AUSTRALIA, Esperance area, Western Australia,
30 March - 1 April 2013
Caiguna to Norseman, Great Ocean Drive Esperance & Albany
Completing 1,194 kms/ 742 miles of Nullarbor Crossing
Australia, Caiguna to Albany,30 mar-1 apr 2013, caiguna, norseman, nullarbor (meaning treeless) crossing (note this helpful link is for crossing in the opposite direction to that we took) , esperance, albany, covering amongst others 155 selective slideshow images, the 90 miles straight stretch of the nullarbor, balladonia roadhouse, hotel, museum, twilight bay, blue seas, old cars, fourth beach, the nullarbor plain, limestone head, seal island, great ocean drive, mistaken island, mount clarence lookout, camels, memorial gardens, founding fathers, Easter weekend busy campsite wise, maps, animal droppings, outback, golf course, rigs, road trains, beaches, rocks, sea swells, west beach, crossing certificates, west beach, winnebegos, redex rally, the pink lake, reflections & chemicals, great white sharks, ngadju people, quandong, shameful native citizens act, eyre highway, historical crossing, the nullarbor highway, skylab crashing over, balladonia, blue haven beach, sunshine & blue seas, observatory island, dempster head, chapman point, twilight beach road on the great ocean drive, the pink lake esperance, what makes them pink?, castleton beach jetty, ned kelly garden gnomes, salmon beach, twilight beach, nine mile beach, castleton beach, ravensthorpe, welstead community, board shorts, bibblemun track, clarence downhill, frenchman's bay, middleton beach, top tourist campsites, stayed multiple times We were previously in this area in 1995, 2007 and then again in 2017.
Saturday March 30th 2013
Summary, Nullarbor Plain Crossing, Caiguna to Norseman.
Woke at 6 a.m.as light outside the van. We set off on the Eyre Highway, Highway 1, at 7.45 a.m. having put more air in the tyre of the van as Keef was worried it was low and we may now have a slow flat. The signpost on the side of the road stated it was the start of the 145 kilometers of straight road, the longest in Australia, if not the world.
We saw eagles and a few dead roos, but no other birds or animal life apart from the odd crow eating roadkill. The terrain changed from a perfectly flat treeless plain to a few small bushes and then finally a few trees. We had some rain showers and it looked like this section of the Nullarbor had had rain in the night and early morning. The weather was cool and overcast and very cloudy which for travel was a good thing.
We stopped at Balladonia roadhouse for fuel and visited the museum there. The entrance was through the roadhouse shop and was both free and very interesting. It was about the early explorers, pioneers, camels used for transport, flora and fauna, the Red-Ex road race all around Australia and the Skylab metal debris falling on the Nullarbor plain right near Balladonia.
Near the Fraser Ranges we saw a few billabongs filled with water and even 2 lakes, a real novelty after our very dry journey.
We arrived in Norseman at 12.15 p.m. We had lunch as the Tourist Information Office was closed until 1 p.m. When they opened we got a free certificate stating we had crossed the Nullarbor and purchased some souvenirs of our crossing.
We then drove around town , lots of very dilapidated and boarded up homes with snake fences surrounding them still. The gold mine we had seen on our travels in 2008 was still working. We went to stay in the campsite in town we have stayed at before. It cost $38 for the night. We then relaxed for the rest of the day. The campsite was poor, no dump station and only 2 showers in the ladies. The outback golf course behind the site did not seem well used.
On the Nullarbor crossing from Ceduna we had travelled 1,194 kilometers or 742 miles.
Sunday March 31st 2013 – Easter Sunday
Summary, Norseman to Esperance. 203 kilometers driven today.
We went to the garage to top up air in the front tyre of the motorhome as the slow puncture has got a lot worse. We will have to stop more often for a servo air pump. We arrived in Esperance at about 12 noon and did the fabulous Great Ocean Drive along the coast, which we had done 5 years prior. There are just so many splendid views on this coastal drive. It was all blue seas and skies, sunny and fantastic scenery. Saw lots of vintage cars on the route which were part of an actual Eyre Highway rally, recapturing the old Red-Ex 50s rally spirit.
The road went slightly inland and went past the pink lake. A Salt Lake with microorganisms that give it its pink tinge, very unusual. Read the links in the overview on the HOLIDAY2013 site to see more and understand how nature makes this happen, just a thought if you are interested further.
Here is a quick science write up on why many of Australia’s salt lakes turn pink “The water of some lakes in semi-arid regions turns a pink colour during the warm and dry months of the year, when brine concentrations are highest. In places, even precipitated salts exhibit this pink colour. The carotenoid red pigmentation of halophilic bacteria and algae is responsible for imparting this colour to sodium- and chloride-rich lake brines. The alga Dunaliella salina actually develops its red pigment as the salinity approaches saturation and, in contrast to other organisms, populations of this alga and of halophilic bacteria such as Halobacterium rise as brine concentrations increase.”
We then went to McDonald’s for a late lunch at 2.30 p.m. and withdrew some money at Westpac.
We then drove along the sea front to Castleton beach, the old jetty there was being refurbished. The new jetty (not so nice) had tankers docked there. There were lots of new homes being built so Esperance had expanded quite a lot since our last visit.
We then went to the Top Tourist site at Esperance, which we gave 3 stars, not very scenic and far too cramped, too many trees and grit everywhere. We had pre booked as it was the Easter weekend. It cost $39 for the night which we felt was overpriced for both the site and amenities.
We walked along the beach in front of the campsite, there was a horrible smell of stagnant seaweed / sea grass in mounds on sand washed in from the sea. Not impressed as it was also an artificial beach with imported grit / sand and looked nothing like the picture in their brochure.
We watched telly, Bondi Rescue, and the Melbourne Comedy Festival, pretty good both.
Monday April 1st 2013 – Easter Monday
Summary, Esperance to Albany. 505 kilometers driven today. 24 degrees centigrade in Albany.
8 a.m. called at garage to put more air in the ever more worrying front tyre. Not looking good at all and very stressful as not sure the tyre will hold out until we reach Albany, and it is also the Easter weekend and Britz are not open. Will keep putting air in whenever we can, we are both not very happy with this.
The scenery now was mostly bush and farming country as we headed towards Albany, the farming was mixed wheat, cattle, and sheep. No other animals seen except the usual skinks. They are quite prolific.
We arrived in Albany in the early afternoon and went to the Tourist Information office to find out where the Telstra shop was as needed to get the computer updated with more money and our Telstra phone had also run out of funds.
This means we cannot check emails and use the internet and let people know we crossed the Nullarbor safely and soon more importantly once Easter is over contact Britz in Perth to ask them to sort out our tyre. Keef bought some new shorts in one of Albany’s many shops. We drove around the town and along the sea front, we remembered it well from our last visit. We climbed the hill in the van to get a view of the coast. You could see Middleton beach, the bay where 5 years ago when we were there a man had been attacked by a great white shark whilst swimming, he had been rescued by a lady schoolteacher who was out for her early morning swim and punched the hark in the eye, so it released its grip on the swimmer. Lucky for him, brave of her.
We then went to the BIG 4 campsite at Middleton beach which cost $37.80 for the night. Naively thought it would be empty as Easter was over but very busy with kids and family, presumably on school holidays for the week. By now it was 5.30 p.m., and it gets dark at 6.15 p.m., so we did not got swimming in the pool on the site even though it is a bit of a luxury pool.
This site is excellent, it has space, location and based right on Middleton beach but only has 4 showers for the whole site in the ladies, not enough when it is busy. However, on return in 2017 they had private amenity blocks with showers and loos attached to each luxury pitch for an additional fee, we took this as ideal.