It was clear and calm when I left Nundroo and began the stretch of the Eyre Highway that traverses the Yalata Aboriginal Lands. The road rises and falls, although my tired legs were far more aware of the frequency of the ups than that of the downs, as it weaves its way through surprisingly dense vegetation. The undergrowth was sparse, but there were plenty of trees. The plain was definitely not yet Null Arbour. I passed the Yalata Roadhouse and shortly thereafter saw the first of the famous Camel / Wombat / Kangaroo crossing signs, which must be amongst the most photographed road signs in the world. We saw zilch. Not a camel, not a wombat and nary a kangaroo.
A little further along the highway I dismounted and pushed my bike across a wide cattle grid that straddled the road. This grid is part of the dingo exclusion fence that runs from Darling Downs in Queensland to the Great Australian Bight, making it one of the longest fences in the world at 5614 kilometres.
I pressed on and quite suddenly found myself in the treeless zone. A roadside board marked the eastern end of the true Nullabor Plain. It was treeless, flat and very, very hot. Now this is what I had imagined the entire Nullabor to be like. Thank God I was wrong! Twelve hundred kilometres of this would have been more than the soul could bear.
Just fifteen kilometres before reaching the Nullabor Roadhouse I loaded the bike into the van and we drove south from the highway to the South Pacific Ocean, to the point known at the Head of Bight. This is one of the prime whale watching areas of the world, but we are a few months too early. The Southern Right Whales visit the Bight between June and October to calve and perhaps to mate. During that time whale spotting flights operate from the Nullabor Roadhouse area and permits are required to visit the Head of Bight.
No whales for us, but spectacular views of the Yalata Dune Fields and the Bunda Cliffs. Eighty to a hundred metres high, the Bunda cliffs continue in an unbroken line for nearly two hundred kilometres. And the colour of the sea! God has truly made some special places and we felt privileged to be there. We also had our first glimpse of a wild dingo on the stretch of road between the Eyre Highway and the Bight.
Our senses sated with the spectacular sights of sea, sand and cliffs, we returned to the Eyre Highway and I cycled the last fifteen uneventful kilometres to the Nullabor Roadhouse. Uneventful, but excruciatingly hot. The kind of day when dogs lie in the deepest shade they can find, with their tongues hanging out and flecks of froth on their lips.
The caravan park at Nullabor Roadhouse is surprisingly large for so isolated a spot, perhaps necessary to cater for the influx of visitors during the whale watching months. A big gravel square with several rows of power points, all out in the blazing sun. I guess it is naïve to expect a few trees and a little shade at a spot named Nullabor.
Two dingoes visited the roadhouse during the late afternoon and evening, rather sadly reduced to begging for scraps from the visitors. They, or their kin, awoke us during the night with their mournful wails to the moon, which gave us a delightfully Australian experience.