After a false start because Brutus misbehaved badly, I finally left to head east over a week late and considerably poorer! Can you believe it cost $1000 to be towed 200kms? Thank goodness for my insurance with Ken Tame as $600 of that was recovered and he also arranged the tow for me. I was holed up in a caravan park in Norseman for a few days while the mechanic sorted out the problem, then wimped out and went back to Salmon Gums (in the opposite direction to where I was heading!) to lick my wounds and change my mind-set! One of my Solo friends, Val, popped into see me on her way west with her new dog, Max, who promptly became the subject of a poem due to his behaviour! And then Margaret, another Solo did a 100km detour to meet up with me so we could travel across the Nullarbor together. Oh, on the way to Norseman we stopped to have a look at Bromus Dam as it is a free camp which might be of interest to some of you. (no facilities)
So, what is the “big paddock”? It’s a name given to the journey from Norseman in WA to Ceduna in SA, across the Nullarbor. (Null = No; Arbor = Trees)The interesting thing is that although this whole trip from Norseman in the West to Ceduna in the East is called “crossing the Nullarbor”, in fact the true Nullarbor Plain is only a portion of this trip and starts just to the west of the roadside stop of Nullarbor.
Here’s the map that shows you the extent of this trip…..and I might mention that the Nullarbor is often called the Nullarboring!
We made really good time, staying our first night east of Balladonia at the 90mile peg. I was excited to even make it to Balladonia because a week earlier I had been towed in there when Brutus died about 60kms east. For those of you who have never been across the Nullarbor the places that sound like towns are really only a roadhouse, and they are dotted about every 200kms.
Our second night was at Madura Pass, in the parking area at the lookout. What a spectacular view! (My photos are much better than the ones on the link to Wikipedia, too!)
Our last stop in Western Australia was at Eucla. As we wanted to do some touristy things there we booked into the caravan park. A shower was really welcome after a few hot day’s travel and because we got in fairly early we had the pick of the spots.
The ‘must see’ at Eucla is the old telegraph station. As the dunes shift, sometimes it is hardly visible but it was quite exposed the day we were there.
On the way to the telegraph station there is also the Traveller’s Cross and a memorial stone to John Eyre, who crossed the Nullarbor from Fowler’s Bay in South Australia to Albany in Western Australia. The following information is from Wikipedia:
With this money, Eyre set out to explore the interior of South Australia, with two separate expeditions north to the Flinders Ranges and west to beyond Ceduna.
Eyre, together with his Aboriginal companion Wylie, was the first European to traverse the coastline of the Great Australian Bight and the Nullarbor Plain by land in 1840-1841, on an almost 2000 mile trip to Albany, Western Australia. He had originally led the expedition with John Baxter and three aborigines. On 29 April 1841 two of the aborigines killed Baxter and left with most of the supplies, and Eyre and Wylie were only able to survive because they chanced to encounter, at a bay near Esperance, Western Australia, a French whaling ship Mississippi, under the command of an Englishman, Captain Thomas Rossiter, for whom Eyre named the location Rossiter Bay.
In addition to exploring inland South Australia and New South Wales, Eyre was instrumental in maintaining peace between white settlers and Aborigines along the Murray River.
The next day we crossed the border into South Australia and stopped at the Nullarbor Roadhouse for a break and to re-fuel. I had heard a few bad reports about this stop but there are new owners and they are really trying to fix the place up. The showers and toilets were brand new and showers operated on $1 coin in the slot. Their petrol certainly wasn’t the most expensive we paid and the staff were friendly. A good stop with a good atmosphere. This is the sign as you are leaving.
We’ve almost made it! Our last stop before Ceduna was at the 222km peg and we managed to find a camp back off the road amongst some trees which we shared with 2 caravanning couples. It was really foggy when we woke up the following morning.
We were stopped at Ceduna as you are not allowed to take certain fruits and vegetables across the state borders but Margaret and I had cooked everything up a couple of nights ago so we had nothing to declare. Our journey of 1686kms was at an end. We left Salmon Gums on Monday March 9 and arrived in Ceduna on Friday the 13th – and you can bet there’s a story there – but more about that in my next blog as we start exploring the Eyre Peninsula.