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The Nullarbor

Tuesday 16 January 2001
Path > Port Kenny to Eucla via Streaky Bay Ceduna Penong Yalata Nullarbor in South Australia

Rob at Penong It was not a good start. I struggled with the gear and the bike and made it to the shop for Iced Coffee and a pie with sauce for breakfast (Aussie! Aussie! Aussie!).

Greg and I had done a bit of maintenance last night, so the bike had oil and the chain was adjusted. I had been a little rusty, so it was good to have Greg there to help out.

Feeling decidedly average, I said goodbye to Greg, wishing him luck with the tyre, and headed for Streaky Bay. Another tailwind helped and I covered the distance well.

Yalata sign My previous plan of leaving early from Ceduna was blown away by the fact that I arrived there at 11am. It could be a long day...

Leaving Ceduna, I was on what is considered to be the Nullarbor. There are long straights that you look down for miles but there was a surprising amount of trees and scrub. The road was undulating a lot as well.

I passed quite a lot of people along this stretch, most of who passed me back when I stopped at Penong for a drink and a photo.

The J was plodding along nicely and I felt better, riding within a few kilometres of the ocean. I think I had timed things just right to cross the Nullarbor with the weather as well.

Not bothering to fill up, I passed through Nundroo and stopped at Yalata for a stretch and a drink. From there it was another hundred kilometres to Nullarbor for food and fuel.

I had been cruising along and the fuel light came on about 50 kilometres out of Nullarbor. This shouldn't be anything to worry about, but I slowed back to near the legal limit anyway.

I saw the service station in the distance just as the bike coughed. I was still a few kilometres away, so the only thing left was to shake the FJ from side to side to get the last out of it before coasting to a stop.

Nullarbor cliffs I was about a kilometre away, so I set to walking, pushing the fully laden machine. The sun was burning down and the road trains were passing, sucking me across the road as I pushed the bike.

The truckies sitting around had a good laugh at me as I pushed in, still wearing my helmet and gloves.

We had a chat and a laugh about the things you see out here, such as cyclists, runners and even wheelbarrow pushers.

After an expensive bite to eat, I filled up and pressed the "electric leg". The motor just turned over but didn't fire. I sat there, dripping in all of my gear, thinking back to what had happened. The motor had sounded like it was out of fuel when it died, but I only put 20 litres into it...

It slowly dawned on me that the problem that we'd fixed at Edithburgh might have unfixed itself.

I took my gear off and then checked to see if it was ok to work on the bike next to the pump (under the shade and on the cement) before unpacking the swag, gearsack and saddlebags.

I'd made life harder by filling the tank, but managed to get it off and onto the swag to work on it.

Instead of worrying about the seal of the wires leading into the tap, I took the quick fix option and removed the O-ring, allowing the fuel to pass through without control of the fuel tap.

Thanks to the servo guy, I put the fuel tank back on without losing too much fuel and started the bike.

Around about then, Dave and his family came over for a chat. From Canberra, they also ride bikes and were interested to see what was wrong.

I fired up the bike, but noticed only three cylinders were running. As I explained the problem I had. It dawned on me that the vacuum hose was connected to the tank as per normal operation, instead of blocked off for the quick fix.

Dave offered a hand and provided a bolt to block the hose. Thanks Dave!

As I finished repacking my gear, a guy on a Kawasaki ZZR1100 pulled in for fuel. Paul came over and we decided to head off together for the border.

He had been across to Adelaide for the Le Mans race at New Year and also to Victoria and Tasmania. He didn't have a lot of gear and said he had been hooking along pretty fast.

We left together at a compromised speed (slower that he wanted to account for me) and soon passed Dave and family in the bus.

Josh and Allisun We stopped about an hour later at a parking bay before the border. We rode out to the cliffs - it was an amazing site looking out over the Great Australian Bight.

Crossing the border, we stopped at Eucla for a drink. Paul wanted to keep going, but it was getting towards prime time for kangaroos, so I decided to camp.

I later met up with Josh and Allisun from Wisconsin in the US, They have travelled the west coast together in a car, so we had a lot to talk about.

Extremely tired from 700 kilometres on the bike without the best preparation, I rolled out the swag, threw the mozzie net out (thanks Greg!) and watched the stars.

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Copyright © Rob Mader 2000, Journal date Tuesday 16 January 2001