Waking at the Oak Valley Airport Hilton, we compared notes on the day before. Old Mate Joc had been shipped out on the Flying Doctors plane and we were missing him straight away. We tried to replace him by naming the RFDS Bear ‘Jock’, but it just wasn’t the same. The teddy bear was better looking! We also compared notes on the eerie night that we had experienced at the airport. Several of the local dingos gathered and serenaded us with their eerie howls, and the lights stayed on the air strip all night. There was just a weird feeling in the air, a bit like when the Kadaicha Man comes around.
We dicked around a bit in the morning after yesterday’s massive effort; a few visitors turned up from Oak Valley (it’s just that nice type of place!) and a light plane came in to drop workers off. Eventually we pushed off back up past our friends at Oak Valley to the Vokes Hill - Cook Road that we had come down yesterday. The aim was to get to Nullarbor Roadhouse and then camp in the bush down there.
Turning south we bashed through some sandhills (again!) and then some very rocky country as we transitioned from the Great Victoria Desert to the Nullarbor Plain. We made fairly slow time and got mucked up a bit with the bikes whipping on ahead after a bit of bad advice about distance from some snoozers in a 200 series Land Cruiser Sahara (riding in that, they are probably out of touch with reality). We all gathered together eventually for lunch and checked the scenery and the map and confirmed: we the Trekkers had reached the Nullarbor Plain.
Nullarbor is latin for ‘no trees’ ( nul – no, arbour – trees). And there weren’t a lot. In this section north of Cook there were a few trees, mainly in the lower gullies (if you could call them that), with lots of flowers in these areas, particularly Sturt’s desert pea. The other thing that was there in abundance was rocks. There was no shortage of rocks; big, small, all hard. Brad picked up the first flat tyre of the trip on this rock-strewn, barren plain. We pushed on as the sun went down to our right as we travelled south. We decided to check out Cook as a place to camp; as is the TTT tradition, it was a good move.
Cook is a railway town, sitting at a strategic point on the trans-Australian railway. In previous days it was a thriving town with hundreds of people living and working here; the school taught 95 children a year. All this was to support the railway. When the change was made from timber to concrete sleepers, all this changed. The people weren’t needed and left, and now the town is pretty much owned by a company and used for re-fuelling trains and changing drivers as they complete their shifts. It was late in the day, we met with one of the town caretakers, Regina, who was more than helpful in setting us in ‘Camp Cook’. Again we received a fantastic welcome from people in the bush.
The other great thing about Cook was that it was the first time for many days that we had mobile coverage, so we made use of that to catch up with family and friends again. It was nice to hear their voices, and to know that nothing untoward had happened to any of our loved ones. We also got the news on our TTT son Joc when Brad gave him a call. The news wasn’t great. Seven broken ribs, lung damage that meant a drain was placed in, taking 450 millilitres of fluid out, general soreness and also he couldn’t poo (actually, this last one made us laugh!) We again gathered together to have a beer and toast Joc, and to be happy together that he was in good hands at the hospital in Adelaide. A late-ish evening saw us hunkered down out of the old Nullarbor wind, listening to the passing and stopping 1.8 kilometre long freight trains.