I left the Nullabor Roadhouse as soon as it was light enough to cycle in reasonable safety in order to make the most of the lower temperatures of the early morning. Even five minutes earlier would mean, I reasoned, five minutes less in the heat at the end. I was rewarded for my early start by seeing a wild dingo quite close to the road and then, several kilometres further on, seeing another. It was satisfyingly cool to start, but warmed up very quickly. For a change it was fairly cloudy, which offered some relief from the direct sunlight. I had done just four kilometres when I passed the first distance marker board of the day: WA 180. How depressing! No habitation of note between the Nullabor Roadhouse and the Western Australia border 184 kilometres away.
The wind came up from the south at around nine o’clock. More of a tailwind than a headwind, it was more of a help than a hindrance, but rather unpleasant for all that. The road was close to the coast, sometimes as close as two hundred metres and provided some spectacular views of the beautifully azure blue ocean below the cliffs. This stretch of coastline is not well frequented, which adds to its rugged charm.
At eighty-five kilometres I met a young Japanese cyclist making his way eastward down the Eyre Highway. With over 12000 kilometres and four or five months (he seemed a little vague on this point) on the road behind him, he was aiming for Sydney to complete his “Lap of Oz”. All of that on his own, he must have been looking forward to the end, if only for the chance of spending some time at home.
I stopped at one hundred kilometres, as usual, for something to eat and then again fifty kilometres further on for a short break. At one hundred and eighty-six kilometres I passed through a quarantine check and into the third and final state of the trip, Western Australia. This turned out to be quite a strict quarantine check and Jane was asked, nay, instructed, to dispose of a bottle of processed honey that we had in the campervan. Apparently the bees in South Australia are infected with different micro-organisms to those in Western Australia, and even processed honey could carry these hitch-hiking organisms across the border and infect the bees in WA. Sounded a bit far-fetched to me. Once again I was allowed to cross the border with just a cheery wave of encouragement from those in authority. No flies on me, and no bees either, apparently.
It was heartening to enter Western Australia and I cycled the last twelve kilometres into Eucla in quite a cheerful frame of mind.
There is a very pleasant caravan park/motel complex at Eucla, situated just a short distance from the original telegraph relay station that was built here many years ago and is now almost totally submerged in the moving sand dunes that parade along the coast. We visited the little museum, located in just a single room near the motel, which contained a fascinating display of the history of Eucla. Newspaper headlines from the end of 1971 screamed “World Attention Focussed on Eucla” but the museum was strangely mum on the reason for this attention.
What happened in Eucla at the end of 1971?
Well, what happened was that many of the local residents claimed to have seen a young blonde girl, half naked, living and romping across the plains in the company of a group of kangaroos. A beautiful young girl adopted and raised by kangaroos! A sort of Romulus and Remus of the Outback, only sexier. So convincing were these reports that newspapers reporters from far and wide visited Eucla in the hopes of seeing the girl at first hand. No such luck. Of course the whole story was a hoax, set up to bring some publicity to the district. Seems to have worked, too. Well done, Eucla.
There were a group of Australian cyclists at the caravan park in Eucla and I was soon in conversation with several of them. They told me that they were crossing the plain from west to east in smaller steps of sixty to one hundred kilometres a day, and intended ending their trip at Canberra.
The caravan park had splendid views of the sea, which was a kilometre or two away, and also hosted several memorials. One of these, the travellers cross, was quite spectacular when it was lit up after dark and was erected as a memorial to the folk who built the Eyre Highway.