No bloody chance!
We left to start our Nullarbor crossing on the Thursday. On the Saturday, we arrived sweaty, smelly and covered with dust in Eucla at the end of our Nullarbor trip with a Jeep with it’s engine light on. Now that doesn’t sound like a bore, does it!?
Nobody’s Nullarbor journey officially starts until they take a photo with the Nullarbor sign, so we made it all official as we entered the infamous treeless plain.
WE ARE HERE
It says it on the sign, but until you really see it. Whoa. It really is as flat as a lizard under a road trains tyres. Sky, horizon line, land. As far as you can see, not a tree in sight. So we get it, hundreds of kilometres with sky, land, bitumen definitely sounds like it could get a bit tired after a while. That’s where you’re wrong. There is so much more out there to see, you just can’t see it all from the road. So that’s when we went off road.
Once we hit the Nullarbor Roadhouse, we headed west out onto the Old Eyre Highway. If the Nullarbor seems long when you’re driving at 100kms an hour on the bitumen, wait ’til you’re driving at 40kms per hour on the Old Eyre Highway. She’s a rough ol’ bumpy ride out there.
The sun had set, our headlights were on, and we were literally 100 metres away from our night stop when, BEEEEEEEP. A little picture lit up bright orange on the Jeep’s dash. The engine light.
As the sun peeked it’s head up the next morning, all was finally revealed. We had pulled up stumps at Koonalda Homestead & Roadhouse, a popular stop for vehicles needing attention. Unfortunately, we had come to the party a little late, so we were left to sort our car issues ourselves. After a tinker with the Jeep, we were still looking at that darn engine light. But with nothing more we could do where we were, on we trod, ever so carefully.
Waving goodbye to the past travellers stuck at Koonalda, we sought out some of the many caves splattered across the Nullarbor. Some are closed to the public, only accessible with a permit, others are open to any who dare. And they really are as raw as they come; no lights, no paths, so remember your torch along with your common sense. There’s tiny gaps for squeezing through to reach more caverns, Aboriginal handprints and all types of feathers and bones to discover.
All caved out, we came to a fork in the road. We could continue on the Old Eyre Highway, cutting down to the main drag and some assistance for the Jeep. Or we could take Old Coach Road running west, heading further inland to cross the border into Western Australia in no man’s land.
Our choice may have seemed silly, but it turned out a blessing. Old Coach Road was less travelled, but it was also less bumpy. Our bodies were ever so grateful! When the hot sun was dipping, wildlife started emerging from their daytime hideaways. A crew of kangaroos bounded across the track 100 yards in front of us. Then a girl. Another human! We hadn’t seen another person for days, and we’d hardly expected to for another couple more. But there she was. When the roos caught sight of us they were off into the scrub. The girl stopped dead in the middle of the track. Her arms slightly tensed out to her sides, ready to fight or ready to run. A curious yet shocked and hard look blazed in her eyes, and her soft blonde hair blew gently across her face in the evening breeze. She didn’t blink, and for a second, none of us dared to move.
Suddenly, bare footed, she darted to the left, along the tracks of the kangaroos into the scrub. Like a couple of stunned mullets we sat there, both staring at the precise spot she had disappeared into the bush. Had the Nullarbor sent us crazy? But we had both seen her.
Eventually we pulled ourselves together and for the next 30 minutes we wandered the bush, following the tracks, calling out to her. When the last of the glowing sun sunk below the horizon we left, pleading with ourselves that she must be ok. We were only a day away from civilisation and we could get help for her there.
Finally, the next day we burst our way into Eucla in a cloud of dust and looking a little dishevelled. Hearing our concerns of the girl, local man Norm Nprullabhy from the Eucla Roadhouse told us a girl had been spotted, with many search parties unable to find her. Some still searched, but many had concluded she was happy out there and she’d become the local legend.
Now if that all sounds Nullar-boring to you, then we will have to agree to disagree. See, truth is it can be boring if you let it. But if you seek those less travelled paths, and let your curiosity find the treasures, it’s an amazing place. A place where time has stopped, and you are the creator of your own adventure.
Our next blog will be from: Beautiful WA!
Until our next update - see you on / off the road 😉
Cassie and Micky