AWOL Around Australia...

Rufant

Active member
Sunrise.


After studying the maps I couldn’t really find any side detours worth it in this region, so we just spent most of this day pounding more bitumen, albeit at more like 90km/h. As opposed to the 110 we were doing on the way over. Why? Because it means the fuel consumption of the 1FZ in the 105 goes from catastrophic to merely terrible. A side benefit (or maybe the main benefit) is you tend to relax more, take in more of the details, talk more, listen with more interest to the interview on the AM radio station (that’s all you’ll get for a lot of country Oz), etc, etc.

This attractive building is to be found in the town of Moree. Which is a green oasis in sea of dusty dry country (especially if you are coming from the south). Why? The town is supplied by water from the Great Artesian Basin, the massive aquifer that stretches across a large part of the continent. Last seen by us, bubbling out into the desert via the mound springs on the Oodnadatta Track. Also the old boy with the walking frame engaged us and was a wealth of information about the buildings in the town - interactions like this help make the country Australia experience.



Christmas Corvette.


On arrival at the town of Bourke, our journey would begin to deviate from the journey out here. Thinking that we probably wouldn’t be in this area again any time soon, we would now head directly west, rather than south west, further into the Outback. Incidentally, this is roughly the area we were heading to after Christmas before N got sick and we went home. Then, as now was the height of summer. A couple of Poms (English people) in the Australian Outback in the middle of summer, what could go wrong...?

So we took the Wanaaring road out of Bourke, marked on my map as all dirt, the start of it had recently been sealed. Then it went back to dirt, but good condition and not much slower than the black stuff. Familiar scenes soon greeted us.



Now the Outback is hot, dry, lonely, dusty, filled with many friends if you like flies and not without proper danger too. However, it has a unique feeling that gets kind of addictive, and I could feel my junkie starting to get his fix.

Anyway, it’s was N’s birthday. So we were headed for the only pub in the region, hoping for a cold adult beverage and something and chips!

The fierce heat of the day was keeping the local wildlife from being particularly active, which is always a concern driving at this time of day almost anywhere in Australia. So we made good time to the Wanaaring pub.

We quickly set up camp and headed over to the pub for a couple of drinks “is there a menu? “Nope” “two steak and chips?” “Should be ok” a bit of banter with the locals. Another couple rolled in, in a beast of a stretched 200 Series.


Wasn't the last time we would run into these guys.

We had hit a bird on the way in, they caught some carnage too.



Gotta take your girl somewhere special for her birthday..





At least I could confidently say, this was a place that none of our friends had been to before, very exclusive...


Leather steak, a Wanaaring speciality. Hot chips were good though. You have the adjust your expectations out here or you just won’t get it... (the pub, was staffed by one, relatively young guy. Barman and cook).


That night was one of the hottest we’ve had camping, probably around 35 degrees C/95F. The air was totally still, almost no movement. Anyway so we sweated and panted the night out. The coolest part of the night was just as the sun came up, so we actually slept in relatively late, till about 0730. As we didn’t sleep much the rest of the night, this was good!

...


Wanaaring was a fairly typical Outback town.


Despite this I was enjoying being back in the remote outback with its dry and dusty towns, wide open spaces and rich red dirt. The plan was to push through to the town of Tibooburra this morning. Then take stock of the situation, weather, fuel, road conditions, etc. All being well we would push on to Cameron’s Corner, where the corner of the states of New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia all converge at the same point. From there push down the Strzelecki Track to the north of the Flinders Ranges. Picking up our route from our Red Centre trip last year, then down to Eyre Peninsula from there.


Here is a map for reference. The pin is Cameron Corner, so you can see we were well off the direct Adelaide to Brisbane route by now (which is more of less a diagonal line between the two cities). Port Augusta is our eventual destination with Port Lincoln being at the bottom of Eyre Peninsula.






The road was good this morning. Pretty smooth and not much wildlife. How many other vehicles did we see? Not one.

With no warning the Cruiser suddenly slides sideways, I give it a dab of oppo and straighten her up. Then she has another slide, bit bigger this time, another armful of oppo and an “oh, darling!”from the passenger seat. Slowing we see a puddle ahead. The surface of the road looks completely dry, but as we pull over to the side it is apparent it is wet and muddy under the sun baked surface crust. We can see several puddles and parts of the road are hard to stand on, that slippery it is. As we gingerly drive on, only a few hundred metres later the road is back to dry, dusty, hard corrugations. Obviously the rain just fell very heavily, on that half a kilometre of road and none other...? Welcome to the Outback.












