Hello from Adelaide!
A few weeks ago, I sort of ‘spur of the moment’ decided that I needed something to change up my life a bit, and that I would do so by completing my ultimate Australian Outback adventure goal – to drive across the Nullarbor. Not only would I do that, but I’d drive as far as Melbourne to meet some Internet friends.
So on Monday, the day my brother-in-law and his family were heading back to the UK, I packed up the car with my husband and son in tow, and we set off on our journey. We got as far as Kalgoorlie on day one, having had to backtrack to a previous petrol station when we found the one I wanted to fill up at was empty, and I didn’t think I could make 130km to the next one. Luckily this gave us the chance to catch up with Jeremy’s cousin Bree and her family, whom we hadn’t seen since our wedding day (I think)! Doyle had lots of fun playing on the keyboard board book with the eldest daughter. While in town, Jeremy showed me where he used to work temporarily for the first law firm he worked at.
Day two was another early start, on the road by 8:30am, and only really stopping off at the super pit before continuing on to Norseman, where we filled up the petrol tank ready for our Nullarbor trip, that essentially took two days (depending on where you see it supposedly ending in South Australia).
I wanted to get our TomTom down to around 24 travel hours or less than 2,000km by the end of the second day (on the journey to Melbourne), which meant we ended up travelling a little into the night so we could stop overnight in Eucla, right on the WA border (well, 12km off). Considering how often I’ve seen Eucla on the map, I was expecting more than just a motel/caravan park/petrol station/restaurant, with a police station slightly down the road. I have no idea what the population is, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was only around 10! It certainly wasn’t much fancier than the other roadhouse stops along the way, where you likely have to stop at every second petrol station so as not to risk running out of fuel for the trip. Seriously – there was an occasion where I drove for 180km before there was a petrol station, and then another 180km before the next one – I indeed had to stop at the secon one!
Observations and musings from the Nullarbor journey:
* There was a whole lot more vegetation than I was expecting to see. For a region that doesn’t get much rainfall and has no natural water supply via rivers etc, I was definitely expecting more of a desert. But maybe that’s why it’s referred to as a plain rather than desert.
* WA has a lot of road kill kangaroos. We definitely didn’t see any live mammals on the journey. I was disappointed I missed out on the camels.
* Surprisingly, South Australia had comparitively no road kill. I wondered if the government sent people out to clean it up.
* The view of the ocean from the Nullarbor as you’re driving into South Australia is absolutely stunning, and the whole trip was worth it just to see that. There were a couple photo points I missed, but I did make it to a ‘parking lot’ to get a good view of the ocean. The colour of the water was absolutely incredible.
* Driving across the Nullarbor isn’t so bad. In fact, as my husband said, it’s more of a pain getting to and from the Nullarbor than the trek across.
* We saw some people cycling across. I enjoyed the drive, but I think I would have to be insane before attempting that!
* I learned that WA has two time zones (how’s that for a massive state?)
After stopping for lunch somewhere between the roadhouse town of Nullarbor and whatever the next town was on day 3 (not to mention an impromptu visit to ‘Head of the Bight’ for some whale watching), Jeremy took over the driving. He had been upset with some of the decisions I had made in the previous 24 hours and thus decided it was his turn to make some of his own. I got to feel very nervous about when he’d fill up the petrol tank, and whether we’d make it to the next town. But eventually we ended up on a beach near Ceduna called Davenport Creek, where we set up tent and camped for the night. I got to remember why it was I don’t particularly like camping. Such as how long it takes to build and take down the tent. Plus the tent cover blew off in the middle of the night from all the wind to the extent I’d been so afraid, I left the tent in my pjs to find the cover, fearing we would have to replace my Dad’s tent. Luckily it was still attached very well to the pegs Jeremy had replaced. It didn’t seem like it was going to rain, and though the moon was so bright by then, so I just left it as it was. Finally, I could get some sleep without worrying about the cover! It was mostly peaceful. The rest of the beach was completely deserted.
Day four had Jeremy finishing off his decision making driving. He got us as far as Kimba, which amused me for the white lion jokes I could think of. However, its claim to fame seemed to be that it had pokie machines, and was halfway between the East and West coasts of Australia. I picked up our obligatory “I crossed the Nullarbor” frige magnet souvenir here, and we also had lunch and filled up the petrol again. Jeremy’s goal, though returning the driving to me, was to reach Adelaide that evening. Did I really want to drive six hours straight in order to get to Adelaide, a little under 500km away, before it got too dark? The TomTom said we’d get there after 7pm. I felt tired as I first took over the driving, but I think that was because Jeremy was resting his eyes and I find it hard to stay awake in those situations. Funnily enough, as the drive progressed, the more awake I became. Eventually being surprised when my car still had half a tank of petrol left after driving 300km without stopping. Well, I thought, I’m not even going to have to fill up again before getting to Adelaide! So I continued on until I indeed arrived in the middle of the city, getting especially nervous over driving at dark in a city I’ve never been to before (unless I did when my parents did a similar trip when I was younger than my son). I got even more nervous when I learned my husband wasn’t lying when he said there were trams in Adelaide. Yes I know my goal is to drive to the Australian tram capital of Melbourne, but I’d ideally not have to drive in the middle of that city and try to understand hook turns, either.
So now Jeremy has decided we shall stay in Adelaide for two nights so he can show me around the city before we continue on to Melbourne in one long stint on Saturday, since I have not been here before. At least we managed to find 24 hour parking with a price limit, and a budget motel not far from the car park. I think we’re close to Rundle Mall, too, which is one of the few things I’ve heard is in Adelaide.