Norseman - Ceduna via the Eyre Highway (Hwy
Total Distance 1,195km
All distances measured from Norseman
Crossing the Nullarbor used to fill people with awe - miles and miles of unsealed, lonely roads with very little traffic and few roadhouses, horror stories of motorists broken down with no-one to help them, families stranded far from home and similar tales of woe although it wasnít really quite that bad . All that has changed and although crossing the Nullarbor can still be thought of as a bit of an adventure, with good sealed road all the way, modern roadhouses at frequent intervals along the way and plenty of fellow travellers on the road, it as no longer any cause for fear.
Although for most of the journey there is not too much vegatation to hide them, it is still a good idea to keep your eyes peeled for straying animals including emus, especially in the early mornings or late afternoons.
From the South Australian border onwards there are a number of excellent lookouts not far off the highway and these are not to be missed as they give a fantastic view of the Great Australian Bight and the incredible cliffs where the land meets the wild Southern Ocean.
Letís take the roadhouses in order as we cross this vast area.
Leaving Norseman behind we travel through timbered undulating country for quite a while and begin to wonder why this was called a ëTreeless Plainí.
Our first roadhouse is at Balladonia (191km) and this is similar to most in that it has a hotel/motel and caravan park besides facilies for fuel and supplies. Also like most roadhouses, water comes from an underground bore and contains chemicals that make it hard to get a lather when you wash unless you use special soap.
A four-wheel-drive track goes out to the coast from here but is sometimes closed after rain.
Next comes the John Eyre Motel/Roadhouse at Caiguna (374km) and this comes after driving along the longest straight stretch of highway in Australia and possibly in the world - it stretches without deviation for 146.6km! One of the three emergency highway landing strips for aircraft from the Royal Flying Doctor Service is located near here and is plainly signposted and marked. The others are at Madura.and Eucla.
Just a short way further and we come to Cocklebiddy (438km) and the Wedgetail Inn with Madura(521km) with its Madura Pass Oasis Motel. At all these stops there are caravan park facilities plus fuel, food and drinks.
Along the way you will notice occassional unsealed roads heading north to stops on the Trans Australian Railway that runs from the Eastern States to Perth.
The final two roadhouses in Western Australia are Mundrabilla (636km) and Eucla (648km) . Here at Eucla you can see the ruins of the old Eucla Telegraph Station which was an important link when the East-West Telegraph service was completed in 1877. An illuminated Travellerís Cross is situated on the escarpment overlooking the ocean and the Telegraph Station ruins which are 4km from the highway.
It is just 12km from here to the Western Australian/South Australian Border and here you have to adjust your watches and clocks to keep in step with local time. Inside the very modern Border Village (660km) clocks tell you the time for three time zones. (If you are travelling East to West you will find a very strict Quarantine Station here at Border Village so make sure you have no uncooked fruit or vegetables on board. They are also on the lookout for honey).
Even if you donít stop and take advantage of the modern facilities you will want to look at the 5.5metre high kangaroo, Rooey 2 and the international signpost giving distance and direction for places scattered throughout the world. There is even the opportunity to play the ëpokiesí and a licenced restaurant.
Just east of the border you come to the first of a series of six fantastic lookouts - all different and all worth the brief time it takes to look at the Southern Ocean and the sheer cliffs that stretch for 200km as far as Head of the Bight.
The Nullarbor Hotel/Motel (846km) is the first stop in South Australia and here you can obtain passes to visit Head of the Bight to look at the huge Southern Right Whales that come into the area from May to October to court and mate. You can also get a pass at the Ranger Station on the way into the viewing area. These whales are among the largest of their species and can weigh up to 80 tonnes. If that doesnít sound a lot then just imagine the combined weight of about 50 large cars. The length of one of these giants is up to 18metres or 60feet. A fairly large caravan would be about 20feet so put three of those end to end and you have one fully grown whale!
Nullarbor means ëtreeless plainí and in fact it is only in this area that the highway touches the real Nullarbor that stretches for more than 250,000 square kilometres - the worldís largest area of limestone.
Head of the Bight is part of the Yalata Aboriginal Land and the highway passes through this on its way to the Yalata Roadhouse (992km) Aboriginal artifacts can be bought at the roadhouse and you can get passes to Head of the Bight here as well. Just 7km east of the roadhouse we come to the ëdogí fence that runs from the Bight to S.E. Queensland a distance of 6,000km and is designed to keep dingoes away from sheep stations.
People with time to spare shound check out Fowlers Bay a seaside sttlement near the Nundroo Roadhouse (1,044km). There is a caravan park and accomodation near the beach and jetty and the detour only adds about 15km to the trip. Full facilities are available at the roadhouse inself.
Our Nullarbor crossing is almost complete because we start travelling through more settled agricultural areas as we approach the small town of Penong (1,120km) on our way to Ceduna (1,195km).
If you have any fruit or vegetables on board you will need to use them before the Quarantine Station coming into Ceduna as they will confiscate any they find. Fortunately the town is quite big and there are plenty of shops to restock our supplies.
The town is a major centre for the Eyre Peninsula and the far western part of South Australia and has a number of caravan parks for people wishing to explore the region or perhaps charter a fishing boat. Trevenard just 4km from Ceduna is the deep sea port where large ships call to transport grain and other local products to local and overseas destinations. It also the centre of a thriving fishing industry with two fish processing plants.
Information on the attractions of the area can be obtained from the Visitorís Centre in Poynton Street.