This actually ties in with what the farmers have been saying (on the AM radio, you get a lot of farming news!) that there is rain around, but it is very patchy one farm gets it, his neighbor doesn’t.
 
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Rufant

Active member
Big country.


Anyway, we arrive at Tibooburra without further incident. Although it should be noted the road got progressively rougher the closer we got. As we transitioned from red dirt country, to more rocky terrain. We pass Mount Stuart on the way in, named after John McDouall Stuart who was the draftsman on Charles Sturt'sexpedition. Stuart, would go on to be arguably Australia's greatest explorer.



Tibooburra is an altogether more thriving town than Wanaaring was. Its proximity to Cameron’s Corner and the Strzelecki no doubt means it sees more tourist traffic. We go on the hunt for coffee, and strike gold at the Corner Country Store, they also make a mean bacon and egg muffin.







We chat with some of the locals. I have a powwow with N, as I’ve changed my mind about the route. It has taken us 3 hours to do the 200km to get here this morning, and looking at how far we have to go means we’ll spend another night if not two in the blazing Outback summer heat. Also the roughness of the roads concerns me, considering the amount of damage, short and long term, the truck sustained after doing the Oodnadatta Track last year. I had good reason to suspect the Stryzlecki Track, also being one of SA’s Classic Outback routes, would be similarly hard on the Land Cruiser.
Not to mention we would need to top up fuel here, at $1.60/L. So that plan will have to keep for another day. It will make for a great trip in the cooler months, maybe out of Adelaide with a few mates.

So, I just write all of that to explain some of the factors in route decision making. I find sticking steadfastly to a plan just doesn’t work out here. You have to be willing to adjust to circumstances as you find them. On the flip side it is worth doing some research and having a rough plan, otherwise you can just wander a bit aimlessly. Sounds sort of idyllic in theory, but I find a balance between the two, and a willingness to change anything and everything as required is what works best in the real world.

So we headed down the road to Broken Hill. Part bitumen, part dirt. Part rough goat track along side the road crews putting in the bitumen sections. With some ‘Mars-scapes’ along the way to boot.







I originally thought we might make the country SA town of Peterborough tonight, but with the roadworks sections slowing our average, and the fact that I could feel the effects of a lack of sleep coming home to roost, meant we adjusted to the small hamlet of Cockburn just outside of Broken Hill as our overnight stop.

As we approached Broken Hill the road has a few twists and turns in it. One of which we had to take evasive action on, as the semi trailer coming the other way misjudged his speed through the bend and was rapidly understeering across onto our side of the road, truck and trailer... I slowed and pulled off while he sorted himself out. One of those don’t want to think about the consequences of being 200m further down the road at that time...

Cockburn turned out to be a let’s say, authentic outback experience. The few locals left trying to give their town a reason to cling on. It would have certainly given the Swiss girls camping next to us (in a rental Hilux camper they were returning from Brisbane to Alice Springs, cheap-ish way to see the country “the $100 of free fuel Hertz gave us, didn’t get us very far!”) a genuine ‘Mad Max’ feel.






C'mon old man, keep up!

Travellers rest. $10/night.





Making morning coffee on the railway sleeper table.


Another night of broken sleep as high winds hit during the night, as a cold front finally blew through. At about 0130 one of our awning guy rope buckles finally gave up after 12 odd years of Australian sun and wind, and with it noisily went the awning. Oh well, just the way the cookie crumbles sometimes, I got up to fix that up, and peg down the extra guy ropes for the tent too.

Original guy rope vs new for comparison.





And with that, we were back in South Australia.



Thanks for reading.
 

Rufant

Active member
The Eyre Peninsula. Part 1.

South Australia.



An easy drive that morning to the town of Orroroo, on the edge of the Flinders Ranges. Made more interesting when we took the old dirt back road, rather than the highway.


I've been to Arkaroola a couple of times. Note this is the original sign in miles.

I was strangely comforted being back on 'home turf' and in a landscape that I had travelled through many times.


Mad dog lady.

There has been rain here too.



See the creek banks in the distance. Proper water has come through here at times.



Orroroo is a cool country town. I’ve stopped here many time on Flinders Ranges outings.


Mad small when you see them in the flesh these days.



Oororoo main street.




