The Eyre Highway makes travel across the Nullarbor Plain easier than ever but if hurry across you’ll miss one of Australia’s great adventures.
Story By John Denman
The Nullarbor is a land of superlatives; everything is big even if you leave out the Big Galah at Kimba and the Big Kangaroo at the Border Village. It’s not the manmade things that define dimension – it’s the legendary plain itself. At 250,000 square kilometers the Nullarbor is world’s biggest single lump of limestone. You could drop England, Belgium, the Netherlands and Switzerland on it and still have 7,000sq.km to spare.
To those of the Baby Boomer generation, the Nullarbor brings back memories of the Redex Trials of the 1950s. In those days the road was little more than a rough track tackled at breakneck speed by adventurers like “Gelignite” Jack Murray and Ken Tubman. They pitted cars designed for gentler locations against some of the roughest conditions on the planet.
Things are different today; the pitted limestone track of old has well and truly given way to a smooth ribbon of bitumen. There are occasional remnants of the old track here and there, but you have to look closely to find them. The long distances are now broken by roadhouses and small towns, but the lure of the plain remains. The better amenities now permit easier exploration of places once thought inaccessible to all but the best-equipped expedition.
Coming from the east, Ceduna is your last chance to do any serious shopping before committing yourself to the big plain. A town of 3000 people on the western extremity of the Eyre Peninsula, Ceduna offers plenty in the way of accommodation and shops. The big event here each year is Oysterfest held on the last weekend of September. It’s three days of excitement and events that celebrate a highly lucrative, but fairly recently arrived industry.
Andre Siedl, the proprietor of Western Oysters, is typical of those looking to enhance the region’s reputation for farmed oysters. “We produce the Pacific Oyster along here,” he says. “We’ve now secured markets all over Australia as well as overseas.” Andre’s leases produce 80 to 100,000 dozen oysters per year, and he’s only one of about six growers in Ceduna with 25-hectare leases. “There are plenty of others with smaller leases,” he says. “I’m not really sure what the total production is, but I know we do well because of the clean water of the Eyre.”
Just out of Ceduna a small brown sign indicates Goog’s Track. This track will take you on an outback adventure from the Eyre Highway right up to the Trans Australia Railway. But it’s a very remote journey and should never be taken on without a well-equipped four-wheel-drive and good outback experience. On the way you travel through Yumbarra Conservation Park and Yellabinna Regional Reserve.
This story excerpt is from Issue #53
Outback Magazine: June/July 2007