Waking early on the 25th we broke camp and finished the last 30km driving to Steep Point. Tony and I walked up the big sand dunes to check before we pointed Pat (the Patrol) up the hill with our trailer in tow. After a rough ride we finally made it – the most western point of the mainland. Getting into bike gear beside the trailer at Steep Point, we did a little looking around at the Zuytdorp limestone cliffs, but had to get moving as it was getting close to noon and the sun had quite a sting to it.
After the challenges of just getting here and it being Anzac day – it was a bit emotional – but the laughs were soon to start as Caroline fell off in the first 200m!!!! In her defence, it was very soft sand. We experimented a little with tyre pressure to try and improve our traction in the soft sand before realising that it didn’t really help – the sand was just bloody soft and really hard work!! Tony & Annie met us a few times to refill water bottles as we got through about 12L in a few hours riding – it was HOT! We eventually got to the big dunes that we drove over in the morning and after emptying sand out of our shoes a couple of times decided the shoes were superflous as we were hike-a-biking through the ridiculously soft and churned up sand anyway. Bare feet was much easier. Riding down the last hill of the dunes we finished that last km back to our campsite of the previous night on the side of the road. A hearty dinner and a bottle of sparkling shiraz to celebrate the start of our journey east.
Day 2 was all about corrugations and soft roads … 90km of them. We tried to start early to beat the heat as the team refines the morning routine. Heading south along the Steep Point road, we passed the clear blue water of the salt evaporator pools of Useless Inlet before crossing the causeway that took us back to Useless Loop Road. From here the road improved – slightly – with more hard surface and less soft sand as we went along. However, just when you think things are improving and flying down a small hill more soft stuff would appear and it would be a case of hang on tight and keep that front wheel straight! Our awesome support crew of Annie and Tony met us a number of times along the way with a cool water bottle and a brief break under the shade awning. It was 36 degC, so the shade and some lunch was very welcome!
The afternoon was more of the same – heat, damn flies and a cramp or two. We did see quite a few goats and sheep amongst the saltbush and stones and an emu with 3 chicks who tried to go through the fence at full speed!! How it managed to get up and run again after the most massive stack is beyond me. Then two cheers went up for the end of the gravel road and the end of our day’s riding. Bikes loaded up we headed for Hamlin Outback Station for the night.
Day 3 saw us start early where we left off at the end of the gravel road to finish the 39km ride back to Hamlin Station. “It’s flat” they said …. Well yes, the last 10km was, the 29k’s before that certainly were not! The heat and exertion over the last 2 days was rough and we took some rest time today. A couple more hot days forecast before the temps drop down to something more normal and hopefully a bit easier for us to cope with.