One the way out of town we passed the Swiss girls Hilux pulled over with both of them fast asleep inside. I guess the camper wasn’t exactly peaceful in last nights wind either.

Onto to Port Augusta, meant we were finally ‘back on track’ of our original itinerary after the detour to Brisbane (it should be noted that Roxy was as delightful a dog as you could wish for, and will make an excellent camping and adventure companion. She’s also very patient with our grumpy old man Rollo, so the detour was totally worth it). However the 105 was overdue a service. Mainly just an oil change and spark plugs as most other things I had covered off before we left for Brisbane.
Fortunately Port Augusta Toyota had those parts in stock, and after purchasing some oil and a drain tray I found a quiet car park and quickly changed the oil. I can get it done in about 15 minutes. The drain tray and old oil filter went in the skip bin of the auto store, and we took the old oil to the waste recycling centre. The plugs can wait a few days.



Not a Land Cruiser. Seen at the car wash.


A quick car wash to wash the old oil off the engine block and axle, and a restock of the food supplies and we were on our way.

Right onwards to Eyre Peninsula, one of my favourite parts of Australia. An easy drive to the town of Kimba, about a third of the way across the upper part of the peninsula. But first, a quick stop at an old favourite.



Some low life has graffitied the sign since we were last here. Wanker.

We had traveled through Kimba a few times before, notable mainly for its beautifully painted silo on the main highway.

https://rufant.com/2017/12/21/best-western-part-1/#comment-5



Note no snorkel on the Cruiser. The silo painting has faded a bit in the two years since this was taken.


This is an old photo, as the light was not good when I photographed it this time. You also can’t drive right up to it anymore (in fact you probably weren’t meant to when I took this shot, but...).

I would suggest having the silo art has made the town realise the benefit of giving people a reason to stop, and now the benefit of giving them a reason to stay. So at the back of the town they have built a dedicated free camping area, with toilets and showers. As usual we were the only tent campers, and other campers came in all shapes and sizes.



A totally peaceful night was a welcome contrast to the last few. We headed out to the servo that morning to get some $1 coins for the shower. There I bought two books that had been advertised at the campsite.



Not sure what the exact link to Kimba is with the author, although he has a PhD in Ecosystem Management, and is a fellow of the outback. Anyway keen to get stuck in. If nothing else these trips have reinvigorated my interest in reading stories.



Standard issue country servo from here.


I also noticed they served a range of curries (the servo was run by an Indian couple). I asked what time the curries would be ready “oh in 15 or 20 minutes” awesome, enough time for showers and to check out the statues at the back of the town.
 
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Rufant

Active member







The statues depict Edward John Eyre and an indigenous man. The explorer was reliant on the local bush skills to successfully explore this area.




Chicken madras, and paneer (fresh cheese) curries, with a naan bread.


So, we had traditional Indian curries for our late breakfast, out in country South Australia. Australia may not have the exotic food culture you find in some other countries, but its diversity of population means you get these nice surprises from time to time.

We didn’t have too much ground to cover today, for a nice change. So we ambled down and few farm tracks and minor trails. This one got very minor.



As this was the state of the original trail.


Dang photo makes it look like nothing, some trail bikes had run up the middle, but I wasn't going to risk Bertha up here when there was an easy alternative.



This photo gives some better perspective.

This monolith is Carappee Hill, looking angry in the overcast conditions.







It reminded me of Bald Rock, on the NSW/Qld border, that we visited last year. Just less bald, patchy rock, receding rock, thinning rock...

Heading south west, we passed many salt lakes. The cloudy skies stopping them from looking their best.





Most Land Cruisers in Australia are more basic shades. I'm glad this metallic blue stands out in almost every landscape.

Onto Greenly Beach, tucked in behind another monolith, Mount Greenly. Can't find anything in who Greenly is, but it is a spot worth hunting out. After a full week of driving everyday and overnight campsites, we would stop here a couple of days.

Ratatouille and Camembert toasties for supper that day.

 
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Rufant

Active member
So we spent a ‘rest day’ changing the spark plugs and giving the Land Cruiser a good once over. A few other small jobs. Plenty of beach walking and rock pooling. I tried fishing in the afternoon in some of the rock pools, but to no avail. I’m new to fishing, and I am not sure I really have the patience for it, but anyway, I don’t mind just skipping around the rocks, the day I catch something will be a bonus.

