Travelling

As you would have read in my Who am I? page, i have travelled quite a bit. I wanted to share another trip with you now. My latest one, across the Nullarbor……

The Nullarbor trip

This is the story of Luke and Glenn Nichols trip across the Nullarbor plains from Melbourne to Perth Via Sydney for my sisters 21st birthday party. I must admit that the car was pretty full. I know that I should have sent more stuff with the removalist, You learn these things.

Anyhow I’ll start at the beginning. I left Melbourne on the 29th of January 2005 at around 3pm. I had to drop into town to pick up my cousin, which was coming up to Sydney with me. That trip was fairly uneventful really no real problems, we cruised at a constant 110-115km/h it only took 9 and a 1/2 hours. I love that drive, especially towards the end, when you get up around Camden, basically anything past Yass. Good place to visit, lots of nice hills and stuff. I can’t wait to take a chick on that trip, quite romantic. Anyhow back to the trip, when we got to Sydney we were welcomed by the whole family all 6 of them (I just arrived) we sat around or stood in my case. For ages just chatting and playing with the dog. It was SOOO much fun. Anyhow we then went to bed, I got up at my usual time of around 8-8.30 and played with Czech (the dog) for ages, I was more tired than him, then Kirstin took him for a run, which was a surprise- he was good. We eventually had breaky about 10! Nice and relaxed, we had Family world famous Pancakes!! YUMM!! Then it was full swing into getting ready to decorate the hall for Jessica’s party. That was good fun, we created a sunset out of Crete paper, quite a feat with shitty sticky tape. Anyhow it ended up looking really good. I MC-ed the night, I was a bit nervous for the first part of the night, made a bit of a dick oops, kids might read this, idiot of myself. It ended up being a really good night, had some games and had some skits (small plays about Jess).

Sydney to Nyngan
The next day was to prove quite the tester. We left Sydney at around 10am on the 30th January prepared to travel some 5 days across the Nullarbor. We drove thru the Blue Mountains, no problem. We drove to Bathurst, no problem. We drove to Dubbo, no problem. We drove to Nyngan, problem. The engine seized. We blew it up. Happened about 5km out of Nyngan, at about 6pm, I was very upset. Yeah that is a nice way of putting it. We found out later that the radiator had melted causing the engine to blow up. I had melted everything in the engine bay, whether it be plastic, metal, fabric- EVERYTHING apparently I was very close to catching on fire. Which would have been really bad, seeing I had all that stuff in there.

Back on track now, we got a tow back into town, and camped for the night. I was pretty stressed out about it all, didn’t know what to do. Anyhow the Tow guy came and got us the next day and took us to his workshop, which was in town. It was then that we decided that dad would catch the bus into Dubbo, some 2 hours away. Pick up a rental car and drive it back. That was decided early in the morning, around 9am. Dad left at 10:30am, I had to wait until 4-ish before we could get on the road again. I waited at the mechanics place, the weather out was around 36C, which was pretty hot. Dry and hot, God I was bored, I was reading the material from anything I could. Even slept for a bit. When dad got back, we packed the car and then left some stuff behind, as it wouldn’t fit in the rental. Oh by the way the car we got was a “corporate rental”, so we ended up with a Nissan Maxima, top of the range car, sunroof, 6 stacker, dual climate control. The works, it loved sitting on 120Km/h, as it did for the next few days. We after we packed the car, we were hoping for either Cobar or Broken Hill. We settled on Cobar, it was on 120km down the road but we were on the way again. We had lost a day but at least we were moving again. If Cobar wasn’t so bloody hot, and the trucks weren’t there. It would be a nice town. That night we sat down and worked out where we would stop and how long it would take, it was now the 1st of February. I wanted to be roughly 2500Km away by Friday. Could we do it, fcuk yeah!!

Cobar to Kimba
We got off early the next day, around 7. Drove to Wilcannia, you might have seen it on weather maps, it regularly gets on the hottest place in NSW. It is a SHIT HOLE, AVOID IT. The place is really creepy, their are aboriginals everywhere, but because of that they are really bored and therefore have nothing to do and end up stealing. Resulting from that is all the bars on the windows, doors, everything is locked. The police station looks like a jail, 2 rows of barbed wire. From here we proceeded onto Broken Hill. Nice thriving town, the mine it, which sustains the town, is right behind the town, like 2 rows back!! A little bit of history for you is BHP= Broken Hill Propriety. Now it is global, not bad from red dust in the middle of now where. There was a funny thing we saw out there. I’ll give you some back ground, in NSW you aren’t allowed to leave your car unlocked, otherwise you’ll get fined. We were sitting down having a coffee, when some Police were walking up the road. They saw a car parked that was unlocked. They went over, opened the doors, and locked the car. I was blown away at the kindness of people, the country hospitality that seems to have been lost in the city environment. So far today we drove around about 400km, we still had to get from here to about 1/2 way across Sad Australia (South Australia). So we left Broken Hill and went onward, always searching for something. The roads are really straight up there, even though you kind of expect it. It does really get you damn this is a big place. We Arrived at Petersbrough about lunchtime 1pm, it was meant to be the second night of our trip. It ended up being a place to stretch. Petersbrough has had a wonderful past, it is the only place in South that 3-rail gauges meet. The other being Gladstone in Queensland. My Dad, really enjoyed it, there was lots of signs to read!!

