7th August, 2011
8th August, 2011
9th August, 2011

Sunday 7th August, 2011

Road Sign photograph

Non Existent Animals Sign

Drop Cap e had a dawdling start today as we did not have a hugely long journey. Geoff got dressed and went to the restaurant for an enormous "truckie's breakfast" while Mac and I showered and had a light breakfast in the unit.

We continued along the Eyre Highway towards Eucla. So far the Nullarbor is not really as advertised, there are lots of trees. Apparently it is more treeless along the middle where the train line is. At any rate we will have seen both aspects.

Drop Cap uring the morning we passed a few more RFDS emergency landing strips, several more wildlife warnings, for camels, kangaroos and emus, but so far we have not seen hide, hair or feathers of any of them. Perhaps the camera-shy camels hide their heads behind bushes and camelflage themselves, and of course, everyone knows that kangaroos lie low in the daytime waiting for sundown when they head for the nearest road like lemmings to a clifftop. And emus look like bushes anyway so if they don't move you could easily mistake them. So we didn't see any.

Nullarbor photograph

The Nullarbor from Madura Pass

Drop Cap here have also been many small installations covered with solar cells which we guess to be Telstra radio relays. Either that or the power for air navigation beacons which are also at intervals along the road. We stopped for morning tea at Madura Pass Roadhouse. This is in a very different sort of scenery, a quite high (117 m above sea level) escarpment with an incredible view over the interminable plains. The scenery seemed to alternate sides today, very clear and treeless on one side and quite heavily wooded on the other.

Eucla Ruins photograph

The Old Telegraph Station, Eucla

Drop Cap fter this we drove on to have lunch at Mundrabilla, another roadhouse, then drove on towards Eucla. Eucla has a number of claims to fame, including being a historic site for the Telegraph service, the ruins of the Old Telegraph Station are slowly being swallowed by sand dunes nearby.

Eucla Dunes photograph

Sand Dunes, Eucla

Drop Cap e drove down towards the cliffs to see the ruins and walked over the dunes, quite hard going on very fine white sand. The ruins were quite evocative, you could see the relics of a former age, not that long ago, being obliterated by sand dunes like the Egyptian tombs.

Cross photograph

Rosemary and Mac at the Travellers' Cross, Eucla

Drop Cap e came back and visited two memorials close to the motel, the Travellers' Cross, a symbolic beacon with pioneer memorials on plaques. Then the memorial to the explorer Edward John Eyre, whose real memorial is the highway named after him.

The Eucla Hotel-Motel seems quite good. We have a triple room with three singles like at Cocklebiddy, but much more spacious. They have both a cafe and a restaurant as well as a bar. I just hope I can get something not too high in points tonight after last night's mixed grill which was piled high on the plate and dripping off the edges (literally). These country meals are really big enough for two but I don't think they would take kindly to us sharing. See what happens.
Our meals were very disappointing actually, the restaurant was well presented but had run out of half the menu and our choices were ill-prepared, cold and gristly. And very expensive as everything across the Nullarbor has been. And WA generally. In retrospect, we considered Eucla to be the worst meal we had on the whole trip across four states!

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Monday 8th August, 2011

Cliffs photograph

Cliffs over the Great Australian Bight, near Eucla

Drop Cap e got away early, about 7:30 in the freezing dawn. It was so cold that it activated a warning light on the dashboard which Mac didn't recognise. On looking it up in the manual it turned out to be a frost warning which came on at temperatures between 0 and 4 degrees.

Roadhouse photograph

At Nullarbor Roadhouse

Drop Cap e started finding photo op lookouts soon after the border which took us to the cliffs with wonderful views of the Great Australian Bight. We explored three of them without seeing any whales, but the sea was gorgeous and the cliffs quite rugged. We lost three quarters of an hour changing from Central Western Time to SA Central Time (I think that's what the zone is called), so our meals were a bit out of order.

Roadhouse photograph

At Nullarbor Roadhouse

Drop Cap e pulled into Nullarbor Roadhouse for morning tea. This is quite an extensive (and VERY expensive) operation. Mac filled up with petrol at $1:98 per litre! They have an airstrip with a couple of small aeroplanes which take 30 minute whale watching flights. It would have been good today, but we resisted.

Whales photograph

Whales at Head of Bight

Drop Cap he highlight of the day beyond question was the Head of Bight Whale Watching Platform. This is a very well organised operation and cost us $10 each which was worth every penny! We walked down a sloping boardwalk which took us to a viewing platform right at the edge of the cliffs where you could look down to see lots of southern right whales disporting themselves with their calves in the rolling azure waves.

