Tag Archives: Nullarbor Plain

A-Z Reflections 2020…Place I’ve Been.

Phew! That’s the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge done and dusted for another year.

Before I go any further, I’m going to provide a quick list of posts before I reflect on the challenge itself (just in case you’re going to read one post and go no further.)

A- Amsterdam: 1992

B- Berlin: 1992

C- Canberra

D – Devonport, Tasmania: Crossing Bass Strait 2017.

E – Eaglehawk Neck, Tasmania, 2017.

F – Florence: 1992. 

G – Geraldton, Western Australia 1997 and 2002. 

H – Heidelberg: 1992.

I – Ipswich: Visiting My Grandparents.

J – Jindabyne: Skiing in the Australian “Alps”. 

K – Koln (Cologne) – 1992.

L – London: 1992.

M – Melbourne: 1997. 

N – Driving Across the Nullarbor Plain: 1996.

O – Great Ocean Road, Victoria: 1998 and 2002.

P – A Different Perspective of Paris: 1992.

Q – Queenstown, Tasmania: 1995

R – Rotorua: 2001.

S – Sydney Harbour: Forever.

T – Toowoomba: 2010

U – Umina Beach, NSW: Home.

V – Places I’ve Played My Violin: 2012.

W – Whale Beach, Sydney: 1990 onwards.

X – An Extraordinary Travel Yarn (Pinnacles WA) 1990

Y – Yachting Holiday (Hawkesbury River): 1983.

Z – Taronga Zoo, Sydney: 2009.

This year, I had trouble signing up, but decided to go ahead with my usual write-on-the-run approach instead of being prepared, organized and “this is something I prepared earlier”. However, despite almost combusting in this intense pressure cooker environment, writing on the run also gives my posts a sense of immediacy and intimacy, which might be lacking otherwise. Moreover, with the changing state of coronavirus around the world this year, it worked particularly well and helped me feel more in tune with the times. For me, it’s not a time where you want to be out of step with the people no matter who you are. You’re putting something out there into the pond and it needs to have some kind of synergy with the mood of the times.

What do you think? Or, perhaps, it’s a case of: “Hey, Ro. Get off your soap box.”

As you know, my theme for this year was: “Places I’ve Been.” My thinking behind this idea was to post a series of bright, colourful photos of where I’ve travelled in the past at a time where planes right around the world are ground, borders are closed and travel is banned. Indeed, travellers have been in quarantine and isolation and a cruise ship, the Ruby Princess which returned to Australia without her passenger being screen for coronavirus A month after its return, 19 passengers were dead in Australia, two deaths were reported from the US and more than 600 had tested positive. With around 200 of the 1100-odd crew struck down with the virus, the ship spent weeks moored at Port Kembla. With all these travel bans in place, I even had a few friends contact me during my series on Facebook suggesting I contact the Police about travelling at the moment. That was a pat on the back. I’d truly recreated the immediacy of travel, even though one of these trips dated back to 1983.

However, as usual my posts were much longer than anticipated and I actually managed to clock up 32, 650 words.

Rowena in Florence

The series also allowed me to write up a good swag of my own travel stories and experiences and I’m already in the process of editing them and putting together a hard cover book at least for the family. Well, at least I’m downloaded all the stories and created word documents with the photos removed. It’s a start.

It also allowed me to redefine travel. That we tend to think of travel in terms of going to various places. Or, visiting particular sites, which creates a sort of check-list type of travelling. I’ve going here. What’s there to see. Let’s get through this place as quickly and efficiently as possible and get onto the next one. It’s this kind of travelling that leaves tourists heads spinning. I’ve seen 50 churches, been to 20 galleries and my heads spinning like a zoomed up merry-go-round where you desperately just want to get off. Oneed, after also staying in so many hotel rooms, it can be a relief to get back home to your own bed and stop living out of a suitcase.

