‘DOING’ THE NULLABOR - BEFORE AND BEYOND…
Col & Di decided to do a leisurely four day Nullabor crossing staying in free camps all the way.
Before we headed north from the WA coast we stocked up our supplies in Esperance and replaced the GPS which had died. We picked up our van from Gibson Soak and then drove 80km to Salmon Gums to stay at a lovely cheap, community park with power and water at a reasonable rate – not like Norseman we are told.
Salmon Gums experienced major bush fires just after we were there in October 2015 and we wonder what it looks like now. It was a lovely little town with a nice pub with apparently cheap, nice meals. Caretaker Craig was laid back and trusting – literally ‘leave the money in a tin’ in the laundry! He headed off to work with all the money there for the townsfolk to pick up.
At Norseman we picked up the Nullabor map with a list of journey highlights from the Info Centre. It costs to use the dump point at Norseman so don’t! There are many freebies along the way. We also picked up a frightened dog running away from an impending storm – he and his muddy paws climbed into the passenger seat of our Isuzu MUX, panting in fear. ‘Piglet’s’ owner from the Hardware store berated him with a few nasty words so we had to resist a strong temptation to take him with us. We fuelled ourselves up at the bakery and the SUV at the servo. Then onto the edge of the Nullabor at Fraser Range, granite hills surrounded by the world’s largest eucalypt forest.
First night 50 km past Balladonia, we stayed the night at Woorlba Homestead Rest Area. Lots of room, shady trees and two drop toilets that were okay and not too smelly. Bit of road noise but it doesn’t really bother us.
Day two on the Nullabor we travelled Australia’s longest straight road of 146.6km. I think everyone who goes this way takes a photo in the same spot. We stopped at Caiguna for fuel and then to the Blowhole, which is rather unexciting. Just a large hole in the ground that I guess blows in the wind. Here we changed our clocks forward by 45 minutes. We stopped again at Madura Pass for a spectacular view over the Roe Plains and Madura itself is an oasis at the bottom of the Pass. Photos don’t do this justice.
The second night we stayed at Moodini Bluff, 25km east of Madura, on the left amongst the shady trees again. One toilet, use your own loo paper and there is a bit of rubbish at the back but it’ okay. We had the usual ‘have-a-chat’ with other travelers including a couple of ladies in a Jurgens van like ours – a new one with a window in the ensuite.
Day three saw more Nullabor and fueling up at the Mundrabilla Roadhouse. At Eucla we visited the Old Telegraph Station, which is being taken over by sand and a 2km walk through the dunes to the beach and old jetty. Great photo opportunity, then through Border Village. Note, going into South Australia you don’t need to eat up all your fruit and vegetables until Ceduna as they don’t stop you at the border. Here there is the second time change of one hour and 45 minutes.
We LOVED the amazingly rugged coastline in the Great Australian Bight and stopped at the lookouts at Bunda Cliffs. If it’s not blowing a gale you could probably sleep over at one of these roadside stops but we had high winds, and therefore high fuel consumption. Also LOVED the fantastic, white sand dunes all along the coast.
On the third night we stayed at SA 157k Peg which is (strangely enough) 157km from Border Village. Lots of space to wander around, we stayed right at the back among the trees and there was only one other van there. Met a lovely couple from Netherlands who travel around Australia for 3 months every year. No toilets, so we used our own ensuite in the caravan.
Don’t fuel up at the Nullabor Roadhouse unless you have to – we paid top dollar here. There is a lot of rubbish at roadside stops around the Yalata Community so not really any nice places to stop. Here the flat plains of the Nullabor are finished and the views return to trees and farms. Drove down to Head of Bight, a great viewing spot for whales but the season was over today so no point in paying to do the lookout thing. Fowlers Bay is a nice fishing village and fabulous sand dunes. The caravan park is cheapish and has a fish BBQ on Sat nights.
Fourth night we stayed at Cohen School Ruins near the 396km marker. There are grassy areas to camp there, a nice walk around the ruins and lovely birdlife. Again, no toilets and this is a sign of things to come in SA. Also, again there were only two of us, and the grotty backpackers left their fire going the next day. Col did his good deed putting it out.
The next day we woke up at the Cohen School ruins to the dulcet tones of those magpies singing. We then headed through the town of Penong of the many (more than 20) windmills, before Ceduna. When you go through this quarantine checkpoint you need to have eaten, cooked or frozen all your fruit & vegies except washed potatoes. They do go into your van but are more polite than going into WA at Kunanurra. They only ask you to open your fridge and cupboards. After this we stocked up at the IGA. Food is expensive here and it is better to wait until Streaky Bay, which is a lovely spot. The fences are not as high as Ceduna, which tells the story about the population of Ceduna. Oysters at Ceduna were yum!
Fuel up at BP which is the first one on the right going into Ceduna – it’s the cheapest. There is also a dump point and drinking water at the BP. We then drove around Perlubi Beach, which is a pretty spot on the way to Streaky Bay. You are not supposed to camp at the beach at Perlubi so we free camped outside Streaky Bay at Eyre’s Waterhole. No toilets and room only for about six vans. We based ourselves here for a few days to enjoy the sights around the area.
Cohen School Ruins
Fowlers Bay Fishing
Eucla Old Telegraph Station
Eucla Old Jetty