Road trip across Australia – Day 2 Caiguna

We had a very comfortable night at the Merredin Tourist Park, and got on the road by 8.30.
We drove to Southern Cross, where we topped up with fuel because the next reasonably largish town was Coolgardie, about two hour’s drive away. I use the term largish, because many of the places out here are very small, communities consisting of just a few people, which may include a repair shop and small school which service e the farming communities. Human habitation is beginning to get so sparse that distance travelled is now counted in hours between hamlets rather than kilometres travelled. Even the hamlets are usually nothing more than fuel stops, where there is usually some form of accommodation (motel-style), and caravan and camping facilities, and the obligatory parking for road trains.
Southern Cross is a comfortable hour’s drive from Merredin. There was little traffic heading east (meaning that there were few road trains for us to pass), and not many road trains coming towards us.
About half way between Merredin and Southern Cross wheat farming stops, as the soils and conditions are just too poor to sustain any type of agriculture, and you enter mining country.
The fact that Southern Cross is a mining town is heralded by the fact that just as you enter the town, heading east at least, you are greeted on your right by quite a large mine pit. The local Caltex Service Station offers free tea or coffee to drivers, which I took advantage of as it actually does revive you after a fair stint at the wheel. Fuel here was 149.6 cents per litre (CPL) which, I was to find out later on, was a real bargain. The lady staff member we dealt with was very pleasant and very helpful too.
We hit the road headed for Coolgardie, an historic mining town. It was two hours of very comfortable driving on a good road which we had almost to ourselves. By now the countryside was reasonably rugged and the colour of the soil had turned a deep red.
We stopped for a break at the park in Coolgardie, a nicely manicured bit of green lawn, so that we could do a bit of dog exercising. Travelling with a dog means that his needs are more important than ours.
Coolgardie used to be a very big town at the height of the gold rush in the late 1800s, but when most of the gold ran out the town went into declined. There are some well-restored historic buildings here which indicate that it is a town that it, justifiably, proud of its heritage.
From Coolgardie, most people head further east to Kalgoorlie, which is a major mining town, but time was against us, so we headed south towards Norseman, where we turn east and head out onto the Nullarbor.
There was very little traffic on the Coolgardie-Norseman sector, we only saw road trains that were heading west, and even then we saw only a few. There are, however, lots of mining sites that are located just off this road so it is easy to see how the local economy is sustained.
We refuelled at Norseman, which had been prettied up since I was here last. Fuel was up to 159.9 CPL, and after a brief stop we headed east across the Nullabor towards Ceduna in South Australia.
After an hour and a half we reached the fuel stop at Balladonia, it was starting to get late, but we opted to keep travelling. Balladonia is interesting because this is where parts of Skylab fell to Earth in the late 1970s, and they have a Skylab museum at the roadhouse, and a piece of it sitting on the roof of the complex.
Once again we saw another beautiful sunset in the rear and side mirrors and we continued on east. One and a half hours later we reached Caiguna. It was about 7.30 and we decided to stay the night here after filling up and discovering that there were no more 24-hour stops between Caiguna and Eucla – well, that’s what we were told, but never actually found out if the information was correct.
Fuel was 182.0 CPL. We opted to stay in a luxury room rather than in the cheaper dongas. The room was certainly not luxurious, in fact, the rooms are badly in need of renovations, and the bathroom was awkwardly designed so that the toilet stood almost underneath the show head, meaning that it, and the floor around it, were continuously wet.
However, on the plus side, the bed was comfortable, and the shower was really good, being hot and with a nice solid jet of water.
The other advantage was that when I took Tyson for a walk the heavens were alive with stars. Out here the dark really is dark as there are not city lights to hide the heavens, and the sight was amazing. You could see, with the naked eye, thousands upon thousands of galaxies, the sort of night sky you can rarely see anywhere else these days. The night was cold, but that view was very warming.

1 comment to Road trip across Australia – Day 2 Caiguna

  • The east-bound quarantine station at the end of the trip across the Nullarbor is just before Ceduna. Since I have a microwave in my caravan I always stop and cook any vegetables and fruit that I have before reaching the quarantine point. They always allow cooked food through. (Cooked grapefruit or mandarine with yogurt is delicious.)

    Different quarantine stations around Australia have different rules. For instance, lettuce is allowed into SA from the eastern states, but not from WA. Kununurra in the Kimberley area of WA does not allow honey into the area. You can ask for a booklet at any quarantine station which lists all the details Australia-wide of which items are banned and where.

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