We have just flown back to Australia after two weeks back in the UK. Our plan was minimal, in fact it pretty much consisted of typing Adelaide in to the sat nav and following the directions of the lovely lady that speaks to us. We packed up our KIA Sportage with essentials; tent, esky, sleeping bags, jerry cans etc. and then our road trip commenced.
Our first stop was Wave Rock, a mere three hours fifty minutes from Perth CBD. Our hopes were high for this rock, I mean a rock, shaped like a wave? We were in for a treat. The journey began well. Our car was full and we had said all of our emotional goodbyes to everyone at the hostel. I would say it was only around forty minutes into our drive that we were off the highway, and teetering on the edge of one of the many outback roads which would lead us to this rock. This was our first real road trip, so we weren’t 100% about what the ‘outback’ had in store for us.
We were soon to a find out. We were driving along the Brookton Highway, when we both noticed a small plastic chair in front of a tree with the name Ken written in bold writing. A little odd we thought, but carried on driving nonetheless. Not even five minutes later there was another chair, with another name. There was a theme emerging. I can’t quite remember all the names and I am a little annoyed at myself for not getting out and taking pictures. After the sixth or seventh chair it was beginning to get a little creepy. It didn’t help that we passed a One Grave Road, a Strange Road, and the exact same Kia Sportage as ours smashed up on the side of the road. Not to mention the copious amounts of dead kangaroos scattered around the highway. I was curious, so I Googled these chairs and it turns out they have been named the Brookton Highway Shufflers. By who? I don’t know. But the meaning of them is apparently unknown, whether it is serious, to creep out innocent backpackers and passers by like myself, or just somebody doing it for the fun of it. We did survive this journey, but I was sceptical for a minute there.
We shared the driving. This is probably where I should mention I almost killed the two of us driving around a corner at 50k/hr in 5th gear. In my defence I hadn’t driven in a while and I was a little nervous on these outback roads. Look at what we had just been through with the scary chairs ordeal. Our route took us through small towns like Brookton, Corrigin, and eventually Hyden. This is the town where I discovered peanut butter and jam ice cream sandwiches, but more on that story later. We pitched our two man K-Mart tent, and set off to see the rock. I went to see the Grand Canyon when I was younger and my thoughts were; ‘it’s just a hole in the ground’. I do want to go back to the Grand Canyon at some point as I feel like I would appreciate it so much more now I am older. But Wave Rock is essentially that. A rock in the shape of a wave. It is amazing, the way it was formed, how big it is etc. but it is hard to take it seriously when the swarms of tourists are pretending to surf the wave. But I am glad we went, it’s one to tick off the list and it really was incredible to see.
The next stop on our road trip was Esperance, a typical backpacker hotspot for this particular road trip. The drive here wasn’t like the previous death drive we had just been on, it was pleasant. While the journey pretty much consisted of just a few straight derelict roads, the scenery was beautiful. We saw a sign for a hoedown but that is about as interesting as it got. I will never know what that hoedown was like but I like to think it would of been a hoot!
When we arrived in Esperance, we had no idea where we were staying. The weather was bleak and it almost felt as if I was at Bridlington or Scarborough back home. Like the seaside in the UK, it was raining, cold, and windy. But unlike the seaside in the UK, Esperance has barbecues for public use. So instead of letting the weather get us down, we took it on ourselves to use the barbecues on the pier to cook hot dogs. There was a scary man with a creepy hat, a dog, and a stack of bread sat near us which kind of killed our vibe. We vacated to the car, put the laptop on the dash board and tucked in to our hot dogs. It was cosy to say the least. After we dined we found a campsite that was close to the town centre. We had been told about sites that were a good 30/40km away from town that were pretty nice, but I don’t like driving in the middle of nowhere at night-time as the darkness comes out and so do the kangaroos. Like the bright sparks we are, we bought an air bed for the tent so we didn’t have to lie on the questionable hard floors. We did however forget to buy a pump so we had to blow it up using only our lungs of steel. This was another emerging theme, because we never did buy a pump. I was sceptical when I realised our journey was going to involve camping for quite possibly a long stretch of time. Memories of wet tents, uncomfortable sleeping and noisy woodland whilst camping with the girl guides flooded my head. But one pump bed, four pillows, two sleeping bags, and one blanket later and I was sold! That’s not even including our pajamas, hoodies and head torch hanging like a ceiling light. Throw in the laptop and it’s just like my bedroom. My mind has been changed completely. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not saying I could sleep in our humble polystyrene home forever. But it will more than suffice for the foreseeable.
The day after we drove to Cape Le Grand National Park. We had no idea what to expect, and I can safely say we were not disappointed. Spectacular scenery stretching for hundreds of kilometres.
