Chris Vee and Tilly see the Nullarbor
12 years ago, we came to Australia on a backpacking adventure. We were in our early twenties and with a 12 month working visa in our hands we spent our time travelling and working around Australia. Before arriving our plan was to fly into Perth work for a couple of months then head south working our way slowly east through Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane but our lack of knowledge had got the better of us and we were quickly advised by new friends in Perth that heading south in the winter would be grim, we should head north and take a clockwise route instead and soak up the winter in the top end and make our way down the east coast. So this is exactly what we did. The only thing meant by doing this we probably wouldn’t get to cross the famous Nullarbor on that trip.
12 years later I’m sat in Norseman waiting to do just that, but I wasn’t full of the same enthusiasm I had all those years ago about doing the infamous trip. I think when you’re younger you travel without a care in the world and don’t worry about the what if’s…. but as we get older we do, and we were now travelling with our dog and I had it in my mind what if she needs a vet, we’re a million miles from anywhere, what if we need medical attention, what if we have a break down. Unfortunately for hubby, I’m my fathers daughter and I overthink everything.
I think everyone has a fear of the unknown, it’s exciting but a little unnerving at the same time. Once I’d gotten over myself and the what if’s we were ready to set off, well hubby was going whether I was ready or not…..
We stayed in Norseman overnight as hubby had split our stops into 4 to help break the journey up. Norseman has everything you’d need as your last stop before heading east. There’s a small IGA to stock up on food, a bottle shop and petrol station and a mechanic. We found out about the mechanic after getting a flat tyre in Kalgoorlie, the guys were prompt with service and really reasonable in price.
The town itself dates back to the 1890s when the gold rush came about and has remained since. At one point it was the 2nd largest gold produced after Kalgoorlie.
We left Norseman fairly early on the Monday morning, obviously there was no rush hour traffic in Norseman but we had a big day ahead, as we also had scheduled stops to make as chris had decided to play the Nullarbor Links golf course. Our first stop was Fraser ranges to play one of the holes. It’s up a gravel road to a camp site. The permanent buildings on the site date back to the late 1800s and the station is the oldest one on the Nullarbor. It was lovely to see upon arrival a chalk board advertising dinner that night for guests, a lamb roast. Kinda in keeping as it was a sheep station, but it felt like true country hospitality. The Fraser Ranges are also famous for having the worlds largest eucalyptus forest with more than 20 species of eucalypts.
Our 2nd stop for the day was Balladonia roadhouse. The area made headlines back in the late 70s when space debris landed nearby from Skylab. The road house also has an interactive museum.
There also access to Israelite bay via 4WD tracks. Another side note regarding the road house is the expense of things, it seems to have a reputation as the most expensive fuel and whilst hubby was in the road house getting his docket stamped for golf he noted that a 6 pack of beer was $30+
Our 3rd stop was for the day was Caiguna, this was a our rest stop for the night. We had decided that we were going to use roadhouses for the crossing as the temps were insane, 40+ degrees during the day and overnight lows in the mid 20s and because of this and travelling with tilly we opted for use of the aircon at a powered site. Caiguna roadhouse was an ok stop. The setup is a motel, servo and the powered sites are just around the back. It’s a case of pulling up and leaving you van attached to your car and just plugging into the power. It suited us for the one night. I believe the roadhouse serves good food but again we didn’t get the option to try and we couldn’t dine in with tilly lol
The next day we were up and about early, we quickly showered and got on our merry way, our next rest stop was to be Eucla and it was a big drive between Caiguna and Eucla.The weather forecast wasn’t favourable either so we wanted to get there before we got caught in a storm.
We had 3 golf holes to play on the way also, so time was of the essence.
The drive from Caiguns was a lot more interesting, the scenery was different and we had a ridge to our left which ran for hundreds of kms. Chris’ golf holes were all at roadhouses, Cocklebiddy, Madura and Mundrabilla. The Madura roadhouse is set just after a spectacular pass, giving views across the roe plains and towards the southern ocean. You then drop downhill into the roadhouse which has a quirky feel with its vintage signage and set up. The roadhouse is also the half way house between Perth and Adelaide.
As we left this roadhouse the storm clouds started to build behind us. We had another 115km between this roadhouse and Mundrabilla so I told Chris to get a move on. We were keeping our distance from the building front but it was insane watching the lightening show in the wing mirrors.
After pulling into the Mundrabilla roadhouse I told Chris to quickly play his hole and get into the car as waving a metal club around the air wasn’t the wisest thing do be doing lol
Thankfully Eucla was only another 65km away so we jumped into the car and off we went.
Eucla roadhouse is a well kept stop. Again there are various levels of accomodation to suit different travellers from areas to pitch a tent thru to motel accomodation. The powered sites were great. Every site has its own little private area and there was plenty of space between each van.
We got quickly set up in the rain and settled in for the night. The storm which had spent all afternoon building behind us eventually caught us up.
We had parked up next to an area where a horse was being kept and they had covered him with a jacket and covered his face to help keep him calm during the storm. It eventually hit us around 6pm and tilly wasn’t a happy girl. People say animals can sense storms before they even arrive, this led to tilly being unsettled and the horse being spooked. The light show went on for most of the night before finally settling in the early hours.
The ablutions are ok at the roadhouse and you do have to pay for your shower. It’s $1 for 5 mins which we were happy to pay.
Again another big day ahead to get to Ceduna so we were up and about early. As we were this side of the boarder we still had to cross the boarder from WA to SA. Heading east you don’t have to do your food declaration until Ceduna ( civilisation lol ) so we just sailed through and made our way to our next stop for chris’ golf. We had 4 more stops to do today, boarder village, Nullarbor, Numdroo and Penong.
The Nullarbor roadhouse is probably my favourite. It’s the stop for the great Australian bight and the roadhouse itself is pretty special. In recent years they’ve built a new service station but the original servo still stands today, with its old petrol pumps and tin roofed buildings, it transported you back in time to how things would have looked decades ago.
The stop before Ceduna is a small country town called Penong. This town is known for its windmills, it has A LOT of then dotted around. There’s a few shops and service station and it begins to feel like you’re back in civilisation after such a long drive. We didn’t have long now until we reached Ceduna, 75km to be exact. I was looking forward seeing green grass for the sake of tilly, she’s a complicated girl and only likes to do her business on grass, she battled through the Nullarbor but it wasn’t fun for her or us.
We eventually arrived in Ceduna in the late afternoon. We decide to stay at the BIG4 in town. It’s well located close to town and grass lol
Chris finished his final 2 holes in Ceduna the following day and didn’t do too bad at all to say the Nullarbor links isn’t a lush green course. He scored a 91 which he was happy with given the holes
In summing up the crossing of the Nullarbor, I’m so glad we’ve done it. We’ve seen and experienced things that we will never forget. The feeling of total isolation didn’t seem so bad once we were on the road. There’s a lot of traffic on both directions and you see a lot of people at the roadhouses. The scenery is forever changing and I think that even trying to out chase the storm front made the trip more fun. I knew to conditions were harsh on the Nullarbor, but even the wildlife struggle. On our stop in Caiguna, I took tilly out for a walk in the morning and noticed a couple of birds drinking any excess water for a grey water waste on floor that had soaked into the dry road. I felt sorry for them that they were scrounging round for any signs of water.
The Nullarbor is a definite must do if you enjoy travelling
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