The alarm went off again at 7:00am. As previously noted, we have to carry our own supply of drinking water and have full tanks for the beginning of the journey across the Nullarbor. A such I had a thorough wash in the basin, but Russ insisted he have a shower.
By 8:13am we were leaving Balladonia Roadhouse in a light mizzle which had been falling most of the early hours of the morning, and the temperature was sitting on 16 degrees.
We had battled a side wind yesterday, and we battled a side wind again today. Even travelling at 80 kilometres per hour our fuel economy took a hit. We used 17.9 litre per 100 kilometres when we generally sit between 15 and 16. It all makes a difference, and this is the worst fuel economy so far for this trip.
Today we actually overtook a van towed by a ute which had a motor bike tied down in the well. He was going heaps slower than we were. It is the little things like this that make for interest to us on the trip.
So far there had been no dump points along the way, so we pinned our hopes on one of the 24-hour Rest Areas. The first one we came to was locked because it was full, and there were several other vans beside us who were beginning to get a bit worried.
We can generously thank Colin and Mary that we were not in the same boat as one of their gems of advice had been to buy a second cassette, which we had done.
The dump point at the next 24-hour Rest Area was open so we made use of the facility before continuing along.
Because our day’s travel was the longest stretch Russ and I shared the driving, each doing an hour block before changing over. The ENE wind was causing very difficult driving conditions.
We encountered much more traffic going both ways today than we had yesterday, and by mid-morning the sun had come out to play although there were still some clouds around.
Let me just state here that ‘The Nullarbor is not flat!’ It rises and falls up to ten metres as you travel along.
While I was doing the driving today I actually got some waves from the truckies, and there were lots of big rigs on the road both ways.
We travelled along further east and onto the beginning of the longest straight stretch of road in Australia – 146 kilometres (or 90 miles) of black bitumen lined by mallee scrub and not a bend in sight.
If you start this journey from Kalgoorlie, which many people do, you can begin to play the World’s Longest Golf Course.
The Nullarbor Links golf course in WA’s Golden Outback has captured the imagination of the world. This unique 18-hole par 72 golf course spans 1,365 kilometres from Kalgoorlie to Ceduna in South Australia. A single hole can be played in each participating town or roadhouse along the Eyre Highway, each featuring a green, a tee and a fairway of rugged outback natural terrain.
Providing a quintessential Australian experience, the Nullarbor Links golf course is a unique attraction to the great Australian drive across the Nullarbor Plain. The course is clearly signposted, with golfing equipment available for hire at every tee.
A couple of the bigger places have two holes.
Hole 1 – Kalgoorlie – Cy O’Connor is Par 4 and Hole 2 – Golden Mile is Par 5.
Hole 3 – Kambalda – Silver Lake is Par 4.
Hole 4 – Widgiemooltha – Golden Eagle is Par 3.
Hole 5 – Norseman – Ngadju is Par 5 and Hole 6 – Golden Horse is Par 4.
Hole 7 – Balladonia – Skylab is Par 3.
Hole 8 – Caiguna – 90 Mile Straight is Par 4,
Hole 9 – Cocklebiddy – Eagle’s Nest is Par 4.
Hole 10 – Madura – Brumby’s Run is Par 3.
Hole 11 – Mundrabilla – Watering Hole is Par 3.
Hole 12 – Eucla – Nullabor Nymph is Par 4.
Hole 13 – Border Village – Border Kangaroo is Par 3.
Hole 14 – Nullarbor – Dingo’s Den is Par 5.
Hole 15 – Nundroo – Wombat Hole is Par 5.
Hole 16 – Penong – Windmills is Par 4.
Hole 17 – Ceduna – Denial Bay is Par 4 and Hole 18 – Oyster Beds is Par 5.
And no, we didn’t play the hole at Eucla. In my opinion golf is a game spoilt by the white ball and I am hopeless at it.
I forgot to mention previously at Ravensthorpe when we were visiting the Fitzgerald River National Park for the last time, Russ picked up a hitch hiker. We found a large tick on the back of his right arm above his elbow.
We travelled through almost continuous stretches of salt bush interspersed with shrubs and small trees. We haven’t yet encountered any area that did not have some form of vegetation growing on it.
After Cocklebiddy we began a slow and steady climb up one side of the Hampton Tablelands and after Madura we went through the Madura Pass to the other side of the Tablelands. I was driving at this stage, so Russ was our photographer – there are lots of photos of trees (it was the play of shadow and sunlight amongst the top of the branches that captured his attention).
We came across two separate instances where a crow was being attacked by a minor at the edge of the road, and there was a surprising amount of bird life to be seen.
Apparently just before Caiguna is a blowhole, the entrance to a subterranean cave system which extends more than 20 km to the coast. Air chilled by the ocean is drawn through the caves until it makes its escape through these holes in the limestone and the breeze coming out of the blowhole is cool and refreshing.
According to the sign at Caiguna Roadhouse, this remote outpost on the highway is the hub of the universe!
The flat expanse of the Roe Plains lies between the escarpment of the Hampton Tablelands and the cliffs of the Great Australian Bight.
Once across the top of the Hampton Tablelands at Madura Pass it became very sunny. The Tablelands were an unexpected development as there is no literature about them to be found, and once down on the plain once more you could see how the land drops from the plateau. The
Tablelands stretch alongside the Eyre Highway for approximately 180 kilometres and maintain their average height of about 90 metres.
Occasionally the highway doubles as an emergency airstrip when the Royal Flying Doctor needs to land. The landing zone is clearly marked and if there is going to be an emergency landing the road is temporarily closed beforehand. The cleared spaces on either side of the highway are turning bays for the aircraft. We passed four of them.
There are free camps on the side of the highway for truckies and for travellers.
The highway parallels the escarpment of the Hampton Tablelands as it crosses the Roe Plains. When sea levels dropped 25 million years ago these cliffs and plains, made from the skeletons of sea creatures combined with layers of sand, emerged from the Southern Ocean.
The limestone shelf, up to 700 metres deep, was eroded by wind and water to form the cliffs and sand dunes of the Great Australian Bight. At the eastern end of the Roe Plains the road rises again to the pass at Eucla where we see the Great Australian Bight and the vast Southern Ocean for the first time.
Along the way Russ saw a Wedge-Tailed Eagle but forgot he was the photographer at the time. I saw one later while he was driving but it was too high up to be able to get a shot. We also sighted two dead kangaroos, one dead fox and one dead emu – no camels to be seen either dead or alive despite all the road signs.
Our total distance travelled today was 520 kilometres. We were able to choose our own site at the Eucla Caravan Park where there is power but no water, and a shower will cost you $1 for five minutes of water.
It was blowing a harsh, heavy wind when we finally arrived here and although the temperature reached 24 degrees it didn’t feel very warm if you were standing in the wind.’
And no one ever told us about Central West Australian Standard Time!!!
When I went to book into the caravan park the gentleman I spoke with was very quick to advise me that time here is different to other zones. Here we are 45 minutes ahead of Perth, one and a half hours behind SA
and two hours and fifteen minutes behind Victoria – just to make life totally confusing.
We ended up having tea as soon as we had set up so that we could fall into bed as early as possible. It was a thoroughly exhausting day.