Thursday, April 20, 2017

Oz: Glub Glub!

Deep River Crossing lived up to its name!  This is us crossing it to reach El Questro Gorge, on the first day this year it opened.  Dicey!  No way were we opening the window to get a shot.  This was taken from inside, through our windshield.  El Questro Wilderness Park, Kimberleys, Western Australia.  
Who-hoo!  We were the very first non-rangers to hike the Kimberley's excellent El Questro Gorge this year!!!  

Purnululu, better known for the BungleBungles, was closed due to overly high water crossings from a particularly wet rainy season when we wanted to enter the park.  We pushed on to El Questro.  Western Australia, The Kimberleys.
One day earlier, and Deep River Crossing access to El Questro Gorge was too deep; three days ago was the first day El Questro opened to the public.  After being unable to visit Purnululu (aka the BungleBungles), Windjana, and much of Gibb River Road, it was nice to be in the right place at the right time* -- before the crowds!

*In Broome, there were a number of activities that didn't open until May 1st.

Pandanus, palms and vivid red gorge rock walls make for an unusual ecosystem so far inland.
El Questro Gorge entrance.  Kimberleys, Western Australia.
With temperatures hitting near 100 degrees F by mid-morning, we were on the road by 6:40 am, coffee already downed, trail pack loaded up with water, breakfast and swimsuits.

Once again, our Land Cruiser (and Wayne's driving) rocked!  

Deep Creek Crossing water level came up above our Cruiser's running boards!  We are highly impressed with the door seals!  Nary a drop inside.

As the first on the trail, we were on the lookout for spiderwebs.  These almost communal
webs intrigued us.  We were happy to side-step them.
El Questro Gorge, Western Australia.
Shortly after passing that gauntlet, we hit the trail at 7:15 am.  We were the first vehicle at the trailhead, in a place where hikers 4-wheel drive, drive, not walk to the trailheads.

There were few flat points on the trail; the rubble of rock required close attention to avoid
twisting an ankle.  The larger rock surfaces were often smooth, made slippery with
a light sandy coating.  El Questro Gorge.  Western Australia.
El Questro's "halfway pool" is about a 2-hour roundtrip hike.  That's a Class 4 - challenging - hike, and it's a Class 5 - most challenging hike  -- to the trail's end and a second pool.  We opted for "halfway pool." We knew by the time returned to our vehicle, despite our refreshing dip at halfway pool, we'd be totally sweaty all over again.

Lovely Halfway Pool in El Questro Gorge, complete with a small waterfall.
This is where we stopped, swam and made our way back from.
Stopping early enough gave us a chance to cool off again at Zebedee Springs, which was only accessible from 7 am - noon.  Zebedee Springs is an easy 15-minute hike -- easy enough to still feel refreshed by the time you're done and back at your vehicle.  heck - the trail's even mostly shaded!  (More on Zebedee Springs in a future post.)

To continue El Questro Gorge's hike required swimming across Halfway Pool, scaling these rocks,
and scrambling across more boulders to reach the end.  This couple, tossing gear to each other,
completed the full hike,  They confirmed it was a tough one.
When we finished our El Questro Gorge hike, and before glugged our way through Deep Creek Crossing again, Wayne said, wistfully, "Maybe you could get a picture of the Cruiser crossing Deep Creek Crossing."

Much as I too would've loved to see it, 
 as the one who would have to wade across with my camera, "Nope," I replied, emphatically.

"I was only half-kidding," Wayne said.  I knew he was also half serious.
Fish in Halfway Pool, El Questro Gorge, Kimberleys, Western Australia.

It wasn't until afterward I discovered Wayne didn't intend my photography to require a swim; he would've made a third crossing, to come back and pick me up.  Ah well.  There's a limit to how many times one should tempt fate, and test our Cruiser's door seals.

Ferny pool along El Questro Gorge trail to Halfway Pool.
Location Location
We were in El Questro, from April 16-19, 2017; it's in the Kimberley region of Western Australia.  We hiked El Questro Gorge April 18th, and are currently in Katherine, in Australia's Northern Territory.

