We left Port Augusta making our way across the top of the Eyre Peninsula towards Ceduna. As we headed west, even though we were on the black-top, it felt like coming home to see the rich red dirt of the Aussie outback. The red landscape is broken up by the silvery green-blue of the scraggly saltbush that covers the ground, stretching as far as the eye can see.
We are trying, where possible, to keep the driving days short as the 500 odd km drives on the first couple of days really tired all of us out, not just the kids. We decided to camp overnight at Tcharkuldu Rock about 5km’s out of Minnipa. This place reminded me of a smaller version of Karlu Karlu (Devil’s Marbles). A large rocky outcrop, littered with orchre coloured, round boulders, rises up from the surrounding grassland and beautiful old gums. Some of the boulders have been weathered and cracked to produce holes right through them. The views over the expansive wheat fields of the area are spectacular (although somewhat scary as Matty put it… “we are looking at a sea of gluten!!”).
We headed off again the next day towards Coorabie and a station stay at Coorabie Farm. Stations are a favourite of ours to stay on and this one definitely didn’t disappoint. With super friendly caretakers and lovely shady camp spots we really enjoyed our couple of nights here. We spent the next day exploring the beaches close by including Mexican Hatt beach, aptly named for the giant triangular rocky island poking up from the water just out of the cove which, (if you squint) does in fact look a bit like a sombrero. The white sands and turquoise waters made for a brilliant morning running and splashing in the waves. We then followed the 4wd tracks along the cliff face around another couple of stunning bays to Fowlers bay where we managed to get a good coffee and Ben through a line in. He actually managed to catch a flatty that he devoured for dinner!
As we continued to follow the Eyre highway along the Great Australian Bight the trees gave way to low scrubby brushes and we crossed the Nullarbor Plain. We did of course stop at the Nullarbor Roadhouse and take the obligatory tourist photo – I’m not really sure why a yellow and black sign post showing camels, wombats and roos crossing has become such an iconic feature of the Nullarbor but there you have it, we have joined the club!
I have heard the term “Nullar-boring” used to describe crossing the Nullarbor and I expect it would be if you stuck just to the black top, but as always we are up for a good detour so about 1km down the road from the Nullarbor Roadhouse we took the bumpy dirt track down to the Murrawijinie caves. It isn’t a designated 4wd only track but the corrugations and rocks would give standard suspension a good workout and rattle your bones! The first cave you can only peer down into and the second was a bit beyond the kids capability but the third we were able to scramble down into the dark, cool, cavernous opening, where we could walk over the soft bat guano flooring and hear tiny swallow chicks chirping in the nests clinging to the cave roof. There are a few indigenous hand-print paintings on the walls, of who know how many thousand years old. Unfortunately not much is known about the significance of the caves. Given the temperature is a good 10deg cooler down there I bet they would have provided some refuge from the scortching summer temperatures.
We overnighted at one of the roadside lookouts over the cliffs of the Bight and made it through a VERY windy night! The next morning we crossed over the border into WA and can now say we have been to all mainland states and territories (sorry Tassie, hopefully we’ll get to you soon).
There is a quarantine checkpoint at the border and cars and caravans are checked for any fresh fruit and veg and honey which all has to be handed over. We were allowed to take over peeled onions, sweet potato, corn, packaged salads, pineapple, and tinned, dried, cooked or frozen fruit and veg. There is heaps of very useful info for travellers on the WA dept of agriculture website which I had checked out previously so I knew what I could and couldn’t take with us and had planned accordingly. As we are still a number of days off reaching shops to restock (some other Nullarbor detours planned) I had to make sure I could fill bellies with more than just refined junk so some forward planning was needed. Dinner after crossing the border was and easy yet tasty and nutrition chicken bbq’d on the Weber, fried sweet potato and onions, corn and sauerkraut (it would have been coleslaw but sadly it went off!).
So until next time, eat well & live happy