Crossing the Nullarbor


Distances of over 300km separate Australia’s Nullarbor road houses, which stick up like modern day oases of over priced fuel and exorbitant food  ($7 for a hotdog!). The occasional road house prides it self on having real coffee, the others pride themselves on NOT having real coffee, and smug signs in the window express their disdain for city dwellers who ask silly questions like ‘do you have today’s paper’ or ‘can I wash my car?’.The paper won’t be in ’til next week, and water is strictly limited. In fact, a short shower will cost you $4.

Each roadhouse has its own feature in the running for most tacky.  Here, a gnome garden, there a giant crayfish.


There are signs laughing at people who struggle with the time zones.


Every roadhouse sells tacky overpriced ‘Australiana’. Made in China, of course.


Australia is huge.  There’s an entire 300km section that has no weather reporting and no mobile phone service. This is it.

Nullabor Tracks


We’ve seen numerous splats of road kill, from far off we see the crows flying around and as we get closer we see that some of them are great big eagles, vultures feasting on the fresh meat. Tintin is the one who cries at the loss of life, my sweet sensitive boy.


Most carcasses are roos, and we’ve seen a few emus pottering along beside the road. No camels yet!  Six months ago we were at the Islamic museum in KL and we saw an exhibit about the Afghan cameleers and their grumpy beasts and their trips across the Australian  desert. Now, the same trips are done by road trains in days, not weeks. The descendants of the camels are wild pests culled by helicopter snipers every now and then when they threaten the local towns.



Then the wheel broke. Chris had discovered a not-very-slow leak and had put the spare on. 40 km later there was banging and wobbling and we pulled over to find the wheel was only attached by one bolt. Any further and it would have fallen off altogether.




Lengthy conversations with the RAC resulted in them communicating hardly anything to the local roadhouse, which sent out a man in a ute to tow us. Two hours later he arrived; we were getting cold. We had specifically said the car needs to be up on a truck, not towed, as the wheel is broken. Plus the man only had one spare seat in his ute.   He pursuaded us to do a bodgy job of reattaching the wheel with two bolts instead of the six required we limped to the next roadhouse at 20 km / hr, hoping the wheel would hold. Most people sped past us, but those who stopped to see we were ok were the ones driving 60 series cruisers like us!

We slept in the road house motel, thankyou RAC!! And waited for the flat bed truck to carry us to Norseman, 300 km away, which was where the nearest mechanic was to be found.

Huge long road trains raced past all night, a few of them stopping for a drink or rest. Caravaners got up and out early, and people in cars pulled in to refuel or change nappies or stretch their legs. A constant parade of people who all want to be somewhere else.

The road house staff are mostly travelers earning big bucks from their long hours and isolation. They work 6 days a week, 12 hours a day and receive full board and keep.  There’s nothing to spend it on, so its not a bad way to save up for a trip!

We sat around playing on the playground which has not changed since it was built maybe 40 years ago. I have been reading aloud The Hobbit, (Bilbo has just had his cryptic conversation with Smaug). And so the children’s play is littered with hobbity references and their journal entries about the broken car are making good use of the phrase ‘out of the frying pan, into the fire.’

Our tow truck arrived, and an extra hire care, as there are so many of us. We had to collect another family and their broken car and I ended up driving with a Thai lady and her daughter and my two littlest boys all the way into  Norseman. Snowy and his new little friend giggled the whole way.  Do you think I could remember a single word of Thai?


At about 9pm we dragged ourselves through the rain into the caravan park’s leakiest chalet where we ate four different kinds of tinned beans all mixed together.

There’s not much that lashings of pepper can’t fix.

Nothing happens til after the weekend- we’re hoping the mechanic is a champ!


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13 Responses to Crossing the Nullarbor

  1. Wendy Tanner April 15, 2013 at 8:48 am #

    Hi Jill. It’s good to hear you are on the road again …. Or off the road at the moment, but soon to be back on it, hopefully. Safe travels. Love to all, from Wendy from Kerela boat trip :)

  2. Merridy April 15, 2013 at 1:23 pm #

    Hi Gill…having lived in the Nullabor for 2 years I am enjoying reading of your adventures and photos of this part of your journey!! I lived in Cook, which is about a 4.5 hour drive from Ceduna in South Australia. I think the town is gone now…it was only there to support the railway! It was an experience and a half…and a distant memory as we have spent the last 14 years in Hong Kong. Anyway…you guys are amazing…:)

  3. Granny April 15, 2013 at 8:00 pm #

    I promise to make you all yummy ‘hot dogs’ with all the trimmings , no charge, when you pass through Perth next time!
    Continue to enjoy your adventures.
    Love you all, Granny xoxo

  4. Terry Hinchliffe April 15, 2013 at 8:04 pm #

    Events like this seem so bad at the time but end up being some of the most remembered and recounted times. Its all good in the end! Thanks for sharing.

  5. Seana - Sydney, Kids, Food + Travel April 16, 2013 at 5:35 pm #

    Hello, enjoying catching up with you. Hope that you are all back on the rod again. I once took the train from Sydney to Perth, an amazing three day trip, with such a variety of travellers aboard.

    Merridy, I so remember the stop in Cook and the sign there: ‘If you’re crook, come to Cook.’
    Seana – Sydney, Kids, Food + Travel recently posted..The PARKROYAL Darling Harbour – Family-Friendly Accommodation in SydneyMy Profile

  6. Lisa Wood May 6, 2013 at 1:17 pm #

    I so hope you are back on the Road asap. Bummer about the tyre!

    Thanks for asking about questions regards Seat Belts in our Bedford. I actually answered with the wrong questions – it was not super cheap it was Repco where we purchased the Seat Belts. Have made a video that I am uploading about how David built our seats and installed the seat belts – hope to have it live soon :)

    I keep on checking here to see if you all got home safe n sound….how did the rest of your drive go?
    Lisa Wood recently posted..If I Could I WouldMy Profile

  7. Sean Cane May 25, 2013 at 2:04 pm #

    Those scenic pictures are stunning! Crossing the Nullarbor is on my bucket list!

  8. danny June 1, 2013 at 1:55 am #

    Wow, this inspired me even more for my roadtrip in Australia. The perspective on distances are really different when you come from Europe. I’m currently living in the Netherlands which measure 312 km from north to south 😛

  9. Lucy D June 3, 2013 at 3:27 am #

    Eek! I can’t imagine going 300k with no phone signal… scary… Love the giant crayfish though!

  10. Spencer June 29, 2013 at 4:54 pm #

    Good to see you are on the road again. I would love to cross the Nullabor one day. I hear it is amazing scenery.
    Spencer recently posted..A Voyage Through The Valley of The RhineMy Profile

  11. Luxury Apartments Gold Coast July 16, 2013 at 8:55 pm #

    I love the cray fish road house look like you guys had some real good fun!Loved the post too.

  12. Hip Caravan Rental October 1, 2013 at 9:12 pm #

    Yep the roadhouses are very ‘interesting’. I’m sure there’s a documentary film waiting to be made that feature some of the overpriced and eccentric roadhouses that you mention. The Nullabor is a favourite trip – we find it serene, whilst others find it ‘boring’. Keep up the great work.
    Hip Caravan Rental recently posted..Great Weather for Caravan HolidaysMy Profile


  1. Catching upGoing Anyway - October 13, 2013

    […] woops sorry. We are NOT still stuck on the Nullabor. We made it back to Perth, spent too much money getting the car fixed and registered, and then sold […]

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