Entering Australia's Northern Territory, from Western Australia.
Up Next
More on El Questro in future posts!  El Questro was our favorite stop in Australia -- the perfect end to our Australian outback adventures. The next week or less we'll drive to Brisbane (over 3,000 km from here).   Once in Brisbane, we plan to spend a week there, to connect with friends, sell our Land Cruiser, wrap up our loose ends in Australia, enjoy Brisbane, and then fly back to the US.  

There will continue to be blog catch-up posts as well as substantial blog rework to make it easier and more informative for anyone wanting to follow in our footsteps.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Oz: Broome - Camel Rides & Other "Must-Dos"

Camel trains on Cable Beach at sunset; quintessential Broome -- at least for most tourists.  Western Australia.
These days, tourism is Broome's economic lifeblood.  The tourist season really picks up with the official start of the dry season, in May.  As a result, in April, when we arrived, not all attractions are open.  That's probably a reasonable trade-off for getting here before the crowds.  

The Broome area is far more multicultural than what we've encountered elsewhere in Australia -- surprising for a relatively small town in a moderately remote area.  It's surrounded by Aboriginal communities. There's also a strong Japanese and Chinese cultural influence, in large part to Broome's former pearling heyday.  I doubt Australia's shepherding Afghans and their camels were part of Broome's early post-Aboriginal immigrant culture.

And yet...
Camel's work done for the day, they head down the sidewalk to wherever they call come in Broome.  Note those little pouches
by their tails?  It's a dung bag -- an attempt to keep them a little more tidy.  Western Australia.
Broome's best-known tourist draw is camel rides on its famed Cable Beach, which began in far more recent times, in 1991.  Many claim Broome's Cable Beach camel rides are a "must-do".  Yet I concur with Taz Liffeman's professed lack of enthusiasm for that particular experience.  In her words...
This guy's job was to follow the camels and make all they left behind were footprint.  Hard to get a s---ier job than that!
"Personally, I’ve never much understood the allure of gallivanting about on a camel. They smell, they slobber, they’re toothy and they spit. Their gait is bumpy, their demeanour grumpy, their seat humpy and the one in front of me always farts too much."

However, Taz did take the camel ride and I did and will not.  I put camel rides into the category of "you don't know what you're missing" can really only be truly true if you do choose to miss the experience.

That doesn't mean I'm not still a sucker for wanting to get that trite-but-cool-even-though-everybody-does-it silhouette photo of camels caravans on the beach at sunset.

Besides, Cable Beach is pretty darned nice.  You can take your 4-wheel-drive on it -- which we did.  
Telltale patterns left by ghost crabs on Cable Beach, Broome. Western Australia.
Cable Beach is a long, broad, mostly firm, relatively white sandy beach that oh-so-gradually deepens.  It invites wading, though between the threat of jellies (irukanjis, which are tiny enough to be hard to spot and seriously bad news and while not currently an epidemic here now, we heard there had been some recent incidents) and "salties" (crocodiles), kept me from embracing it as whole-heartedly as I normally would.  The fact that no one else on the beach on our first trip there was sticking a toe in gave me pause, even though the day was hot and sunny, and the water temperature was pleasant.

Not only were the camels great fun to watch, we got a kick out of watching a couple attempting to teach their two dogs to surf.
On our second trip to Cable beach, this couple and their surfing dogs were the only folks we saw in the water.  Broome, Australia.
Best of all, camels or not, the sunsets were spectacular!  We even saw a "green flash," a more commonly visible phenomenon now that we're officially back in the tropics again.

However, if camel rides are your thing, there are several companies who offer them, Sundowner, Broome Camel Safaris, and Red Sun Camels.  Their longer ~45 min/1 hour sunset rides cost $85-90 AUD for adults, less for kids and less still for "lap sitters."
Camel dismounts didn't look easy.  Broome, Western Australia.
Other Broome area attractions include 
There's a narrow point of entry and exit for Cable Beach 4-wheel drives and camels.  After sunset it's exodus time,
but camels have the right of way.  Broome, Western Australia.
Location Location
We're currently in Broome, Western Australia, population ~16,000 -- big enough for a two groceries --Coles, Woolworths, plus McDonald's and Dominoes.  We returned for one last night to check out Broome's "Staircase to the Moon,"  an event that happens 6 times a year.  Right time, right place, wrong weather.  But we enjoyed a stroll at the night markets there for the event.