Greenly Beach has a very photogenic swimming hole. The sun came out for just long enough for a couple of photos. Judging by the steady traffic to and from the swimming hole that day (relatively speaking, about 5 car loads) it is certainly a popular spot with tourists and locals alike.













It was cloudy most of the time (so of course we both got sunburnt...) but it is just a beautiful area.


Doggos were loving the beach.

It was a good leg work out getting on and off!


The only thing we didn't dig was they had lined the campsite with road base. That stuff gets everywhere...








Salt deposits.


These little orange crabs were hiding in the rock crevasses.


The fury of the Southern Ocean, don't go swimming here.






We (I) managed to get one of these soldier ants into our tent one night. I'm still sporting the swelling from the bites...


So a good spot and definitely a good place to spend a couple of nights. Had the skies been clearer we would probably have stayed another night and climbed Mount Greenley, but that’ll keep. The great thing about being in your home state is it’s not too much of a stretch to come back here.

Time to get back on the road.
 

larcie

Member
fantastic write up, and great pics!
We did the Kimberley last year,
Sydney, Bourke, Mt Isa, Darwin, Argyle,
all the Gibb River Road, Broome, Derby, and every bloody gorge in between.
Bungle Bungles, The Tanami, Alice, Ularu, Katja Juka,
Down to Adelaide, then Home via
Broken Hill , Menindie, Ivanhoe, Hillston, Condobolin, Forbes and home.
10 weeks, and ready to do it again...need more funds but!
 

Rufant

Active member
fantastic write up, and great pics!
We did the Kimberley last year,
Sydney, Bourke, Mt Isa, Darwin, Argyle,
all the Gibb River Road, Broome, Derby, and every bloody gorge in between.
Bungle Bungles, The Tanami, Alice, Ularu, Katja Juka,
Down to Adelaide, then Home via
Broken Hill , Menindie, Ivanhoe, Hillston, Condobolin, Forbes and home.
10 weeks, and ready to do it again...need more funds but!
Thanks.

That's a pretty big trip in 10 weeks, how was the Tanami? I've never done that. We're slowly making our way up north, but a few months to go till the dry. I've been a couple of times before, but not for quite a lot of years, a bit worried about how busy it will be...
Coming from the west will hopefully be the way :unsure:
 

Rufant

Active member
The Eyre Peninsula. Part 2.

South Australia.



So, we followed the cliff track further north, in the end it just looped back around to the campsite. We pushed on down the bitumen to Coffin Bay. This Oyster farming community is always worth a visit. One it is the gateway to the Coffin Bay Nation Park, that we explored back in 2016.

https://overland.kinja.com/playing-in-the-sand-1763976399

It also has the best servo/cafe/fresh oyster store, which we again stopped at. To get a homemade sausage roll to share (as they are massive) and half a dozen unshucked oysters for later. “The oysters are good here” said a bloke grinning at me “yeah I know, we’ve been here before” I said till I realised it was the fella with the stretched 200 series from Wanaaring. Seeing he was gathering up maps for the National Park I offered “you’re going to like it in there”. We chatted further “did you hit that wet patch of road on the way to Tibooburra?” he asked, “yeah mate, looked dry till the truck had a bit of a slide”. I told him about Greenly Beach where we had just spent a couple of nights, and as we were both heading west suggested we might catch up again.



Then we just pushed onto Port Lincoln, the major town on the peninsula (apparently having the highest amount of millionaires per capita of anywhere in Australia)we badly needed to do laundry, there was a knocking from the front end of the Cruiser to investigate, plus a few other bits and bobs that’s just part of being on the road. So this meant we were going to pay for camping and check into a caravan park. If possible I like to get there early so we can smash out these jobs and use the facilities as much as possible whilst still having a relaxing day. So getting there around 10 am was perfect.



Being a South Australian campsite, we soon got to know our neighbours. One chap was only here as his 30,000km old Isuzu D-Max was throwing DPF (diesel particulate filter) faults every 50km or so. The other side was a family from Tasmania, who had been on the road for about six months also. The Dad spent quite a lot of time on the phone, orchestrating his brewery businesses back on the Apple Isle, as there was a beer festival coming up that he would have to fly back for. Despite our different circumstances and ages, we all got on and could talk frankly about the highs and lows of travelling around.

I spent an hour or so investigating the knock on the Cruiser, only to trace it to the newRidepro steering damper. Let’s hope the suspension is made of sterner stuff... Whilst N did her washer women impression, and cleaned all our clothes.

