Tag Archive | Great Australian Bight

The Nullarbor and Beyond Day Three

Round Australia Road Trip #23

On day three there’s not much more to go before we reach Ceduna, at the eastern end of the crossing of the Nullarbor. The landscape changes dramatically as the saltbush is replaced by broad fields of wheat ready for harvesting.

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The little town of Penong, known as the Town of 100 Windmills, relies on the windmills on its outskirts to draw water from deep underground.

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After Penong it’s only another 75 kilometres to Ceduna and we’ve achieved our goal. We’ve crossed the Nullarbor Plain from west to east, a distance of 1194 kilometres. Our first stop in Ceduna is the Visitor Centre, where we claim our “Across the Nullarbor” certificate.

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Ceduna is the main town of the north west Eyre Peninsula, in South Australia. Located on Murat Bay, Ceduna’s main industry is fishing. A memorial to local sailors who’ve been lost at sea overlooks the coast at Thevenard Port.

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The name Ceduna comes from the Aboriginal word “chedoona” which means “resting place”. There’s no time for us to rest though, as we leave Ceduna and head south on the Flinders Highway to Streaky Bay, a seaside town at the eastern end of the Great Australian Bight.

For one last look at the Bight we drive round the Cape Bauer Loop, past towering cliffs, wide sandy beaches and rock formations carved out by the pounding seas of the Southern Ocean.

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Boardwalks through the dunes lead to lookouts over the coast. Where seawater has reacted with the limestone, shafts have formed in the rock platforms, creating spectacular blowholes.

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From the Indian Ocean to the Southern Ocean, from Western Australia to South Australia, from Norseman to Ceduna – our crossing of the Nullarbor is complete.

Crossing the Nullarbor Day Two

Round Australia Road Trip #22

When we’re camping in the bush, the birds wake us long before sunrise and we make an early start. From Moodini Bluff Rest Area we continue heading east on our crossing of the Nullarbor.

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The highway parallels the escarpment of the Hampton Tablelands as it crosses the Roe Plains. When sea levels dropped 25 million years ago these cliffs and plains, made from the skeletons of sea creatures combined with layers of sand, emerged from the Southern Ocean. The limestone shelf, up to 700 metres deep, was eroded by wind and water to form the cliffs and sand dunes of the Great Australian Bight. At the eastern end of the Roe Plains the road rises again to the pass at Eucla where we see the Great Australian Bight and the vast Southern Ocean for the first time.

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For 200 km from Eucla to the Head of Bight is a series of dramatic limestone cliffs up to 90 metres high. After leaving Eucla, the highway hugs the coast and there are four lookouts with spectacular views of Bunda Cliffs. From the car parks there is little indication of where the land ends abruptly and the ocean begins. Signs at each lookout give plenty of warning; this is a dangerous coast line, with undercut shelves and strong ocean winds. Stay on the paths.

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There are three distinct layers of limestone in the cliffs. Closest to the ocean is the pale Wilson Bluff Limestone, formed more than 25 million years ago when this part of Australia was underwater. The central dark layer of Nullarbor Limestone was laid down as the ocean receded. The top layer of Bridgewater Formation is sandstone just a couple of metres deep. It was built up by the wind between 1.6 million and 100 000 years ago.

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The Nullarbor Hotel/Motel is located on the edge of the treeless plain after which the area is named.

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This is Yalata Aboriginal Land and the Head of Bight Visitor Centre is a premier Aboriginal tourism site. Head of Bight is where the Bunda Cliffs meet glistening white sand dunes and remote beaches. Southern Right Whales migrate from Antarctic waters to spend the winter here but by the end of October they’ve moved on.

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The whales might be gone but there is plenty of wildlife around. Tiny flowers bloom brightly despite the arid soil and painted dragons dart out from under the saltbush.

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At the end of Day Two we camp at Kidnippy Rest Area.

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