Up Next
After Broome, weather permitting, we're bound for Darwin and the Northern portion of the Kimberleys and El Questro.  Our route from here until when we leave Australia is still up in the air.
Camels at sunset on the beach, Broome tourism at its surreal best.    Western Australia.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Oz: Perfect Antidote to the Nullarbor - Cape Grand National Park

Clear, calm wade-able turquoise waters of Cape Le Grand National Park's Lucky Bay, about a 45 minute drive
from Esperance, Western Australia.  This area is as vibrant as the Nullarbor is almost monochromatic.
While most of the Lucky Bay beach is a lovely, easy to walk white sand,
this particular section of the beach is "fragrant" with dried seaweed.  Cape Le Grand, Western Australia.
After three days of dusty roads, muted colors, flies, flies, more flies and flatland, we shortcut Australia's iconic Nullarbor Plain at Balladonia Roadhouse, catching 200 km of dirt road (~125 mi) to the Shire of Esperance, and its spectacular Western Australia coastline.  

That shortcut saved us about 4 hours of drive time and landed us back in the land of milk and honey with green pastures, refreshing sea breezes, turquoise waters, white sands, picture-perfect waves the stuff of surfer's wet dreams, and more pragmatically, regular grocery stores, and affordable (for Australia) fuel.

One more reason we stopped in Esperance - to get our tire fixed!  We had a slow leak which turned out to be caused by an embedded nail.  It was fixed with a plug a the local Beauparis Tire shop and seems to be holding up well now.
The air compressor was a loan from a fellow Lucky Bay camper.
We drove a good portion of the 38 km scenic drive (~24 miles), where it was hard not to stop at every pullout (and there was probably more than 1 every kilometer) on the Great Ocean Drive (not to be confused with the better-known and far more crowded Great Ocean Road in Victoria).  That day, we discovered the sea breezes were a bit too brisk at the beach level.  After a light sand-basting, we stuck to a brief walk rather than lounging on the beach.

It all worked out well as we arrived in in Cape Le Grand National Park with time to set up, sup and do dishes before dark.  We chose Lucky Bay camp, as we heard it was both beautiful and a place where kangaroos liked to hang out on the beach. 
Our Land Cruiser on the beach at Lucky Bay, Cape Le Grand National Park, Western Australia.
We set up and still had time to drive the beach (you are allowed to drive directly on the beach with 4-wheel-drive), walk and even check out the 'roos contentedly chewing grass while sprawled in the sand.   (Note:  this is not our first rodeo with 'roos in the wild -- more on kangaroos in a future post).
Kangaroo chomping on grass in the sand at Lucky Bay beach, Cape Le Grand National Park, Western Australia.
The next morning I couldn't resist getting an early start to check our the area.  By dawn, I was on the trail.  For a great summary of Cape Le Grand's Coastal Trail, click here.
These stone sentinels above the Lucky Bay campground looked blood red in the dawn light.  In daylight, they're predominantly gray.  Cape Le Grand National Park, Western Australia.
Sunrise on the Cape Le Grand National Park Coastal Trail.  Western Australia.
While Cape Le Grand's Coastal Trail often loses sight of the coast as it traverses the rocky shore, the rocks
make a show of their own in the dawn's early light.
More  fabulous rock formations on Cape Le Grand's Coastal Trail, as it paralleled the coast through undulating hills. 
At dawn, I had the trail to myself!  Western Australia.
Green, blue, red, yellow, Cape Le Grand's Coastal Trail at dawn is a kaleidoscope of color.
Just after sunrise we were sipping our coffee, and getting ready for another hike, this time to the top of Frenchman Peak.  The climb is relatively short (~2 hours total including the return), but quite steep, a bit of nerve-wracking rock scramble.  It's a beautiful hike, with gorgeous rocky formations, unusual plant life, some stunning blossoms.  Of course, it offers a fabulous panoramic view from the top.
The easy part of the Frenchman Peak trail, before the trail gets steeper
and more bouldery.  Cape Le Grand Park, Western Australia.
The wind picked up with some ferocity just as we began making our way back down.  We were glad we did the hike early, as we could understand why there were signs recommending not hiking the summit in strong winds!
These straw-like flowers that looked like little licks of flames between the gray, tan and crystal-veined
rock crags of Cape Le Grand's Frenchman Peak.
Some other Frenchman's Peak hikers told us they preferred Thistle Cove, which they said offered every bit as beautiful a beach, and excluded the deep piles of dried seaweed on a portion of the shoreline at Lucky Bay.  Ah well.  We were delighted with Lucky Bay -- especially after our dusty Nullarbor parking lot campsites (there is no camping at Thistle Cove), and can add Thistle Cove to our if-we-return-here wish list, along with Hellfire Bay (also not a camping site, day-use only).

