We have just flown back to Australia after two weeks in the UK. Our plan was minimal. In fact, it pretty much consisted of typing Adelaide into the sat nav and following the directions. We packed the boot of our car with the 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 in Western Australia. Our hopes were high for this rock, I mean a rock, shaped like a wave? We were in for a treat. This was our first real road trip, so we weren’t 100% about what the ‘outback’ had in store for us.
Brookton Highway Shufflers
To get to Wave Rock, it means driving along the Brookton Highway. As we drove, we both noticed a small plastic chair in front of a tree with the name Ken written in bold writing. We thought this was a little weird, 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 roadkill 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. Maybe they are there to creep out innocent backpackers like myself, or maybe somebody got bored and put them there 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 the outback roads. Our route took us through small towns like Brookton, Corrigin, and eventually Hyden. We pitched our two-man K-Mart tent and walked to Wave Rock. The height of the rock and the way it has been formed is very impressive. It is hard to take it seriously when the swarms of tourists are pretending to surf the wave.
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.
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 decided to use the barbecues on the pier to cook hot dogs. As the night got later, we got into the car, put the laptop on the dashboard and tucked into our hot dogs. We found a campsite that was close to the town centre. We were told about sites that were about 30/40km away, but nighttime driving isn’t recommended because of all the kangaroos. If you’re planning on camping, I would highly recommend buying an air bed so you don’t have to sleep on the hard floors. I was sceptical when I realised our journey was going to involve camping for a long stretch of time. Memories of wet tents, uncomfortable sleeping, and noisy woodland whilst camping with the girl guides came flooding back. 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.
Cape Le Grand National Park
The day after we drove to Cape Le Grand National Park, 56km east of Esperance. The park was full of caravans, trailers and lavish Range Rovers. If you’re visiting here I would advise booking ahead of time, to guarantee a place to stay. We were sleeping in a tent, so we managed to find a spot. Cape Le Grand National Park has spectacular scenery stretching for hundreds of kilometres. It also the home of Lucky Bay, the whitest beach in all of Australia. The sea is crystal clear and kangaroos hop along the sand to greet you on entry. It is absolutely stunning. This is a great place for a spot of fishing and star gazing. There is minimal light pollution so the sky looks amazing.
If you’re planning on doing this road trip, be sure to stock up on provisions at every possibility. There are a number of secluded roadhouses along the way offering overpriced sandwiches and coffee. Stocking up on bread and simple sandwich fillers is a much more cost-effective way to do the trip. We didn’t slack on our evening meals though. One night we had Thai (instant noodles), and another night we had Italian (Bolognese ravioli from a tin… with a side of eggs).
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! We drove through more small towns, Salmon Gums, Norseman, and finally Balladonia.
The Nullarbor Plain
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. There is nothing but signs for kangaroos, camels, wallabies, and of course countless trees and bushes. When driving across the Nullarbor, waving at other drivers is the courteous thing to do. This is because you’re in the middle of nowhere with minimal human interaction.
Fuel has to be distributed into the outback so obviously the price was rising the further we drove. We went from paying 96c a litre in Perth, to paying as much as $1.80 a litre on the Nullarbor. While we’re talking about prices, if you want a few beers along the way, I’d recommend stocking up beforehand. In one shop it came to $35 for just 6 bottles!
Border Village & Streaky Bay
Border Village is where Western Australia ends and South Australia starts. Inevitabley, we could tell the further we travelled the colder it was getting. As you cross the border, your vehicle is security checked for fruit and vegetables. Nobody is allowed to take any through because of contamination by fruit flies.
Our first real experience of South Australia was at Streaky Bay, a small fishing town around seven hours from Adelaide. We spent a night on the jetty fishing and taking in the sunset. The view was beautiful both from the jetty, and our campsite on the morning and evening. Crisp sea air in 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 driven from Perth to Adelaide along the Nullarbor Plain? Is there a specific road trip you would suggest is definitely worth doing? Comment below and let me know!