Overnight stays: Cocklebiddy Gravel Pit, Cocklebiddy (WA); Whitewell Tank Rest Area, Yalata (SA)
Some of the best Wombatical days were driving through the NT Outback from The Red Centre to The Top End, seeing nothing but red soil, small shrubs, termite mounds, and road kill. We would drive for a couple of hours, stop for a cuppa, drive, lunch, drive, cuppa, drive, sleep. With these fond memories fresh we approached the Nullarbor with a reasonable level of excitement.
We expected hot, dry, long stretches of road, with random mildly entertaining knacks similar to the dressed up termite mounds of the NT, and a few roadhouses splashed in-between providing essential daylight robbery with fuel prices higher than Kerryn Phelps’ primary vote.
So we loaded up with fuel, water, and the 1,000 Songs to Hear Before You Die Spotify playlist, ready to hit the road from Kalgoorlie to Ceduna.
The first leg
Sadly it was pretty gloomy on the day we left Kalgoorlie for the initial 200km backtrack to WA’s worst and ugliest town of Norseman. And as we turned onto the Nullarbor the weather worsened, with rain settling in for the foreseeable future.
I must say that, regardless of the weather, this first 600km+ of the drive was pretty uninteresting. The road was long and straight, in-fact 90 miles of it doesn’t have a single bend, and the landscape was long flat plains of pretty much nothing. No termite mounds, no dressed up trees; just a lot of nothing really.
With dusk approaching we pulled in for our final night in WA, to a gravel pit on the side of the road just outside Cocklebiddy. My dream of a campfire on a cliff overlooking the Southern Ocean would have to wait.
As the 1,000 songs continued to disappoint with a banger rate of about 1 in 7, we were stoked to see blue skies when we set off on day two.
We arrived into Eucla excited to see the coast again, with some marginally good cliff views for lunch. It seemed things would only get better from here.
The WomBatmobile was eaten out of fruit and veggies, knowing we couldn’t take them into SA, but we were surprised when we crossed the border with no stops of checks conducted. Turns out checks are done well beyond the border, in Ceduna.
The deeper we got into South Australia, the better the views became, with towering cliffs being hammered by the fierce ocean below. Now things were getting interesting.
A dingo on the left and beautiful turquoise water on the right was the ideal way to finish the day, as we pulled into a campsite at the entrance of the Head of Bight. Sadly fires weren’t permitted so my cliff-fire dream was squashed pretty quickly – we just couldn’t time it right.
One of The Nullarbor’s ‘things’ is that it has the longest golf course in the world. With that in mind we picked up a club and single golf ball in Kalgoorlie before we left, hoping to have a swing at a hole or so along the way.
I was expecting the longest golf course in the world to have holes dozens of kilometres long, with a par of like 500. But rather than ridiculously long holes, it’s effectively just 18 regular, albeit scrubby golf holes spread across tiny townships from Kal to Ceduna. I was pretty disappointed – does that really make it a course?
And the course itself is shit. The holes are terrible, and for many of them you can’t even see where the green or flag is. We decided to play the Wombat Hole (we felt it was our duty), of which we had absolutely no idea which direction to hit the ball from the tee – that’s how unobvious it was as a golf hole.
I understand they’re trying to make something out of nothing – but seriously, the course is rubbish.
The final leg
Head of Bight
As our hopes of spotting Brumbies or camels faded quicker than Dave Sharma’s hopes of winning Wentworth, we hit the Head of Bight first thing in the morning, in hope of spotting some Southern Right Whale mothers and calves just off the coast.
Luckily there were a couple of pods around, and these giants impressed us despite the hundreds of whales we had already seen this trip. They were ridiculously close to shore, and suitably massive in size, especially compared to the humpbacks we were accustomed to.
This stop also provided sensational cliff views to the west, some of the best on tour we reckon.
The Big Wombat
I remember our friend Bindy finding (on the internet) a Big Wombat somewhere in Queensland for us to visit in our travels, but we were never able to locate it.
So you could only imagine our excitement when a tiny sign along the way caught our eye, promoting The Big Wombat, just up the road to the right. We turned in, enthused, to the horribly signposted commune, searching for our mate, until he eventually appeared on the right hand side, sending our hype to stratospheric levels.
Apparently we were in wombat territory, with an estimated 2.5M little hairy-nosed legends roaming these parts, which explains why there is a Wombat Hole on the golf course, and The Big Wombat.
Unfortunately we didn’t spot any, although I reckon if we were out at night we’d be hard-pressed not stepping on one. We were, however, amazed with the amount of Shingleback Lizards (or Shacklebacks, as Loz calls them) sprawled all over the road and surrounds. These ferocious looking dudes seem to love the sun as much as us, and the hot road offers a nice place to get some rays, leaving their fate completely in the hands of drivers.
Penong Windmill Museum
Our final stop was at Stromatolite’s Paradise, more commonly known as the Penong Windmill Museum. Here boasts the country’s largest windmill, surrounded by a swarm of other windmills, and Stroms in their dozens wandering through. It was not a bad little stop, and we were most impressed by the child’s swing that doubled as a water pump; ingenious.
Nulling it over
The Nullarbor was different but similar to what we expected. Despite the WA leg disappointing us. we thoroughly enjoyed the South Australian part, giving us faith that the state we knew least about could exceed our relatively low expectations…