The day 35 saw us riding around 650 kms from Albany to Norseman, the last major town in Western Australia before we enter the state of South Australia.

Though we had a pretty longish day ahead of us; our progress was a bit slower than expected because of the flooded roads and the resultant diversions. Our first encounter with flooding on the road was just an hour away from Albany. Around 50 m stretch of road was filled with rain water and it was quite deep. Before getting into the water, we waited for a truck to cross it to gauge the depth and it turned out to be safe enough. But a potential road block soon turned into a great photo opportunity for us as we ended up crossing the waterlogging 3-4 times, riding as fast as we could to create a big splash of water to take a picture. Because why should adventure bikes have all the fun? Both the ride and the rider got a much needed bath as well.

But just a few kilometers from there, a huge section of road was damaged by the floods and the traffic was being diverted to an alternate route, which was good 20 kilometers of dirt road, which was muddy at a few places. And bikes like Ninja H2 and the Panigale are not something you’d want when you want to ride on roads like this. But there was no other option. It had to be done. And we did it, and came back alive and in one piece. The Pirellis didn’t disappoint either and held a reasonable good grip on the loose surface.

A substantial amount of time was lost in dealing with all this; resulting in our late arrival to Norseman. And by that time, all the cafes/restaurants had closed. We were left with a few sandwiches bought from the BP petrol station in Norseman as our dinner.

 

motoGrapher at work!

Norseman is the starting point of Eyre Highway, which is the only sealed road connecting Western Australia and South Australia.  Norseman is considered to be the gateway to the Nullarbor plain, which is world’s largest single piece of limestone that has an area of roughly 200,000 square kilometers.  It is also one of the most awaited stretches of the #powertrip360 for me. You may ask, ‘why so?’ I’ll use an analogy to answer this query – Nullarbor to Australians is what Leh/Ladakh is to Indians. It is one  of the ‘the coolest’ and must-do roadtrips in Australia and nearly every second biker we met asked us whether we’re going to do it or not. And there we were, sitting at the doorstep of Nullarbor.

This is the unfortunate reality of riding in Australia, especially from dusk through dawn. It cannot be stressed enough on how fatal hitting one of the million kangaroos, or other creatures that can cross over at anytime in front you can be. Forget your chances of surviving on a motorcycle, people have a hard time getting away in a car, especially if it’s a big one. Scores of dead animals like these line the Australian highways, especially the Nullarbor region. However, inevitably we did ride in the night for around 2000 kms of the 16000 that we have done so far. Blame our penchant for photography and other updates that we serve you during our rides everyday. There are a few known cases of these creatures hitting in broad daylight too. With the last 4000 odd kays left, we can only hope all will go well. And RIP all of them.

A roadtrip on this stretch is supposed to be eventful and memorable. And it turned out to be much more than that. We had originally planned to ride from Norseman to Eucla that day, around 710 kms, and that included Australia’s longest straight road as well. This stretch of road is 146.6 kilometers long and as the name suggests – it is an arrow straight road with not even a degree of bend visible anywhere. Those 146 kilometers were done away in no time, but we were definitely not prepared for what lay ahead for us.

DCIM100MEDIADJI_0059.JPG

Courtesy: Google Maps
the longest straight from the Drone’s eye

 

We were shooting with the drone 400 kms short of our destination for the day. The drone went up and a little away from us, crossing the road, hovering above the bushes when we realized that the wind was so strong that the drone couldn’t fly back. In fact, now it was flowing with the wind, going away from us with every passing second. Attempts to land it back in a safe zone were unsuccessful. And it was still going away. Wind was not letting up and the battery was dying. So I decided to go into the bushes to retrieve the drone, trying to locate it with the help of its GPS location shown on the controller app. The drone had landed in the bushes by that time. But the rescue effort turned out to be much tougher than I had envisaged. The bush was getting thicker and it was extremely hot out there. And what scared me most was the wildlife. This entire area was infested with huge kangaroos and any one of them could knock me down if they felt threatened. And I later found out that that area was home to some of the most poisonous species of snakes in Australia. And there I was, walking alone with just a wooden stick for self-defense if it came to that. And it is very easy to lose your sense of direction in the jungle when you have nothing as a marker. I veered off in wrong direction a couple of times before finally finding the drone. But by that time I had walked for around 2 kms and the highway was not visible from that point either.  But with the help of GPS, I started walking in the direction of the highway and exited the jungle some 2 kms further down from where I had entered the bushes. But I was happy to be out of the jungle and onto the highway. There I realized the true meaning of the famous bikers’ quote, ‘keep your motorcycle in good repair, motorcycle boots are not comfortable for walking.’ Walking 3-4 in full leathers and that humidity and heat caused 2 huge blisters on both feet and walking last kilometer to the bikes was extremely painful.

Operation Rescue The Drone map – white dotted roughly traces the route that I took. Courtesy: Google Maps

But the effort was worth it as losing the drone at this stage would have meant a huge loss of invaluable data plus the monetary loss. It would also mean that we would not be able to shoot with it in the days to come. But as they say, all’s well that ends well. We were relieved to get the drone back once again but had lost more than 2 hours retrieving it and riding to Eucla didn’t seem like a very good idea as we’d have to ride close to 250 kms post sunset in a heavily kangaroo infested area.

So the better sense prevailed and we cut short our ride and called it a day at Cocklebiddy Roadhouse, some 280 kms short of our target.

 

 

 

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