A Travellerspoint blog

The Nullarbor

London to Moscow anyone? 31st - 1st Feb By Mark

sunny 34 °C
View Mark and Kate's 12 month holiday on MarknKate's travel map.

The Nullarbor is part of the loooong stretch of road, the Eyre Highway, running along the bottom of Australia. The distance between Adelaide and Perth is equivalent to London to Moscow that's just how friggin big this damn country is! We'd covered off the first part of the journey with our detour up to Uluru and were setting off from Port Lincoln where we'd spent a few days on the coast cooling off whilst South Australia suffered its worst heatwave in history.

The route is supposed to one of the great road trips; miles of wide open spaces, nothing but the road in front of you and all of the other cliches various driving songs are written about. In reality driving across this massive stretch of land is like being part of a chase scene in a Scooby Doo movie, you're moving forward but the scenery is just repeating along the side.

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It's also a road of endless straight lines, at several points with a brick to rest on the accelerator (Man cruise control would have been a blessing!) and a piece of rope to hold the wheel steady you could easily head into the back of Betsey settle down for a nap or make a cuppa...

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After taking what seems to be the standard "hey we've crossed the Nullarbor pictures" we were lucky enough to spot our first wild camels, another tick in the box for animals we must see before departing Australia, as well as some beautiful birds of prey.
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We stuck to our two hour shift patterns and covered off the first day in around 9 hours choosing to camp at the Nullarbor Roadhouse for the night, which was just under half way, making the next day another rather long and drawn out 10 hours through to Norseman and civilisation once again where we picked up our certificates for crossing the Eyre Highway and felt pretty chuffed if some what bored of driving.

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Posted by MarknKate 20:22 Archived in Australia Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Coober Pedy to Port Augusta

27th -28th Jan By Mark

sunny 43 °C

Our first night back in ole Betsey was far from pleasant, another 28+ degree night made for minimal sleep and maximum sweating and tossing and turning. With more of the same forecast for the coming days, with in fact temperatures topping 46+ degrees we took the decision that motel rooms with air con were going to be required for the next few days if we're to make it through this leg a) alive and 2) actually enjoying our time here!

Poor Betsey has seriously been put through her paces over the past few days with long drives at high speeds (for Betsey anyway) and arriving into Port Augusta and checking into our motel we found that the heat had actually melted the rubber door seal to the main sliding door! That's how hot things are getting, the van in effectively melting around us... not overly promising, here's hoping for a few cooler days sooner rather than later!

Posted by MarknKate 20:18 Archived in Australia Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Yulara/Uluru aka the centre of the sun!

25th - 27th Jan By Kate

sunny 43 °C

After what was an extreamly hot and sweaty night in Coober Pedy we came to the conclusion that we couldn't possibly spend the two nights we'd planned to be at Uluru staying in the van so we chose to book a hotel room instead. Thank goodness we did!! I can only describe the heat up there as being something similar to what I would imagine the centre of the sun feels like! Ok maybe a slight exageration but it was bloody hot and I couldn't have been more gratetful to get into our lovely air conditioned room.

The thing at Uluru is that Yulara is the only place you can stay which is close to the rock itself. Basically if you don't want to drive for hours each time to get into the park then you have to come to this resort. Therefore prices are pretty high and all accomodation from the top hotel to the campground is owned by the same company so no real price wars to get your business. We had a quick check on trip advisor for reviews of the accomodation available and I have to say we were a little concerned as all hotels seemed to be getting bad reviews. It was either stay at what could be a dodgy hotel or swealter in the heat of the van, the hotel had to win even if it could have been Fawlty Towers! We managed to get a knock down price at The Lost Camel and just went for it. To be honest I wouldn't have cared if it didn't have a bed as long as it had air conditioning. When we finally did arrive we were actually very pleasently suprised. Our room was a good size with nice fixtures and fittings, flat screen tv and it's own fridge. The only slight issue was the MASSIVE bug which had chosen to room with us! Oh my goodness, the bugs and flies! They are everywhere, all sizes, all varieties and they don't mind where they land on your body, mainly settling for on or around your head. Therefore a couple of very sexy fly nets had to be purchased just to get from the car to hotel room.

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Uluru take one...

So we headed off for the national park ready to watch the sun set and see the amazing rock up close. With temperatures still in the 30's at 7pm and the flies still fully active it was proving to be quite a test just waiting for the sun to go down and get all the pictures we needed. Please note that the pics of us without our fly nets on took great personal effort as I hate flys and freak out if they go near my face!! Still the colours and atmosephere of the place is truley worth the sacrifice.

