Crossing the Nullarbor - West to East

Trip Start Apr 05, 2011
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Trip End Nov 15, 2012


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Flag of Australia  , South Australia,
Tuesday, October 16, 2012

With the dawn came the realization that we were on the final legs of our great adventure. Whilst we had planted that thought as far as we could to the back of our minds it was hard to avoid today as we were starting our trek across the Nullarbor.

Whilst some people find the crossing dull we really enjoy the diverse, ever changing landscapes and this was also the first time we had made the crossing from West to East so we were quite excited about taking in a different perspective. 

Passing through the delightful villages of Green Patch and Salmon Gums (where we took advantage of the last of the normal fuel prices) we admired the scattered salt lakes and rustic tones of the glorious salmon gums.  After a brief stop in Norseman we turned right onto the Eyre Highway and began our journey east

The first leg of the drive had us commenting on the amount of snakes slithering across the bitumen, whilst we are used to seeing a few here and there along this stretch there was a real abundance of them.  We stopped for the night at Woorlba Homestead rest area.  Tucking ourselves away from the road we used the last of our wood to build a lovely campfire.  After a day in the car it was nice to sit out in the open air watching the sun set before the night sky filled with the brilliant glow of twinkling stars and the bush television kept us captivated.

At Caiguna, which sits at the eastern end of the longest stretch of straight road in Australia (145kms), we stopped to look at the blowhole.  With the heat of the day baring down on us we found the cold wind shooting up from the blow hole a welcome relief, a little natural air conditioning.

By the time we reached the Mundrabilla Roadhouse it was 36 degrees. As much as we would have liked to have given them some business they were out of diesel, luckily we hadn't been counting on it and had enough to continue on.  We crossed the border into South Australia which also marks the beginning of the picturesque Bunda Cliffs and so we started to break our drive by taking every opportunity to pull into the lookouts and soak up the views.  These stunning rugged sandstone cliffs drop dramatically into the southern ocean making for the most gorgeous panorama.  Looking along the coast there are large chunks washed away exposing layer upon layer of different colours of sandstone before dipping into the aqua blue waters that pound at their base.  It was at one of these lookouts that we set up camp for the night, set high above the pounding ocean just us and two ravens, oh and the occasional hare scampering around.  The sunset and views were simply amazing as the sky changed from rich vibrant oranges to soft pinks and violets.

When we awoke the following morning there were already people parked near the van taking the short stroll out to view the cliffs.  Whilst the wind had swayed the van throughout the night it was worth it to spend the night in such an awesome location and to awake to such impressive views.

We continued to stop in at each lookout and attraction before arriving at the Head of the Bight where we were delighted to run into Bruce and Judith (teachers from Rod’s old school whom we met in Port Smith).   We took the short stroll along the boardwalk and were thrilled to see at least fourteen (if not more) whales and calves.  With the mums or midwives keen to protect the calves they were all close to shore so we were able to get a good look at these most impressive Southern Right Whales.  Aside from the amazing sight of the whales drifting back and forth before us the location was stunning with white sand dunes to the east and dramatic cliffs to the west.  They were so calming to watch we could have stayed there for hours however we eventually pulled ourselves away, bid farewell to Judith and Bruce and headed back to the highway.

We had commented on what a shame it was that we had not seen any camels when low and behold Rod spotted some!  After a quick U turn (we love how tight the van will turn) we pulled over and watched them as they casually grazed.  Before long there were five or more vehicles pulled up all just as delighted to see the camels as we were. 

We left the Eyre Highway and the comfort of bitumen for a detour out to Fowlers Bay.  Driving across a massive salt plain we arrived in the cutest little hamlet with massive sand dunes as a backdrop to the cutest of bays.  With just a few holiday shacks, the tiny caravan park and kiosk Fowlers Bay is one of those rare seaside towns to have retained its original charm.

It was here that we had our first flat trye!  Seventy thousand kilometers around Australia and we get a flat tyre as we drive into a caravan park, how lucky are we.  With Rod now so highly skilled in the art of plugging tyres we were so glad we had invested in a kit for being out here would have been a nightmare if it could not be fixed.

With the tyre repaired and back on the Navara we could relax and after a stroll out along the jetty we joined our fellow travelers around the communal campfire and watched as dark thunderous clouds swept around the bay.

A couple of dogs joined us for a morning climb up the sand dunes that run along the edge of town, this offered fabulous views along with a little fitness.  Then it was back into the car and back out to the bitumen rejoining the Eyre Highway until Ceduna where we once again drifted off the highway and down to the cute as a button settlement of Venus Bay.

This was such a fitting end to our drive across the Nullarbor and a great chance for some R&R after a few days of solid driving.  Our park was nestled along the edge of the bay protected from the wind and awash with pelicans just hanging around the fish cleaning tables hoping for a handout.

Taking a walk around South Head we were rewarded with stunning scenery and a large pod of dolphins frolicking around at the narrow entrance to the bay. The water drifted from translucent to a vibrant turquoise blue before becoming a deep dark blue.  There were soft pale sand dunes, rugged cliffs of red, orange and cream all making for a stunning panorama. 

We did a scenic drive out to Talia Caves where we admired both the Woolshed and the Tub.  Again the colours in the rock faces were simply stunning with the different hues of terracotta, orange and red.  The intriguing textures formed by the pounding waves which have shaped these caves over many a year had us in awe.  Following the road along the coast with sand dunes to one side and rugged coastal cliffs to the other the drive culminated at the most amazing surf beach which stretched as far as the eye could see.

Back at our camp we sat outside soaking up the gorgeous outlook as a steady stream of fishermen passed through filleting their catch whilst the pelicans surrounded them waiting for any discards.

Highlights of our Nullarbor crossing:

-          Camping atop the Bunda Cliffs

-          Stunning coastal scenery

-          Observing the Southern Right Whales with their calves at the Head of the Bight

-          Running into Judith and Bruce again

-          Seeing camels in the wild

-          Venus Bay, another little paradise!
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Comments

Val S. on

you certainly have an amazing selection of photos to keep the memory bank fresh... good to read that the journey is still full of highlights... stay safe. Val.

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