week 35...
the final frontier
The Nullarbor, Part I

Ladies and Gentlemen, this is it. The Nullarbor. From this moment on, this is the longest stretch of uninhabited road in Australia. It's so uninhabited, even the trees don't even bother to hang out there anymore.

There comes a point in every adventure where a man (or in our case, a man and his new wife) has to go it alone. It happened in Harry Potter. It happened in Labyrinth. It happened in Apollo 13. Consider it the 'blackout' phase, where we're apt to lose transmission with basecamp as we pass around the other side of the Earth's Sun.

And so, good people of Earth, we bid you farewell. Good luck with President Bush and the SARS virus. We may get to Ceduna and find out we're the only people left.
Bob the Gilder:
Bob knew lots and lots about gold, and has been prospecting around Australia and the world for most of his life.

Here are two of his recent finds:

One is from Victoria, and the other is from the WA goldfields.

Can you tell which is which?
ask a prospector
When someone says the word 'prospector', one conjures up the image of a grizzled old geezer of about 110 years old, with a long unkempt beard and a pick axe, holding a blunderbuss at the door of his tin shack, shouting "You ain't gonna get mah gold!" (either that, or great buns). Well, Bob's not like that at all.

Is this your job, or your hobby? Oh, hobby, absolutely. Whenever I'm on holiday, I go to areas that I know have gold nearby. Then I just dig around in the dirt and see what turns up.

So you go prospecting like other guys go fishing? Kinda, yeah. I like fishing too though.

How successful have you been? Have a look at these. I carry these around with me. Feel how heavy they are.

Ha, looks like you pulled out someone's teeth. Actually, funny you mention teeth. Once I found a nugget that was a lump of gold inside a lump of quartz, so it really did look like a molar with a cap. I've also found dog nuggets, dinosaur nuggets, whale nuggets... it's the attitude and individuality of the nugget that determines what I sell it for.

So you do sell them? Mostly to tourists, or when the price of gold gets high, to the Mint. The nuggets with character sell best though. Like the tooth. A guy offered me $20 for it, but I refused to sell for less than $100. There may be only $20 worth of gold in it, but once you melt it down, it's just plain old gold.
these are the people in our neighbourhood...
We met these four at our first rest area of the Nullarbor, and unfortunately, they spoiled us for the rest of the trip. We thought there was a chance that we'd hit a rest area every night with friendly campers with too much food for just themselves... Ah well, it was nice while it lasted. As they say, it's all bananas to the Easter Monkey.

Bill was the driver of the 4x4 towing the bloody huge caravan. He and his wife, Janet, have a table, chairs, a pantry, a fridge, a sink, a shower, a TV and a DVD player on board. Talk about luxury lifestyle. We're happy if we have food.
Janet just retired from her job at a Perth local supermarket, and the neighbourhood was sad to see her go, since she was the friendliest cashier there. People would wait in a longer line to ring up their groceries if Janet was at the till.
This round-Australia trip has been a long time in the planning stage by these four, and they were all waiting around for Geoff to retire. Well, he did, and boy is he happy! Now, if he could only figure out how to use his stupid new video camera.
I'll be the first to admit that this is not the most flattering photo of Gil. In real life, she's like a favourite relative who you're always happy to visit, not a Grumpy-Gus like she looks like in this photo. Must have caught her off guard. We'll definitely drop in next time we're in Perth!
wally's amazin' facts!
Dutchman Peter Nuyts aboard the Gulden Zeepard first explored the Australian coastline all the way to Streaky Bay in 1627. Hope the anguish of having to wait for that answer didn't keep you up too many nights.

This Week's Amazin' Fact: Sigh. We never did make it up to Kalgoorlie, even though every frickin' person in WA told us we should have. Had we gone, however, I'm sure we would have learned everything there was to learn about gold! Kalgoorlie is the gold capital of WA, and pretty much everyone who lives there works in a super deep hole. But you know why I wanted to go? Because it's one of the only cities in Australia with legalized brothels! Hubba hubba! I guess you need something to do on your four days per month you're out of the mine! What's that, kiddies? What's a brothel? Go ask your dad!

Since we touched on the subject of gold ever so briefly, can you tell me the origin of the word Karat, as in 24 Karat Gold? If you can't, then you're dumber than Doopa Dog!

Don't forget to look for Wally this week!
Distance this week: 301kmDistance since Day 1: 9908km

What is Bikeabout? Click here to find out!

Day 240: Bless this Mess
Distance Travelled: 0.0km Temperature: 22
End Location: Esperance Big4
we work too hard

Even on the honeymoon,
there's work to be done.

Today we're off gathering supplies and doing all those last-minute things that we forgot to do while we were busy getting married. There's always more to do! Aaargh! Our life is never dull, you know why? Because we never stop! I don't think we could if we wanted to. We're just like that.

