1100 km of nothingness (Nullabor Plain)

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We knew they announced rain for the morning in Esperance but we thought we’d be fine if we got up at 6am. Who would have thought that it would start pouring out of buckets at 5.30? Of course the tent was drenched again and so were parts of the things we had inside, since we left the window open again (sometimes I guess I can be overly optimistic). Once we got up, the whole tour group was already eating breakfast. They got surprised by the rain in their swags too.

Beautiful sunsets

Beautiful sunsets

Cro and I then soon took off, shopped for more supplies in Esperance and then started driving the 200km towards Norseman, the last town before the long Eyre Hyw. While we were having lunch, Cro received a phone call that one of his good friends from Ireland got hit by a car over in Perth and so he wanted to go back there as quickly as possible. Which meant that he wanted to hitchhike back to Perth and I was suddenly facing to cross the longest stretch of driving alone. Norseman consists of two gas stations, an information center and maybe 8 houses. There was no way I’d find someone there to come with me. But the lady in the information center said that she’d done the drive all by herself before and that it shouldn’t be a problem. There is a roadhouse every 180km and the road should be quite busy too. While Cro was getting all of his things out of the car at one of the gas stations, a van stopped and a guy asked whether we were alright. He was very nice and said he’d be driving the same way as me and we’d probably meet up somewhere again and also assured me that driving that road won’t be a problem. He drove off and soon after that I started too (Cro is back in Perth now and his friend is fine. Just been unconscious for a while and has a concussion).

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I put my music on and reached Balladonia in no time. At the gas station there, I ran into Luke again, who was eating a hamburger and suggested that we’d continue together for the night. I was glad that I didn’t have to be alone out in nowhere. I followed him for a while and we had the most beautiful sunset in our rearview mirrors. The sky was golden and then red and pink over endless fields and trees. We stopped for pictures before the longest straight road of Australia and then drove to about the middle of it. By then it was almost dark, so we took the first road off the highway that we could find. Here, you can basically camp on any of the rest areas. We found a great one that way a little away from the road (which is good because no road trains will be rolling on to it in the night and you also don’t hear every one of them rushing by). I cooked my dinner and would have gladly cooked for Luke too but he was full from his burger and wasn’t too tempted by my sausages, being a vegetarian. Instead, he brought out his guitar and accompanied my dinner with a concert 🙂 (You probably were picturing an acoustic guitar now, but it was actually an electric one with a little intensifier :)). So, I was enjoying my dinner in the light of my headlamp, out in the middle of trees and nothingness, listening to the songs Luke knew. Life was good 🙂

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And then it got even better, because he asked me how I had planned on sleeping. I told him that I wanted to try sleeping in the car because my tent and I had seen enough rain for a while. He took pity on me, since my car was so full with stuff and too short to sleep in it anyways and offered me to sleep in his van, while he would be sleeping in his swag. I didn’t want to do this to him but he said he’d been wanting to do that again for a long time anyways. So, once he was installed in his little one man tent, I climbed on the matrass in his van and had the best sleep I had in a week. I didn’t hear a sound all night and only awoke to my alarm clock in the morning. If I ever come back to do a road trip like this, it will have to be with someone, so that we can afford a van. How comfortable and practical that is!

So, in the morning, I didn’t have to do any work and was ready to leave pretty soon too. Luke already took off because he wanted to get far too, saying that we might meet up at a gas station again anyways. But I probably was driving slower and stopping more (and I also got stuck behind three oversized trucks for 50km), so that I never saw him anymore.

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Now, everybody who travelled the Nullabor as a couple or with several people came out of it, saying how long and boring it was. I was surprised how many people I saw driving alone . And everyone of them told me what a nice drive this was. I liked it too! So far, it hadn’t been boring at all. The scenery changed about every 100km from no trees to trees and then different colored fields again. It was amazing to see the horizons meet the sky in every direction! And the signs along the road are pretty entertaining too (Drowsy Drivers Die, Tiredness is Fatal..Wow, why so cheerful?). And all these long, straight roads…I hated driving in Europe. 700km from Switzerland to Berlin feel a lot longer than what I drive here. And with all the new music I received from my couchsurfer hosts, I was ready for this long drive. Also, there are a lot of cars on this road. I crossed somebody almost every four minutes, waving to all the drivers (at first thinking, lucky you, you’ve made it so far and then, poor you, you have so far to go :)).

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All the gas stations cost around 2.06$ (ugh, and I couldn’t even split the costs this time), except in Eucla and the town before that it was 1.96$. Eucla is a really nice place to stop for lunch. You can see the ocean and they even have a pool.

I drove on a little more, stopping at a few lookout points. Wow, these cliffs! It was really windy there and I was a bit worried about how I will set the tent up but luckily, inland it was almost warm and not windy.

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Somewhere, I had to change the time 45min (?!) ahead and then later again some amount of time I didn’t know. Therefore I was quite confused what time it was now and couldn’t believe it that it was already 6.30pm at one roadhouse and it was still light out. I met a couple from Belgium who told me that here, the sun didn’t set until 8pm, so I didn’t actually lose the two hours driving time I thought I had lost. I continued through another amazing sunset and then pulled onto a rest area. It was quite big and there was a lot of space between the two camper vans that were already there and me but it was just nice to see their lights later in the darkness, so that I didn’t feel completely alone.

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Back in Switzerland, I thought I’d never survive one night in the wilderness if I wasn’t with an experienced camping person. Now, I could stay alive for as long as the food and water lasts. I have all the supplies I need in my car and it just feels good to not be dependent from cities or campgrounds.

I tried the tent again and that night, luckily wasn’t surprised by rain. I set the alarm to 5.50am to really have enough hours to drive and take breaks that day and then I was very confused when it was still pitch black outside. For a moment I was a bit afraid that it would never get light out again, then I thought perhaps I had put in the wrong time when I changed the clock and only my third thought was that the sunrise was probably just two hours later here. I rested for another half an hour and then packed my things up and had breakfast in the light of my headlamp, being relieved that it gradually got lighter outside. There already were cars on the road and I was ready too, once the sun was finally up high enough.

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And before I knew it, I reached Ceduna and with that civilization (the gas station before Ceduna was actually a little cheaper than the ones in Ceduna). I had officially crossed the Nullabor and wasn’t a Nullabor virgin anymore (that’s what the tourguide in Esperance called everybody who hadn’t done that yet). In the souvenir shops you can even buy certificates that say that you have crossed it. If I didn’t have a car, I’d never have done that and would have just flown to Adelaide (a 10 day tour from Perth to Adelaide would be about 1700$) but there are definitely a lot of nice things to see along the way and it’s a great experience to have to put up with your own thoughts only for a few days.

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