The rush across the Nullarbor

As mentioned in the last post our plan was to rush across the Nullarbor pausing only at the Eyre Bird Observatory.   As can be seen on the map below, it is quite a long way so most of the time was spent driving, but we did have a couple of stops along the way and there were some interesting things to look at.

across the nullarbor

The first stop was at the Balladonia road house near where NASA dropped some space junk back in 1979 when the skylab satellite crashed to the ground.  The road house had a little museum, but there was not much original stuff to see apart from this bit of wiring loom.

20km from Balladonia we made the left hand turn onto the longest straight stretch of road in Australia finishing at the Caiguna blowhole – a small entrance to a large cave system that breathes in response to changes in atmospheric pressure.

weird time zone
Just east of Caiguna is a little known special timezone that applies to the tiny town of Eucla and 2 or 3 roadhouses along the last 400km of the Eyre highway before the border with South Australia.  Being on the extreme east of the state, I can understand why they would want to avoid the 3:30 AM sunrises in summer, but why they chose to be 45 minutes ahead of Perth and not a more sensible 1 hour is rather odd.
baxter plain view
At Madura, there is a bit of excitement as the road drops about 50m onto the Roe Plains.  Then about 250km further on it climbs back up again.

As if the vast open expanses, a 50m drop and climb and the occasional bend in the road is not exciting enough, The Eyre Highway also features a unique 18 hole golf course – the longest in the world.  Sporting astroturf tees and greens, the idea is that you play the hole, have a drink or even stay at the nearby roadhouse, then drive 80 to 150km to the next hole.  The photo on the left captures the moment where Maddy lost grip on her 7-iron during the downswing and the club went spiraling off to the right narrowly missing a parked car.

border town big kangaroo and joey
At the border crossing to South Australia, this giant kangaroo holds out a tub of Vegemite.  One then advances the clocks another 1 hour and 15 minutes.  I am not sure which is more weird.
nullabor sign
On entering South Australia, one passes this warning sign.  After 88km there is another identical set of signs warning of camels, wombats and kangaroos for the next 96km, then another and another.  I suspect this approach was either chosen to provide regular photo opportunities for tourists, or perhaps the sign design software did not allow for 3 digit distances to be signposted.  After 400km, the camel sign disappeared, but similar warnings for just roos and wombats persisted for another 300 or 400km.
koonalda sign
Roughly in the middle of our journey, we spent the night bush camping at this interesting old homestead which also served as a roadhouse before the highway was moved 12km further south.   Today it stands deserted as if the inhabitants just packed their bags and left.  National Parks is undertaking some basic ongoing preservation work to the homestead, but the surrounding buildings, shearing shed and yard of old cars is slowly deteriorating.  It is an amazing insight into remote life in the mid 20th century.   One is free to explore the area, so hopefully it never gets vandalised.   While looking around I could imagine how this would still be a bustling hive of activity if the highway had not been realigned.

  The exterior and kitchen of the old homestead.  The outer walls built from sleepers from the trans-Australian railway.

The old scrap heap out the back featured cars from the 1940’s to 1970’s that had obviously not managed to complete the journey across the continent;  An old petrol bowser.

 

Koonalda also has a blow-hole, about 1km from the homestead.  The opening is much smaller than the one at Caiguna, but when we visited, the rush of cold air coming out of the hole was far more impressive. It was like natures air conditioner it was so cool!

blue bonnet
A blue-bonnet, a type of parrot, spotted near Koonalda.
bunda cliffs selfie
Apart from the 250km or so of the Roe plains (where the land drops to sea level) most of the Nullarbor coast ends in these strikingly abrupt 50 cliffs. Here we are at the Bunda Cliffs.
nullarbor straight road
Yes there is another straight road picture a bit earlier in this post, but we did see quite a few of them.  Also this one is in a different state, so subtly different to the earlier Western Australian straight road.
outback wave
The outback wave, a cheerful excuse to exercise the finger muscles on passing another vehicle.   At this point we had re-entered the wheat growing area and had only about 500km left to go. S  As part of the big caravan family we belong to now, one must wave to another caravan coming the other direction. I always give at least a 4, sometimes 5 finger wave. It seems to be mainly men drivers coming the other direction though and they rarely give more than 1 finger. Is this case since I gave 5 fingers, I got 2 in return. M

 

 

The big Galah at Kimba the second time around 7 months on. Doesn’t Steve look much more relaxed now? They did some renovations while we were away and I think even the Galah is looking better! Poor pathetic looking thing! M

 

 

 

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