25/11/2005You are here: Home > Travelogues > Nerd's Eye View > 25/11/2005
Across the Nullarbor (and a bit beyond)
Hi everyone, it's Friday email time again. Yay hey. This week we've travelled more than 2500kms, and we're finally done with that enormous place known as WA.
We started off the week doing the long crossing from Norseman to Ceduna - across the Nullarbor Plain. In actual fact, the true Nullarbor (from the Latin meaning "no trees", but you already knew that of course) comprises very little of this distance; only about 40kms of the 1200km journey are across the actual treeless plain.
Nonetheless, the whole affair is pretty a tedious drive. It incorporates Australia's longest stretch of straight road - 145kms from memory.
Whilst long and dull, it's not nearly as deserted as some of the other drives I've done in northern WA and the NT. There's plenty of traffic, much of it in the form of road trains, and a fair few roadhouses along the way. In years gone by things were a lot rougher, but of course that's progress.
The coarser details of the journey are largely uninteresting, but we did make a few nice stops along the way, including Newman Rocks and the ruins of the old telegraph station at Eucla, now being slowly consumed by the coastal sand.
We also checked out the Caiguna Blowhole, a small opening into the large cave system that runs beneath much of the coastal limestone plains. The hole is rather shallow, but it "breathes" depending on the relative air pressure above and below the ground. At the time of our visit it was breathing out - and quite cool and moist cave breath it was too.
As far as accommodation went, we camped in the bush for two nights, in nice spots off the road, of which there are many along the way (some nicer than others).
Once you cross the border into South Australia, the road runs a lot closer to the coast, and there are various spectacular lookouts over the famous coastal cliffs of the Great Australian Bight. It was fun playing near the edges with accompanying gusty winds.
Anyway, from there it's fairly uninteresting (barring the actual treeless plain, which only holds one's attention for so long) until you get to Ceduna, which, despite playing host to a total solar eclipse a few years ago, is in itself also somewhat uninteresting.
At Ceduna though you can choose one of two routes towards Port Augusta - either inland and overland (a fairly uninteresting drive from all accounts), or a longer detour down and up the Eyre Peninsula. We elected for the latter, and proceeded on to Elliston, via a few more coastal tourist stops, and a visit to Murphy's Haystacks, a collection of large granite inselbergs.
These impressive rock formations are quite picturesque and moody, and are definitely worth a visit if you're into that sort of thing (which I am). They're in the middle of wheat fields, which adds to the surreal nature of the area.
In fact, large amounts of the Eyre peninsula are given over to wheat; sadly, like many parts of Australia, the whole place is a bit of an environmental disaster area thanks to bad agricultural practices.
Anyway, the next day we pushed on in the direction of Port Lincoln, which is on the Southern end of the peninsula. We stopped off at Coffin Bay National Park (seemingly cheerfully named, but actually named after a person) and took in some sights.
After staying a night in Port Lincoln (also largely uninteresting), we explored the nearby Lincoln National Park before heading up the other side of the peninsula, through the iron mining belt, past the fairly miserable looking Port Augusta, and onto Quorn, to visit the Flinders Ranges.
Along the way to said ranges, we passed through Hawker (another little town), which is where we are now, and we visited some ruins of the main old 1800s homestead that ran thousands of sheep briefly. The poor buggers who settled the area had the bad fortune to arrive in the area during a particularly green and fertile time, and so had no idea that the place is in fact pretty arid. A drought soon saw the end of big sheep runs in the area, although there have been many smaller ones since, and the remnants still remain, both living and in ruin.
The Flinders Range National Park occupies some of this ex-farming area, as well as Wilpena Pound, a large ring of remnant mountain range with a valley in the middle. The whole area is pretty rugged, full of spectacular scenery, and we spent a very pleasant couple of days exploring it.
Yesterday we took in Brachina Gorge, and today we looped around the rest of the park, stopping off at the ruins of the old Oratunga homestead, finally ending back up at Wilpena, where there is a fairly substantial solar array to power the local resort and camping grounds.
And there we have it for another week. I've been briefer than usual, but large parts of the week have just been spent behind the wheel (or instructing Jana - she drove around a lot of the national parks). Thankfully an MP3 player with 7000+ songs is with us, including the Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy radio plays. I thoroughly recommend such an arrangement for anyone driving the length and breadth of this ridiculously large country. :)
Until next time, regards to all. Then all bets are off. We're both well of course, although the car has made some alarming noises from time to time. Really must get that looked at.
Catch you all next week! I'll leave you with the usual photographic selection.
Nullarbor (or thereabouts)
Great Australian Nibbles
Murphy's Haystacks - OR SPACE VISITORS?
A coastal cave near Elliston
The Flinders Ranges
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