Friday, December 11, 2009

The Nullabor

Week 6 - 11 December 2009

Well, the 12-month anniversary of this trip is coming up and it seems more like 12 days than 12 months. What a blast! 12 months on the road, close to 30,000 kms covered, spent a little more than I had anticipated, but there's more where that came from - Oh! wait a minute - No there's not - I better start pulling my horns in and watching the pennies.

1st December. Did the obligatory round trip around the Esperance area, (Twilight Cove, Observatory Point, (Where's the observatory?) Pink Lake (Pink? Coul'da fooled me)
They call this the Great Ocean Drive - Hmm, that sounds familiar. Probably would have been a lot more pleasant if the weather had been better, but it was a dull, drab day and hard to get enthusiastic.

I headed out east and called in to Cape LeGrand ($11 admission JUST to enter the park and then $9 per person per night to camp - a bit steep if you ask me)and Cape Arid. Again, if the weather had been fine, I could have done a fair bit of bushwalking, but the temperature never got over 16 degC and the wind was bitingly chilly.

Came back to Condingup and spent the night in the grounds of the Recreation Centre (Free Camping)

2nd December. Up the Balladonia Track. I had checked with Dept. Environment a few days previously, and they said that the track would be open on the 1st. I headed north on what is called Parmingo Road and there were no signs saying the road was closed, so off I went. About 45 kms in, the bitumen ends and there was a sign saying "Road Closed - Track - Proceed with Caution" Seemed to be a mixed message, so I decided to proceed with caution. The road was quite good, except for a few patches of deep bulldust, but I was sitting on about 80 km/h without any trouble.

Not marked on any maps that I have, but I came across an abandoned homestead which just has a "historic site" marker on the road. I seems to have been maintained by the local historical society and is very interesting. I would have camped here, but it was very early in the day.
For the uninitiated, "double-gee's" are Caltrops or "Three-toed-jacks" a seed burr which has 4 vicious spikes set so that anyway the burr lies, one spike is always pointing up and, boy, do you know it when you step on one. The spike will go straight through the sole of a flip-flop.

A couple of interesting granite outcrops/waterholes, but otherwise just mallee and gimlet scrub.

About 60 kms south of Balladonia, you reach the border of the Shire of Esperance and immediately the road deteriorates into a bush track. Narrow, rocky and bumpy. From the look of the claypans I definitely wouldn't want to come through here when it was wet. I reckon you'd bog a duck. Only averaged about 50 km/h on this stretch. Curious what souvenirs people seem prompted to leave.
Balladonia's prices were as we have come to expect, outrageous. It beats me how they remain open, I would have thought everyone in Australia would know by now what rip-off merchants they are. $1.72/L for diesel, when I paid $1.54 500 kms further on at Mundrabilla.

Pulled up for the night at Woorlba Homestead Rest Area, about 50 kms east of Balladonia. I was first in and got the best spot with some nice midday and afternoon shade, so I will do a full setup and stay for a few days.

9th December. Ended up staying a week at Woorlba. Bottom line - couldn't be bothered packing up. Quite a nice spot - Plenty of room, toilet (no dunny paper), tables and one rather sad looking BBQ. Went for a bit of a wander a couple of times, but not much to see. Still in fairly large timber, but that will run out soon.

Ran through Caiguna, Cocklebiddy, Madura and Mundrabilla, but the Nullabor hasn't got anymore interesting than it was the last 5 or 6 times I drove across. Diesel was 1.65 at Caiguna, 1.69 at Cocklebiddy and I loaded up with 100L at Mundrabilla at 1.54. - Crazy.

11th December. I have pulled up at Najada Rockhole Rest Area, 30 kms west of Eucla. No facilities, but quite nice. I went for a wander over to the escarpment yesterday (10th) about 1.5 kms from the road, but probably 50% more than that wandering through the saltbush, 'cos there isn't a track. The rockhole is a big bite out of the front of the escarpement where water erosion has worn back to the base limestone. Easy enough to scramble up and a fantastic view from the top. I could see the sea about 10 kms south and off to the east I could just make out the sand dunes at Eucla. The weather is still pretty rotten. Only got up to 22 degC today and mostly overcast with a chilly wind.

More in a couple of weeks.

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