Week 7 – Wind, Wrecks and Closed Roads

Our Nullabor adventure started on a lovely Sunday morning, cruising out of Streaky Bay just before 8.30am and heading up to Ceduna to top up fuel tanks and get some last minute shopping done. Ceduna looked a lot cleaner and more civilised than the last time we came through 10 years ago. We had a lovely tail wind and expected it all day providing some of the best fuel economy numbers for our whole trip and the forecast looked like it would stay this way for the Nullabor crossing.

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Our first real stop on this leg was the Windmill Museum at Penong. This place is awesome with more windmills planned to be installed. We stretched our legs and took a heap of photos. Probably should have got the drone up but I thought I would need the battery power further down the track. We stopped for lunch at Fowlers Bay, which was an interesting little town, although it was way too windy for us to have a good look around.

The tailwind continued and got stronger as we went, yippee.

After another driving stint we got to the head of the Great Australian Bight about 45 minutes before closing time so we managed to walk the boardwalks to the lookouts in record time before being ushered out the door to the gate. It was getting pretty windy and all of us nearly lost our hats.

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It was about this time that we were looking for somewhere sheltered to camp for the night as we were all getting tired and the wind was buffeting us around on the road. We pulled into the Nullabor Roadhouse for a quick stop and copped a dose of sand blasting to the legs and then headed 10km inland along a small track to the Murrawinjinie Caves. The caves are typical of the caves along limestone karst system across the Nullabor and were quite interesting. I would have loved to do some exploring of the caves however, with the wind now reaching above 35km/h and whipping across the treeless plains we were doing our best to keep our camper on the ground. Overnight the wind did not die down making it a sleepless night.

 

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The next morning we packed up in the wind with everything having a red dusty sheen on it and headed back to the roadhouse needing a coffee – it was superb. Our first stop was a lookout over the cliffs of the Bight, which was stunning, then headed to Koonalda Homestead – a 15km rough road detour from the highway. This place was awesome, the homestead still intact with relics from yesteryear and a full paddock of rusting cars that didn’t make the journey back in the day when the Eyre Highway came past the front door of this place. On the way in Lily spotted a dingo trotting through a paddock which we all managed to get a glimpse of. After the homestead we got back on the highway for more lookouts and a stop at Bordertown and Eucla for the quarantine station and the old telegraph station, which is slowly being eaten by the sand dunes. It was sad to see the mindless graffiti on this historic building. After Eucla it was off to Madura for dinner and then press on to Cocklebiddy. We found a ripper campsite and after pulling in right on twilight we quickly got the camp set up and had a lovely campfire to wind down with.

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This day was meant to be a short day only doing 450 – 500km through to Cocklebiddy, however, after stopping at the lookouts and checking out the historic sights we were on the road for nearly 11hours.

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Our original plans for day three on the Nullabor was meant to take us to Afghan Rock at Belladonia Roadhouse, but we had overestimated how long it would take us to get to places and we predicted that we would be at Belladonia by lunch time so we decided that we would get to Belladonia and then head for the coast from there down some 4wd tracks. After travelling the longest straight section of road in Australia we got to Belladonia for lunch and saw that the roads in the Cape Arid National Park were mostly open but quite rough; we were expecting a bit of a challenge so this was fine. It was time to press on, so off to the turn off we headed to be greeted by a council road sign stating the road to the Cape Arid National Park was closed for maintenance. Bugger.

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The only other way to get to Cape Arid was a 400 km detour via Norseman and Esperance. We decided to do it – off to Esperance for the night and then head into Cape Arid the next morning. All up close to 800km travelled for the day. A big effort and the kids did it pretty well.

The Nullabor was an experience and we have only scratched the surface, it would be great to have a week or so to poke about off the main highway to see the old abandoned towns and the multitude of caves and blow holes. Next time.

But now our Western Australia part of our trip really starts.

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