On the way out of Cape Le Grand National Park there was yet another treat in store.  Flocks of emus wandering loose in the green, green grass.  It's hard to not be fascinated with the giant, gangly non-flying kissing cousins to the ostrich.  We're grateful they survived "The emu wars."

Two emus from the flock walking in tandem in the green, green fields of Esperance, Western Australia.
Blue skies.  Clean air.  Clear water.  Great hiking.  Far fewer tourists than in our earlier travels.  We could hardly wait to explore more of the Western Australian coast.  Good thing -there's a lot of it!
Cape Le Grand National Park offers a glorious green and blue contrast to the almost monochromatic Nullarbor pallet.
This lofty panoramic view is from Frenchman Peak
Location Location We crossed the Nullarbor, from March 11-13, 2017.  After much ooh-ing and ahhh-ing over the Esperance Coastline, we made it to Cape Le Grand National Park, where we overnighted and spent the next morning before moving on.

Up Next
We are currently in Broome and have yet to figure out our next stop as we continue our clockwise tour of Australia.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Oz: Why Did the Emu Cross the Road?

Exmouth (Ningaloo Reef area) Western Australia; where traffic jams may be caused by emus.
We were amused watching an emu stop traffic with its leisurely stroll across Exmouth’s main drag. Eventually, one of the car drivers got impatient and leaned on their horn. Cars began moving forward and the emu decided it was time to finish its crossing.
This emu was perfectly happy to take its time as it ambled across the 4-lane highway that traversed Exmouth.   Western Australia.
The emu headed our way, towards Exmouth’s visitor center. It cut behind the building, though it stopped short of the emu muster sign. There was a plumber working on an outdoor water main, and water bubbled up from one of his work areas.

The emu decided it made an excellent watering hole, and drank deeply.
Ahhh!  This emu at last found its drinking hole in Exmouth.  We filled up ourselves at the potable water station in the same parking lot as there are few places it's available when you're in the bush.  Western Australia.  
Australia is a parched country.

The emu crossed the road ... for water!  
Maybe the emu just stopped short of its muster sign... a 100 meters or so
in the same Exmouth Visitor Center parking lot.  Western Australia.
Location Location
We passed through Exmouth between March 31st and April 2nd, 2017, on our way into Cape Range National Park, and saw the emu on our way in. This post which was written in Port Hedland.

Up Next
We expect to arrive in Broome in 2 days.  After that, we'll continue on our clockwise tour of Australia’s ocean of land.We're hoping it's not too wet to drive Gibbs River Road, but are sure to enjoy the Kimberleys regardless. Our goal is to complete tour in August.  

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Oz: Weird Animal Encounters, Part 3

Kookaburra at a more comfortable distance from our campsite.Leeuwin Natl Park, Boranup campsite, Western Australia.
Leeuwin Natl Park, Boranup campsite, Western Australia

There I was, spreading out all our victuals for dinner prep, when suddenly “WWWHHHHRRRrrr.” 

Something about the size of a child’s football – I wasn’t quite sure what – missiled past my face and perched on the picnic table only about a foot from my face, but just out of my range of clear vision. Before I could make out what it was, Wayne started laughing his ass off.

Still startled, I turned. My eyes focussed… on a plump kookaburra staring impertinently back at me, and eyeing the pork chops I’d planned to cook for supper.

