first shower (bush bath) in about 5 days of riding.
I've now hit the 145kms stretch which is regarded as the straightest section of road in Australia and I'm finding it very enjoyable. The fact that it's also the flattest piece of road I've been on since leaving Hanoi makes it even more enjoyable. The wildness of the Nullarbor makes it very spiritual as I ride along and that in itself is very healing. I've heard of those crossing the Nullarbor similar to myself find the Zen in themselves. I haven't quite reached that stage but I'm sure there is something out there that cleanses the mind and spirit. Watch this space !!!
Our first big opportunity for Terry, our photographer, to get out there to get some footage as the sun came up early today, however, he wasn't the only one out on the barren plains when he came head on with a rather very large snake out sun baking. As always , one never knows who gets the biggest shock the person or the snake, but this one was very aggressive in seeing Terry in his domain.
The Nullarbor is a fascinating place. I've driven it close to 30 times over many years whilst I was based in Perth, but never seen it in its glory whilst riding along in the space and time that I'm now doing on the long ride home in Australia. I'm close to 7,000 km now and the weather conditions look like improving for the good, so hopefully my morale will lift a bit after being smashed by some terrible conditions in getting here to "somewhere on the Nullarbor Plains".
The Nullarbor Plain (Latin: nullus, "no", and arbor, "tree") is part of the area of flat, almost treeless, arid or semi-arid country of southern Australia, located on the Great Australian Bight coast with the Great Victoria Desert to its north. It is the world's largest single exposure of limestone bedrock, and occupies an area of about 200,000 square kilometres (77,000 sq mi). At its widest point, it stretches about 1,100 kilometres (684 mi) from east to west across the border between South Australia and Western Australia.
Historically, the Nullarbor, considered by Europeans to be almost uninhabitable, was used by the semi-nomadic Aborigines, the Spinifex and Wangai peoples.
The first Europeans known to have sighted and mapped it were an expedition led by Pieter Nuyts in 1626–27. While the interior remained little known to Europeans over the next two centuries, the name Nuytsland was often applied to the area adjoining the Great Australian Bight. It survives as two geographical names in West Australia: Nuytsland Nature Reserve and Nuyts Land District.
Despite the hardships created by the nature of the Nullarbor, European settlers were determined to cross the plain. Although Edward John Eyre described the Plain as "a hideous anomaly, a blot on the face of Nature, the sort of place one gets into in bad dreams", he became the first European to successfully make the crossing in 1841. Eyre departed Fowler's Bay on 17 November 1840 with John Baxter and a party of three Aboriginal men. When three of his horses died of dehydration, he returned to Fowler's Bay. He departed with a second expedition on 25 February 1841. By 29 April, the party had reached Caiguna. Lack of supplies and water led to a mutiny. Two of the Aborigines killed Baxter and took the party's supplies. Eyre and the third Aborigine, Wylie, continued on their journey, surviving through bushcraft and some fortuitous circumstances, such as receiving some supplies from a French whaling vessel anchored at Rossiter Bay. They completed their crossing in June 1841.
In August 1865, while travelling across the Nullarbor, E. A. Delisser in his journal named both Nullarbor and Eucla for the first time.
A proposed new state of Auralia (meaning "land of gold") would have comprised the Goldfields, the western portion of the Nullarbor Plain and the port town of Esperance. Its capital would have been Kalgoorlie.
During the British nuclear tests at Maralinga in the 1950s, the government forced the Wangai to abandon their homeland. Since then they have been awarded compensation, and many have returned to the general area. Others never left. Due to their isolation, the government did not bother to reach all of the people to warn about evacuating before the testing.
Some agricultural interests are on the fringe of the plain including the 2.5 million acre Rawlinna Station, the largest sheep station in the world, on the Western Australian side of the plain. The property was established in 1962 by Hugh G. MacLachlan, of the South Australian pastoral family, the station has a comparatively short history compared to other properties of its type around Australia. An older property is Madura Station, situated closer to the coast, it has a size of 1.7 million acres and is also stocked with sheep. Madura was established prior to 1927, the extent of the property at that time was reported as two million acres.
In 2011 South Australian Premier Mike Rann announced that a huge area of the Nullarbor, stretching almost 200 km (120 mi) from the WA border to the Great Australian Bight, would be given formal Wilderness Protection Status. Mr Rann said the move would double the area of land in South Australia under environmental protection, to 1.8 million hectares. The area contains 390 species of plants and a large number of habitats for rare species of animals and birds.
Crossing the Nullarbor", for many Australians, is a quintessential experience of the "Australian Outback". Stickers bought from roadhouses on the highway show "I have crossed the Nullarbor", and can be seen on vehicles of varying quality or capacity for long distance travel. The process of "beating the crowds" on overbooked air services at the time of special sporting events can also see significant numbers of vehicles on the road.
Crossings in the 1950s and earlier were significant, as most of the route then was a dirt track. Round-Australia car trials (the Redex Trials) used the Nullarbor crossing for good photo shoots of cars negotiating poor track.
On 25 December 1896, after an arduous journey of thirty-one days, Arthur Charles Jeston Richardson became the first cyclist to cross the Nullarbor Plain, pedaling his bicycle from Coolgardie to Adelaide. Carrying only a small kit and a water-bag, he followed the telegraph line as he crossed the Nullarbor. He later described the heat as "1,000 degrees in the shade". During their three-year cycling trip around Australia between 1946 and 1949, Wendy Law Suart and Shirley Duncan became the first women to cycle across the Plain.
Between 29 June and 3 July 2015, brothers Tyron and Aaron Bicknell recorded the fastest known crossing of the Nullarbor Plain on single speed bicycles. Their ride took advantage of the cold temperatures in the Australian winter months and was completed over 4 days, 5 hours and 21 minutes, making it one of the fastest bicycle crossings and the fastest done with a single geared bike.
Please keep those donations coming - my many thanks goes out to those who have donated on the TLRH website and those who have donated to TLRH donation bucket during our journey across Australia on the long ride home:
Kevin & Dianna Hewitt
Carmel Shervington & Jock Anderson
Adam Weir & John Harris
Laurie & Heather
Beris & Paul Bidgood
Ren & Sylvia
Robin & Spencer Falkner
Many thanks and warmest regards
Truck still Truckin on his trusty Trek along with the support crew - Juvy, Gunney, Terry and Ned Kelly, on the long ride home.
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