A very short day today, because of the distances between the towns, but very pleasant it was to complete a cycle by ten thirty! Almost like a rest day, really.
I left Southern Cross in the very early morning and cycled through the sleeping town in the freezing dawn. The roads were much quieter on this, the second day of the Easter weekend. Presumably those who had travelled away for the weekend were now safely ensconced at their destinations and would be returning only after the holiday break was completed.
The Great Eastern Highway led through several interesting settlements and roadhouses that, surprisingly, did not appear on our maps. On these same maps the roadhouses along the Eyre Highway across the Nullabor are mentioned by name, I guess because there is precious little else to mention on the Nullabor, but it seems that in this part of the world they don’t merit a mention, losing out to the more sizeable towns. Fickle people, cartographers.
The highway passed through very interesting scenery and I saw many flocks of galahs and Port Lincoln parrots, all incredibly noisy as they screeched to each other from the trees or as they took to the skies.
For the first time I was forced off the road and onto the verge by a speeding road train and was very lucky not to fall as the gravel was treacherously slippery. It was a close call and I felt quite shaken by the time I had brought the bike to a standstill. There was no logical reason for the road train to come in so close as it brushed past me, for there was no oncoming traffic at that point. I guess it could just have been a lapse of concentration of the part of the driver, but turned into a nasty moment for me.
It was a sunny, cloudless day and the early finish in Merredin, meant that I missed the heat and the stronger wind of the later morning. A pleasant day to be on holiday in Australia.
After a shower at the caravan park and a hearty breakfast at a nearby restaurant we walked into Merredin, which billed itself as The Heart of the Wheat Belt, in time to witness the annual Easter Parade. There were a few bonnets on show, but none that you would like to write a sonnet about. The parade consisted of a few floats and a group of children on their bicycles, but the streets were quite crowded and it was nice to see the support that was offered to those taking part.
There was an Easter gathering of veteran and vintage car enthusiasts spending the night at the caravan park, the majority of them arriving in the late afternoon. In spite of their obvious enthusiasm for their cars, which appeared to be matched only by their enthusiasm for socialising with their colleagues, we had a surprisingly quiet night.