Week 4 (Sun Feb 1 thru Sat Feb 7)
We're up and at 'em, and as advertised we are seen driving away from Esperance (hate to leave this beautiful little town!) at 5 AM. We're aiming to reach WA/SA Border Village before dusk. (I suspect I've said this before, but for those who missed it -- driving after dusk in these areas is asking for trouble. Roos, Camels, Wombats and Emus move a lot at night, and it's not like you can call AAA out there!) Australia Geographic describes The Nullarbor Plain - "A vast plateau of porous limestone, remains a largely unpopulated and inhospitable region".
This will be Patty's first trip across the Nullarbor Plain, and from Esperance to our target for the night, it's just shy of 1000 Km (or about 625 miles). The next day we'll still have about another 500 Km to Ceduna, and from there another 800 Km to Adelaide via Port Augusta. So, we have a bit of driving ahead. Some claim it's a boring trek across this largely treeless expanse. I have found it anything but boring, and I'm happy to report that Patty now agrees. The Nullarbor signage tips you off to the potential hazards, we see the last of the gum trees for a while, we begin to see the real Nullarbor (Aboriginal for "no trees"), and Patty sees her first Road House.
I have really been doing all of the driving up until now, although Patty has handled right side steering, left side of the road driving, and roundabouts, in the past, and there's no concern on my part. Certainly on the Nullarbor there's no concern. About the only thing you encounter are Road Trains, and an occasional wide load --
I was going how fast??? You want me to take a breath-o-lizer? At high noon??
These were two of WA's State Police, and you couldn't ask for two more impressive young men. They do give breath-o-lizers whenever a stop is made, and sometimes at random. It's a good feeling to know that they don't fool with drinking drivers in Australia. It also gives me the opportunity to serve as designated driver from time to time. In any event, after giving Patty a pleasant warning, they led us to a gorgeous view nearby (pictures follow), and bid us a safe trip. Great Blokes!!
The old Emu, The old Telegraph Station, The old Galahs, and the old speeder!
Stayed at Border Village (WA/SA), had a good dinner at the roadhouse there, and got another early start - 6:30 (?) 7:15 (?) hard to remember where we hit that 45 minute time zone!! After Patty's performance yesterday, I felt the need to take control!! So - off we go, continuing east on the Nullarbor, but proceeding slowly since it was just past dawn, when animals can still be moving out! AND they were. About 15 minutes after leaving the motel, Patty spotted some activity well ahead, and soon it becomes clear. A pack (posse? gang? herd?) of camels are ambling back and forth across the road - appearing to check to make sure the two young ones with them get across safely. It was still pretty low light, but the following pictures will give you the idea. Again - the pics I took with the Canon Elf may turn out better, and as with all of them, if they are considerably better, I'll scan them in when I get back to Savannah.
First, we see the sunrise over the Nullarbor and Great Australian Bight. The air is so incredibly fresh and clear. There's just no pollution. The next closest body of land is Antarctica! Then we come upon the camels, an enhanced picture of the youngest one, and in the last pic you can see how well those three blend into the bush as they depart. We move along cautiously, enjoying the peace and beauty of the dawn, and are able to get a quick shot of a dingo, and a wedge-tail eagle on the wing.
We have a bit of a hazy day, but even the slight overcast condition doesn't take much away from the breathtaking views of the Great Australian Bight. I've been trying to describe the impact for several years to folks, and Patty finally gets to experience it first hand. It is true that you must approach the cliffs VERY carefully (and from some distance) because of the swirling winds that tend to always be working there. Many Australians fail to see the Bight personally, because it does require a bit of a drive along the Nullarbor, but it is surely one of the most spectacular sights to be found on this beautiful continent.
Then we make a stop at The Nullarbor Roadhouse, not because we need fuel, but out of nostalgia! I placed my first bet on the Melbourne Cup here in 2001, I picked the #6 horse, and he finished 6th! Saw 3 young dingo pups that had scurried away when we came into the roadhouse entry, and the bloke working there said they'd been hanging around for several days. He thought the mother may have been killed (my theory is she may have been sucked off the cliff at The Great Australia Bight!!!)
Then I turn the wheel back to Fireball, and lean back hoping she'll keep it down to 110 (that's Km, y'all, or about 65 MPH). We ease through Ceduna, then head for Smoky Bay, and then on to Streaky Bay, where we spend the night at the Streaky Bay Hotel/Motel. The hotel was built in 1866, and it is still the center of dining, pokies, and fun for the folks in this beautiful coastal fishing village.
That last one I was going to title "The Old Wreck", but I'm working on another title!
Now - please go to Week 4 Continued