This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.


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2006 Travels December 8

FRIDAY 8 DECEMBER   BALLADONIA TO NUNDROO ROADHOUSE   880kms

Early start.

Balladonia is at the western end of the 90 mile straight stretch of highway, so we had that at the start of today’s drive. There was still plenty of bushfire smoke and that was rather concerning.

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Unusual morning light due to bushfire smoke

Topped up the fuel at Cocklebiddy Roadhouse – $1.62cpl. Bought cold drinks.

Some welcome variety in the landscape came with the descent down the Madura Pass to the lower level plain closer to the coast. This meant we had low rises to our left now – something different to look at.

Repeated the fuel and cold drinks routine at Mundrabilla Roadhouse – $1.45cpl. Mundrabilla had the reputation of being amongst the cheapest places for fuelling along the Nullarbor.

It was a day of even greater heat –  40’s, almost 44, at Eucla! We endured…….

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A long day of driving was accentuated by losing time as we drove east – 90 minutes of it.

The bushfire smoke continued, to varying extents, until after we crossed into SA.

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One solitary bird….

I couldn’t persuade John to stop for the day when we reached Eucla, on the WA/SA border. In fact, I couldn’t persuade him to stop at all here. He wanted to really break the back of the Nullarbor section.

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He decided we would aim for Yalata Roadhouse – certainly for fuel and maybe to stay the night.

We did take a short break at the spectacular Bunda Cliffs – to admire the dramatic heights where the Australian mainland falls into the Great Australian Bight. It was a chance to take the mandatory photos – yet again – and walk around a bit to try to get the circulation going in my legs.

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Bunda Cliffs

At least, it did become marginally cooler as we moved east and as the day wore on.

I had another attempt to broker a stop for the night as we approached Nullarbor Roadhouse, but no deal.

It was late afternoon by the time we reached Yalata – and the bloody roadhouse was closed! All shut up, out of business, deserted. When did that happen? We were not happy and we were getting rather low on fuel. I wished we had stopped at the Nullarbor place, and said so!

There was no choice but to keep going. John decided to chance it and not go to the effort of unpacking the back of Truck to get at our spare diesel container. He thought we would make it to Nundroo and was right.

It was dusk, almost dark by the time we reached Nundroo Roadhouse. With great relief we refuelled – $1.24 cpl – then took a powered site – $20. This was not much more than a power pole on gravel, but we were really too tired to care.

Tea was a tin of soup and the few remaining vegetables. We were both beyond hungry. Fell into bed.

That essentially ended the Nullarbor crossing, but it had been a really unpleasant day.

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2006 Travels December 7

THURSDAY 7 DECEMBER   LEONORA TO BALLADONIA ROADHOUSE   610kms

We slept slightly later than yesterday, but it was still a pretty early departure, by our usual standards.

Again, the day got hot, quickly.

North of Kalgoorlie, John became sleepy and decided to have a short nap – fittingly – at a rest area.

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I had a very welcome walk around while he snoozed. My legs were beginning to feel somewhat uncomfortable from long days of just sitting in the heat and confines of Truck.

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Spacious rest area north of Kalgoorlie

We were compelled to have a longer break at Kalgoorlie. John had been concerned that the spare tyre on Truck was very worn. It had come off the back of the van, earlier on. The van sported an an almost new one. We hadn’t really had an option to replace the spare until now – he hadn’t thought to do it in the very busy period of our last few days at RV1. This was the chance to do so, before tackling the long stretches of the Nullarbor crossing.

Unhitched the van in a safe looking side street, took Truck to get a new tyre fitted, rotating the new tyre with an older one that now became the spare. That cost $299. Back to the van and hitched up again.

I visited the Information Centre to pick up material about the Nullarbor, just so I had up to date information. All my detailed maps and books about it were, of course, snug at home. I had not anticipated needing my WA material  when we left, nine months ago, for NW Qld!

John bought a pie for lunch. I bought a bread roll and ate that plain.

Refuelled Truck on the way out of town. $1.28cpl.

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Bush – Kalgoorlie area

South to Norseman, where the fuel was topped up again – $1.32cpl. Then we pointed our noses eastwards. Home – that-a-way.

Coming south from Kalgoorlie, could see a lot of bushfire smoke to the east, and heard reports of fires on the radio, with some suggestions that roads could be closed if they got much worse. We hoped not. By doing the long days, and not spending time visiting places, we had ensured some wiggle room on the trip, but really did not want to be stranded in these parts by fires.

As we started across the Nullarbor route, could see smoke plumes in the distance and continued to do so for the rest of the day.

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Distant bushfire smoke

It was exceedingly hot and the travel uncomfortable and tiring. This was really not the recommended time to be driving this road. Last time we’d gone west to east this way was at a similar time of the year, in 2000 – and had also not been what we’d planned to be doing at that time. But it had not been as hot, that year.

By the time we reached Balladonia Roadhouse, we’d had enough for the day. Actually, I’d happily have stopped at Norseman! It was getting late enough in the day for it to be time to be off the road.