Major jobs done. We chilled out for the rest of the day (literally, it was super cold especially for February) I managed to get some blog posts up, whilst we had power and good internet, and we just whiled away the day eating, drinking and chatting to our fellow campers. You need the odd day like that.

...

Rain came that night and again the next morning. That meant a damp pack down, at least not fully wet. The fly sheet copping the worst of the weather.

We said goodbye to our new friends and headed back into Port Lincoln. It wasn’t really the day for wandering round a town, but we stocked up on food and few other things, knowing this would be the biggest town we would see till Western Australia.

Tumby Bay painted silos.


Tumby Bay.

Heading out, first stop was Tumby Bay. When we were here in 2016, my mate had said Tumby Bay had the best bakery when he came here as a kid. I mocked him that it wouldn’t still be the same. Well I was wrong then and I was wrong now, Tumby Bay bakery has to be arguably the best bakery in the state, and yes, I am qualified to make that judgement.

So, tasty pastry treats procured, we headed inland. Doing the whole peninsula kind of arse about face, we were on the south east side and needed to get to the north west side. On the map there seemed a nice track through a conservation park in the middle, would it work out? Only one way to find out.

Early signs were not good. A ‘No Through Road’ sign and a gate the clearly hadn’t been used in a loooong time. Anyway we persevered and it came all good. No tyre tracks meant this was a very little used track, but it served our purpose and reminded me of the Border Track a few years ago

https://overland.kinja.com/escape-to-the-border-1784245082#stis6zpq8







Luckily this wasn’t as long as the Border Track, and after a few hours we were back on the bitumen. Time to get some miles done. There was still more to see on the Eyre Peninsula, but being so (relatively) close to home it would keep. As the song says, it was time to go west young man.

A quick overnight stop in Wudinna. This is near where we had turned off to head to the Gawler Ranges a couple of years ago.

https://rufant.com/2017/12/21/best-western-part-1/

Ten bucks to stay on the showgrounds.





...

The morning saw us head 200km north west to Ceduna. Stopping about 100km short to fill up with fuel, knowing that Ceduna prices would be elevated, it being the first/last major stop before the Bight. A full 20c a litre as it turned out.

At Ceduna we grabbed a few last minute supplies, and I enquired at the tourist information about a permit for the Yalata indigenous lands further along the coast. They have a website promoting the camping they have there, but you need a permit to be on those lands - "you won't get one" came the blunt reply from the lady at the TI. "My son has been trying for over a year, we get loads of enquiries, but they're not interested in issuing permits". Ah well, it's their land. Maybe some dickhead buggered it up for everyone else. Maybe they just changed their mind. No matter, we'll find other places.

We struck out on the main road heading due west.



A short distance from Ceduna we left the main highway and hit the dirt.

No real hard information on where we were going, I knew there was a conservation park at the end of this road, but no idea what the access or the scenery would be like. As it turns out, both were stellar.
 

Rufant

Active member
Across The Bight, The Long Way.

Great Australian Bight. South Australia.



Just following our noses...





A few sandy sections around the back of the salt lake, in front of the sand dunes. However as I’m lazy I just hit them with a bit more momentum rather than let my tyres down further.





Then the track headed up into the dunes. Down went the tyres.



Getting soft now, so down some more.



End result was worth it.






Gang.







We wound on, and after a while stumbled across a perfect campsite, just off the beach. Protected by the small dunes, whilst looking out over the Star Wars variety.





Pretty good spot all to ourselves.

The light was good that evening.







This spider came out of the sand long enough to say goodnight.

 

Rufant

Active member
I staggered out of the tent in time for sunrise over the ocean.



Also, the leftovers from last night’s wildlife party were everywhere to be seen.







We packed up and drove over to the dunes for a closer look.





Nothing apparently to stop you driving up there. However, as I’ve done dune driving before. Plus, perhaps more importantly, these dunes were untouched, this campsite wasn’t on any map or app. It didn’t feel right to be the first hooligan. Dunes are an eco system like any other and a 4x4 isn’t a beneficial part of that. I like some fun driving as much as the next person, but time and place.
Let’s press on.

A morning of dead ends and locked gates to be honest. Have looked at the map last night there seemed at least one good route along the coast to get round to Fowlers Bay. In reality there was way more tracks on the ground than on the map, and many of the tracks on the map either didn’t exist or went nowhere. This just comes with the territory (!) when exploring Australia like this, some days work out great. Some, not so much. You just have to take the rough with the smooth.



