Monday, 14 November 2011

11/11/11 Day 3 Caiguna-Ceduna

Budgies on the ledge outside the ventilator window

This was another long hot day. This is the heart of the Nullabor - so called because there are supposed to be "no trees". Actually on this section there are plenty - small, scrubby, often burned, but with little bits of green regrowth. But miles and miles of scrubby, sandy desert.

We took a break at Cocklebiddy. This was a roadhouse in the middle of nowhere. Amazingly there were flocks of budgerigars! We had parked under a tree at the side of a large parking area, and I made a sandwich and cups of tea. We noticed the whirling group of budgies going to and fro, and suddenly they all started landing on the campervan. There must have been a hundred of them. They were obviously used to being fed by travellers, as they were perching along the door rails, on the window ledges, on the ariel. So I crumbled some crusts and threw them on top of the van, and even more budgies arrived.

More budgies perching on the side of the windscreen
We set off again on the Eyre Highway, and this is where the flocks of budgies became a problem.  There were flocks of budgies for about 10 miles along the highway.  They kept swooping across the road in front of the van, or even worse, flocks sitting on the highway in front of the van.  Jim kept honking the horn to make them move, but to little effect.  They would take off just in front of us, and quite a few hit the windscreen and were killed.  The road was littered with dead birds, particularly by the passing of a roadtrain.  I wondered whether the air currents were sucking seed from scrub  onto the road, and they were feeding on it.  There were a lot of budgies, so obviously the continual culling by traffic was not impacting too much on population.

Then a bit later, about 11am, we saw a cyclist ahead.  As Jim is a cyclist, we decided to pull over for a chat, and as we passed the cyclist, we saw a sign on his back "Food".  We pulled over immediately.  We discovered Stanley Chen, was Taiwanese, and was cycling around Australia.  He looked very fit and an experienced cyclist.  But to our astonishment, he said he had been cycling for 4 hours, had only travelled 40k, and had no food!  The heat and the strong headwind were making cycling difficult.  He had wild camped the previous night, and run out of food.  It was 90k to the next roadhouse!  I made him a cheese sandwich,  and followed this with pineapple and yoghurt, bread and jam, and a litre of apple juice.  He was keen to eat anything available.  He said he had plenty of water on the bike (it was extraordinarily heavy - Jim lifted it).  We chatted with him for about half an hour in the van, and he was keen to get on his way.  He had a solar panel on the front of his bike, and various electronic kit, but his phone would not work, as there is no mobile coverage across the Nullabor.  We found his lack of preparation somewhat worrying, but he was unconcerned.  Still, at least he had the sense to put a notice on his back, indicating he needed food! 

Stanley Chen, cycling around Australia, with 90k to go to next roadhouse.

Distance travelled - 720 k.

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