That’s not generally how I’ve traveled. I spent roughly nine months in Europe back in 1992 and I barely planned anything and wandered around. Met and lived with locals and chatted with other backpackers from around the world in cafes. Sure, I had time on my side and we lived on the smell of an oil rag to stretch our money almost to breaking point. However, we had breathing spaces to take it all in, and we had the rest of our lives to fit it all in.

Anyway, as I said, this series allowed me to redefine what “travel” mean to me. It wasn’t just about place, but it was also about people. Indeed, when we visited Ipswich, that was all about seeing my grandparents and how the family home can become that place.

I also learned  a lot about myself. My personal journey has experienced a number of earth-shattering blows where it’s at least felt like everything I have and have ever known has been destroyed and I’ve had to rebuild myself from scratch, while the people and structures around me have continued virtually unchanged. For me, that’s been the result of three acute life-threatening health and disability issues, which have seriously limited my capacity to travel, along with the resulting loss of employment which has left me without a personal income.

Rowena skiing downhill Fri

Yet, despite these blows, I’ve continued to travel and view new places and experiences through the pen and the lens and share these experienced here on Beyond the Flow. Working through this series, therefore, sharpened my identity as a traveler, a person who lives and breathes for travel and just because it’s on a different scale to what it used to be, that doesn’t change who I am.

So, so to reach personal break though during the A-Z Challenge, speaks volumes and I’m naturally very grateful. Every year, I find the process of structuring a series of almost random things into a cohesive theme creates profound outcomes. It produces a creative energy I struggle to explain. Have you found that? I also suspect that writing all my posts within the stressful confines of the 30 days contributes to that alchemy. You throw all these random things into the pressure cooker and every year, I’ve been dished up with a surprising masterpiece.

I’ve also made friends. Indeed, I still have friends I made on the very first A-Z Challenge I did something like five years ago. Once again, I’ve made some new ones this year and I’m certainly intending to keep in touch, especially after going through social isolation and lock down together. We’ve forged a bond.

So, I’d like to thank everyone who organizes this every year and everyone who has visited Beyond the Flow, but I’d also love to welcome you over to visit.

On that note, it’s time to say Goodbye for another year, although I hope to see at least a few of you in between. I also hope that you and yours are keeping well and safe as the coronavirus crosses the globe. Bless you!

Love & best wishes,

Rowena

 

 

 

N- Australia’s Nullarbor Plain…A-Z Challenge.

Welcome to Day 14 of the Blogging From A to Z Challenge. Today, we’re leaving Melbourne to the fashionistas, gourmets and hipsters. They can pine longingly for their lattes, smashed avo and empty cafes. Meanwhile, we’re boarding Morrie the Magnificent, our trusty Morris Minor with his zipped up Datsun 180Y engine and whatever it was which allowed Chitty Chitty Bang Bang to fly, and we’re off to find Australia’s Yellow Brick Road AKA the Eyre Highway. Indeed, we’re off to cross the Nullarbor Plain.

Although I’ve also crossed the Nullarbor by train on board the Indian Pacific both with and without a sleeper (boy sitting up was painful and only the stuff of uni students and equally impoverished backpackers), I thought we’d go by road. So far, I’ve only done the road trip once. It was absolutely epic, and I’m longing to repeat the trip with Geoff and the kids. However,  of course, that will have to wait. Even travel within Australia is banned at the moment, and WA is more shut down than most. It’s even clamped down on travel within the state with an iron fist.

By the way, when it comes to social distancing and out-manouvering the Coronavirus, it doesn’t get much better than the Nullarbor Plain. With 200 km in between petrol stations, even the virus will run out of gas.

Nullarbour Ceduna roadsign

Road Sign Ceduna, South Australia.

The Nullarbor Plain covers a vast, almost incomprehensible distance, stretching about 1,100 kilometres (684 mi) kms at it’s widest point. The Eyre Highway, which is the main road (and indeed the ONLY road across the Nullarbor), is a staggering 1,664 km (1,034 mi) long. When you’re heading from East to West, it starts out in Port Augusta in South Australia and winds up in Norseman, Western Australia.