Platform photograph

Head of Bight Whale Watching Platform

Drop Cap t was simply magical and everyone was smiling. We all had our binoculars which brought them very close and Geoff and I tried to get photos. Really it will probably just look like logs in the water but we saw so many! There was a sign up outside the Visitors Centre saying "number of whales spotted in the Bay today was 60+!

Cliffs photograph

Bunda Cliffs

Drop Cap e went down the other side of the boardwalk for a spectacular view of the Bunda Cliffs. We all agreed that after the Great Ocean Drive at Esperance and now this, Victoria's Great Ocean Road is going to have to look to its laurels!

Whale photograph

Whale at Head of Bight

Drop Cap fter this we went on and had a picnic lunch in a parking area. Then, through Yalata, which is no longer a roadhouse, and Nundroo, which is, until we reached Penong, our stop for tonight. We found the Caravan Park very easily and met Jill Oats, the owner, in her lovely old stone house which used to be the Penong Hospital. We have a terrific two bedroom cabin with full facilities - a full-sized stove with oven, a microwave, large fridge as well as the regulation jug and toaster. It was just 5 p.m. and the general store closed at 5:30 so we headed straight off and got in supplies for a home-cooked meal and more bread, milk, OJ etc for breakfast. We couldn't get any fresh fruit or veg because we can't guarantee eating it all and we go through the quarantine check point tomorrow.

Drop Cap t has been a lovely day, full of great scenery (I must admit I slept through some of it) changing quite abruptly from treeless plain to forested rolling hills and then to paddocks and farms (around here). Penong is a nice historic little town with plaques up to tell what the buildings were and are. I like it here.

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Tuesday, 9th August, 2011

Drop Cap e slept in today after yesterday's long drive. Due to a mistake on our part our next stop was only 70 kms away in Ceduna. What happened was we sent emails to Penong and Ceduna, only intending to stay at one or the other. Penong replied very quickly so we took that one and when Ceduna replied several days later we had forgotten we only wanted one. Still, no problems, an easy day.

Ceduna photograph

Ceduna from the Jetty

Drop Cap e went through the Quarantine Station (nothing to declare) and headed for Ceduna Visitor Centre where we picked up some brochures etc. We had morning tea in a coffee shop in an arcade, explored a co-operative craft shop where Mac bought some home-made marmalade, and walked down to see the Jetty and the Town Beach. Geoff walked to the end of the jetty (although after Busselton it was a case of "that's not a Jetty" like in Crocodile Dundee.) Then we walked back to the Bakery and bought some filled rolls for lunch.

Memorial photograph

Memorial for the Lost at Sea, Ceduna

Drop Cap e decided to drive to Pinky's Lookout at Thevenard, site of a huge silo and loading dock for grain, salt and gypsum. The Lookout had a picnic table where we ate our lunch and a colourful memorial to those lost at sea since 1900 (as a seafaring and fishing port there have been quite a few) and the start of the Encounter Bay Coastal Path along the edge of the cliffs to Denial Bay. We walked a shortish length of it. We were interviewed by a couple of ladies from the local council tourism committee as to our opinion of the facilities and also where would be a good place to site BBQs, toilets, etc., all of which is on the drawing board, they showed us the projected plans.

Drop Cap fter our walk we went back to town and found our motel, the East-West. It is OK, not great, but OK. Geoff bought some expensive Wi-Fi and we discovered that there was no toilet paper and the air-con doesn't work. I am so sick of feeling cold in these places! Both of these problems were sorted out later.

Ruins photograph

Mackenzie's Ruins, Ceduna

Drop Cap e went out again and drove to Denial Bay. We overshot the turnoff so kept going until we reached McKenzies Ruins, the remains of the settlement of a pioneer farmer, harbourmaster and JP, who had built several large and deep circular stone tanks where he condensed seawater for stock (?) The ruins were on both sides of the road and were very interesting.

plaque photograph

Plaque on Mackenzie's Ruins, Ceduna

Drop Cap hen we drove back to Denial Bay, a pretty little town with oyster sheds, although we just parked by the jetty (another one!) while Geoff had afternoon tea. Then we drove back to the motel. We have decided to eat in the motel restaurant tonight. I hope it is better than Eucla!


It was. It was great! I even had a reasonable WW meal. Grilled local whiting with salad and chips (indulgence) plus my share of a bottle of Mateus Rose. Lovely!

Drop Cap e had a visit from a young woman giving out our census forms. I had been wondering how we would do it, so it appears that when you are at a hotel they find you. Don't know how they count the homeless. I can't see them giving out forms in shop doorways and park benches. But at this time of year anyone who can would be in a shelter, I guess.

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