1/07/16 I need to retract my previous description of the Nullarbor Plain being devoid of trees. The section east of the Nullarbor Roadhouse certainly lacked any, but travelling west the next day to Mundrabilla, we found that the flora was different, comprising waist-high bluebush and saltbush and then including mulga. Regardless of trees or no, it’s still the iconic Nullarbor and presently in full burst of growth with the recent unseasonable rain. It’s very fortunate we didn’t take the Old Eyre Highway track as we’d intended because it rained again on and off all day and I’m sure sections would have been impassable.
Not too many people can lay claim to seeing a rainbow on the Nullarbor! The northern end is probably touching down in Kalgoorlie.
Sections of the Eyre Highway are designated as emergency Royal Flying Doctor Service landing strips, and are widened to allow road traffic to pull over on both sides leaving sufficient clearance for the plane’s wingspan down the middle.
At a few spots along the way, we pulled in to scenic viewpoints overlooking the iconic Bunda Cliffs and the Southern Ocean, and at the last one before the highway turns inland and leaves the coast, we spotted a solitary Southern Right Whale cruising slowly along the shoreline below.
The section of highway closest to the coastline is contained within the Nullarbor National Park which starts at Nullarbor in the east and ends in the west at the WA border. My Hema maps showed a number of side tracks from the highway to the clifftops and various sinkholes which I’d been looking forward to seeing. Disappointingly, most of the tracks had been closed off by Parks and Wildlife, leaving just a few “official” access points. Possibly to discourage camping, who knows. There is an awful lot of space out there and it’s a shame that when you make the effort to go see it, you’re contained within fenced pathways and parking bollards. We’re looking forward to travelling the unmaintained Old Eyre Highway track on the way back, if that hasn’t been closed off in the meantime or been sanitised with bloody bollards.
At the Border Village Roadhouse on the SA/WA border, we pulled in to the quarantine check point prepared for a good going over by the inspection people. Travellers had told us that they will open everything in their hunt for banned bio-produce, so we made sure that what we had on the quarantine list had been consumed before we got there. As it turned out, though, we mustn’t have looked like bio-mules or eco-trafficers, only receiving a cursory inspection before being told to be on our way. While we try to do the right thing, we’ve met people who’ve bragged about hiding fruit and vegetables under spare wheels and hard to access places to avoid confiscation, oblivious to the whole point of the quarantine requirements. All for a few dollars. Strange.
We‘re now in Western Australia, the seventh and biggest State and Territory on our travels. Entering the State, we went from Australian Central Standard Time in South Australia to a strangely small time zone around Eucla called Australian Central Western Standard Time (clock goes back 45 minutes) and further down the road at Caiguna it changes to Australian Western Standard Time (clock goes back another 45 minutes). Confusing? I know. We are now two hours earlier than back home in Queensland, four time zones away.
The 6th hole at Border Village and the 7th at Eucla were called due to inclement weather, and we’ll do those on the way back home to Queensland. The rain cleared enough to let us look over the old Eucla Telegraph Station, built in 1877 and now almost covered by the shifting coastal sand dunes. We overnighted at the Mundrabilla Roadhouse, and played the 8th hole on the Nullarbor Links.
The following day, the 9th hole at Madura was completed on what can only be called the world’s roughest fairway. After carefully negotiating the freshly ripped/ploughed fairway, I overshot the green by 10 metres on my second shot, requiring a further 9 (yes 9!) shots to complete the hole from the saltbush and mulga “rough”.
We overnighted at Cocklebiddy Roadhouse, 214kms west of Mundrabilla, and completed the 10th hole with a superb score (for someone using just a 5 iron). Everyone else I’ve seen playing the course has a bag of clubs. How commonplace!
“For those who love it and understand, The saltbush plains are a wonderland.” – Banjo Patterson