Aus Update 23 - Cape Arid, Balladonia track & The Nullarbor

9-Nov-2006

<Paula> 1-Nov to 3-Nov  Before leaving Esperance we visited a very comprehensive museum.  It was interesting and concerning.  Interesting because they had some really cool stuff from parts of ships wrecked along the coast, a real steam train, parts of skylab that mainly crashed into the ocean to the south of here leaving a trail of debri across the area.  Concerning because you realise you are getting old when things you have used and were actually new during your childhood, even teenage years are behind a glass case in a museum!  They had displays of computers and those large floppy disks that used to be used.  There were other things that we had used but weren't new during our life, they aren't so bad.  The place was well worth a visit.

We headed east towards Cape Le Grand, where the famous Lucky Bay is.  You may ask what it is famous for, I think only locals take note of this, but apparently it has been classed as the best beach in Australia and it rates as the second best beach in the world.   I don't know what the criteria are for the best beach but it was pretty good.  It was a little cloudy when we were there but it was still a very nice beach.  It has this white sand that is very compact and very fine.  It is nothing like yellow sand.  

Also on Cape Le Grand was Whistling Rock.  It whistles when the wind blows through it, depending on the direction and the strength of the wind to the type and volume of whistle produced.  It was whistling when we got there. There are photos below, you will note Chris's engineering side coming out in him (which it often does), he had to discover how it worked and then what could be done to improve on the probablity of a continual whistle.  

We then continued on to Cape Arid where we found a really nice sheltered and quiet camping spot at Thomas River.  We liked it so much we stayed 3 nights.


left: Whistling Rock.
above: Chris checking out how it worked.


Us at Lucky Bay.

Another photo taken at Lucky Bay

Frenchmens Peak at Cape Le Grand.

Our camp site at Thomas River, Cape Arid.

A small part of a very long beach at Yokinup Bay.

4-Nov  We were now going to head east across the Nullarbor and to get to it the choice was 500km by sealed road or 190km by the Balladonia track to Balladonia roadhouse. The catch being it was going to potentially take us 10 hours to get there via the track, but of course we took it. Thankfully the conditions were favourible and it only took us 5 hours.  It was a really amazing place, and you can't capture it in a photo.  When we stopped for lunch we really noticed just how isolated and beautiful it was.  It is so quiet and you are so far away from anything or anyone else, and there is lots of wildlife. Here are some photos of the track and some of our encounters. 


Track started out as a gravel road fringed with wild flowers.

Then there was a lot of sand. We actually had to let the pressure out of the tyres for this.

The track became firmer and very rocky in places.

These baby emus would not get off the road. We ended up stopping for a while for them to run out of sight then they figured out to move into the bushes. Boy can they run!

The track later turned to rough unpredictable gravel again. There are a few extra scratches down the side of the car where the tree was a better option than the hole in the road:-) Glad to report we still have both mirrors attached.

The truly amazing thing was that this barely there track was on the navigator. Navman knows the way! That is Mt Ragged in the background.

We stopped at Balladonia Roadhouse for a while and then continued down the road to Caiguna Roadhouse where we decided to stop for the night.

5-Nov Our intention when crossing the Nullarbor is that we would take our time and leisurely enjoy the trip. Intentions don't always work out.  It was really windy and when we got up REALLY early (6am), it was starting to rain, so we packed up and were on road by 6:55am. We decided to keep driving until the weather was better or it was getting dark, stopping at the sights on the way (<Chris> not that there are many </Chris>). About an hour into the mornings drive the front drivers side tyre blew! Two things I am thankful for when this happened.  Firstly that the roadtrain coming towards us was far enough away that I could gain control of the car and pull it back to our side of the road before it passed (yes I was driving). Second thing I am thankful for is that it wasn't raining while we were on the side of the road, that would have not been a comfortable situation at all. Apart from this event there was lots of coast to look at here are some photos of the days adventures...


This is the previous day just after Balladonia.

7am on a rainy day on the Nullarbor.

I pulled off the road onto a flat piece of ground for Chris to change the tyre.

If you look closely you can see the long hole in the rubber.

Telegraph Station at Eucla, it is mostly buried in a sand dune.

Some Flora.

The Western Australian and South Australian boarder.

We have lots of photos of the amazing coastline, this is just one of them.

We stopped at Nundroo Roadhouse for the night. It was a full moon.

6-Nov We got up considerably later than the previous morning, matters weren't helped by the fact that we didn't know what the local time was.  They even cleaned the showers before we got to use them.  Driving into Ceduna we met our first friendly Quarantine Officer, which I think deserves a quick mention. And that really completes our drive accross the Nullarbor. Although we didn't find it a long or remote drive compared with other places we have been it is a memorable one because it is so popular and is the main road between east and west, we can say now that we have crossed the Nullarbor.  We saw pictures in the Norseman roadhouse of one of the first ever cars loaded up to cross this stretch of land.  It had wooden trunks strapped to all sides. I am sure I would not have wanted to do it back then. We turned south at Ceduna to explore the Eyre Peninsula which I will tell you about in the next update.