It is unadvisable to drive on the roads in Australia after dark, as this is the time when bulls, cows, kangaroos etc decide that the highway is the place to be.
The road was endless,…
…and every few hours another vehicle passed on the opposite side of the road. Everyone waved to each other. It almost felt like that we were acknowledging that there was still life on earth! Even though there were no trees, the landscape was still very beautiful in its own way. The sky was such an amazing shade of blue, and as it touched the ground in the distance it complemented the redness of the earth.
Time was ticking by, and we still had some way to go before we were in Western Australia. It was early in the afternoon, and as the sun goes down really quickly in Australia, we needed to find somewhere to stay for the night.
I opened the Wikicamps app (which is brilliant by the way – I wish there was something like this for travel in every country) and had a look at where the free camp sites were. I saw one that was about an hour away, so we decided that would be the one for us. Seaweeds camp in Eucla. It looked like a brilliant spot in the sand dunes with the sea just over the top of them.
We called in at a fuel station to grab a couple of bottles of water. The guy behind the counter was chatty and told us to watch out for dingoes. He explained that they were not pure breeds, some had inter-bred with wild dogs that had been dumped by their owners and that there were some big ones out there. They actually cull these dogs, as they pose a threat to the wildlife.
With that thought in mind, I must admit that I was pretty nervous to be camping in their territory, but my partner assured me that once we had lit a fire, we would be fine…
We found the turning to the camping spot and drove down the hill. The tarmac ended suddenly, and we found ourselves in deep sand. We were supposed to get out of the car and release some air out of the tyres, so that we could plough through the sandy road.
However, the car pulled the caravan nicely along on the air pressure for the tarmac, so we just carried on.
After about 500 metres into the sandy road, we came to a halt. It was a single track, with spiky bushes either side of us. We were stuck. The only way out now was for us to let the tyre pressure down, and then dig out the sand from around the wheels.
We got out of the car and gathered the equipment that we needed. Whilst my partner was digging around the wheels, I was letting the air out of the tyres. They needed to be at 12psi. I had a special little tool and gauge to use so that I knew when they were ok.
Back tyre done, now for the front one.
Then I saw something. It was a paw print. In fact, it was the biggest paw print that I had ever seen in my life! AND IT HAD CLAWS!
I shouted my partner to come and see. He came over ready to dismiss my angst – until he saw it too.
Now, he has big hands. Imagine if you will a bunch of small bananas laid out. Well, that’s a size comparison for you.
He put his hand next to the paw print – and it was bigger than his hand. OMG!
We carried on digging out and nervously watching around us as we worked to free the car, I kept imagining eyes watching me. I have never been so relieved when we had finished and freed the car and caravan. There was nowhere to turn around, and it was starting to get dark, so we soldiered on to the camp. The road to the camp was another 5 or 6 kilometres. When we got there, it was dusk.
We parked up and put on all the lights on the outside of the caravan, and the floodlights that were fitted on the front of the car, whilst we collected bit of dead tree and twigs etc to build our anti-dingo fire.
The fire was soon blazing, and we sat with our backs to the caravan and watched the flames as they cast light on the sand dunes and bush. We sat there for about an hour just chilling out and drinking Great Northern Super Crisp beer. It was so peaceful. You will be pleased to know that we did not have any furry visitors that night (well, none that we saw anyway)
The next day it started to rain, so before we left, we dug a hole and buried the ashes from the fire that we had. You should always leave a campsite better than when you found it.
The wet sand made it much easier to drive back to civilisation.
We went into the fuel station and told the man about the paw prints that we saw.
He went on to say that he has seen something huge out there, it looked a bit like a dingo crossed with a Mastiff and he had been trying to hunt it down. Now he knew where to start looking!
We drove away from Eucla, still heading towards the border. We were singing along to our Aussie play list. I had never heard of Cold Chisel before this trip, but now I was happily warbling out of tune to their songs. There was nothing of note to see along the journey. We saw no wildlife, or many people for that matter. We chatted excitedly about how lucky we were to be able to be doing this trip and wondered what the family was up to back at home. The phone reception was really hit and miss on this stretch of the highway, so we hadn’t been able to talk to our grown-up children who were all back in the UK for a couple of days. With the time difference, whenever we seemed to get signal, it would have been the early hours of the morning for them – so not the best time for a phone call…
As the skies started to darken and nighttime was drawing in, we were treated to a spectacular sunset. Purples, oranges, pinks…it was amazing. I took a photo from the car, but it really doesn’t do it justice.
I’m so thankful to have seen it as it is now embedded in my memory.
It is unadvisable to drive on the roads in Australia after dark, as this is the time when bulls, cows, kangaroos etc decide that the highway is the place to be, and they just seem to appear out of nowhere, so we checked Wikicamps and we saw that we were close to a freecamp site. As we pulled in, it dropped pitch black. It was almost like a deep velvety purple. We couldn’t see what the landscape was like around us, so we left the caravan hitched to the car, and went inside for dinner.
As we sat down, there was a knock at the door.
We both looked at each other, and I grabbed a pair of sharp scissors (God knows what I was going to do with those – maybe chop their clothes up haha) and opened the door. Two elderly people with smiley faces greeted us (I put the scissors down onto the table – I didn’t want them thinking I was an escaped nutter) They were leaving WA and travelling to Southern Australia, as they lived there and had been warned that if the borders did close, they would not be able to go home anytime soon. As there are strict border rules and regulations of what you can and can’t take through, they wanted to pass on their veggies and fruits, so they didn’t go to waste. How lovely.
We gratefully accepted them and stood outside whilst we chatted. I looked up at the night sky, and for the very first time in my life I saw the Milky Way in all of its technicolour splendour. The velvet sky was studded with diamonds, and swirls of amethyst, rose, greens and blues mapped out the Milky Way. I have seen these images on the television but did not realise just how beautiful and vivid it was to the naked eye. I was actually brought to tears. It was overwhelming. The camera on my phone would not pick out the beauty, so I don’t have a photo to share, but if you google Milky Way Australia Images, you can see for yourself what I saw. It gave me goosebumps.
That evening we slept well and woke early to carry on with our journey. Everyone else had gone and it was just us. We set off once more, knowing that by this time tomorrow we would be waking up in Western Australia.
We arrived at the border crossing after a few hours of driving. They wanted to check the contents of our fridge and cupboards to make sure that we had no lemons, peppers, or honey (amongst other things) as you can’t take these into WA, but you can buy them there.
We asked the border guards if it was going to close its borders. A resounding ‘No’ was heard. They said that never in Australian history had any borders been closed, and it was not going to happen now.
24 hours after we entered WA, the Australian Government closed all of its borders.
We had got into Western Australia by the skin of our teeth! We were so glad that we had taken notice of the rumours.
Now for a few months of glorious beaches, sunrises and sunsets.