Refuelled Truck – $1.68cpl. Ouch!

Got a powered site – $21-90 – in the caravan park off to one side of the roadhouse. We were able to find a site with some shade from trees, which was a bonus. Not too bad, out here.

The welcome shower was coin operated – an inducement not to linger, for sure. But understandable in a place where water was such a scarce commodity. Only one coin could be inserted at a time. When that expired, after a couple of minutes, one had to get out to put in another coin, if more time was needed – and of course the coin machine was outside the cubicle. Easier to give up and dry off.

Another early night.

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2004 Travels April 22

THURSDAY 22 APRIL   FOWLERS BAY TO MADURA   576kms

There was rain during the night, and wind. The day was grey and windy, and there was rain on the Nullarbor. It all matched my mood!

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Wet Nullarbor

We had a long day of slower than usual driving – into a head wind. There were too many trucks – going both ways.

We topped up the fuel three times: at Nundroo ($1.23cpl), Eucla ($1.13cpl), Mundrabilla ($1.07cpl).

John took the opportunity, when he could, to keep the tank topped up. He was mindful of our trip back across the Nullarbor, in 2000, when he passed up chances to top up, relying on getting fuel at Yalata – only to find that roadhouse had closed down! No more chances like that!

I was not really in a mood for dawdling and sightseeing. But took photos at the Bunda Cliffs – where the Australian continent plunges dramatically into the ocean, in a long line of sea cliffs. I had not before seen these in rain and with a grey sky back drop.

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The edge of Australia

As we travelled, I was doing lots of thinking, of course. Three times now I had crossed the Nullarbor, and each time I had been miserable – for different reasons each time.

There was a very thorough going-over of Truck and van at the border quarantine station. They netted a lemon quarter, which was left from a fish dinner, and which I’d forgotten was in the fridge.

We were back in WA! Third visit to that state: 1993 on long service leave, 2000 for months, and now.

We booked for the night into the Madura Pass Hotel Caravan Park, for $16. It had rather a bushy setting and was one of the better places to stay across these parts. There was TV too, which pleased John.

Put our time pieces back another 45 minutes, which put my system out of synch.

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2000 Travels November 29

WEDNESDAY 29 NOVEMBER   CAIGUNA TO BORDER ROADHOUSE   305kms

We slept alright. There must have been truck traffic passing on the highway, and coming into the roadhouse, but we were so tired that we didn’t hear a thing.

After breakfast, John jacked up the van, yet again, removed the wheel, and put the clip back in place. He was very careful to tighten everything up! It all ran well, all day – hallelujah!

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John doing brake work – again! Our very bare Caiguna site

He also topped up the fuel from the jerry can. Given the price of diesel across the Nullarbor, it made sense to use this.

There was just enough of interest along the road to stop boredom setting in.

The area around the Madura Pass and Hampton Tableland was scenic. This was where the road descends from the flat Nullarbor plain to a lower coastal plain. Further on, at Eucla, the road goes up again onto the Nullarbor plain.

We stopped briefly at the lookout at the Madura Pass.

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Madura Pass

At the base of the Pass, the vegetation changed abruptly from the low mallee trees and scrub of the past couple of days, to more arid tussocky grass and very low scrubby stuff.

Refuelled at the roadhouse at Mundrabilla – $1.27cpl!

Eventually, we could see the sand dunes of the Eucla area in the distance.

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Eucla dunes in the distance

When we climbed up to the plain again, we were back into the mallee trees and scrub again.

At Eucla, where there was a motel, caravan park and a small settlement, we made a bit of an attempt to find the track to the Old Telegraph Station, to the south. This was a repeater station on the telegraph line from east to west, from the 1870’s, to the 1920’s when a new one was built further to the north.

By then, rabbit plagues had eaten out the vegetation and caused the bare coastal sand dunes to start moving inland. The old Telegraph Station ruin was being slowly swallowed by sand, so I wanted to see it, whilst we still could.

The sign indicating the way to it pointed into the hotel-motel, but from that point we could not see an obvious way. With the van on, it is not so easy to take wrong tracks and turn around, so we gave up quickly, and kept on our way east.

When we got to the Border Roadhouse – on the WA/SA border, obviously – we decided to stop there, thus having a shorter day, rather than do another three to four hours of driving to the next roadhouse. With the heat, we did not fancy camping where there was no power source to run the air-con.

We also “lost” three  hours of time when we crossed the border! Whilst it is easy to adjust the clocks and watches, the internal body clock can take longer to adjust.

We paid $15 for the night’s site. This was a much more pleasant place, with some trees around the camp area.

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Site at Border Roadhouse

We had lunch upon arrival, then John had a sleep. I worked on my Xmas letter.

Later, we went for a short walk in the nearby bush, looking for birds.

Tea was gazpacho, sausages, mash, coleslaw.

I am working to use up my vegetable matter before we reach the quarantine point near Ceduna, the day after tomorrow.

Again, we slept well.

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