Crossing the Nullarbor Plain

Animals on the Nullarbor Plain;. Camels, wombats, Kangaroos , emus, cattle, sheep.

From Fremantle we headed east through the gold fields of Western Australia, and across the Nullarbor Plain. 2,450 km.

Fremantle WA across the Nullarbor to Whyalla SA 2,450 km

Our first overnight stop was a free camp in Southern Cross WA. No amenities but the ground was flat and it is across the road from the Railway Hotel. All nine people in the pub were overnight travellers there for a meal. It was great to share travel stories and information on road conditions.

Pink & grey galahs in the trees above us. When a strong gust of wind came along they all fell off and flew away. Pink and Grey Galahs are native to Australia, you can tell male from female by the colour of their eyes. Males have brown eyes while females have red eyes.

On the outskirts of the town is a free dump point for van toilets and a pay station to buy water to fill the van.

Water is supplied to this area by the Goldfields Water Supply Scheme, GWSS, built in 1903, includes a 556km pipeline from Mundaring Weir in Perth to Kalgoorlie. With a capacity to pump 90 million litres of water a day, the scheme serves around 100,000 people and various mines located in an area of 44,000 square kilometres.Called the ‘Scheme of Madness’ by its critics in 1903,  The GWSS was recognised as an international historic civil engineering landmark by the American Society of Civil Engineers in 2009.”

The town of Kalgoorlie-Boulder is the heart of Gold Fields

It encompasses an area of 95, 575.1 km² and since 1989 stands as the amalgamation of the Town of Kalgoorlie and the Shire of Boulder.

As we have never traveled through the WA gold fields before, we left the van at a free camp in Kalgoorlie-Boulder and spent the day exploring. The camp had a dump point and free water to fill the van.

The Museum of the Goldfields had a touring exhibition of “CleverMan” which was very good, and we got to see a friend of ours on the screen talking about his costume designs for the show. Also part of the museum is the narrowest pub in the Southern Hemisphere, “The British Arms”, built in 1899, although I can’t find much information on it, like, why it was built so narrow.

The town has some of the most beautiful and grand turn-of-the-century architecture we have seen. Almost every corner has a hotel, four to an intersection, some still operating as hotels, others converted into retail outlets. An underwhelming curiosity on the towns ‘must see list’ is “The Worlds Tallest Bin”.

Another curiosity was the Exchange Hotel’s ‘Wild West Salon”. Seeing a ‘fish and chip’ sign out the front, I assumed the advertised skimpies were crustaceans, like scampis, prawns, lobsters. I thought “Oh Yum!” . We went in, I saw a skimpie ….NOT a crustacean. We left. Tim then showed me the sign outside that I hadn’t seen. He had a smirk on his face the entire time. 

The KCGM Super Pit lookout. Kalgoorlie Consolidated Gold Mines (KCGM) Gold mining began here in 1893 and continues today. The KCGM open pit mine is on the outskirts of town, and directly employs 1/3rd of the town population.

After leaving Kalgoorlie-Boulder our first coffee stop was at Widgiemooltha. Famous for the Golden Eagle nugget, found in 1931 weighing 1,136 ounces (32.2 kg), the biggest nugget found in the history of Western Australian goldfields.

Crossing the Nullarbor Plains

Heading East at Norseman, we stayed the night at a free bush camp between the towns of Caiguna and Cocklebiddy, then started our trek across the Nullarbor Plain.

The Eyre Hwy links Western Australia to South Australia via the Nullarbor Plain. Part of the highway is also the longest straight road in Australia, 146.6km. The most interesting thing to look at while travelling across the Nullarbor are the road signs. Apart from various birds, we didn’t see any animals.

Head of the Bight (Great Australian Bight)

A must see for any travellers crossing the Nullarbor Plains is the ‘Head of Bight Visitors Centre”. The driveway is 12km long. About a kilometre in is Whitewell Tank free camp, just before the gates. No facilities but a great spot to stop overnight. Its not marked on any of the camps maps.

It is whale season. Last time we were here it wasn’t, but still an amazing place to visit. You can see our blog from our 2019 Nullarbor crossing here.

Southern Right Whales at Head of Bight take up ‘residence’ for an entire 5 month period between June and October and generally remain within a 15km long section of coast. They come here to have their calves. We saw at least 6, some at a distance, some very close to shore. I hope one day they change the name from Southern Right Whale (the right whale to slaughter) to a name more befitting this majestic giant of the ocean.

We also saw some Australian Sea Lions which live in the area. Photos are little fuzzy as they were a long way out and swimming very fast. In 2019 we swam with sea lions at Port Lincoln. Here’s our 2019 blog, scroll to the bottom.

Smoky Bay

Leaving the Nullarbor Plain behind, we stopped at Smoky Bay.

Their oysters are some of the best we have ever had, eating them was like diving into the ocean. We bought them from Boylan Oysters. Next time we may get them shucked as we both ended up with minor injuries. But well worth the effort.

cheers til next time

Helen & Tim