While I wasn’t sure if raw pork was a possible kookaburra delicacy but I wasn’t about to share our dinner makings.

“Gahhhhh!” I squawked, waving my hands menacingly between it and our pork chops. The kookaburra took the hint, hopping onto a nearby tree to continue its shrewd observation. It remained unperturbed while I walked back to our Land Cruiser, grabbed my camera and clicked off a few shots of it. I’m sure Wayne wished he’d had a camera to capture my startled expression; the kookaburra smirking nearby.

Our visitor was later joined by another kookaburra, their telltale laughter (click here to download a 5.5 MB file of their "song") echoing through the campsite (click here for the classic Ozzie song about kookaburra), while we ate our supper in otherwise relative peace as no bird got remotely that close again.

Of our Ozzie weird animal close encounters – our first with a LARGE spider (click here for that), our second with mouse starting in at us from our windshield (click here for that) – this third encounter was the funniest and least harmful to any of us.

What next? Australia’s great outdoors -- expect the unexpected!
Kookaburra calling cards, left on our picnic table… for the next unwary camper. Leeuwin Natl Park, Boranup campsite, Western Australia.
Location Location
This post is a recent flashback to our March 18, 2017 stop at Leeuwin Natl Park, Boranup campsite, Western Australia, between Pemberton and Bunbury, before we got to Perth.

Up Next

We are currently at Tom Price, at the entrance to Karijini National Park. After Karijini, we’ll head to Broome as we continue our clockwise tour of Australia’s ocean of land.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Oz: Badder than the Nullarbor - Mt. Ive Station

Our serendipitous stop in Iron Knob, led us to Mt. Ives Station, and we also purchased this
"Made in China" boxing kangaroo pen.  South Australia, at the gateway to the Nullarbor.  I suspect this is one pen we will not lose.
We were almost upon the Nullarbor, reputedly Australia's biggest, baddest road.

We detoured into the small South Australian town of Iron Knob driven by an urgent need to use their facilities.  While we were there we figured we'd take a spin through town - sure it wouldn't take long!  

The free little mining museum caught our attention.  A couple cold and surprisingly inexpensive (for Australia) sodas and a boxing kangaroo pen later we decided to check out Mt. Ive station, as it looked cool in the museum info.  
From a toilet stop in South Australia's Iron Knob, we decided to tackle 80 miles of dirt roads into Mt. Ive Station, Western Australia.

"Check out the submarine there," the guy at the museum insisted.  "Really."
Yup - there was a sub at Mt. Ive Station's entrance.  Didn't sink there, but was made somewhat recently by a bunch or locals.
Why not? 

At this stage, we have few deadlines, other than shooting for setting up camp before dark and leaving Australia by mid-August.  It's a good feeling.  

The childhood ditty about connections, "The Old Who Swallowed the Fly" rattled through my brain.  For those of you unfamiliar with it, here's a bit of the lyrics....

The Old Lady Who Swallowed the Fly lyrics
"I know an old lady
Who swallowed a spider
It wiggled and jiggled
And tickled inside her
She swallowed a spider
To catch the fly
But I don't know why
She swallowed the fly'
Warning sign at the outset of our detour-on-a-whim to St. Ive Station.  We took this road sign far more seriously
than those on the far more widely traveled Nullarbor.  South Australia.
About 125 km (~ 80 mi) later, most of it dirt road, where we saw only one other vehicle pass us ( a truck with an empty trailer) we pulled into Mt. Ives station.  We did, however, see several emus and some 'roos  along the way.
Our first emus seen in the wild, on the road to Mt. Ive Station.  We are not sure why the emus crossed the road.  South Australia.
It was hot, dusty and we were getting annoyed with the flies.  We could camp, but instead sprung $65 AUS (~$50 USD), using our own linens (to save $10 AUD).  We slept in a sheep-shearer's cottage with no air conditioning, but a fan.  Also included was access to a hostel-like full kitchen, large commons recreation area and bathrooms with hot showers upon request.*  There was a bar and general store open upon request, but we were set.

