Now, I did not realise how big a wombat can be. I always thought that they were possibly the size of cuddly little hamsters
We looked at the map and saw that the border for WA (Western Australia) wasn’t too far away at all…or so we thought. As novice travellers in this vast country, we did not correlate that less than a centimetre was actually approximately 1800 kms… We soon realised this though after hours on the road, and getting, what felt like, nowhere!
Anyway, enough of my bad map reading, let me tell you about the journey.
We took to the Eyre highway, noticing that very few cars were coming the other way. In fact, looking behind us there were also no vehicles. It felt strange, as though there had been some kind of apocalypse and we were the only people left…
We turned the radio on, but as we were quite literally in the middle of no-where we had no signal. The CB was turned on, and no crackles of life came through that either.
We put our Aussie playlist on that we had made and enjoyed singing along to the tunes of John Williamson. A true-blue Aussie legend. As we chorused along to “give me a home among the gum trees, with lots of plum trees, a sheep or two and a kangaroo.” I enjoyed reading the road signs. Yes, I know this one sounds childish, but it made me giggle – we were about to pass through Iron Knob. A little further a road sign shouted out to us: Don’t be a tosser! – this actually meant don’t throw your rubbish out of your car window. I wasn’t quick enough with my camera to snap that one but google can verify this.
The road signs warning us about the creatures also changed. Now we had to be aware of camels and wombats as well as cows and kangaroos. Camels? In Australia?? Really???
Now, I did not realise how big a wombat can be. I always thought that they were possibly the size of cuddly little hamsters, so couldn’t understand why there would be a warning. Surely if one of these little things wandered out in front of us, it would be lights out for it and no damage to the vehicle that was fitted with ‘roo-bars’. How wrong I was. They are blooming HUGE! They are honestly the size of a moving speed hump! They are muscular, around 1 metre in length and weigh about 35 pounds. Luckily one didn’t stray in front of us as they have short legs, so would be difficult to notice coming out from the bush. BUT 5 camels ran along the opposite side of the road. It was surreal.
Camels are not indigenous to Australia. In the late 19th century, they were imported to Oz for transport. In the early 20th century, these animals were released into the wild when motorised transport replaced the use for them. However, they bred, and their population grew. I read somewhere that there are an estimated 300,000 camels roaming around Australia.
We pulled over into a secluded verge, and I popped into the caravan to make some food and a drink. As usual, on stepping out of the car, I did my usual check for snakes and spiders before placing my feet on the floor. Good, none there. When I reached the caravan door, however, I saw ants crawling along the sandy earth. Not your regular run-of-the-mill ants that are around 4mm in length. Oh no. We were in the land of Oz, where creatures were larger than life. No, these ants were FORTY mm… holy crap! They were bull ants. I could see why they were named that; they were big, black, and aggressive looking! They would certainly give a Spanish Bullfighter a run for their money. Ha-ha. hopped quickly into the caravan and slammed the door shut. No way was I letting these critters in for a look around. Food prepared and put into a bag for a quick and swift getaway, I raced back to the car.
We drove a little further into the bush, as I was concerned that the ants might crawl up inside the caravan. A bite from one of these little prehistoric looking devils is supposed to hurt like mad – can you imagine one finding its way into your bed at night? No thank you very much! It was bad enough having to lift the toilet lid and check for spiders that like to live under them, and corners of the caravan and bedding for snakes before retiring for the night.
Setting off on the road again, John Williams blasting out of the speakers with his song “sail the Nullarbor” we sang along as we hit this super long road. The Nullarbor is named from the Latin, meaning, No trees. It is a road which is 1675km long. And guess what – there are no trees! The Nullarbor plain is truly the definition of the middle of nowhere. It is an expanse of nothingness that stretches over an area of 200,000 square kms. There is one section called 90 mile straight. This is Australia’s longest straight road. It weird that you can see into the distance, with a mirage at what appears to be the end. It goes on and on and on….
Still no traffic was coming the other way, but we caught up with a road train in front of us. The CB crackled into life. In front of this road train was another one, and the driver was asking if it was safe to overtake. “Hey mate, what’s she looking like ahead if I swing her out?”
The reply:” Yeah, mate. She’ll be right!”
With that the first road train swung out. We could see that it was about 30m in length! And it proceeded to overtake. It seemed to take ages, so I looked at my watch to gauge how long it would take. FOUR MINUTES!! Can you believe that for four minutes these mammoth vehicles were travelling side by side, on a two-lane highway? I looked at my other half and said, “Only in Australia!” All I could think was ‘OMG! What if something comes the other way!??’
We decided that WE didn’t need to overtake and just kept trundling along at the speed we were at.
We passed a road sign for The Head of Bight Whale Centre and decided that we would have a look. We pulled up close to the edge of the cliffs and got out to see the wavy cliff edges and the incredible turquoise sea crashing against them. It was a stunning sight. We weren’t fortunate enough to spy any whales on this occasion (that comes later) but we felt invigorated by the sea air and the spectacular beauty of the place.
Australia was stealing my heart. She has so many gifts.
We knew that we were possibly against the clock for the WA border closure, so set off again. Pulling into the Nullarbor roadhouse we saw an old shack, which was the original roadhouse built for travellers back in the day. We had a quick mooch around and set off again.
Oh, I have another little interesting piece for you about the Nullarbor. As you drive across the Nullarbor Plain, you could actually play golf along the world’s longest golf course! The Nullarbor Links. Each hole is in a different roadhouse or town along the highway. It stretches from Ceduna to Kalgoorlie. If you fancy a game of golf that can take between 3 to 5 days to complete – this is for you!
We decided that we were going to find a ‘free camping’ spot on the beach, so off we went, still travelling west, in search of a place to stay for the night.