The Final Leg Then Homeward Bound

Trip Start Jul 06, 2009
Trip End Dec 23, 2009

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Flag of Australia  , New South Wales,
Thursday, December 17, 2009

There is no other direction but east left for us now….and that only leads us to home. Alas, still so much to see and experience till that final moment, and so many flies to swat!

About 120kms east of Esperance (Western Australia) one reaches an arid, coastal National Park with the very descriptive name of 'Cape Arid'.  This area is characterised by low scrubland as well as a proliferation of magnificently enormous Banksia trees and large, juicy looking lizards.  But, there was a certain spooky element to our camp at Seal Creek site – the presence of a 4 day old abandoned camp with one missing person.  As we arrived the campsite was buzzing with a SES (State Emergency Services) team, a helicopter and plane overhead, and various 4 wheeled vehicles roaming the beaches hunting for the missing person.  We pitched camp about 100m away, and once the SES crew had departed we snuck over for a good old geezer.  The missing person looked to have disappeared in a hurry.  Upon his table ready for cooking were 2 fry pans on a gas stove, a tray of meat, margarine, beer in a cooler sock and eggs.  At the foot of the table was a freshly caught fish in a bucket.  We spent 3 nights imagining scenarios, and still no missing person appeared. There were hundreds of very satiated flies a-buzz by this time. 

After gaining some local knowledge, we chose to ignore a ‘road closed’ sign and drive 200kms on unsealed, damned rutted and bull dusty cut through to the Eyre Highway (the long road that crosses the Nullarbor Plain).  The Eyre Highway is the road running across the bottom of Australia past the Great Australian Bight.  We think Aussies tend to refer to the entire road as the ‘Nullarbor Plain’, which is incorrect.  The Nullarbor Plain is a large, flat and sparse open plain that the Eyre Highway cuts through, as it cuts through other pieces of land.  It also happens to hold the longest straight piece of roadway in Australia, a total 147kms of straight.  The vegetation continuously changes from small trees to scrub to sandy patches with grass clumps.  Roadtrains swooshed by sucked the car all over the road.  We loved the ability to take a random turn off the road and drive into the bush for 2kms or so (to escape the noise of the large road trains) and pitch camp with not a soul to be seen. 

Passing through Ceduna, which marks the border between Western Australia and Southern Australia, we slammed on the brakes and stopped at a border crossing oyster bar.  Freshly shucked right then and there.  We choffed 6 dozen over two days!  Roelof has stated that these were better oysters than Knysna (for South Africans reading this, that is a big call!).

Time began to run low, and consequently we were unable to explore much of South Australia and had to skip Victoria. The Flinders Ranges National Park is semi-arid mountain country with lofty, craggy peaks made from the Earth’s crust thrust upwards up to 630 million years ago.  We climbed the highest peak, and journeyed through 2 spectacular gorges.  Ancient, giant red gums tower over the dried river beds and enormous eagles glide over the grasslands.  Complete serenity.  Mother Nature spoke to us through the rustling breeze, silent gorges and jaw dropping views.  The Heysen walking trail and Mawson cycling trail pass through this national park (900km trails that end in Adelaide).  We will return here.

We drove to Broken Hill, which marked our entry into NSW, and were pleasantly surprised at the presence of well known Aussie artists and their galleries, as well as the very interesting mining background this town has.  Why the name ‘Broken Hill’?  Once upon a time there was a happy, large hill that contained an even larger and happier silver lode that was discovered in the 1800s.  The silver lode was enormous, and the miners were very hungry for money, so they mined the hill away and left a pile of rubble in its place.  Did you know that BHP began in Broken Hill and stands for ‘Broken Hill Propriety’.  The surrounding land outside Broken Hill is dry and completely barren, and is what is termed as ‘The Outback’.  We admire the Aboriginal clans who lived here for thousands of years, and the early explorers who passed through as water is scarce, food is hard to find and it is HOT. 

Suddenly it was time to drive the remaining 1,200kms home.  How did we feel?  Ready for it.  Looking forward to a flushing toilet, unlimited water and electricity.  Life’s givens have become a luxury for us.  Having done 23,000kms around this great country, we have gained a better understanding of what makes Australia what it is.  A very ancient land with diverse, harsh environments.  Long distances of nothingness.  Varied terrain (mostly dry and hot).  People battling drought and seasonal changes. Buggared land from hooved animals.  Grey nomads and their caravans.  Small pockets of lush beauty (flora and fauna).  Flies, mining and hard yakka.  Our perspective of many Australian issues has changed, whether for good or bad, because we have opened our eyes and been curious.  By leaving the Big Smoke behind and taking the plunge to quit/ take extended leave from jobs during an economic downturn, we have become better and more acknowledgeable people.  One can’t help but feel sorry for those who are too busy leading their lives in a time poor, unnatural and superficial bubble because it is not real living.

We venture to South Africa for a month now.  We really hope you’ve enjoyed exploring Australia with us, and if anything we hope it’s been inspiration for you to get outdoors and experience some nature.

Dusty Downloads "Over And Out"

Amanda & Roelof
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Mary Quicke on

Wow, wonderful, really inspiring

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