*A wood-fire "donkey" heated the hot water tank for hot showers if desired.  The heat of the day warmed the water without it for a shower that eve. My "refreshing" morning shower, however, taken after Wayne's, exceeded the solar-heated water.

We were the only guests.

While the shearing was completed a month prior, there were some workers at the station "goating."  At least that was the coy term the working tourist VISA English gal who checked us in euphemistically called the airplane mustering of wandering semi-wild goats soon to be on their way to the local abattoir.
Wandering goats captured and penned at Mt. Ive Station, South Australia.
The goat's haunting, distressed bleats, which we heard periodically, sounded uncannily human.

We, meanwhile, luxuriated.  We decided we got the afternoon we arrived was to hot and fly-ridden to hike.  The next day, the lure of a real bed and hot showers were far more compelling than an early start.  With the sun high in the sky by our mid-morning departure, we bypassed the very attractions -- walking on the salt lake and hiking amongst the eerie natural rhyolite sculptures (like Cath's Castles and Peter's Pillars) that impelled us to visit Mt. Ive.

Yet, the simple experience of a decent shower, an easy-to-use kitchen, a bed in a fly-free room and the novelty of staying in a sheep-shearer's shack, our taste of Australia's still-vibrant "old West" made the detour worthwhile for us.

More photogenic and slightly more expensive cottages next to our simple sheep shearer's shack, Mt. Ive Station, Western Australia.
Without further ado, we made our way to Australia's "legendary" road, the Nullarbor.

Mt. Ive Station definitely set up some nostalgic photo props, like this wagon, though it is still a working station, too.  West Australia.
And our take on those patting themselves on the back for completing Australia's legendary Nullarbor?  Mt. Ive Station is not as long, but far more rugged and remote.  As was the 4-wheel-drive shortcut we took to Esperance from Balladonia.
Sunset with an almost new moon at our camp
last night, near Blowhole Beach, Western Australia
(~70 km from Carnarvon).
Location Location
Mt. Ive is near the part of South Australia that touches the Nullarbor, which is more in Western than South Australia.  We arrived March 10, 2017 and left the next day.  We are currently in Western Australia's Coral Bay "Club Ningaloo" Backpacker Lodge, again dodging the flies.  This time, our room has air conditioning.  Then again, it's also $30 more.  No extra change for the grasshoppers.

Up Next
We're making our way to Exmouth, maybe Karijini, then Broome... as we continue our clockwise circumnavigation of Australia by Land Cruiser.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Oz: Weird S---O-Meter Pegged -- Again!

Mouse on the outside of our Land Cruiser whilst driving through Western Australia -- before Wayne hit the wipers!
We're driving down 5th Street in Western Australia's Northampton, looking for the local mechanic we were told could do an oil change for us.  Scanning the streets to make sure we're on track, I glance up and see a critter -- a mouse! -- staring back at me from just the other side of our windshield! 

Not sure if we picked the mouse up from our campsite 50 clicks or so back (there was one scurrying around the campsite) or at one of our more recent stops in Geraldton or Northampton.

In any case, thanks to some quick thinking on Wayne's part, when he flipped the wiper on, he sent the mouse flying.  We laughed like hell as we watched it scurrying off to safety after its catapult landing.

At least the mouse was less stressful than the huntsman spider we picked up about a month prior (click here to read about that).  

What will we pick up next?

Location Location
We're currently in Kalbarri, Western Australia, North of Perth, South of Broome.

Up Next
Maybe Shark Bay, and certainly Exmouth and Ningaloo Reef  before we pass it on the the Northbound stretch of our clockwise tour of Australia.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Oz's Legendary Nullarbor - What's It Really Like?

Window cartoon at one of the Nullarbor's Road Houses.  Western Australia.
Tell your typical Ozzie you plan to cross Australia's legendary Nullarbor and watch their reaction. The responses we got were akin to sharing our plans of crossing the South Pacific --  concern, disbelief or awe.

You may hear it referred to as Australia's biggest, baddest road, complete with warnings and special preparation instructions for prospective travelers on "how to survive" the Nullarbor abound.
Not all survive Australia's rugged Nullarbor, though it seemed most casualties were winged or marsupial.
This is our Land Cruiser's license plate, after completing our crossing.
Heck - there's even the the mythical half-naked feral Nullarbor Nymph, which spawned a comedic horror movie (no - haven't seen it -- yet).

