Hi folks! Thanks for following along and your patience; cell towers are few and far between out here!
I will start with a quick story from Madura, where you will remember I was about to depart from on my next leg. I was sitting outside the bar in the evening with a group of people who worked there (all of them I think!) and one of the old timers, a hilarious guy who was telling a story of when he ran the bar years ago. They were having a big night event and the place was busy when he noticed 2 beautiful girls sitting by the bar. So he rushed out back, found a piece of cardboard and wrote ‘Topless waitresses wanted, top dollar paid’, after which he went and put it on the bar right by the girls. To cut a long story short he bought them a bunch of drinks and they ended up working behind the bar. Everyone was happy and all was going well until one said to him ‘This place is so funny, in Sweden they would never let 16 year olds do this!’ Ooops haha! It’s also illegal in Australia, so they were returned fully clothed to their original seats in about 5 seconds!! Ah, the outback, gotta love it.
On that note I left Madura early in the morning for the long stretch to Eucla. For the next 182km / 116 miles the road crossed the flat plain beneath the escarpment I had descended, before rising back above the cliff at Eucla where the ocean joined. My rest day had given me some energy so I decided to make up the day and do the stretch in 3 rather than 4 days. Big move.
This stretch was even more demoralizing than the straight road; billiard table flat and straight for miles at a time. It used to be the seabed and the escarpment used to be the shore; it is evident as the ground is made from millions of sea shells – they cover the place! The shimmer and mirage on the road was really a sight to behold, just an endless nothing. If it hadn’t had been for the occasional kangaroo, eagle or songbird I might have lost it, especially as the weather had become a windy and rain filled tempest, and of course right in my face. It reminded me of Patagonia, with the foreboding skies and dark clouds, which is not surprising as the nearest place to me is Antarctica right now.
Luckily, after a few miles of Day 2 I met a guy in a camper van who was supporting a group of guys riding bikes from Perth to Sydney. Keith was a legend and even made me a bacon and egg sandwich! I could have kissed him! I met the guys a little ways down the road, a super group of lads. Check out my Facebook page to connect with their trip.
At the end of day 2 I crawled into the rest stop of Mundrabila a broken man. The last 10km were almost unachievable, made worse by the fact I could see my destination as clear as day from at least that far away. It was a mirage which never got closer. Well, in the end I made it as darkness fell and just crashed into bed, apprehensive that day 3 was going to be even further.
Day 3 arrived with the sound of rain waking me up. I nearly didn’t get out of bed! Eventually I was on the road and at least for the first half of the day the wind was at my side. Makes a huge difference, and I barely cursed the rain at all. The only respite was meeting two lovely Italian girls driving a van with a cow pattern paint job. They were great and gave me some much needed motivation.
The afternoon was a different story when I saw the rest house – at the top of the cliffs! It was a strange thing to pass the ‘5km to go’ sign and know that drivers who left mundrabila right at that moment would STILL beat me! To be honest the last hill was OK, as I got to used muscles which I don’t use and so felt fresher, but I was so thankful to reach the end. As I did so I looked back and saw the Southern Ocean for the first time, dark and mysterious. It was an arresting sight, at once making all the pain worth it. 30 or 40 kangaroos were then startled at my presence and ran towards the ocean; as my sister said, ‘a kangaroo finish’. Awesome, an made it all worth it.
So now I am in Eucla, just 12km from the border of Western Australia, 1,520km / 948 miles from where I started. The picture below puts that in a little bit of context. By this time tomorrow I will be in South Australia! Woo!
Take care all!