So after deciding enough farm tracks and bush bashing for one morning (not to mention a few places that felt like Walter White’s holiday shack) we took the main dirt roads into Fowlers Bay. A shack community on a pretty picturesque bay.

A group of indigenous kids were having a day trip, playing on the dunes.







From here we tried our luck again. Cutting through to an area know as Mexican Hat.




Even baked dry in the middle of summer... Anyone who's familiar with the black mud knows how that plays out with a bit of moisture.


This worked better, one Mexican hat.





We saw a pick-up on top of one of the sand dunes here. Too far away for a greeting, but we would see those guys a couple more times today. As it would seem we were the only ones out here.

Following tracks out to cliff tops and beaches.

Nothing really grabbed us for a campsite, but these were pretty picturesque dead ends.









 

Rufant

Active member
It was early enough to roll the dice once more. We took some more main dirt roads inland, a historic school site. Of which were seemed to be an abundance of out here.











Then back out to the coast. More trails, and then a great campsite! In behind the dunes. I stopped and continued on foot just in case it was worth dropping tyres pressures again and heading up through the dunes. Well I wouldn’t normally turn down a campsite like the first one, but even better was on the other side.




Looking back to the first campsite, pretty nice.

So down again with the tyres, right down, 12 in the front and 22psi in the rear. So over we went easily.


But this is betterer!


Another perfect campsite. Again not on any map, but shows some of days it is worth persevering. The only other people we saw? Yep, the Nissan pick up from back down the coast.



I tried a bit of a fish. But apart from an inquisitive small stingray, no one was interested. Two fine days of coastal exploration, in areas I haven’t really seen anyone else publicise before, meant we were feeling pretty special.

Yesterday we saw no one after we left the highway, most of the time not even tyre marks to follow. Today being closer to the community of Fowlers Bay, there was a bit more interaction with other actual humans, but after exploring the east coast, this was a reminder of what the proper Australian 4x4 experience is. In my book anyway.

Stoked we found a great camp for the second night. Tomorrow will be a different day as we traverse the main road through the indigenous lands we couldn’t get a permit for, but that’s cool. We’ve got to make some miles at some time.

Thanks for reading.







https://rufant.com

https://www.instagram.com/rufant_adventures/
 

Rufant

Active member
Across The Bight, The Long Way. Part 2.

The Great Australian Bight. South Australia & Western Australia.



Some time that night, N woke me up. There’s someone coming, driving up the beach... Not overly concerned, but knowing she is a bit of a worry wort I got out to investigate. Having a little chuckle I assured her that it would be a while before they got here, and then pulling back the mesh of the tent so she could see the moonclearly...

“It looked like headlights...” and it did, bright enough to light up the tent, and distorted through the mosquito netting. Also, in her defence the position of the night sky seems to change out here. The moon and say Orion might be in one spot one night, then 20km up the coast they are in a totally different spot the next night, maybe its just me but I definitely got that impression. The moon was particularly low that night.
Also the night sky itself is worth a mention. As we grew up in the UK, tended to holiday in Europe, we had never seen the night sky. I mean we had seen a version of it, but not the real one, the one you get are truly away from any light pollution and you get brilliantly bright stars horizon to horizon, and the Milky Way clear and vibrant. No wonder ancient cultures were so obsessed with it.

...

Come the morning. I thought we might just have a cheeky little explore of the last part of this coast before we hit the Yalata indigenous lands (that we had tried to get the permit for back in Ceduna) and then we would definitely have to head back to the highway. Couple of hours, tops...

Main dirt roads to get there from our beach campsite. There were potentially tracks along the coast but I didn’t want to burn hours of dead ends this morning. Into the conservation park and initially I was a little disappointed. This rocky scrub road was a bit of a let down after some of the great landscapes we had seen the last few days. Thinking ‘oh well, maybe we’ve seen the best bits of this part of the coast, can’t complain’ then the mallee scrub starts to close in, looking like the magic forest.



Coming out at the edge of some sand dunes. Mezmerising as ever.











The track just skirts the edge of them, so the soft sections are short. I use lockers and a bit of momentum, rather than letting the tyres down.

