Saturday, May 16

Across the Nullarbor

Nullarbor???  First of all, let me explain what the Nullarbor is.  The name is derived from Latin - no trees.  Essentially it is a stretch of land in South Australia and Western Australia at the very south of the land, "overlooking" the Great Australian Bight.  It is usually referred to as the Nullarbor Plain.

From Wikipedia

"The Nullarbor Plain  - Latin: nullus, "no", and arbor, "tree") is part of the area of flat almost treeles arid or semi-arid country of southern Australia, located on the Great Australian Bight coast with the Great Victoria Desert to its north.  It is the world's largest single exposure of limestone bedrock and occupies an area of about 200,000 square kilometers (77,00 sq mi).   At its widest point, it stretches about 1,100 kilometres (684 mi) from east to west across the border between South Australia and Western Australia."

It is often spoke of as inhabitable and in the early days of Australia's history it was only the indigenous peoples that roamed that part of Australia, but in the 1800's various explorers set out to see if one could travel from east to west along the Nullarbor.  The first one was Edward John Eyre, after whom the highway was named.  If you visit the Nullarbor Plain you will wonder in amazement at the feat of doing this in 1840! You can read about it here. 

I have traversed the Nullarbor on four occasions.  One was in 1960 when I attended an International Guide Camp, just out of Perth, Western Australia.  I travelled with a large group of girls to the camp, and I can recall we looked out of the windows of the train, the Indian Pacific Train, and saw flat treeless land in all directions.  The train line is somewhat north of the Great Australian Bight and it was quite an adventure to see the small settlements along the railway line.  On the first journey it was a return journey - we travelled back to Adelaide via the Indian Pacific (so named because the train travels from the Pacific Ocean to the Indian Ocean.)

In 1962 I went with a friend to the British Empire and Commonwealth Games in Perth, and we travelled to Perth by plane, and returned on the Indian Pacific Train.  It was a long time ago, and apart from similar memories of the treeless desert, there is not much that I recall.

In 2012, in January, I travelled again across the Nullarbor but this time on my own, in my car.  When I tell of my adventures, people are amazed that I did it alone in my car - not a 4WD but a Mitsubishi Lancer 2011 model.  (I might add that I virtually circumnavigated Australia in it - and had no car trouble at all!)

The Nullarbor???!!!  "You drove across the Nullarbor???" people ask in amazement?   Wasn't it boring?  Is there ANYTHING to see?  Well, first up, might I say that I never got bored nor did I find that there was nothing to see - in my whole 35,000 plus drive.  It did help that I had arranged for good music and podcast programs on CD and USB sticks, to play to keep me alert, and I used to put on great singing CD's when I wanted to be stimulated.  I can "dance" and sing loudly on my own in the car and it certainly gets the endorphins going!  I also had my camera.  My Canon SLR.    I stopped for photos regularly and the Nullarbor was no exception.

The road across the Nullabor is sealed and good to drive on,   The Eyre Highway goes from Port Augusta to Norseman, a distance of 1675  kms.    While I did drive through Port Augusta, I travelled south to Port Lincoln, before following the coast road.

What I did do, that apparently not others do, is drove left every now and then on little tracks that took me (safely) towards the cliffs of the Great Australian Bight.  I met up with fellow travellers along the way, and they would often complain about the boredom of the trip, but they did nothing but drive, drive, drive.  I stopped often to explore the scenery, or take photos.  I thought the trip was awesome.

At one place I found a short walk to a well that was dug by Edward John Eyre and his team to get water.  There were places where extraordinary history was recorded, including a shipwreck where several fishermen died in the sea.








Above two photos were taken at the Head of Bight.


Eucla - the remains of the jetty where ships docked to deliver provisions to the Eucla Telegraph Station.




You might want to watch the video below.  It will give you some idea of the geography of the area.



Other great photography here. 

My best advice is to take time and explore the wonders of the Nullarbor Plain.  It certainly is NOT boring, but I could see that you could describe it that way if you had no time to slow down and see everything.


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