Our last few days have been spent crossing the Nullarbor, a huge limestone plain that links WA with the eastern states.
Firstly though, please enjoy these early morning photos of Coolgardie’s beautiful architecture dating back to the 1880s – it is a quiet town these days, but it is easy to imagine the crowds and the vibe back then!
There was a minor delay when we left due to a long queue at the only garage in town (computer systems down so no fuel), so we headed for Widgiemooltha 80 kms down the track.
Surprise! The BP truck was late this week, so no fuel there either. Oops. We do have an auxiliary fuel tank, but hadn’t counted on missing two fuel stops completely! After a few rapid calculations we figured we could just make it to Norseman by driving very slowly – let’s just say it was nice to see that big green BP sign.
Ah then, now for the the mighty Nullarbor! The name is of Latin origin (Null = Nil, Arbor = tree) but we like the Aboriginal name as well (Gondiri = ‘bare like a bone’).
Some people just hate this drive across the Eyre Highway and drive it as quickly as possible; others are mesmerised by the huge landscape, the cliffs bordering the Southern Ocean, caves and rockholes and the beautiful sky-scapes. Perhaps it depends on how much time is available – No doubt about it, it’s a long trip along a very straight road!
We turned into the Nullarbor Roadhouse to see a sport aircraft in the queue for fuel! The pilot had flown for 7 hours today from Perth. Hmmm, 7 hours vs 3 days! Several planes a week land on the gravel strip at the back of the roadhouse which the owners maintain for the Royal Flying Doctor Service. It was a case of deja vu for Ian as he ferried a Cessna 150 from Sydney to Perth in December 1968, and refuelled at Nullarbor as well!
These days the road is in good shape, and there is a never-ending procession of road trains and caravans travelling both ways. But people have very different memories of this particular stretch of the GAFA, with many injuries and deaths and little problems like cars disappearing into huge potholes.
In our next post, Ian will recall his first experience in 1966, so let us know your best (or worst!) experiences of the Nullabor!