Crossing the Nullarbor: Streaky Bay to Esperance.

We left Streaky Bay Wednesday morning and headed west. Stopped at Ceduna to visit the Aboriginal Art Centre which has the most beautiful art work.

The Eyre HIghway is a stretch of road that is over 1500km long, from Port Augusta in the east to Norseman in the west and travels through the Nullarbor Plain. We met it just near Ceduna. The Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) has landing areas marked out on the highway every few hundred km. There are no fences along most of it so signs warn to keep a look out for cattle, sheep and native animals. We didn’t see a living creature except birds the entire time. Lots of dead kangaroos beside the road.

Truck driver’s bird’s-eye view of Nullarbor

Have you ever seen the Great Australian Bight from the air? A truck driver with a passion for drone photography showcases some of Australia’s most remote landscapes as he makes his weekly Nullarbor crossing. Read the full story

We arrived at the Head of Bight whale watching centre at 4pm to find the gate locked so we camped overnight outside.  ‘Whitewell Tank’ is a free camp next to the gate. This camp is not on the Wikicamps app or the Camps Australia app. The wind was so strong our chairs flew like kites and trying to get the van door closed took all my effort and two hands. I think I know how Dorothy felt when she left Kansas. Dont know what the building had been, it looked deserted and was locked up but had an undercover area offering protection from the sun and wind. Sunsets on the Nullarbor are stunning.

The next morning we visited the Head of Bight which is set up for whale watching from May to October, but worth visiting in the off season. The views are spectacular.  For more information this is their website Head of Bight whale watching centre

Here’s a job opportunity for anyone wanting a ‘cliff change’. The couple managing the Head of Bight had been there two months and were waiting for replacements so they could go home to Ceduna and their grandchildren. Apparently it’s a difficult position to fill. We would love to do it for a few months, perhaps next year. This is the house that comes with the job. The inside sounds amazing, all very new and modern but very isolated.

The iconic Nullarbor Roadhouse has a website giving information about what’s going on in the area and tips for travelers. They also keep a fabulous blog which is well worth reading even if you don’t intend to visit, check it  out Here

Some views of the Great Australian Bight from various places along the highway.

Balladonia road house and Skylab museum. Just after midnight on 13th July 1979 Balladonia was thrust into the international spotlight when fiery pieces of a wayward NASA space station called Skylab  littered a path across south eastern Western Australia, from Esperance on the coast to inland Rawlinna, almost 800 km. This prompted the then president Jimmy Carter to apologise for the mess. Our Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser responded by offering to swap bits of Skylab for a bigger Australian beef sales quota in the United States.  Some of the Skylab pieces landed around the grounds of the Balladonia Hotel. One of those pieces is on display in the Balladonia Roadhouse Museum.

We stopped to refuel at Caiguna Roadhouse, the beginning of the longest stretch of straight road in Australia, 90 miles (146.6 km).

Our second overnight stop was at Baxter Rest Area. It’s on the side of highway, several other vans had stopped. There is a toilet, dump point, drinking water and a few trees for shade. Driving west we found it best to stop in the afternoon before the sun dropped too low and hit us in the eyes. Also kangaroos are a problem at that time as they come out to feed along the highway. We didn’t see any live ones but the side of the road was littered with dead ones. On the WA side of the Nullarbor the overnight rest stops all have dump points for the van toilets,  quite unusual and very helpful.

In Norseman we stopped for lunch and supplies and learnt that the roads out were being cut due to bushfires in the area. We headed to the police station to find out if it was safe to travel to Esperance and then onto our planed stop at Duke of Orleans Bay. Their information was that the fire was some way from the highway,  but if we wanted to get through we should leave immediately before the smoke became an issue. So we headed off, didn’t encounter any smoke, but today the road has been cut as the fire is still not under control. We didn’t go through to Duke of Orleans Bay as there is only one road in and that is bordered by the Cape Le Grand National Park where another fire was also out of control. There had been a lightening storm in the area the day before causing a number of fires. Norseman was once  the second largest gold rush town in WA. This is a picture of the first beer arriving in Norseman in the 1890s.

Just after 3pm yesterday we arrived at Esperance Foreshore Caravan Park which was almost booked out due to the fire in the Cape Le Grand National Park and all the campers being evacuated out. Smoke was traveling across Esperance and made the sky look like a storm was brewing, the sun was a  stunning colour. The 3 photos below were taken about 4pm. Today, the fire is under control and the smoke has cleared. We will try for Duke of Orleans Bay next week.

Cheers until next time.

Helen and Tim