Nothing boring 'bout the Nullarbor!
Trip Start Apr 13, 2011
32Trip End Jul 13, 2011
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Where I stayed
Eucla Caravan Park
But all to no avail. Wednesday, April 13 rolled around and we were on our way, ready or not. What wasn’t packed had missed the boat. What should have been left behind in the final cull will now give us the shits for an entire three months, smugly taking up room in the car or trailer and reminding us of all the useful things we could have taken instead
I promise to TRY and go back to write some previous entries in retrospect, as I have faithfully made notes in a diary so that I don’t forget. One thing that springs to mind and can be dealt with tonight is the "Rabbit Island" story from Coffin Bay, but I’ll tell it here, as my Facebook friends are getting impatient for an explanation. We splashed out on a boat tour of the bay and surrounds, which included a closer look at a number of islands. Our host, Darrian, explained that the names – Rabbit Island, Goat Island, Sheep Island, etc - were a bit misleading. It is clear to anyone still blessed with perfect vision or wearing the right corrective lenses that there is not a rabbit, goat or sheep in sight on any of these islands. Some of them are host to large colonies of sea birds, others are completely bare, whilst others provide sunbaking opportunities for the odd sea lion who has got lost looking for the quickest route out of Antarctica. Anyway, the story goes that one of the first boats that sailed to Coffin Bay back in the 1800s dropped a breeding pair of each of these animals off on the islands as they passed. A perfectly logical and sensible thing to do, it would have seemed, and a generous gesture meant to make life easier for all the other boats who subsequently sailed these waters, as the intention was to breed an ongoing food supply. However, they forgot one important detail … rabbits, sheep and goats drink fresh water, and the islands were floating in salt water
But that’s history now, in more ways than one. And luckily for them, they survived long enough on bread and bottled water to get to Coffin Bay and discover the yummy mud oysters, so I’m tipping there weren’t too many complaints in the long run.
Fast forward to Easter Saturday, and I am warming the tent with my sunburnt face. Forgot the sunscreen and even though we spent hours in the car again, it doesn’t take long for the sun to find the end of my nose. I look like Santa, which probably means the Easter Bunny will be too frightened to come near me tonight and I’ll wake up to no chocolate in the morning.
We’ve spent the last 24 hours on the Nullarbor, and are holed up in Eucla in the back corner of the caravan park. It’s been an interesting 48 hours, and although we can’t see ourselves doing the trip 7 or 8 times as everyone else out here seems to have done, it’s neither as boring nor as exciting as it’s made out to be – if that makes any sense
Last night was our first attempt at bush camping, and we are one-quarter of the way to declaring our new Camp Australia book worth its asking price. We rolled into a bush park called “Scenic Lookout” for fairly obvious reasons. It’s basically just the car park at the first place you can actually stand on the Nullarbor cliffs for free, so EVERYONE who does this trip stops here. The first however many can squeeze into the park and put up their campsites get to stay the night. We were amongst the lucky few, squeezing our “mini road train” in between the monster caravans and buses and throwing our tent over the guard rail onto the only spot that was clear of the lunar-like rocks that have covered much of the terrain for the last few days. Thank God for my old futon, as it is the only thing that would make these hard surfaces bearable for sleeping on. I hate to think what colour our hips would be if we were trying this with more traditional camping bed options.
Anyway, turns out we had landed temporarily in grey nomad heaven. We’d befriended a couple from Queensland earlier in the day and when we trotted over to their caravan with our chairs and a bottle for a pre-dinner drink and chat, turns out the whole campsite had actually converged under the annexe of the neighbouring caravan. They welcomed us warmly to the grey nomads’ club, although they did laugh about our (lack of) age
Next morning, I was up and about reasonably early and a very strange sight greeted me. I poked my head out of the tent, only to find that the campsite was deserted
Unfortunately, this very positive experience lulled us into a false sense of security and we spent the rest of the day paying for our mistake. At the very next photo stop, we stopped to chat to a man who was travelling on his own. It quickly became apparent why he was travelling alone, but by then it was too late, we were trapped on the Nullarbor with nowhere to go. Everyone on this road is going either east or west, and you share the journey with everyone headed in your direction, whether you like it or not. You zoom past each other at rest stops, piddle stops and fuel stops – it’s like a variation on chasey or some other childhood game. Every time you catch someone you’ve seen before, you have to compare notes on which stops you made, which ones you liked the best and which ones you will stop at next. It’s all good fun till one of them turns out to be Ivan Milat’s long-lost twin brother - and he has decided you are his two new best friends! What started as a few harmless comments on the view and cameras slowly developed into a long day of playing a tortured version of hide and seek – not that easy in a playground where the tallest tree is knee-high. By early afternoon, we’d had enough of the creepy comments and the “coincidental” meetings, so Paddy cooked up a plan to thwart him. We deliberately cut our journey short by stopping at Eucla, did a circuit of the caravan park before booking in and returned triumphantly to the caravan section, only to be stopped short by a vision that made us both swear VERY loudly. There was bloody “Ivan”, halfway through setting up his campsite, smack bang in the middle of the carpark. Nowhere to go, rabbits in the headlights, you name the cliché, we did the only grown-up thing – a big donut in the gravel as we hastened to get our little butts out of there!
We sat at the gate to the caravan park, shaking nervously and trying to work out what to do. In the end, we decided to be really, really grown-up and go back in to face the music. This time, we circled the park slowly and deliberately, but avoiding eye contact with “Ivan”. Thankfully, at some stage, we spotted a new section under some trees, well away from the main park, so we headed for what we hoped would be a sanctuary, then busied ourselves with chores for the next hour or so to look as unwelcoming as possible. Laundry (two loads), dishes, showers, tent, tidy car, put more sticky tape on the door handle (another story), … It seems to have worked, as we still have not been approached, and it is now the middle of the night. We still have to get out of here in the morning, though, so perhaps that will be yet another story. Actually, I hope not.