We were lucky that there was room for our tent in one of the parks as they were swamped with caravans, trailers and Range Rovers. With only these to compare out tent too, it looked pathetic next to all the lavish motor homes that surrounded us. Our tent is half the size of some of the other campers cars let alone where they slept. But pitched up and walked down to Lucky Bay, the whitest beach in all of Australia. The sea was crystal clear and kangaroos hopped along the sand and greeted us on entry. It was absolutely stunning.
Unfortunately the weather was pretty poor and we were wrapped up in jeans and hoodies. That night we used our gas stove for the first time to cook burgers and eggs. Our diet has been questionable on this trip, but I will get to that soon. After dinner we went fishing. Now, I say fishing lightly. I would say the evening involved rock climbing (in the dark), getting lost (in the dark), getting my ankles eaten by a mass of mosquitoes (in the dark), and drinking beer (in the dark). James tried he really did but alas we caught nothing. I did however see a stingray which was pretty cool, and a dying seal..which wasn’t so cool. It was horrible in fact but it was in the water and there was nothing we could do. After our ‘fishing trip’ we did some stargazing. There was minimal light pollution out there so the sky looked pretty amazing.
Before we left Esperance the morning after we stocked up on provisions. Over the past few days making our own lunches seemed like a thing of the past. We had been stopping at secluded roadhouses along the way for toasted sandwiches and coffee. They weren’t all that bad but they came at a price that we couldn’t afford. So, we stocked up on food we could use for packed lunches. Ham and cheese sandwiches for the next three days it was! We didn’t slack on our evening meals though. One night we had Thai (instant noodles), another night we had Italian (Bolognese ravioli from a tin… with a side of eggs apparently). Safe to say we were eating like kings.
Our next stop was the Balladonia Roadhouse. It was on route to here that we made one of the best purchases we have made to date. Alan Partridges’ audio book, I, Partridge: We need to talk about Alan. Six hours of none stop Partridge, comedy gold! If that wasn’t going to make this journey fly by I don’t know what would. We drove through more small towns, Salmon Gums, Norseman, and finally Balladonia. We camped at the Balladonia Roadhouse for one night before we headed for the Nullarbor Plain, the longest straight road in Australia.
The Nullarbor is ninety miles long and as we had been warned prior, there is nothing there. Where as a lot of the scenery we had seen up to this point slightly resembled the Yorkshire Dales (miles of green grass and trees), the Nullabor resembled nothing I had seen before. There is nothing but signs for kangaroos, camels, wallabies, and of course countless trees and bushes on the side of road. As we drove along we realised waving at fellow drivers is the courteous thing to do as it is common knowledge you won’t have had much human interaction in a while.
By this point we started to realise how much this road trip was going to cost us. Fuel in the outback is pricey which is understandable as it has to be distributed to the middle of nowhere. But, we had gone from paying 96c a litre back in Perth to paying as much as $1.80 a litre in some places. If this wasn’t disheartening enough don’t even get me started on the prices for beer. $35 for six bottles! Our money was quickly disappearing and beer was a luxury we couldn’t afford.
When we hit Border Village where Western Australia ends and South Australia starts, we pitched our tent. We could tell the further we travelled the colder it was getting. This was the perfect opportunity to crack open the fifty Yorkshire teabags I had brought with me from home. Our trusty stove on, shortbread for dunking purposes, and our humble abode (tent), we were in for a wild night. We left the following the morning. About twenty minutes into our drive we were stopped on the border so a man could check our car for fruit and vegetables. When crossing the border you can’t take any through with you because of contamination by fruit flies. We had none in the car so we drove on fruit fly free.
Our first real experience of South Australia was at Streaky Bay, a small fishing town around seven hours from Adelaide. We got there around 5pm, had sausages and eggs on our trusty K-Mart stove, then set off to the jetty. Another successful fishing trip you ask? Well unlike last time where we caught nothing, this time James managed to hook a family’s boat that was docked at the end of the jetty. Not only this, he also managed to hook the 15 year old boys rod that was next to him ( and he blames me for being bad luck). Fishing trip aside I really liked streaky bay(con). The sunset from the jetty was beautiful and the view of the ocean from our camp site on both the morning and the night was amazing too. Crisp sea air on the morning and a sharp red sunset on the night.
The final hurdle was a seven and a half hour journey from Streaky Bay to Adelaide. James bought The Da Vinci Code on audio book for the car. Not a patch on Partridge if you ask me but it was something to listen to. I just want to note that we have just been on a 1670 mile road trip, a grand total of 28 hours driving in our Kia, and it was here, one hour thirty minutes from Adelaide that James got pulled over for speeding. Worryingly, our speedometer said he was just 5k/hr over, but the policeman said he was over by 19k/hr. This either means the nice policeman is telling fibs, or our speedometer is not accurate and therefore hasn’t been correct for this six day road trip.
Have you drove from Perth to Adelaide along the Nullabor Plain? Is there a specific road trip you would suggest is definitely worth doing? Comment below and let me know!