4 x 4 Australia
WANDERING AUSTRALIA: THE SHANLEYS
THE Nullarbor Plain – around 1000 kilometres of ... not much really, but it’s definitely a tick-it-off item. We headed west, bound for our largest state earlier this year and, besides the Gibb River Road, the Nullarbor is probably the most iconic way to get to Western Australia.
Before hitting this mighty stretch, we enjoyed the most western parts of South Australia which included Scott’s Beach at Fowlers Bay and Bunda Cliffs, where we spent a night stopover at each. Bunda Cliffs are breathtaking, forming part of the Great Australian Bight and providing us with a spectacular sunset. Following these coastline cliffs, there are many lookouts, caves and points of interest to check out.
We hit the road bright and early bound for WA the following day, with only an hours’ drive to Border Village, where there are plenty of facilities available.
The police on the border were more impressed with our set-up than our border passes, and we were so excited to get through the tightest COVID border control in the country, we forgot to take a pic at the SA-WA border sign! The Nullarbor, to be honest, is not the most exciting drive and, despite there being multiple signs saying watch out for camels, roos and emus, we didn’t see a single one. We stopped for lunch at the Nullarbor Roadhouse and it’s a must-see, providing plenty of photo opportunities. It is another great roadhouse fully set up with accommodation, food and facilities.
After a full days driving including on the famous 90 Mile Straight, our first night in WA was spent at Balladonia Roadhouse. It was a great little set-up with caravan park, pool, restaurant and service station, as well as plenty of flies! We were thinking about doing the Balladonia Track down to Esperance, but after chatting to the locals we were advised it was closed and it was looking like it was going to rain, so we decided against it.
The Nullarbor comes to an end at the small town of Norseman, where it’s either bush or beach and you can head south to Esperance or north to Kalgoorlie.
Given the not-so-nice weather forecast, we decided to check out Kalgoorlie first. It’s a decent-size mining town rich in history and we spent a good week here exploring. The historic gold mine is a great morning out and both us adults and the kids learned so much about the boom days of the late 19th century. Spend hours exploring the historic settlement with all the essential elements of an olden-day mining town including miners’ shanties, hospital, post office, pub and a two-up shed.
Another great experience in Kalgoorlie is the ‘Super Pit’ working gold mine, where you can go on a tour (when they’re open and operating), go to the mine lookout and watch the mine in action, and witness a blast if they happen to be scheduled. The museum is also well-worth checking out and has plenty of activities for the kids.
In search of the ocean again, we headed four hours south to Esperance. We really loved Esperance and ended up spending well over two weeks there. You could write an entire article talking about the Esperance area, there is so much beach to explore and the 4WD tracks and camp spots around here are endless. In town, there is the port to visit, plus whale watching and Woody Island tours, fishing charters, Lucky Bay Brewing, and much more.
Out of town the most famous beach is Lucky Bay, and we know why it is
famous – it is magical! With the most crystal-clear turquoise water and beautiful clean beaches, we lazed for hours on this beach and could even get a real coffee from the coffee cart.
However, Wharton Beach was our favourite, being even more stunning and less busy. We spent 11 days camping at Membinup which, like every other beach around here, was perfect. The only downside was the wind, which
LUCKY BAY IS MAGICAL! WITH THE MOST CRYSTALCLEAR TURQUOISE WATER AND BEAUTIFUL CLEAN BEACHES, WE LAZED FOR HOURS
came up most afternoons.
From here we explored all the 4WD tracks around, went for a pub lunch at the old-school Condingup Tavern and visited Le Grande National Park. Esperance and the southwest have just so much to offer we can’t cover it all. Our journey across the southwest continued and we can tell you all about this next time.
Until then, Go Wander …