We are now headed west along the south coast of Australia. Our destination is the
Nullarbor. This is the famous treeless plain in the southwest. The road to it is
straight and almost flat.
Nullarbor (null-ah-bore) is a corruption of the Latin for “no trees”. It also has
the longest straight section of road on earth. But we are not going that far, that
part is in the state of Western Australia.
Along the way we pass the “Halfway Across Australia” point. But we haven’t traveled
halfway, we started in Adelaide which is one third of the way itself.
At the roadhouse was this big bird, just like the ones in our campground a couple
nights ago. It is a Galah.
That night we dry camped. No hookups in a roadside rest area. This not like a US
“Rest Area”, it is nothing more than an area off the road a hundred meters/yards
that people use for stopping/camping. There are lots of them and they are marked
on our camping places map.
The next morning we woke to scattered showers and rainbows. We got back on the highway
and continued west.
And we found it. The Nullarbor stretches for over a thousand miles (1.600 km) from
the state of South Australia well into Western Australia. It is flat and treeless
and as a retired forester I just had to see it.
Also along this road is “Head of Bight”. The “Bight” is the broad bay along the
southern Australian coast where the land drops off into the Southern Pacific Ocean.
It is a native (Aboriginal) site and one pays an entrance fee to go in and walk along
the boardwalk to see the coast and....
the Southern Right Whales that calve here during the winter and spring.
This is a mother and her calf. There were a couple of dozen whales in sight while
we were there. The sign at the turnoff to the site said “98 whales today” but there
was no where near that many in sight when we walked the path.
We returned to the highway and continued west. We passed this sign warning of camels,
wombats and kangaroos but we didn’t see any of them in the Nullarbor.
This road is comparable to Highway 50 through Nevada which has been dubbed the “Loneliest
Road in America”. It has a gas station/roadhouse about every 100 miles/160 km and
nothing in between. We are driving along about 50 miles/80 km from the border with
Western Australia when we start hearing a rattle in the engine. We have no choice
but to continue to Border Village. It is farther to a town to go back than forward.
When we get there I open the engine hood and check the oil. We bought and put two
liters/quarts in and a bottle of top engine treatment. We took the picture with
the kangaroo holding the famous Aussie food, Vegemite, and then headed back east.
We have 500 km/270 miles to the nearest town of any size, Ceduna and the noise is
We have not traveled far enough to need oil unless the engine is not as advertised.
We have liked the van very much for living but the engine, it seems, is a disaster.
We rattle along well under the speed limit with the noise getting louder by the hour.
We figure it will be after dark before we get to Ceduna, but that was all dashed
when the engine quit completely about 160 km/100 mi from Ceduna. I hitchhiked to
the next small roadhouse and called the RAA (the Aussie road service company we had
just joined) and got them to send a wrecker for the van. (There is no cell phone
service in most of the Nullarbor.) He came from the small town I was in and got
the van. The next day he took it to Ceduna.
After discussion with the local repair shops we decided to have “Tonk & Jack’s” do
The “repair” is take out the old engine and put a new one in. The new one is on order
and will take a week to get here. They take out the old and we wait. We are staying
in a reasonable motel next door. This is convenient and we walk several times back
to the van to get stuff we forgot to get on an earlier trip to the van that we have
now decided we need to pass the boredom.
The motel is the “East-West Motel” and the owner loans us a microwave and toaster
to go with the tiny refrigerator in the room. We are thankful because this will
allows us to cook in the room and not have to eat all our meals out. This is winter
and business is slow. The owners are nice and we are bored! We walk to downtown
nearly every day, just over a kilometer or 2/3 mile one way. This gets us fresh
air and some exercise.
This is a coastal town and one day we walked the beach so the Kathy could look for
more rocks. It was very poor pickings but we did see a pretty white bird/stork on
the rock behind her.
Finally after seven days the new engine arrived and they immediately started work
on getting it put in.
Within a couple hours it was in the van and they worked on getting everything hooked
up until quitting time. The next day, today as I write this, it is supposed to be
ready about 10:00 AM.
I will update this page before getting the van because we will immediately be loading
it back up and hitting the road.
But before loading I must take it to the police department and have them fill out
the form for an engine number change. This van is old enough that Australia did
not use VIN numbers but the engine number to identify a vehicle, and that is now
the wrong number. This is reported to be simple, easy and cost only $58.00. We
Our route from here is on eastwards to the main (only) highway that runs north in
the center of the country. That highway leads through Coober Pedy to Uluru and Alice
Springs. Tune in again for the next part of the story.