15 August 2002
We were up and on the road in a reasonable time – reasonable that is until we realised we would lose 1.5 hours daytime as we travelled east across the Nullarbor. We drove straight on to Eucla, where we refuelled, and then drove down the scarp via a ragged gravel road to the old telegraph station, which was half submerged in white sand.
We trotted among the dunes until Ruby was attracted to a vast sand hill, which she climbed. We all followed. It was a wickedly windy day, and poor Clare copped a couple of eyeballs full of sand early on at the telegraph station, so she didn’t really enjoy the walk much. But the view from the top of Ruby’s climb was truly magnificent. The aqua blue of the Southern Ocean stretched out before us, and we could see the remains of an old jetty jutting out into the water. Way off to the north there were the cliffs where the plain dropped off suddenly into the sea. That would be our next stop. So we paused to flush Clare’s eyes out with the saline from our first aid kit. She didn’t enjoy the experience much, but it worked.
A short way down the highway we crossed the border into South Australia and found ourselves skirting the Bunda Cliffs. We stopped three times to admire the view of the Southern Ocean from the cliff tops. Each stop, the view got more beautiful and dramatic. The cliffs dropped 80m sheer into the ocean, and you could see that the water was very deep. It was blowing a gale, which made it unnerving to approach the cliff edges. We were careful to read the kids the riot act, but I think they found it scary enough. Poor old Clare was inclined to stay in the car because of her cold, but we managed to coax her out for the wonderful views.
We drove on to Nullarbor roadhouse, where we had to refuel yet again. The wind was largely against us, and this was taking its toll on our fuel consumption. The roadhouse marked the beginning of the famous Treeless Plain, which is often equated with the Nullarbor crossing. The Treeless Plain is only part of the journey, however.
Soon we were on Yalata Aboriginal land, and we turned off the highway, south towards the Head of Bight to do some whale spotting. We weren’t disappointed. The bay was full of southern right whales, and we spent about an hour watching them. We got a good view of several large females with their calves just off the shore. None of us had really seen whales before, so this was a special moment in our journey. We had been hoping to spot some ever since we left Exmouth. Now we had a clear view with about 60 whales in the bay.
After whale-watching, we pushed on to a bush camp just to the west of Nundroo. This was a large open space bordering on a cleared field. We picked a spot as far away from the highway as possible, and had another lovely bush camp with stew cooked on an open fire and a sing-along around the campfire afterwards.