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.
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.
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.
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.
The Nullarbor Hotel/Motel is located on the edge of the treeless plain after which the area is named.
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.
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.
At the end of Day Two we camp at Kidnippy Rest Area.