Published: May 6th 2012May 6th 2012
Nullarbor Road Train
Who would win the battle of a head on collision between this beast and a kangaroo? or between it and a car?
ESPERANCE TO NORSEMAN AND ACROSS THE NULLARBOR to Border Village.
An overview of the Nullarbor: Nullarbor means no trees. The plain is a great limestone plain which is porous and does not hold water, making vegetation difficult to grow and people to live. Crossing the southern part of Australia means crossing the Nullarbor just above the Great Australian Bite. The Nullarbor drive is generally considered to be the 1200km drive between Norseman in the west and Ceduna in the east.
Preparations included a fully serviced car that we had faith in, lots and lots of water, space blankets for shelter if we broke down, etc. (One of the water container leaked, so we had a wet car boot and some wet clothes. – Agh!). Confidence in the car was important as distances between civilisation (roadhouses) were often 200km apart, with no mobile phone signal and no satellite phone to call for help, what would we do if we broke down? We topped up our water bottles at Norseman, but had to do it from a drinking fountain in the park next to the tourist information centre. There was an ordinary tap for public
Typical Road Signs
Later on, they included pictures of wombats, and Koalas in SA.
use, but the tap handle was removed (water actually brought in from Perth 100s of miles away) and the handle was available on request from the tourist information centre. Being a Sunday of course, it was closed!
We were keyed up to see lots and lots of kangaroos, emus and wild camels as we crossed, but only saw one live emu. Sadly again, we saw lots of dead kangaroos, a dead dingo, a dead snake and a dead emu at the side of the road, all road kill.
Vegetation started with lots of trees, which thinned out to bushes, and eventually to small shrubs and plants - never really desert as is normally perceived.
Driving along the roads was stress free, and as we set the cruise control to 100kph, which is the maximum allowed speed of the road trains, we almost never had to overtake a road train or be overtaken by one. Maximum allowed speed for cars was 110 kph so we did not lose much in terms of progress, but gained in better fuel consumption. The only vehicles that got in the way were “Silver Nomads” with their
Early Nullarbor Road View
Generally straight roads, sheltered by trees either side, at the start of the journey.
caravans, but as the roads were straight and relatively traffic free, it was easy to pass them. It is on the Nullarbor that Australia’s longest straight road exists, 90 miles long, but driving it caused no problem. By knowing the fuel consumption of the car, we were able to fill up at Norseman at about $1.69 per litre and get halfway across before needing to fill up again. Only two road stations advertised prices as we crossed, Mundrabilla and Eucla, both at about $1.90 per litre, (still cheaper than the UK!) and as these were reputed to be some of the cheapest petrol across the plain, we filled up there.
Navigation from Norseman to Ceduna is no problem, as you have a 1200k (750 mile) drive without a turn off to anywhere on a metalled road. Just sit and steer.
We camped at Mundrabilla road house overnight after an 824k (515mile) drive from Esperance, and at only $15 for an unpowered site was the cheapest campsite we ever stayed at. Free hot showers and good toilet facilities – good for a night stop. Spotted one hole of the worlds longest golf
Royal Flying Doctor Road Airstrip
Several emergeny airstrips were marked on the road across the Nullarbor, but how do they close the road to allow a landing, and how do they get the doctor to the accident scene?
course here, see picture. This is part of an18 hole golf course that spans 1835km. Don’t expect lush green fairways though.
Whether you enjoy such a trip depends on your mindset. I enjoyed the trip, just taking in the gradually changing vegetation, the weather, the general ambience of a foreign country, etc. Many Australians I spoke to who had done the journey thought it was great, and others just boring. I thought it was great, but would not like to do it regularly!
This west half of the Nullarbor has probably less to see than the second part, as the east half has good coastal views. And so on to the second half in the next blog:
There are more photos below