Yep that's 1211kms in one day folks!
This long drive would include crossing the arid expanse of the Nullarbor Plain, the worlds largest and flattest piece of limestone. Covering 200,000 square kilometres (which is nearly the same size as the state of Victoria). This area was nicknamed the Treeless Plain and it doesn't take a genius to work out why. I guess the 'treeless plain' didn't have the right ring to it it was decided to use the Latin nullus arbor which means 'no trees' instead.
It also has another nickname of the 'Nullar-boring' as there is not much to see along the way but we were willing to take on the gauntlet that had been thrown down to anyone who wants to drive from one side of Australia to another, and had a great time in the process. Not so Nullar-boring to us but then again coming from somewhere like to UK distances like this are a novelty and we were only planning on doing this once.
To complete this monumental leg of our journey it would take at least 12 hours, but fortunately for us we had time on our side...literally...as we would be crossing through 2 timezone changes gaining time as we went (or going back in time) so it was probably closers to 15 hours in total! Now this shouldn't feel like such a weird thing as most of us casually hop on a plane into another timezone without really thinking about it, but to drive through 2 in one day was a bit strange!
But first we had to get there as from Ceduna it was still a further 300km to the start of the Nullarbor. After spending a night looking at the stars through our 'moon window ' and trying to count the bats that had come out to feed swooping overhead, we were up early to make sure we were stocked up on fuel, water etc... Cleaning the windows would be a must at each stop so we could see, wiping away the dust and scraping off the thousands of splattered bugs!
Then we hit the road...
the very loooooong road...
It was crazy to think that we didn't need to make a turn for over 1000kms!!
We passed through the small town of Penong, where everyone clearly had had a good time on the weekend.
This would be one of the 'larger' settlements we would see in a while as most other stops along the way would literally be a roadhouse with possibly a convenience store too.
First thing in the morning is the busiest time and we shared the road with plenty of road trains and other camper vans and cars doing the journey. For somewhere as remote as this it had a surprising communal feel as all drivers raise a hand up to acknowledge each other as they drive past, particularly the other camper vans. Kind of a mini high five of 'yeah you're doing this too!'
Along the road we would be crossing the Dog Fence, which is the longest fence in the world at over 5600kms and spanning 3 states (according to a doco we watched last night it is 3 times as long as the Great Wall of China!). The purpose of this fence is to stop dingos from crossing into the southeast pastoral lands to protect the livestock there. The dingo 'problem' is a controversial one and there are mixed views on how to cohabit in these areas. Some farmers see them as pests that should all be killed whereas others see the benefit of having a top predator in Australia to help deal with all the feral cats, foxes and rabbits which are destroying the native wildlife.
Some more great road signs!
And finally the sign we had been waiting for, we had made it to the eastern side of the Nullabor!
Now we just had to cross it!
However first we wanted to take in the GReat Australian Bight so took the 12km detour off the highway to the coast. This area is famous for its whale look out points where Southern Right Whales can be spotted.Unfortunately for us we were out of season (May to September) but the views from the boardwalks of the Bunda Cliffs were simply stunning! This is where the limestone of the Nullabor meets the water!
To the east you could see where the sandunes come down to the ocean!
I was so distracted by the gorgeous views that I managed to put my hand in a huge pile of bird poo! Yuk! Needless to say this meant we had to head back to find somewhere to clean up and then recover from the incident with a connoisseur ice cream!
And I spotted a little lizard, happy days.
This is a skull of a juvenile humpback whale which washed up on a beach in 2009. If this is a head of a juvenile can you imagine how big an adult would be!
We couldn't hang around for long as we had so much ground to cover so it was back in the van onto the Eyre Highway which hugs the southern coast and would provide us which some more great views along the way but most of the time we would be seeing scrub land like this.
We would also keep an eye out for the signs for the Nullabor Links Golf course, where there is a hole at each 'town' along the way with names like Dingo Den. to help pass the time and give a break from the monotony of driving.
Its such a random place.