"Don't tickle... or else you'll be needing a 'get better' hat!"
- Aimee.
Day 241: Sigh...
Distance Travelled: 2.4km Temperature: 22
End Location: Esperance Big4
okay, just one more day
I mean, really. Would you want to leave? The weather's been shitty, the road ahead offers little in the way of creature comforts and there's not a Tim Tam under eight dollars to be seen on the horizon. Plus, come on: it's our frickin' honeymoon.
   The option probably wasn't available on your honeymoon, (because you're much more sensible than we are) but would you rather (A) be cuddled up in bed eating bon bons, or (B) battling the freezing rain for twelve hours a day? No contest. If you had to think about your answer, just remember this little mnemonic device next time: there's no dessert on the desert.

"Smells like a Thunder Bay April."
- Kevin.
Day 242: Proud Husband
Distance Travelled: 37.9km Temperature: 18
Time on Trikes: 7.0h Water Left: 1.5L
Terrain: Windy
End Location: Scaddan
the love bike
As if the bikes didn't get enough attention already.
   Don't look at this as the end of the honeymoon. No way, nuh uh. We've got three weeks of coziness in our little tent. It'll just be us and the dingoes as we light candles and have one romantic evening after another. We'll sleep under the stars and contemplate our amazing future together.
   Ah yes. A candlelit dinner of pan-baked, fresh bluefin tuna, lovingly simmered in sweet chili sauce, served over a bed of lightly fluffed couscous and fresh garden peas. And us with only one plastic fork to share. Sigh.

"There only enough room in this state for one Doopa Dog, and you ain't him."
- Aimee.
Day 243: Praying for Wind?
Distance Travelled: 58.1km Temperature: 20
Time on Trikes: 7.5h Water Left: 4.0L
Terrain: Super Windy
End Location: Salmon Gums
the way of the highway
I am absolutely convinced that each highway in Australia has its own unique persona. A highway will either treat you well and reward you with the wind at your back (in theory. I mean, this has yet to happen in 243 days...), friendly motorists, and bitumen that hums. Alternately, a highway can turn on your like a your best friend at a Century 21 white sale, and give you glitter-gravel, driving headwinds and frosty mornings. The highway we're currently experiencing - The Coolgardie-Esperance Highway - is, excuse my language, a bitch of a patch of shitumen. We may only be on it for 203 kilometres, but it's fighting us every pedal of the way.
   We only have to pray to the transit gods that the Eyre Highway across the Nullarbor is a kinder, gentler highway, or else we won't be seeing Ceduna until... until... ever, I guess. Because I'll quit.

"They must have face-sales built in. Face-sales... sail... faith... Fail-safes! That's what I meant!"
- Aimee.
Day 244: What Goes Up...
Distance Travelled: 70.3km Temperature: 22
Time on Trikes: 8.0h Water Left: 6.0L
Terrain: Mostly Uphill
End Location: Near Norseman
math is hard
Esperance Highway... slowly sucking us back... to Esperance. Too many hills... wind too strong....
   When you've been going 5km/hr for three days, it's then that you begin to question how long it's really going to take to do the Nullarbor. Let's see... 1200km divided by 5km/hr... that's 240 hours of pedaling. At an estimated 8 hours a day, that's, what, 30 days! That's not so bad.
   Of course, we'll have lost our sanity by going so slowly for so long, but that's a small price to pay for the fame and glory of crossing the Nullarbor. Yeah. Good thing we brought a book.

"Not that I have any kind of affinity for Salmon..."
- Kevin, on national radio.
Day 245: Next Stop... Adelaide!
Distance Travelled: 62.9km Temperature: 22
Time on Trikes: 7.5h Water Left: 7.0L
Terrain: Still Climbing
End Location: On the Nullarbor
right at the intimidating sign
The Esperance Highway has loosened her death grip on us and we've arrived in the historic viking town of Norseman!
   After wandering through Foodland for one last time, filling up our water bottles and eating twelve Fair Dinkum Ham sandwiches, it's time for us to take a collective deep breath and a sharp turn to the right.
  Here's to the next highway being better than the last. When the distance to your next major destination is a higher number than your best ever score on Pole Position, you know it's going to be a tough month.

"I could go for some Cashew Cat right about now."
- Kevin.
Day 246: We don't need no stinking camels
Distance Travelled: 68.9km Temperature: 0
Time on Trikes: 8.0h Water Left: 6.0L
Terrain: Bouncy
End Location: Fraser Range Rest Area
bike a mile for a camel?
First impression: we're getting good vibes from the Eyre Highway. The wind seems to be decreasing and the hills don't seem as bad as they were yesterday. Perhaps it's just because we're now going east instead of north or maybe it's because we're excited to be starting this stretch of the trip.
   It's kind of surreal to be starting the Nullarbor. It reminds me of the first night when we set off from Townsville. Mentally, I was picturing this huge country that we had to cross, and we didn't know what was going to happen in the months it would take us to get to the other side. It's not as large an expanse we're looking at this time (though 80% of Australian motorists would swear that the Nullarbor Plain is longer than the circumference of Venus), but there's still a feeling of looking ahead and wondering what we're going to run across and what the challenges will be.
   I guess we'll never know unless we get started. This is what we've been working towards. This is the last frontier! Let the Nullarbor begin!

"Err... Which way to the Nullarbor?"
- Kevin.
null: no.
arbor: trees.

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© 2003 Kevin & Aimee Beimers. This is your mother speaking...