Now back into the mallee trees. Just too tight for the Hundo and the paintwork cops a hiding again... (not for the first time I question the benefit of having anything bigger, or newer. How would I feel about pushing a $100k 200 series, or Tundra through here? Something like a Unimog? Forget about it...)



Evidence that this was pastoral land before being declared as a conservation park.



So we get to the end of the trail we were intending to do, finishing on this cliff top.





The trail out of here, marked clearly on our mapping didn’t present itself when it should have done. However, there is a track that follows this old fence line (the posts made out of the local mallee wood, so they’ll probably still be here long after I’ve departed this earth) it is heading in roughly the right direction and there is no other option out, only routes deeper into the park.



We take it, after a while we cross out of the park, and now we seem to be following the edge of whatever farming property is adjacent to the conservation park. The fence is more modern and this must be the track to maintain it.



We are well off any track on the map by now, but of course with GPS we know we’re we are and what direction we are heading in. So lost, yes, but in the modern way. Somewhere between an hour and two, multiple navigation misadventures later, we finally pop back out onto a dirt road.



The mapping generally of this area has been useless (even by Australian standards). However I would rather deal with that and have the place to ourselves, than have it mapped within an inch and hoarders of fair weather 4x4 visitors to contend with. There aren’t too many areas left this quiet and this picturesque. Hence I’ve been intentionally vague and the exact places we went and stayed, they are not hard to find. If you are that sort of traveller you’ll find them no problem.



So just as we finally turned back to the highway, we almost came a cropper when old mate wombat had decided to dig his hole for the night, smack bang in the middle of the road.





Seems he later saw sense and set up just off to the side.



Airing back up before the tarmac, I noticed the BFG’s were not looking so new anymore.

 

Rufant

Active member
When we first traversed this patch of the earth twenty years ago, we stuck mostly to the highway. Even though we were now sticking to mostly off it, the bitumen road is still one of Australia’s greatest road trips in my opinion.



We pulled into a lay-by for some (very) late lunch. The bush around the entire lay-by looked like this...



I’m not sure why Hollywood always celebrates humans winning at the end of every alien/apocalypse movie, I mean look at what we do. Does any species actively ruin its own environment like we do? What is wrong with us...

/rant (we had obviously been spoilt by a few days of nearly unspoilt wilderness)



Anyway, onto the Nullarbor proper (from latin, Nullas - No, Arbor - Tree). We book into the Nullarbor Roadhouse campground, we are in need of showers and water is at a premium for us and everyone else out here. So we pay to use someone else's rather than our own, this will serve our purpose after a few nights in the bush.

Not the most glamorous campsite in the world, but you’ve got to take the rough with the smooth.







There is a golf course that stretches across the entire Nullabor, with a hole at every servo or settlement. A guy we passed several times on the way here was stopping to play each one, I wondered we he stopped so much...



This Unimog was travelling with a Nissan Patrol, they were effecting repairs to the Patrol when we arrived. I checked they were ok for tools, etc. But of course being Germans they had it all under control (joke!). The Mog strikes me as about the most absurd answer to the off-road touring vehicle question one could imagine, but I'm not in a position to ever have to worry about that being an option, so what does it matter what I think. I mean everyone takes a photo, so there's that...

Big day, I totally fall asleep about five minutes into the movie we settle down to watch that night.



Awake in the middle of the night I wonder if road trains were called that as in the night from a distance they sound just like a train, and you’re lying on the tracks!

...

Morning light was good.













We took the old road today. The Eyre Highway used to be a dirt road and the Nullarbor used to be pastoral leases. The original road deviates from the current one for 200 odd clicks, worth a look.



The Nullarbor is only truly tree-less in places.

First out to Murrawijinie Caves.









Despite the sign, worth the 20km round trip in my opinion, but everyone is different. At the third cave there was a group of European back packers camping, as we arrived one of them though it was a good time to take a very public piss. On our way back another decided it was a good time to head a (short) way out into the bush to deficate, no shovel in hand. Safe to say backpackers don’t have a great reputation in Oz. In the interest of balance, many of the ones we meet are great.

N said “why are they like that?”, “That is not the question my dear, just be glad they are not your boyfriend's. There is probably a nice young girl sat back there right now thinking, I’m not so sure about Sven...”

We headed back to the old road and hung a hard right, due west.



Again the mapping let us down. We tried to find three more sights, a rockhole, and cave and a blow hole. Despite being dead on top of each one according to the GPS and searching around on foot and by vehicle, these sights remained hidden.
 
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