Well from here we needed to keep on going, and so we pushed on (always wanted to say that, like a travel doco) to Port Augusta through the mountains, were we copped a bit of rain. Was a bit scary as the road is really tight and windy and visibility was low, I was driving, so took it like a racecar driver, big mistake. Well it was over before it started, the rain that is and the mountains. I think they were the Adelaide hills or the ones that run behind Adelaide. We stopped in Port Augustas for a little while to stretch and buy some food and make a few calls. After that we trundled on, we went past Baxter Detention centre, well at least it looked like it. A green place in the middle of nothing, plus a big ugly fence. They should let them walk around over a larger area, not like they could walk to Port Augusta, some 50-60km away maybe more. Anyhow over to the trip again.

Kimba to Eucla
We arrived in Kimba around dusk, don’t ask me what time. I think it was around 6pm, well we knew that this place was a one star, but really who likes hard ass dirt with stones. Not me!! The wind was roaring in to, across a paddock, we tried to stop it, with the car alas that didn’t help too much, did help with dinner the fire didn’t go out. I slept like a baby that night, probably cause we drove from Cobar in New South Wales to Kimba, half way across South Australia!. I think in the end it was something like 1050Km. That is around 10 hours plus driving. We had driven thru some interesting country in that time as well. This is an adventure that memories won’t fade. I know I may be saying that early, seeing that we are only on day 2 of the trip. Really though, the highs and lows make it one of the best ever, the send off from Melbourne, and Sydney then onto Kimba. The town with silos (phallic symbols by the way) all around, large tractors in the Main Street and shitty caravan park.

We got up and left Kimba by around 7-ish we like to travel in the morning rays, it isn’t as harsh on your skin, according to my dad. ;P (just kidding). We drove to Ceduna, nice place really it is the last place of civilisation before you hit the Nullarbor Plain. I would recommend this town for people that want to retire. Not that I know any but it would be good to say for a few days, I’m sure that there are plenty of things to do and see around there. This is the last town for some 1000Km plus, enjoy it!! Now travelling is serious, get ready for some bum numbing, mind altering-ly boring, eye tired-ing-ly sleepy road. The first parts past Ceduna are really nice, kind of like going over sand dunes, that go on for ever, just hill after hill. Then you see a plain stretching away into the Horizon, a straight road, like no other, it is THE NULLARBOR. When you come down onto the Nullarbor it is strange cause the trees don’t fade out like you would expect, they just stop at the bottom of the hill. Low shrubs take place, and grasses dominate. This is what we will be seeing for a few more days, hours at least. The Nullarbor actually only seems to go for about 100Km or so. Well, we seemed to see the start and end of the Nullarbor pretty quick, maybe it goes back further and only has a short bit which comes to the sea?? The site was still awesome. There were lots of trucks on the road, as a train had derailed outside Kalgoorlie, so they were trucking it over. So I drove across the Nullarbor by myself!!, I am so tough, I get kudos every time that I think of that. We took turns driving that day, as we did each day. About 2 hrs was the max, cause the road didn’t have much of a kink to it. We drove past the Head of the Bight, accidentally. It just came up on us so fast, so we drove on. I am glad that we didn’t miss our next stop though. The Bunda cliffs.

The Bunda Cliffs
What an amazing planet we live on, the Bunda cliffs are a shining example of that. As soon as you see the water it takes your breath away, and to know a little about how long the cliffs are, like 300Km of unbroken shoreline. Blows your mind, it has an enchanting feeling about it. There are a few pics on this place over on the next page, you’ll know which ones they are. It was a magical thing to share with Dad. The road actually runs about 30m from the edge, bloody scary if you ask me cause they say that the cliff isn’t stable! Quite a funny thing, seeing trucks rolling along the coast then cliffs, funny (not ha ha, but weird) Well we moved on from here and drove lots more, nothing really exciting except for the bit that I’m going to tell you about. we approached this corner, which I thought was funny, cause it was quite sharp, like you wouldn’t expect it for out there. Anyhow we then saw it, the sign. “Welcome to 146.6km (90 miles) the worlds straightest road” I was like yes I can’t believe that I’m doing this. Boy let me tell you, that is a bloody long time to be staring in a straight line, even doing 120km/h it takes ages. The funny thing is when you get to the end, there is a corner going the opposite way to the one coming in, kind of like they said that they had had enough fun to break the record and needed to get back on track. That is something that I won’t forget either.

