“A hideous anomaly, a blot on the face of nature, the sort of place one gets into bad dreams” ~ Edward John Eyre, the first European to cross the Nullarbor Plain in 1841
If you want to cycle across the Nullabor Plains. You are looking at a journey of about 1,100 kilometers between South Australia to Western Australia. This ride has gained international respect for a cyclist to make the journey along the Eyre Highway to cross the Nullabor. A name which the Aboriginals called the “Treeless Plain”, and there is no escape from the wind.
The trek across the Nullarbor offers many challenges. Boring dead straight flat roads, desolate landscapes, extreme weather conditions and huge road trucks that will happily make you road kill!
Would you make the voyage across the Nullarbor Desert by bike?
Nicknamed Nullar-boring. The Eyre Highway is Bitumen with 2 lanes and is as flat as a pancake. You will likely see vehicles on a regular basis. Be mindful that there is no one enforcing speed limits across the Nullarbor and its a major Trucking route. Massive Road trains fly along the Eyre Highway at ridiculous speeds. The drivers wouldn’t care if they were to make you road kill. Some delight in trying to drive as close to you as possible to give you a fright. The best piece of advice that I was given was that if you look over your shoulder & see that a truck isn’t moving over to give you space to overtake you. Get the f#@k off the road as soon as you can.
The towns along the Nullarbor are essentially Roadhouses which offer basic accommodation options, which may include camping options. The Roadhouses will offer basic supplies that you will need to get you safely over the Nullarbor. Be advised that prices are incredibly expensive.
The Nullarbor has a desert climate, with arid to semi-arid conditions. Inland, summers can be scorching hot, with daytime temperatures close to 50 °C. While in winter nights can drop well below freezing. Given that you may be forced to sleep outdoors at some stage of your journey. Its important to bring the right kit that will protect you in both extremes. Be mindful that you won’t be able to get any reception on your phone along your way. You will need to rely on weather forecasts that you can get at the Roadhouses along the way.
Some of your experiences won’t be pretty. You will encounter a tonne of Road kill. Not wanting to paint a bad picture, but imagine dead carcasses cooking out in the hot desert sun. You’ll want to be good at holding your breath! Many of the animals that live in the Nullarbor are nocturnal and come out at night. I it can be dangerous to be riding on the roads at night.
90 Mile Straight
The Nullarbor offers the longest piece of straight road in the southern hemisphere. 145.6 km in length & arguably one of the world’s most boring sections of road to ride. It is an experience……
If you take on a ride like this it is important that you are in peak physical condition. You will want to have experience touring on your bike. And make sure that you bring along all the tools necessary to be able to fix your bike in the event of an emergency. Luckily as a safety net in the off chance that you get yourself into trouble along the way. There is a constant stream of traffic & it is unlikely that people would pass you if you stuck your thumb out to hitchhike. Whilst not everyone would be able to accommodate you & your bike. There are a number of large vehicles which would likely stop that would help you out in dire need.
A ride across the Nullarbor is great as you’ll meet many people along the way and can get to see the best in people. You’ll find complete strangers offer you free food & drink, and will be curious about what you’re doing. You’ll have a lot of time to think & reflect on what you’re doing.
Not many would ever consider doing a ride like this, let alone do it.
One positive about committing to a ride like this is that you can’t get lost.
Here are a few experiences that riders who have made this arduous journey have shared:
James Desmond wrote: “Is this the real life? Or is this just fantasy? It was never ending. My mind would wander; my grip on reality loosen. I was losing it. Long roads jetting into the distance to unreachable horizons, any crest breached would reveal yet another endless, daunting vista. Balancing on a narrow ribbon of asphalt stretching through this arid world I plugged in and switched off, escaping in music as the tedium rolled past. Every now and then I’d be jolted back into reality as a thunderous road train roared past. This was the Nullarbor”
Rachael Everitt rode solo across the Nullarbor taking four months to do so “The end’s a mixed bag. The actual night I was physically sick. But I got a hug. I drank some water and then drank some beers. When I had the chance to think about it I couldn’t believe I did it – it changed my life”.
So would you cycle across the Nullabor Desert?
If you want ideas on what logistics would be required I found this blog post by Mike Boles who offers advice on how best to take on the Nullarbor.
If you want to read about the first man to ever cross the Nullarbor.