After Albany I go inland again. At first I cycle along a great track through the Stirling Range. At the sight of the mountains (although little) I cannot resist and climb a beautiful peak from where I enjoy a brilliant view. Something quite rare in Australia. Fortunately the park ranger didn't see me scrambling up the rocks with my sandals.
For the next couple of days I cycle through the wheat belt. Endless crop fields and in between friendly little villages. In Hyden I pass the Wave Rock. A rock that looks like a wave about to break. Some Km further I come to the rabbit fence. A 1800km long fence built in 1907 to protect the agricultural land west of here. Even today the fence is still the border where the agriculture land ends and the bush takes over again. The dimensions are quickly adjusted to Western Australia standarts: 300km sandy track to the next water! On the way I pass Lake Johnston, a beautiful salt lake.
No doubt, Australia has its fair share of long, lonesome routes. But the mother of all those routes is the crossing of the Nullarbor plain. 1200km of emptiness between Norseman and Ceduna. The Nullarbor has just about everything that makes it the last place you want to travel with a bicycle: endless monotone landscape through semi desert and bush. Yet still (or because of) it attracts cyclists. Nowhere I meet more other cyclists. In terms of supplies and water the route is not too difficult as there is a roadhouse every 200km.
The attractions of the road are the 'Ninety Mile Straight', a 147km dead straight road without any curves, the Bunda Cliffs from where there are great views over the ocean and plenty of endless straights through barren landscapes.
Still it never gets boring even on this stretch. Something is always happening. People stopp and want to know what nutcase is cycling here. Then there are suddenly some bee-kind of insects all around me. I cannot cycle without my hat with the fly net anymore if I don't want to constantly have my mouth and eyes full of them. Ra-tata they hit me and the bike as if I was cycling through a hail storm. After 10km they disappear and I never see them again.
Often I cycle in a humid heat, just like before a storm. But the cooling rain never wants to fall. Until one day I see lightening and thunder straight ahead and then finally the rain falls. In that moment I could think of nothing better then cycling in this light rain. After I put up my tent the rain gets more intense but the ground here is so dry that it can impossibly absorb all that water and so the whole land soon is under water, including my tent.
So I make quite good progress until about half way when it starts to get hot and the wind turn into a very nasty head-wind.
When I fill up my water in Eucla and complain about the strong wind the guy at the roadhouse tells me "that was nothing yet. Today you have to be careful, they issued a wind warning and when the wind comes from the north it is very hot". And if Australians warn you about the heat, you better take it serious.
The wind really blows from the north and brings with it the hot air from the northern deserts. I can only cycle for about an hour in the heat and then have to find a shady place to recover and drink liters of water. But that is getting more and more difficult. They don't call that plain nullus arbor - no trees for nothing! The heat is unbelievable and sucks the last energy out of my body. For 3 days I struggle against the still brutal head-wind and a heat I have never experienced before. My body cannot recover anymore even at night and I am getting weaker and weaker. Before Yukala I have once again fled in the sparsly shade of a bush.
Several hours I sit there while I slowly have to admit to myself that I just cannot go on anymore. It is a very difficult decision but I realize that if I now go out into the heat again, I seriously put my health in danger and that's just not worth it. After I made my decision everything comes down and I lie there next to the bicycle crying quite some time until someone offers me a ride for the next 100km to a beach. At the next roadhouse they tell me that they had 51° yesterday and we just had the hottest november days in more then a hundred years.
Several days I need to recover while I slowly follow the coast of the Eyre Peninsula going for a swim at every opportunity to cool down. Then as quickly as it came the heat disappears and from one day to the other the temperature drops down 20° again.
After Port Augusta I meet another mountain bike Trail. The Mawson Trail leads 900km all the way from the Flinders Range to Adelaide. I am only doing the southern part so far. The rest I save for later. Other the Munda Biddi Trail, this one mostly follows hardly used trails through wide open countryside. So I pass beautiful wide fields and pastures, big herdes of Merino sheep und finally the wine yards of the Barossa valley until I reach the end of the trail almost in the middle of Adelaide.
Somehow unprepared I land in the middle of the town. After many weeks in the bush I feel a bit out of place when I see the hectic christmas shopping all around. But then I meet friends that I met on the road, we go out to eat well and enjoy some beers in a pub with live music. Ok, that part of the town I did miss.
If you are constantly on the road you end up sleeping at some curious places. I like that a lot, starting in the morning without knowing where I will end up for the night. Today I reach a little village at the end of the day. In the little general store I buy myself an ice cream when the owner asks me where I will stay tonight. "Somewhere along the road" I reply. I could sleep at the old railway station he tells me, "that is just for folks like you" and he gives me the code for the locker. So I sleep today in the waiting room of an old, little railway station, a very nice place full of character of the old days.
I follow the Fleurieu peninsula and then take the ferry to Kangaroo Island. Here the native animals are still mainly among themselfs. It is a true animals paradise. On my route around the island I can spot spiky echidnas, seals, eucalyptus munching Koalas in the trees along the way, plenty of roos, possums and wallabies and even penguins. The scenery has a lot to offer too: great beaches in the north and rocky cliffs in the south.
Slowly I am getting into regions that are much more populated and I soon pass a village almost every day. Of course that changes the way I am travelling too. I don't have to carry a lot of supplies anymore, on the other hand I cannot simply put up my tent anywhere along the road. But along the limestone coast there are so many national parks that I reach a new one every day where I can camp. These are no postcard beaches. Here the wild Southern Ocean meets a rocky coast. In between there are sandy beaches many kilometers long that you can have all for yourself. Behind the beach there are often giant sand dunes.
For new years eve I would like to be in Melbourne. In order to get there in time I have to add a little extra loop. Just right for a tour through the Grampians. For a couple of days I cycle on almost every possible dirt road all across the mountain range. I meet rock climbers that take me to their routes, do some great walks and overall see definitely more roos and emus then cars. A great park with some stunning scenery and fantastic rocks.
In the last days of the year I cycle the Great Ocean Road towards Melbourne. At least as impressive as the well known limestone rocks created by the fierce ocean are the detours into the deep forest of the Otway Park. Here there are lots of waterfalls, up to 90m high trees and fern trees that cover the ground.
After christmas summer holidays start and most australians have some weeks off. Instantly everyone seems to escape towns heading for the beaches. While I cycle along the great surf beaches from Apollo Bay to Bells beach there is action everywhere, in and out of the water.