As the day went on the time between spotting other vehicles increased so for long stretches it would just be us and the road for company. It was also getting hotter so when vehicles did appear it was through a mystical heat haze on the horizon.
We got to the WA border at lunchtime and pulled over to cook up some noodles to keep our energy up as well as say high to the big kangaroo Rooey!
We were over half way to Perth...
But still a very long way from home!
Petrol prices were getting more and more expensive as we got more remote. We had taken the tactic of keeping our tank topped up regularly which worked a treat as you wouldn't want o be forking out for a full tank here!
All vehicles get stopped at this border crossing and quarantine check to make sure you are not taking any fruit and veggies that might spread the flies, also honey was something we were specifically asked about. After a good chat with the border inspector who was from the UK but came here several decades ago and has no intention of going back, we crossed into Western Australia!
We had forgotten to check the time when we crossed the border so pulled into Eucla to check. In our minds it was 2.30pm so it took a while to get our heads round the fact that it was now 12.15pm! Dan didn't believe me when I got back in the van and told him!
This was great though as we now had the whole afternoon ahead of us...and a lot more road...
And we were now on the look out for emus as well as kangaroos and camels!
There was an almost instant difference in the amount of road kill once we crossed the border into WA and we quickly lost count of all the dead kangaroos lying on the side of the road. I decided not to take any photos of these, the size and shape gave a disturbing resemblance to people on the side of the road. We didn't see any live kangaroos on this part of the journey (or emus, camels or wombats) but as the afternoon went on we did see several bobtails playing chicken trying to cross the road, a couple of snakes (although sometimes what you think is a snake is just a bit of ripped up tyre or a twisted branch on the side of the road), other lizards, and of course the opportunist crows.
We would also need to keep an eye out for planes land on the highway as this is used as an emergency landing strip! We definitely in the middle of nowhere, miles away from help if anything went wrong and images of the flying doctors came to mind as we passed these signs and saw the markings appear on the road to guide the planes.
The scenary was changing and we were now surrounded by what we would fondly nickname 'Broccoli trees'!
Approx 190km west from the WA boarder we had the jaw dropping experience of the looking out over the Roe Plains from the Madura Pass. I really need to find some other descriptive words other than vast but the landscape just stretched on and on. This area was home to the Mandura station which was used to breed horses for the British Army in India!
The photos don't do it justice but It was great to look out over some of the road we had travelled along, but we couldn't stop for long as we still had about 500kms to go!!
We stopped off for some more fuel which was now more than 2 dollars per litre! Wowzers!
We gained some more time crossing the timezone before Caiguna and I took the wheel for the 90 Mile Straight, Australia's longest straight section of road, and we were flying!
Having gone through our CDs several times it was getting a bit hard to keep ourselves entertained until we spotted the clouds cheering us on to keep going...
They weren't lying, this road was really straight!
I can only image that cyclists who take on this journey are insane and we passed one guy attempting it. We had both read 'The Man who Cycled the World' that follows Mark Beaumonts extraordinary achievement which includes him cycling across the Nullabor. This was the most difficult part of his trip. Even in the van we could feel the strong cross winds, the montrous force of road trains storming by and the relentless sun beaming in through the windows so to tackle this on a bike would be quite vulnerable. The sun was going down so we had no idea where this guy would stay the night and could only guess he would be camping on the side of the road.
We had an incredible colour show enhanced by the clouds as the sun went down, from moody blues and indigos to warm pinks and oranges. We finally got to Norseman at 7pm, an hour later than planned and to our dismay the office at the caravan park was closed. Fortunately they heard me knocking and let us in for the night. Tired and hungry we set up for the night and in our tiredness decided to cook out of the back of the van instead of going to the camp kitchen. This resulted in us being bombarded by mosquitoes and flies who were attracted by our head torches and had suicidal traits as they dive bombed into the frying pan as we cooked some eggs.
Needless to say we ended up sharing the van with some little biters that night, despite Dans best efforts to get rid of them all. I'm sure the other campers thought they were next to a mad man