Today is the first full day in the Outback, and the first full day of a constant and unchanging landscape filled with essentially nothing (still waiting on all those deadly snakes to come around).
And essentially nothing here translates to “mostly dead animals” (but we'll talk about those later).
Now that I've departed civilization and have officially entered no man's land, most of the cars I've seen have been RVs or trucks pulling trailers (like RV trailers – are those called RVs too? Campers? Pulling campers?)
Apparently, most of these vehicles are driven by the Grey Nomads.
Who are the Grey Nomads?
I'll tell you.
After 69.32 mi / 111.54 km of nothingness (except for an exciting stop at the Pimba roadhouse for a flushing toilet, a steak sandwich, and a fresh bag of M&M'S), I arrive at my home for the night, Hart's Lake Rest Area.
I'm greeted by a friendly border collie and a man who introduces himself as John, a (self-described) Grey Nomad.
You see, when Australians reach a certain age, it would seem that they have a tradition of retiring, buying an RV or camper (or otherwise live-in-able vehicle), and then touring the country – mostly migrating with the seasons (or maybe they just drive out into the desert to die?).
Astonished by what I've proposed to do (because let's be honest, riding 760 mi / 1,224 km from Melbourne to here really isn't too inspirational – I'm not even halfway across the country yet), John and his border collie, Cricket, serve me up a beer (thanks, Cricket).
With sunset approaching, I find myself a spot in the bush to set up my home for the night.
Safe from the Outback's insects in my mesh fortress, I prepare an exciting dinner of tortillas, ham, cheese, and hot sauce. Then, I head up the hill to impose on my new friends with the hopes of gleaning more human interaction (it's a lonely life on the bike).
We are joined by another couple of Nomads from the RV next door, and following their unprompted beer gift, I decide them to also be excellent people.
In addition to caravan-related topics, the Grey Nomads are fond of discussing where they're from, where they've been, and where they're going. I quickly discover that my level of intimacy with Australia's geography falls many levels below theirs, but I enjoy the friendly conversation nonetheless.
They also bring up Australia's aboriginal population and “the problem” that everyone keeps referring to. This is a subject I am still very confused by and that nobody seems to be able to explain to me directly (will have to research more).
Another topic that surfaces often? Their struggles on the road: having to find showers, not having internet, not having TV, not being able to find supermarkets, or having to search for campsites. I can't help but find it all a bit entertaining.
I don't think they would enjoy life on the bike very much – where showers, TV, internet, and supermarkets are best left forgotten.
And the Nomads don't have to deal with the growing fly problem.
To me, life in an RV is absolute luxury.
But I suppose they've earned it.
The owners of my new friend Cricket the god offer me a breakfast of bacon and eggs in the morning if I'm still around.
I don't like bacon or eggs, but there's no way I'm turning down a cooked (and free) meal.
I'll see them in the morning.
- START: Lake Dutton, South Australia
- END: Lake Hart, South Australia
- DAY'S DISTANCE: 69.33 mi / 111.54 km
- TOTAL DISTANCE: 832.47 mi / 1,339.44 km