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Uluru take two....

The alarm was to be set for 5:15am in order to get up to the rock for sunrise but the experience of a soft comfy bed and a fully air conditioned room meant sleeping was a pure joy and we slightly overslept, whoops! Still, we managed to get into the park just as the sun was coming up but by the time we reached the designated sunrise spot we had sadly missed the main part of the show and hence why there are no great photos (something which Mark was extremely annoyed about!)

Slightly later in the morning, after trying unsuccessfully to get a decent breakfast, we made the somewhat delude decision to go on the Valley of the Winds walk around the Olgas which is the other rock formation within the park. After around 10 minutes of walking in the burning heat and with a second layer of skin made up of flies we realised our mistake and retreated to the saftey and coolness of Betsey to drive back and chill out at our hotel in the lovely pool.

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Uluru take three....

Back for another sunset and some more fab photos..

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Posted by MarknKate 20:10 Archived in Australia Tagged round_the_world Comments (1)

Port Augusta

23th - 24th Jan By Kate

sunny 36 °C

So the journey to Uluru begins.....first section was to be a 6 hour 539km drive north to the town of Coober Pedy. After the inital comments of 'it's a lot greener than I thought it would be' and the words road, tree, sky and cloud had been used on a game of eye spy it started to dawn on us that this could be a fairly boring and monotonous journey on what was going to be a very long straight and desolate road. With the air conditioning running to full capacity and the tunes on the ipod blasting we each took our turn on two hour driving shifts.

Then after what felt like being confined to the van forever, trying to avoid the enormous road trains as they thundered by (see pics below) and wondering if there would be a turn in the road we saw the signs announcing our arrival in the outback town of Coober Pedy. Coober Pedy is the largest town on the way to Uluru which means it has pretty much all the things you need. Supermarket, post office, hospital, police etc and of course all the Opal shops you could dream of (the town is the largest supplier of Opal in Australia, possibly the world) it also has a drive in cinema every fortnight, what more could you need?! The first stop was a swim in the campsite pool in order to escape the mind numbing heat of the day. It then dawned on us that we weren't even half way to Uluru and the drive tomorrow was going to be an extra two hours on what we had just experienced. It was around this point that our decision of taking a slight detor via Uluru started to seem a rather strange thing to do.

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Posted by MarknKate 20:06 Archived in Australia Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Adelaide

21st - 23rd Jan - by Kate

sunny 39 °C

Sadly unless there is one of the many festivals going on in the town when you get here there really isn't a massive amount to Adelaide that isn't represented better in other cities. We saw the details for a few of the upcoming events and they did look like they were going to be good but sadly not while we would be there. The one notable thing was going to the Haigh chocolate factory to marvel at the wonder that is CHOCOLATE!! Mmmmm I was in heaven and had to be dragged kicking and screaming from the place : ) but with several chocolate goodies in hand!!

Posted by MarknKate 19:54 Archived in Australia Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Mt Gambier

18th - 20th Jan By Mark

sunny 30 °C

A natural stop off point after coming out of The Grampians, Mount Gambier is home to the Blue Lake. Big wow we thought a blue lake..."whoop-de-doo basil".

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"He's messed around with those photo's in photoshop" you're probably thinking, well no I haven't, it really is that blue and that vivid - it looks like the locals are tipping in massive amounts of blue paint into an old volcano crater. Quite amazing.

The region is scattered with extinct/dormant volcanos and also sink holes - large holes in the ground where the earths caved in. Many of these were turned into sunken gardens during the late 18th/early 19th century and are now attractions for the area.

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Posted by MarknKate 12:20 Archived in Australia Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

The Grampians

16th - 18th Jan By Mark

sunny 32 °C

The Grampians were a bit of an unplanned detour but one of those pleasant surprises that make travelling so rewarding.

The Grampians mountain range, yet another national park, was our home for two nights but you could easily spend a week here making the most of the walks, mountain climbs and just outstanding views.

Our first nights camping was at the end of a long, dusty dirt track that Betsey isn't built for, but handled like a trooper regardless. We couldn't have asked for a better spot and the slow, bumpy drive was well worth the effort. We were rewarded with a family of Kangaroos happily hopping around the site and when the stars came out at night the light show was stunning...so bright, so clear and seamingly so much closer.

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On our second day we picked one of the moutain routes to embark upon. Up until now the mountains we've been up have been hikes and some boulder hopping...this one was more than a little challenging with some tough terrain to handle but it made it much more fun and certainly more rewarding when we reached the top and took in the view.

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Posted by MarknKate 12:10 Archived in Australia Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

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