Crossing the Nullarbor

Mark Stewart Road Trip, Travel 2 Comments

“If you’re going to cross the Nullarbor in that car, you better bring some eggs and pantyhose.”

The Car

Our Car, Ready for the Trip

The previous evening was spent in an abandoned salmon fishing camp on the coast. Celebrating my birthday, we drank cheap beer in the car while singing along to CCR’s greatest hits. Not just out of love mind you, it was one of the only two CD’s we owned and radio reception was non-existent.

Pantyhose and Eggs

Stopping for petrol and supplies in Noresman the next morning, a man asks us our plans. “Heading into the Nullarbor today!”, we proudly tell him. He looks concerned and mentions the pantyhose and eggs.

The eggs, he mentions, can be cracked into the radiator to plug any small leaks. Over 1600 kilometres with average temperatures in the high 30’s, a leaky rad would be devastating. As for the hosiery, they’ll make a decent replacement for a snapped belt. At the very least, it should allow us to reach one of the roadhouses that appear every 200 km or so.

“I’ll grab the eggs,” Kylee says as she runs off laughing. Great.

Straight Road

Not Very Exciting

The Eyre highway cuts across the Nullarbor plain along the southern coast of the country. It’s long and flat, windy and dry; a very inhospitable place. Over our three days crossing the wasteland, we saw very few other cars. The only sign of hope if something went wrong would be the fairly regular road trains hauling goods between South and Western Australia. The roadhouses were our only contact with other humans, as we restocked supplies and paid extortion-level prices for fuel.

At the first roadhouse we visited, we treated ourselves quite nicely with an upgrade to our music selection. In addition to our fantastic, albeit overplayed existing collection, we picked up a glorious compilation album of 80’s classics. Allowing us to blare chart-toppers such as EMF’s “Unbelievable”, Toto’s “Hold the Line”, and Warrant’s “Cherry Pie”, as we cruised the red dusty plain. It was glorious.

Scenery on the Nullarbor

Cliff Jump

Swim Time?

The overall scenery was rather bleak most of the time, however, the overall vastness was breathtaking. Many parts of the plain itself were once the ocean floor. Looking to the north in some areas, you can see the cliffs of the ancient shoreline, while simultaneously the cliffs of the current shoreline are to the south.

Occasionally we would pass signs warning of camels, wombats and kangaroos. While no sightings of the former two occurred, we saw plenty of ‘roos – dozens, hundreds even. Crushed, bloated bodies dotting the side of the highway every couple of minutes, victims of the late-night road trains. Aside from the odd lizard or snake, the only actual wildlife we saw was a feral cat that calmly crossed the road ahead of us in one of the most desolate parts of the entire drive. How it was surviving out there in a desert without shade or water escaped us, but it appeared strong and walked with confidence.

Accommodation Change

As mentioned above, the Nullarbor is windy. Really windy. This element brought about a slight change to our accommodation – an upgrade if you will. Having spent the previous weeks more or less comfortably in our haggard tent, this part of the trip changed that. After setting it up late on the first afternoon, pegging it down as well as possible in the sun-baked earth, we turned back to the car for a few short seconds before a gust of wind removed it from the ground. Like a giant green tumbleweed, it bounced away faster than we could chase it across the flats. Thankfully, after a short while, the wind died down enough for us to catch up. The poles were a little damaged, but not beyond repair. However, this was the end of tent life for the time being. The car was now both kitchen and bedroom.

Completion

Late in the morning on the fourth day, we pull up to a small shack on the outskirts of Ceduna, at the eastern end of the Eyer highway. “Fish & Chips, Oysters, Beer & Wine” the sign reads, straight to the point. While the journey itself was simple and passed without incident, we celebrated the crossing with some ice cold wine and a platter of oysters.

The crossing of the Nullarbor is by far one of the greatest and most unique road trips we’ve ever taken. Our little Toyota not only survived the drive but performed flawlessly. As a result of our lack of issues, we now enjoy the bounty of one dozen extra eggs to accompany our diet of instant noodles. Regarding the pantyhose, I guess if we run out of money we could always rob a bank…

The Nullarbor

The Edge of the World

 

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Kathryn
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This is one of my dreams! I love your description of the outback as being bleak and breathtakingly bare-it’s very accurate! What type of car did you use? Do you think a 4WD is necessary?