Crossing the Nullarbor had always been on my bucket list however it was something I never thought I would get around to doing as it involves planning and preparation and takes days to drive. For those of you who have never heard of the Nullarbor it’s a 1700km plain stretch of road between Port Augusta and Norseman. It also includes the longest straightaway in the world at 146.6km. No wonder people say it drives you crazy.
This trip was going to be an adventure, I knew it, we left Alice Springs on Halloween which is one of my favorite times of the year (already magical!). Leaving the desert was exciting, we left with a days notice and were finally Nullarbor-bound. The first night we stopped was in a dusty Roadhouse yard and I felt free as a bird. After rolling out the swags we ended up falling asleep on top of them barely clothed because it was so hot but were rudely awakened at 5am by flies and mosquitos buzzing around our faces. On went the extremely flattering fly nets which I swore I would never wear.
The days of driving were long but there was plenty to see along the way. We made a few stops mostly for fuel. As I mentioned in my previous post about The Great Central Road there is this amazing app that you can use called Wiki Camps and it shows you where you are allowed to camp in Australia. Its a really handy thing to have as it includes prices, amenities, pictures and reviews. We pretty much fully relied on this app to find places throughout Australia.
Camping has it’s downsides and after over a week of enjoying sleeping in the swags and looking at the stars the novelty had worn off. This was especially true after waking up and finding a wolf spider, pictured below, in between us. That was the day that we graduated to a tent. This pleased me as my entire face was covered with fresh mosquito bites every day.
Another notable stop we made was by the salt lakes pictured. They were so beautiful and shimmered in the sunset. When I think about it, we manage to sleep in the strangest of places, I doubt I will ever have trouble getting to sleep in a normal bed again. It was deadly silent and only one or two cars passed during the night. We had our own shelter with a table and bench and bore water to wash up which made for our own little campsite.
Once we hit Port Augusta we were officially on the Nullarbor, for some reason I expected it to be a bit more of a big deal but it was literally a sign and a huge open road. I’m not sure what I was expecting. The road stretched out before us, not a tree in sight, just flat. There were barely any cars, a few campers and road trains.
Kimba is the home of the big Galah, Australia seems to have a few of these. Driving from Cairns to Airlie Beach I saw the big mango and crab. It is also apparently half way across Australia. We stopped in Kimba to visit a friend we knew from Alice Springs who was driving road trains.
Most of my memories of the Nullarbor will be of windy truck stops and that never ending road which just seems to melt away into the horizon. As you may have noticed our car has seen better days, with that being said we did drive it 4000km to Perth and then back across The Great Central Road so you can’t complain as it is a reliable car, more reliable than any car I have driven before.
We had started to get some car trouble so stopped at a place called Fraser Range to stay. The storms were so bad we dragged our swags into a farmhouse kitchen and hid there for the night. After a rushed breakfast in the farmhouse we noticed the two amazing looking trikes that we had seen at every stop on the Nullarbor. We had made the occasional comment and a few chuckles were had at the expense of our car but most of the time we kept over taking each other. They ended up helping us with our car that morning and then left us their number. We thought we would never see them again however when we arrived in Perth we met up with them and they became an integral part of our life in Western Australia.
There are some amazing coastal views to be seen along the way so make sure you stop when you drive as it is definitely worth it! We saw this rainbow by chance which was really magical. The storm pictured had been chasing us the whole drive.
One thing I was really disappointed about was that I didn’t see any camels despite the many signs saying there would be. I ended up seeing them on the Great Central Road so I was happy with that. In fact the only wildlife we saw was crows – they followed us, stole our food and woke us up every morning, if you have heard how annoying an Australian crow sounds you will feel my pain. One crow even pulled all our rubbish out of the bin and proceeded to spread it around the camp site. Oh and of course a family of emus which was very sweet indeed.
When we got to Border Village on the South Australia and Western Australia border we decided to set up camp. All of our fruit and vegetables had to be binned due to cross contamination between the states which I found really strange. That night I had a weird experience at Border Village. I wandered down a pathway off the road to go to the toilet, the path was cleared out well but I started to see animal skulls hanging on the trees. There was a burnt out truck, I carried on walking. Hearing a strange buzzing I looked down, there in the moonlight I noticed the path was lined with buzzing wire an inch from my feet and there were bizarre patterns made out of bones. It was some kind of weird burial ground. I did not dare to go any deeper until the morning and spent the rest of the night convinced I would be the star of Wolf Creek Three.
There was one hiccup along the way and this hiccup led us to Norseman. What can I say about Norseman? Not a lot really, it was absolutely pouring down so we had to get a room for the night which turned into two nights when we found out the cars wheel bearings had gone on the front wheel. Lucky for us Gold Fever Festival was on however this only made the town slightly bearable. We ended up spending over $300 on alcohol just to pass the time. The rooms resembled that of a horror movie and the toilet and shower were outside.
After one night it was apparent that everyone in the pub was on Methamphetamine, it started as an assumption but was then confirmed by a local gold mine owner. After the mechanic delayed the part another three days and a few weird experiences at the pub, we decided to get out of there and drove 200km at 20km an hour – the emus were faster than us. By the time we got to Esperance the wheel had almost fallen off and the next mechanic was a bit shocked that we had managed to make it in one piece.
Once we had completed the Nullarbor at Norseman we moved on to Esperance, Cape Le Grand, Albany, Denmark, Margaret River and finally Perth. You can expect blog posts about these experiences in the coming weeks! As usual I have listed some useful links below, thanks for reading and any feedback is very welcome.