That’s a very long trip for Morrie the Magnificent to even consider, especially when he’s been rather unreliable of late and might not even make it past Woy Woy. However, since this is a virtual adventure, let’s look on the bright side. As Morrie mutters: “I think I can”, we can all shout out: “We know you can!!”

Eyre_Highway_route_map (1)

Map Showing the Eyre Highway, which crosses the Nullarbor Plain from Port Augusta, SA to Norseman, WA.

However, before we leave on the trip, there are a few things you ought to know. Firstly, no electronic devices, books or other distractions are allowed. While many have referred to the Nullarbor as the “Nullaboring”, there’s still a lot to see out there. Besides, that sense of never-ending salt bush and vast unending space, is something which needs to be experienced in its full glory. That’s even if you as the driver are going mad asking: “Are we there yet?” SORRREEE!!! No, you’re not!!! Stop being so precious and make the most of the experience. It’s like nothing else. You can be thankful when you get home, that it’s only the trip of a lifetime and you don’t have to do this journey everyday!!

Nullarbor Pink Everlastings

Pink Everlasting Daisies Flourishing Alongside the Eyre Highway.

My apologies, I got a bit sidetracked there. I was meant to be giving you what could amount to a lifesaving briefing about what you need to take with you. Given the Nullarbor’s absolute isolation, you need to travel with a good supply of water, extra petrol and food in case you break down. While there is other traffic out there and people are very mindful of stopping to help, it’s always better to be prepared and self-sufficient, especially if you’re driving at night. You have to remember there are stretches of 200 kms in between petrol stations, and there’s not a Maccas on every corner either. Rather, it’s a case of me, myself and I out there, which, as my Dad would say, could well “put hairs on your chest”.

One last warning, it’s not advisable to do this trip in the heart of our Australian Summer. It gets so hot out there, that even the flies refuse to travel.

As I said, I’ve only driven across the Nullarbor once. That was with a friend back in 1997. We were heading one-way from Sydney to Perth  via Adelaide, and sharing driving and petrol expenses. However, since my friend drove a manual Commodore, the trip also came with obligatory driving lessons and let’s just say it’s just as well the Nullarbor had no trees! I wasn’t a natural!!

Nullarbor Eagle

An eagle perched over roadkill.

To be perfectly honest, aside from never-ending salt bush, there’s not much report out here. Well, that’s until you come across an eagle perched on top of a dead kangaroo and  it’s fiercely defending it’s dinner from passing road trains and cars. It’s quite amusing to watch, especially after looking at salt bush for hours. It seems the Eyre Highway provides a sort of fast food service out here, and as you could imagine, nothing goes to waste.

Now, I’m going to start the difficult process of trying to reconstruct my memories into some kind of sequence, hoping I really don’t get things out of order. Indeed, I’m hoping that just this once, my photographs might be in the right order. That back in the days of film and printing out photos as they happened, that I won’t be left scrambling, cursing my scatter-and-shuffle brain.

Thinking back to our trip across the Nullarbor, there are a few places which really come to mind.

Rowena Great Australian Bight

The Great Australian Bight.

It’s a shame this magnificent stretch of plunging limestone cliffs is so isolated and difficult to reach. They’re breathtakingly beautiful and their sheer size and enormity blew me away. While I’ve heard it’s a great place for whale watching, we were only driving through, and weren’t looking for a more extended experience at the time. Meanwhile, I just loved the landscape itself.

Great Australian Bight truck

The road train parked on the edge of the Great Australian Bight here, gives some perspective on the enormity of the cliffs.

Eucla

The isolated town of Eucla might only be a quick 10 minute drive from the South Australian border However, it’s still a massive 1,430 kilometres from Perth. So, you’re not there yet.

Nullarbor Rowena Eucla

While in hindsight, it feels like we were hot-footing our way to Perth and didn’t stop long at any local spots along the way, we actually did check out Eucla’s impressive Bilbunya Dunes, which look like a scene straight out of Lawrence of Arabia. It reminded me of tobogganing down sand dunes on Glad bags back when I was at school, before dune rehabilitation became a concern.

