Riding the highway down south is an exercise in patience. It’s neither barren enough to satisfy my ‘desolation’ fix, nor diverse enough to give you something new to look at every so often. Then you get close to Coober Pedy and the scrub disappears and is replaced by piles of dirt from the (estimated) million+ opal mining shafts. The town itself is a great break, not simply because it’s the first proper town since Alice Springs- it’s the weird mix of fantasy and reality that could only exist out in the middle of nowhere that draws you in.
The outskirts of town would do a Midnight Oil cover justice,
while near the center it’s a mix of underground churches and hotels, some discarded movie sets (this one the spaceship from ‘Pitch Black‘), miners of the decent hardworking sort and those of a less salubrious nature, and opal dealers selling everything from tourist tat to bulk unfinished stones.
I got there late afternoon and enjoyed my wander around, but it wasn’t hard to leave in the morning. Racial tension bubbles beneath the surface and more than a few hard-faced looks gave me the feeling of being weighed up as a mark.
Strapping the bike back on, I kept riding south until Port Augusta where I took a sharp right towards Perth. That turn was a hard one to make since it sealed the fate on my visits to Adelaide, Melbourne, and Tasmania. And, more importantly, a meet up with a friend from way back in the day that I’d been really looking forward to. Between my stay in Brisbane, the delay from flooding, and my upcoming wait in Perth for some bike parts, I just couldn’t afford the time and still make my planned sailing to East Timor. Sigh.
Ah well- I was coming up to nothing and looking forward to it. Nothing being the Nullarbor Plain (translates to English from Latin as ‘No Tree Plain’). It wasn’t so much the lack of trees I was looking forward to, but the cliffs of The Great Bight, the longest stretch of straight tarmac in Australia (147km), and the cool road signs.
Once the road got close to the cliffs, I headed out across the scrub to the edge and… Was amazed. White Cliffs of who-the-hell-cares! The view West was of a single cliff face as far as the eye could see…
And East was almost more impressive, with a curtain wall effect formed by the endless cliff.
With the scrub being fairly low, I decided instead of riding the road the whole way, I’d spend the morning bouncing (at a safe distance) along the edge of the cliff.
This happy state of affairs lasted until the scrub got a little too scrubby and I was forced back on the road,
just in time for one of the great ‘roadkill menu’ road signs!
Nothing can actually be very fun!