Crossing the Nullarbor as a solo woman and what to do when things go pear shaped - Part 2
Read part 1 here.
The next fuel restop was Cocklebiddy. I remembered stopping here on the way over a year ago. They have two rescued wedge tailed eagles, Samantha and Bruce out the back that are a very interesting story. There is a small welcoming bar and diner inside, but not for me this trip. Cocklebiddy caves are nearby and reputed have the longest cave in the world, at 6km long, and 90% of that is underwater. It was a quick refresh stop here, then back on the road again.
Along the road here you will see signs warning of feral camels, wombats, kangaroos and emus. Yes, they do make an appearance.
Mundrabilla (Nullarbor) roadhouse was a necessary toilet break. This roadhouse is a great place to stop and stretch your legs. This area is famous for large meteorite fragments discovered in the area. There is a campground and motel here for weary travellers. The restaurant is closed in 2020 & 2021 due to COVID.
The original roadhouse building here is much photographed. In 1956 local station manager decided to sell petrol. A small shop was then established and food served to hungry travellers. The old tin shop is kept as a reminder of the old days. More modern conveniences are right next door.
I finally made it to the Eucla nursing outpost and was efficiently and far better bandaged up that I had done initially. As my caravan was to be towed back here that evening and not available until the next day, I decided to stay 12kms away at the Bordertown motel, just inside of South Australia.
Long story short – three new tyres costing $450 and a lost day and off I set again. Another woohoo was shouted out for my adventure with a thigh that was gradually healing.
Reaching Penong (home of Australia’s largest windmill) was a relief. Flush toilets and a tree filled and grassy roadside rest area signal that you have reached civilization again. A bloke there announced that Perth had gone into a three day lockdown due to Covid. How fortunate that I was now in South Australia and could continue without a compulsory 14 day quarantine. 50 kms further along is Ceduna, the first major town after crossing the plain. There is a fruit and vegetable quarantine station here and staff will search your vehicles and seize any items that are uncooked. I had cooked some pears the night before, and they were examined and declared ok. Stocking up again on fresh produce at Ceduna is a good idea, there is still quite a distance to go.
Kimba holds the title of Halfway across Australia, as well as being home of the big galah. Australia have an obsession for building large sculptures of different creatures and fruits. (The big prawn in Ballina and the big pineapple in Nambour are just two examples). The photo below was taken of me a year ago on my way over (no bandaged thigh then!)
I stopped in Kimba for two nights. There is camping at the Recreation reserve, payment by donation. Lovely clean toilets and glorious hot showers ($1 for two minutes) were onsite. Over 40 other travelers were staying there. The grounds are very well kept and it was on the edge of town, the perfect spot to ride my bike into the pub and enjoy a $10 steak sandwich.
Free camping areas are a great way for small towns to welcome travelers who will then spend money in the area buying groceries or supporting the local businesses. The surrounding district is a wheat growing area and the 27 metre high silos in town were painted in 2017. It took 26 days and 200 litres of paint to achieve this majestic artwork.
What did I learn from my solo trek across the Nullarbor?
1. You CAN do it. Keep repeat this mantra – “I am brave, I am confident, I am amazing”.
2. Prepare as much as you can and then be prepared for the unexpected.
3. Safety is paramount. If you are free camping, park near other campers. Having roadside assistance is a necessity. Thank you to the RAC.
4. Each town has something to offer. Talk to the staff at the roadhouses and they will be happy to share the highlights of their area.
5. Watch your speed. It is too easy to become complacent and drive too fast. Stop for a break every 2 hours. Your eyes, legs and bum really need a stretch and a break.
6. Never let your petrol tank drop below a third full. Carry a jerry can of fuel just in case.
7. Take your own water. It is recommended 3 litres per person per day. Increase this to 5 during summer months. Also carry healthy food and snacks (although you will have to hand any fresh fruit and vegetables over to the quarantine stations at Bordertown going west and Ceduna going east). Roadhouses do sell food if you need to purchase.
8. Internet, phone and radio reception will be almost non-existent. Have music or audio books to play during your trip. I listened to several John Grisham audiobooks on my trip.
9. Enjoy the trip. Australia is glorious, gorgeous, beautiful, vast and unexpected.
10. Avoid driving in the late afternoon and night, this is when the wildlife is more likely to be on the road and to cause an accident. At all hours of the day watch out for wildlife on the road and verges. Don’t swerve to avoid an animal if it is unsafe.
To coin a phrase – “Just do it!” and proudly proclaim “I’ve done the Nullarbor!”