Thus, we were amused when we stopped to chat with a motorcyclist stopped at gas station, as we approached this legendary stretch.  "'Numb and and bored' is what I call it," he said.   We were pretty sure that witty remark wasn't one he made up himself, though he was about to embark on his 4th crossing.  For him, the Nullarbor was not some wild outback adventure, but just a road he needed to cross to get to where he wanted to go.
That set the tone for us, though our preparation did include Wayne's making sure we strategically chose our points to fuel up.... We were less concerned about running out of gas, and more concerned about not paying top dollar for it because we had no choice.  For the record, we filled up at Port Augusta, Ceduna and Eucla.

Likewise, despite carrying minimal food, we made sure setting out we had enough for several days.  Typically most folks take 2-3 days to cross.  We knew most all produce was confiscated going from Western Australia to South Australia, but hadn't been warned that more the same was true going the opposite way.  Luckily, we'd eaten a fair bit of produce before that South to West Australia crossing, but our stores took quite a hit and planned meals needed some adjusting.

We also took heed of the need to carry plenty of water, as this is a parched country, and in this particular stretch we knew there was little water and less still fit for consumption.

Wayne humors me whilst I mug for the camera at a Nullarbor Road House.  Australia.
Still, it's hard to be that awed by a stretch of road that driving along at pace a bit below the speed limit, we still encountered a road house every few hours.  For the uninitiated, road houses generally offer fuel, a convenience store with some food and lots of souvenirs, a cafe and lodging.  There's also often a little museum, and a golf hole, part of the "the world's longest golf course" -- the Nullarbor Links.  As well, while there wasn't what you'd call traffic, it also wasn't that unusual to encounter fellow travelers.
The road is rife with kitsch. 


Yup - Cocklebiddy is really a place.  They even have their very own time zone.
Western Australia's Nullarbor.
Despite the overall monotony and general silliness of most of the Nullarbor, there are places and moments of breathtaking beauty.
Full moon, Cocklebiddy Roadhouse.  Nullarbor, Western Australia.
We witnessed a magnificent full moon (which actually bummed us out a bit as it obliterated what otherwise would've been an awesome starry sky devoid of urban light pollution), followed one of the reddest dawns I've ever seen.
Dawn, Cocklebiddy Roadhouse.  Nullarbor, Western Australia.
The Bunda Cliffs, all well-signed photo-op signs just a quick stop off the road are quite spectacular as well.
Bunda Cliffs, Nullarbor, Australia.
Waves crashing against Bunda Cliffs, Australia's Nullarbor.
Erosion, Bunda Cliffs, Nullarbor, Australia.
Ultimately, we cut off the last leg of the Nullarbor.  Instead we drove ~200km (~125 miles) across a 4-wheel drive dirt road.  We bypassed Norseman to come out by verdant seaside town of Esperance, where the coastline is breathtakingly stunning -- all the more so after 3 days of dust, flies and gray-greens.  

Seen on the 4-wheel-drive shortcut we took off the Nullarbor.  This road struck us as more worthy of bragging rights though clearly we were not the only ones who took this road.  We saw only 2 cars in 200 km.

Honestly, we challenge those ready to pat themselves on the back for "surviving the Nullarbor" to take the cutoff, or to head off to the sheepherding station of Mt. Ives (we -did - more on that in a future post), or maybe take the former railroad trail (we were tempted, but not sure where the road reconnected -- we're not that foolhardy!).  

Maybe spending over a month at sea, over 3,000 miles when we traveled the longest unbroken stretch of ocean where we saw only 3 other boats made us a little jaded.  Three days on the road just doesn't seem nearly that desolate in comparison.  

Nullarbor sign.  Seems to be more worthy of dull-and-bored than worthy of bragging rights.  Australia.

Location Location 
This post was written about our recent "trek" across the Nullarbor, from March 11-13, 2017.  

Up Next
We are currently about to leave Perth, Western Australia, heading Northward as we continue our clockwise circumnavigation of Australia.