Crossing the Nullarbor plain from WA into SA was a bit like running a marathon. Many times we would yell, ‘Make it STOP!’ Then from nowhere we’d find a new strength to keep going. We drove a straight 1400km from Esperance to Ceduna from one end of the Nullibor plain to the other. It’s more or less the same distance as it is from Lands End to John O’Groats. It’s Australia’s longest straightest road and It took us 3 days of constant driving, with a break to eat, pee, sleep and a fair amount of fanning and faffing in between.
We were initially looking forward to the experience, expecting it to be a bit like the Savanna Way in the NT, however it was a completely different experience. There were no Billabongs to camp beside at night, no blazing red sunsets, no massive rocky outcrops or different types of birds, fauna or flora. It was one straight road of nothingness and it didn’t help our experience by being drizzly and cold. For us, crossing the Nullarbor was a bit of an insurance test.
It’s amazing how many emotions and states one goes through while sitting on your bum for 3 days doing nothing but staring ahead.
Glen and I were quite high spirited when we first set off, seeing it as a bit of an adventure, like we were the first to embark on this long expedition. We waved at every car that passed which was a usually every ten minutes or so, but the novelty soon wore off when the approaching motorists weren’t as enthusiastic about waving as we were.
We tried playing the game ‘Count the number plates’, but seeing as we very rarely passed a car, we soon got bored.
Then we amused and exercised ourselves with chair aerobics. We cranked up the volume on the iPod and became bouncy lunatics for a couple of tracks and we sang so loudly I thought the windscreen was about to implode. Then there would be times when both of us would stare at the road ahead in some kind of hypnotic trance, only to discover that an hour had passed and we hadn’t even noticed.
Road trains would pass us at such speeds that our van would almost spin around 360 degree’s in its wake. Most of the road trains were transporting sheep or cattle which I felt sad about, those poor animals doing such a long journey, no doubt without food or water or chair aerobics, to then be put to slaughter. There were also a lot of road kill by the side of the road, mainly Kangaroo’s, which was also upsetting, however it was a good opportunity to see some stunning birds of prey really close up. We also spotted a beautiful dingo crossing the road as we drove past. He or she had unusual markings of tan and white and it looked more like a Collie cross. Maybe it was.
The roadhouses were fascinating places. Every 300km or so, there would be a roadhouse where we could fill up with extremely expensive fuel, go to the toilet and stretch our legs. From not having seen another car for a good while we’d suddenly be amongst loads of other people chatting about where they’d just been and where they were going. There’s only one road in and one road out, so the conversation was always short and a bit like this:
‘Owya goin mate’.
’Which way have you come from mate?’
‘From that-a-way mate’,
‘Ah that’ll be right mate,
‘See yoo’s later mate’’,
‘Yeh bye mate’.
We were all at the roadhouses for the same reason, which one petrol cashier put so eloquently. ‘Is it just a Splash, Slash n Dash?’
For the really bored traveller, there are certain things along the way to keep you occupied. For example there’s the worlds longest golf course which stretches from one end of the Nullarbor to the other, so that’s 18 holes over 1200km! Not sure I’ll be doing that any day soon!!
Then of course there’s the BIG Kangaroo holding a jar of Vegemite (as they tend to do here Down Under!) which we of course had to take a few silly selfies with.
Then there’s the Balladonia Culteral Museum which displayed stuffed Afghan cameleers and the real life NASA Skylab which crash landed in 1979, leading the local counsel to fine the USA $400 for littering!
There’s also the motel room which has been turned into a tiny chapel for travellers of all denominations (so long as you’re catholic and no more than four of you). Nothing like a quick confession and a speed read of the bible to help you on your way.
At one point our bodies’ felt particularly stiff, so much so that we thought rigamortis had set in, so we decided it a good idea to stop and get on our bikes. We planned to cycle up to a lookout to give us a stretch, but after all the effort of getting out the bikes and prepping ourselves with water, compass and sunblock, we realised we could’ve walked to the lookout in under 2 minutes.
We slept in over-night parking bays at the side of the road which were surprisingly peaceful. On one of the nights we were perched at the edge of the cliff as the land meets the great Australian Bight. We saw the sunset and the full moonrise in peeks through the darkened clouds. We were very confused about what the time was as we’d moved through 2 time zone’s. One was a mini time zone where a small number of citizens live 45 minutes ahead of the rest of Western Australia. Then a few km’s further down the road, the time travelled, in a split second, to an hour and 45 minutes into the future as we crossed the border into South Australia.
This is where we finally said our goodbyes to Western Australia which had been our home for the past 6 months and said hello to South Australia.
After our third day of driving, the end of the Nullarbor plain was finally in sight. Just before we arrived in Ceduna at the end of the Nullarbor, we crossed through the quarantine check point to declare our goods. Luckily we had learnt our lesson from the last quarantine checkpoint when we entered WA from the NT. This time we knew we couldn’t bring with us any fruit or veggies (something to do with the SA Government not allowing the contaminated WA fruit flies anywhere near SA fruit….which is probably already contaminated with SA fruit flies, because the other side of the border, the WA Government are busy stopping people bringing SA fruit into WA….all very confusing). This time we didn’t have to eat the 50 portions of fruit and veg within 24 hours, this time we spread our fruit and veg rations across a week at the recommended rate of five portions a day.
YAY, we made the Nullarbor Plain, however since then, Glen and I have not been quite ourselves, forgetting to end our sentences and not quite remembering where we are, who we are and what we’re doing here. The Nullarbor sends you a little bit crazy in my opinion!!
However we’re now at Streaky bay back into civilisation, the sun is shining, the beaches of SA are calling and we are now only 2,000km(ish) to Sydney. We have almost completed a lap of the country. Easy Peasy.
Lets bring this ship home, put the trip to bed, cross the finishing line and lets get ready to show the 1500,0000 photo’s to friends and family……..OH but hang on……..we still have SA, Victoria and Tasmania to do yet.
So the story continues…………