Thoughts on the Nullarbor

Flatline horizon on the Nullarbor Plain
Flatline horizon on the Nullarbor Plain

Sometimes its easy to forget how big this country actually is. This extract from the Lonely Planet gives some perspective, “London to Moscow or Perth to Adelaide? There’s not much difference distance wise. The 2,700km Eyre Highway crosses the southern edge of the vast Nullarbor Plain connecting Perth to Adelaide” 

That’s where I have been, making my way along the part of the highway that specifically crosses the Nullarbor Plain. Incidentally the highway is named after John Eyre who was the first European to cross this unforgiving stretch in 1841. But the area itself is far more than just a highway. Some facts and figures for you

  • The name comes from the Latin for nothing (nullus) and tree (arbor)
  • The Aboriginal name for the area is “Oondiri’ meaning ‘the waterless’, they weren’t wrong the are averages only 200 mm of rain per year
  • It’s believed the plain was created 25 million years ago when it was lifted out of the sea. At almost 200 000 km2, it is one of the largest arid to semi-arid Karst landforms in the world.
  • The first inhabitants were the semi-nomadic Spinifex Wangai. In the 50’s The British used this area to do nuclear tests at Maralinga forcing many of the Wangai to leave.

To some it can be a boring drive as I often hear “there’s nothing there” Depends what you are interested in I guess. To me there is a charm in vast open spaces. There are also plenty of offshoot roads and caves to be explored. I tried on a couple, but with the recent rain as they are unsealed, they were quite muddy and after a few spinning wheel moments I thought it was best left to those in 4WDs.

In other posts I will talk about some places I did manage to get to, in the meantime here are some shots from the road itself. Oh and a tip, if travelling this way be prepared for some surprises from your iPod after days of listening, shuffle uncovered some music I didn’t even know I had. I will confirm that Spirit in the Sky sounds pretty good up loud, cruising on an empty highway with nothing on the horizon.

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