We had read and heard a lot about ‘The Nullarbor’ in advance. Every local warned us that it would be a real challenge. Afterwards, we always laughed and said to each other, “Yes, yes, they like to exaggerate in Australia.” We had already taken a serious trip in The Outback to Coober Pedy, so we thought we could handle it. Or so we thought! To protect Western Australian agriculture, you are not allowed to bring fresh vegetables and such across the border. Therefore, we bought canned vegetables for three days and made sure to have enough water supply, as it is scarce on the Nullarbor.
The distance from Ceduna to Norseman is 1,200 kilometers. There are no people living on the Nullarbor, except for a few at the roadhouses. We came across a roadhouse with a population of 20 people. This makes gasoline, food, water, and the like extremely expensive since road trains have to transport everything here. Gasoline prices also vary greatly and can skyrocket within a few hours. Nullarbor is Latin for ‘no trees’. We were very curious about the landscape and wildlife during our trip. On the Nullarbor, the longest golf course in the world is spread over 1,365 kilometers, with each hole in a different ‘town’ or roadhouse. This route is so remote that two airstrips have been provided on the course to quickly reach it by plane in case of emergency.
We first drove about four hundred kilometers towards ‘The Nullarbor’. We had a lot of rain, thunderstorms, and especially wind on the first day. We faced a strong headwind, especially with the rooftop tent on top of our car. We encountered many traffic signs warning about road trains and wildlife. Unfortunately, we didn’t see any wildlife on our route on the first day, not even any dead kangaroos. In the late afternoon, we arrived at ‘Head of Bight’. The coast on the Nullarbor is given this name. This ‘rest area’ was free, and according to WikiCamps, there was a cottage. It was ideal for our rooftop tent as shelter from the strong winds. A bit further, there was also a tourist attraction (yes, even those exist on this godforsaken route) for whale watching between March and October. A bit unlucky for us, but we will still be in Australia in March, so hopefully, we will still see them. We were not the only ones at this resting spot. We had a nice view as we were further away from the highway. Along this stretch, there were indeed no trees, only low bushes. There were fences all around this area, which seemed a bit strange at first, but upon closer inspection, we realized that these fences were meant to keep the wildlife away. I’m used to kangaroos by now. We recognize the sound of kangaroos hopping or grazing as we lie in our tent. But here on the Nullarbor, there are also wild camels, emus, wombats, and especially dingoes. These wild dogs belong to the wolf family. So, I wasn’t completely at ease. We hoped to spot a dingo on our route, but from the safety of our car. 😀 We cooked some fresh vegetables because we hadn’t crossed the border yet. I was a bit nervous because dingoes are attracted to the smell of food and have a strong sense of smell. Later in the evening, two more campers arrived. One of them decided to set up his tent very late and, to top it off, make a phone call to his family at half past midnight. Fortunately, we were still able to enjoy a beautiful sunset from our tent and see an incredibly stunning starry sky in the middle of the night.
We woke up early and continued driving. An hour later, we reached the first roadhouse. Here, we could refuel and take a shower for 1 dollar. We had to insert the money into a machine, which gave us three minutes of shower time. Today, we had beautiful weather, and along the way, there were three lookouts (no surprise there): the Bunda Cliffs. These cliffs were formed 65 million years ago when Antarctica separated from Australia. Nature is truly remarkable, isn’t it?
On the way, about forty kilometers further, there is indeed a stretch where there are no trees. However, for the rest of the journey, we saw plenty of trees. We found that strange! On the Nullarbor, you cross South Australia and Western Australia. That’s where ‘Border Village’ is located. They inspect everyone for bringing in food due to strict regulations to prevent fruit flies. Honey, fruit, and vegetables are not allowed to be brought in. We had forgotten that we had an onion with us. We quickly filled up our car with fuel, and when Ely was paying, he asked if we could take our onion with us. They said we had to peel the onion and cut off the ends. Strange rules here. We were stopped by a friendly, but mostly joking, man. There was little inspection because he didn’t see our cooler box and only checked our refrigerator. We were quickly allowed to continue driving, and we were sent back two and a half hours in time. It felt a bit strange because we were already on the road early, and suddenly it was half past nine again. Our stomachs were growling for lunch. We passed Eucla, which has an underground telegraph station. This communication was very important between South and Western Australia in the past. We drove on a gravel road and finally spotted our first animal: a kangaroo. There wasn’t much to see at the telegraph station, but we enjoyed the sunshine, stretched our legs, and had our sandwiches.
We continued our journey, and the further we drove, the stranger it became. At one point, our clocks displayed three different times: my phone, my Fitbit, and the clock in our car. Three different time zones. We were completely confused. The roadhouses operate in their own time zones. Some are closer to the Adelaide time zone, so they set their clocks back by 45 minutes. It doesn’t really make sense, as the Adelaide time zone is 2.5 hours ahead, not 45 minutes. To make matters worse, our radio stopped working. During our last check-up, they disconnected our radio from the battery. An anti-theft system requires us to enter a code, which we don’t have. We drove in silence and didn’t say much to each other. Fatigue was starting to affect both of us. We took turns driving, but this journey was so monotonous. You don’t experience anything and see very few people along the way, so there’s not much to talk about. For hundreds of kilometers, there was no phone reception, so we couldn’t even reach anyone. I stared out the window and drifted off in my thoughts. We could sense that we were both on edge that day. We felt very tired, but you don’t camp at a rest area just after noon for fun. There was nothing else to do but keep driving. We had to bite the bullet. Along this route, there were supposed to be well-known caves and many 4WD tracks, but since we’re cowards, we didn’t dare drive our car there. We really want to keep our car for the next eight months and then try to sell it for a good price.
That day, we drove about 600 kilometers, including the start of the longest straight highway, 90 miles or about 145 kilometers. Miles of straight road. Endless expanses of green plains on both sides with a touch of red sand here and there. Occasionally, we passed oncoming vehicles, and they greeted us friendly. We always find that very nice. You don’t see that in our country. We hadn’t taken into account that the sun sets much earlier here. We arrived at our overnight spot around 5:30 PM. It would be dark within three-quarters of an hour. We quickly fried an egg and hastily crawled into our tent. We were truly confused and mentally and physically exhausted. Luckily, we were able to witness another beautiful sunset. We heard a kangaroo hopping by, and our eyes closed at 8 PM. By four in the morning, the first light was already present, and by 4:30 AM, it was broad daylight.
The next morning, we woke up very early. A bit too early, at 4:30 AM 😀 We dozed off for a little while and then set off towards Esperance, still about five hundred kilometers to go. We hadn’t been on the road for very long when we drove through a massive swarm of locusts. There were definitely thousands of them. What a nuisance, because we encountered them again later on our journey. We found those creatures everywhere: in, around, on, and under our car. We were a bit disappointed that we saw so little wildlife during our trip. Apparently, it has to do with the time of year. We refueled one last expensive time in Balladonia. The fuel there cost $2.10 per liter, which is extremely expensive in Australia. We drove more and more towards beautiful valleys and trees. We arrived in Norseman around noon and had our sandwiches. The end was almost in sight! Just those last two hundred kilometers to go. Once again, we clenched our teeth and kept driving. In the late afternoon, after three days, we returned to civilization. We booked a paid campground, enjoyed a shower, and did our laundry. Wonderful! We were in Western Australia and ready for our next adventures.
X Inez & Ely