Nullarbor Eucla Sand dune

I really liked this footprints climbing up the side of the dune. The lone figure at the top seems so alone and isolated and the footprints suggest a journey of self-discovery and introspection, as though they’re climbing up the sand and inside themselves. 

In addition to the dunes, we also checked out the Old Telegraph Station. I’m not sure how much was visible at the time. However, from the look of my photos, only a chimney was peering out above the sand. I’ll be writing more about the Old Telegraph Station tomorrow after I dug up a few old stories from the old newspapers. My goodness! They were great.

Nullarbor Chimney Telegraph Station

 

The 90 Mile Straight.

Once you cross the Western Australian border, the Eyre Highway itself becomes a sight to behold. Between Balladonia and Caiguna, you hit what’s colloquially known as the “90 Mile Straight” where the road stretches in a straight line for 146.6 kilometres (91.1 mi) without a bend. This is regarded as the longest straight stretch of road in Australia, and one of the longest in the world. That might not seem very exciting when you’re cruising along that endless straight line. However, once you finally reach that bend in the road, it’s a true Eureka moment!! 

The Nullarbor Links

Not being a golfer myself, I didn’t pay much attention to the Nullarbor Links on our trip. However, with my Dad being a passionate golfer, I couldn’t go past it now. The Nullarbor Links is the world’s longest golf course with 18 holes on the 1,365 kilometre course, stretching from Kalgoorlie in Western Australia to Ceduna in South Australia. Plus, there’s an added bonus. You could well have Skippy the bush kangaroo and her  mates cheering you on.

Nullarbour Roadsign

Road Signs

Road signs along the Eyre Highway make for great photo opportunities and are landmarks in themselves.

There’s a lot more to the Nullarbour Plain for those who want to venture off the main road. However, that wasn’t my experience. So, I’ll leave that for someone else.

I would’ve loved to take you further down the track to Esperance. However, just this once, I’m going to stick to the brief.

Have you ever been across the Nullarbor Plain and if so, do you have any stories to share? Or, perhaps, this is a trip you’d love to make one day. Something to cross of your bucket list.

I hope and pray that you and yours are staying safe and well.

Love & best wishes,

Rowena

 

 

 

Nullarbor Travellers – Friday Fictioneers.

Nothing summed up where her life was heading, better than this road to nowhere on the Nullarbor Plain.

“Should’ve known when I aimed for the stars, I’d land nose first in the dirt. Freedom’s over-rated. Was much better off locked in my cage.  I’m gunna to die out here.”

Lost in the outback too tired to fly any further, Chirpy Bird flopped beside the road, waiting for heaven.

Meanwhile, Jack had been driving his rig non-stop from Adelaide.

“What the?”he exclaimed, rubbing his eyes. A yellow canary out in the desert? Definitely, time to pull over.

….

This has been another contribution to Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wishoff-Fields. This week’s photo prompt © Danny Bowman.

This is Chirpy Bird’s second appearance. If feel like a good dose of angst, here’s a poem I wrote about Chirpy Bird being dumped in Paris back in 1992: The Yellow House

I have set my take on the prompt in Australia’s Nullarbor Plain. I have crossed the Nullarbor a couple of times by train and driven across once. It’s an intriguing place. It has a sense of raw brutality about it. A road train kills a kangaroo and an eagle goes “Yippee! Dinner!” Then the eagle sees a huge road train approaching and decides to defend it’s meal, almost to the death.

Could say so much more, but’s after midnight.

Here’s a bit more about the Nullarbor Plain:

The Nullarbor Plain (/ˈnʌlərbɔːr/ NUL-ər-borLatinnullus, “no”, and arbor, “tree”[1]) is part of the area of flat, almost treeless, arid or semi-arid country of southern Australia, located on the Great Australian Bight coast with the Great Victoria Desert to its north. It is the world’s largest single exposure of limestone bedrock, and occupies an area of about 200,000 square kilometres (77,000 sq mi).[2] At its widest point, it stretches about 1,100 kilometres (684 mi) from east to west across the border between South Australia and Western Australia.

xx Rowena