Panigale Across Australia 2016: Day 7 – Caiguna to Esperance

Day 7: Live update – Odometer 49142km. Esperance, you surprise me with your natural beauty. Twilight Beach Road is like a miniature combined version of the Great Ocean Road and Freycinet National Park fused together. Beautiful. Perth, I’ll see you tomorrow evening. One day late, but I’ll make it worthwhile!

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On Twilight Beach Road, Esperance WA.

I refused to continue any further on the 90 Mile Straight in the dark. Rest was needed for my aching arse. Fortunately, a large isolated shelter wasn’t too far away, where I pitched my tent for the night.

There’s been stories told to me about highway bandits who would travel along such routes. One example is where a person would stand in the middle of the road, and signal drivers to pull over with the intent to seek innocent help. Once the driver pulls over, the rest of the group would ransack the vehicle and possibly even steal the car and drive off. In hindsight, the driver would not stop at all to avoid danger. Whether the stories are hearsay than facts is not completely known, but it is recommend that lone travellers to exercise defensive decision making processes to avoid trouble. These cases are uncommon, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.

This night indicated the third night of camp on the Eyre Highway. The freezing temperature woke me up a few hours later at 6am, but the sunrise enticed me to get up and begin the day. The time zone in Western Australia is two hours behind that of the eastern states, so my brain’s circadian clock would have assumed that it was 8am, past the time when I’d usually be already awake.

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The 90 Mile Straight was not really that much different from the rest of the Eyre Highway. The novelty of being on a road that seemingly forever goes straight soon wears after half an hour. The absolute silence and the isolation did make for some great photos on the middle of the highway.

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An emergency airstrip on the Eyre Highway between Caiguna and Balladonia.

There are several emergency airstrip zones on the Eyre Highway, which serves as a landing area for the Royal Flying Doctor Service. Apart from this feature, the remaining stretch of the Nullarbor Plain grew to become a tedious and very lengthy crawl, travelling at just 70km/h to minimise heavy tyre wear against the coarse highway surface.

The monotony of the rest of the Nullarbor region ends as the landscape evolves to the Fraser Ranges, where eucalyptus trees replace the shrubs of the arid environment. As I continued along the Eyre Highway, I came across a rest area which was located adjacent to a dry lake. A change of scenery is always welcome on the open road.

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Over three days on the Eyre Highway, and it has finally come to an end at the Coolgardie-Esperance Highway intersection at Norseman. Conditions were moderately windy in the area, so I was inclined to leave as soon as I can, because my next stop was the highly anticipated destination: Esperance.

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Highway intersection at Norseman.

The asylum, that is the mechanic which I had booked for my new rear tyre, was just 200km away, ETA at 2 hours. The finish line was just a ride away. Now racing towards the southern coast, I knew full well now that my rear tyre will actually make it to Esperance, with exposed canvas a possibility but still good enough to guarantee the completion of the remaining journey.

The speed limit no longer mattered to me* and, with fuel and tyre conservation no longer the agenda of my road trip, nothing was going to stop me from heading to the end sooner than the time it takes to go out and return home from a full-course meal.

For the first time in this road trip, I felt that chains were no longer cuffed around my hands and feet, and the mental yoke no longer held my shoulders down. Throughout all that time that was crawling and persisting at a measly pace to avoid excessive tyre wear, it was only at this point where I had realised that I was under immense stress under the regime of self-imposed penalties caused by apprehension of the uncertain. I was no longer encumbered by rules and restrictions. But most of all, I no longer was in fear of my own failure. I was free.

Many thanks to Steven from Full Throttle Motorcycles in Esperance, who organised a new rear Pirelli Scorpion Trail I, and promptly attended to my bike as soon as I had arrived in the workshop. His concern for my wellbeing throughout the few days was reassuring, and that he was considering giving me a tow showed that he was genuinely looking out for me. A top bloke.

The day’s objective of reaching the southern WA coastal town of Esperance was achieved without any dramas.  I wouldn’t call it a raging success to write home about, but it was a sufficient success. All that mattered was that I didn’t require a tow into town and there was no need for me to surrender my dignity.

This meagre success wasn’t earned through diligent preparations. It was in spite of the lack of proper hindsight, and that’s not something of which to be overly proud. This was a lesson learned in what not to do: Never skimp on servicing prior to a big trip. The fact that I underestimated the ruggedness of the outback highway almost caused me to completely destroy the rear tyre. A journey on new roads should never be assumed as being similar to roads of past experiences and, if money is a priority over the overall condition of your bike, then you probably shouldn’t be going on a road trip in the first place.

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Twilight Beach Road was one of two local scenic locations that Steven the mechanic recommended me to ride before sunset, the other to Pink Lake. The start of the road is just a short 5 minute ride from the town centre, and the road continues for 25km until it loops back to Pink Lake. Although I ran out of time to take advantage of the pinkish appearance of the waters of Pink Lake reflected by the colourful sunset, I was glad to have taken in the blissful surroundings of the coastal road.

The overnight weather forecast was looking wet, so indoor accommodation was an easy option, especially after three consecutive days of tent camping. Sitting in the dining room with nothing but undies on, foot-long sub on the table, beer in hand and clothes in the laundry, I settle in for a well-deserved night in the luxury of an empty 90-bed backpacker hostel. Esperance, you beauty!

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An evening on the beautiful coast of the Esperance.

 

Basic Statistics for the day:

  • Route: Balladonia, Fraser Range, Norseman, Esperance
  • Total distance: 585km
  • Range of temperature: 7°C to 22°C

Expenses for the day:

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General map route:

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*All relevant laws and regulations were obeyed to arrive safely to the final destination of the day.