That night we crossed the border into Western Australia, and drove some extra 130km, that we didn’t need to. Let me tell you the story. When we stopped at the Bunda cliffs, there was a guy with a busted tyre, so we chatted for a bit, and then moved on. Well he told us that this place called Mundrabilla had a good caravan park, some 80 odd km from the border. So we thanked him for the advice and moved on. Boy was he wrong, it actually the worst place on the whole stretch of highway, even worse than Kimba. So we decided that we couldn’t handle that and went back up the road to Eucla. This was much nicer, not by heaps, but still better, there were heaps of people there as well. That has to say something. I don’t know what time we got up, cause we were on some local weird-ass Central time. Never heard of it, don’t know why it is there, get rid of it. We found out that we must have of got up at 5:30am or so, cause we got petrol some 70km down the road at 7:15am. We then followed the Hampton tablelands for almost the rest of the journey. They are underrated in my book, really nice views I would say. I would love to have a 4X4 out there, driving along the beaches and stuff, really nice. We then passed over the ranges and past Madura, where they used to train horses for the British Army for India. This was the only large hill that we passed over since the Adelaide Hills. The view from the top was great, this whole trip is great. Imagine this, close your eyes. Not now but after you read this, silly. A view of low scrub, to the horizon and beyond, mountains on one side, the other crystal clear aqua water with white sandy beaches. God Damn, now close those eyes and imagine that! Done? Cool, I think I am too. Great stuff. So we trundled onward, to Norseman.

Norseman to Esperance

Norseman is a town that has petrol and not much else on offer, get your petrol and move on. It is the fork in the road, either up to Kalgoorlie or down to Esperance. We went down, Norseman is a mining town, which looks like it is about to fall over, lots of buildings are run down, and lots of shitty houses around. Esperance on the other hand is a great place, I recommend you go there, especially if you like wind, I don’t think I have been to a windier place. We stayed at the first more than 3 star place in almost a week, and boy was it good. The facilities at that place were great, I say no more.

Esperance to Perth

We left Esperance heading for Perth, we needed to be a Murdoch TAFE in Murdoch by 4pm. We decided to take a different approach, rather than going down the coast, we cut up thru Lake King and Lake Grace then onward to Wagin and up to Perth, that way. It was a trip filled with salt lakes, I don’t think that I have seen so many salt lakes ever! At least we got to see the Wheat belt and gold fields, and they were quite nice, lots of wheat though. We got to Perth. Hurray, finally after everything we were there, it was a bit of a mixed emotion day, I don’t really know how to describe it, all over the place. Happy. Sad. Confused. Depressed. It started to sink in a little how bit the time difference was, damn 3 hrs. That means that I get up, and the day is half gone over East (I’m already succumbing to the speak) it is difficult to get into. Well I’m glad to tell you that we got to Murdoch around 3:30pm, enrolled and on our way to my Sisters place. Sure we got lost a few times, but it wasn’t to bad really considering that we actually had a map to go with.

In Perth

We moved into the house the following day, after staying overnight at my Aunties and Uncles place. The move took all day, I slept on the ground for the first few nights until dad took the car back to the airport on Sunday. Then I stole the mattress, and slept on that. Some funny stuff happened, I was going to TAFE on the Tuesday, that afternoon, I came home had dinner and went to bed. you wouldn’t think that 3 hrs would put you out that much, but I was smashed for at least a week and a half. I miss Victoria, the clouds believe it or not. I think that we had 3-4 days of no clouds, at any time. I was getting shitty, coming from Melbourne, where there are always clouds, it is a reassuring factor. They finally came, and stayed for a week. I enjoyed that, like old friends coming to visit, always welcome. Like everyone that might read this, write to me and we can catch up when you drive, plane or train it over. Either way, this is an experience that I would never give up, I want to do it again. This time on a train, this country of ours is amazing. I don’t think I have seen a more contrasting country in all my travels. Deserts, Rainforest, Snow, Wind. All on one continent/island. God bless America, humbug, God created Australia and used the left overs on the rest of the planet.

The End……..

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