Comment: Old Eyre Highway

Wow, what a trip down memory lane for me. In 1974 my former wife and I made the trip across the Nullabour (as part of an eight month working holiday) in our Series 3 short wheel base Landrover, towing a 15 ft Millard caravan, which was our home for the eight months. We drove that section Mon 13th May and my Diary entry reads, " Length of gravel section (from Ceduna) was 270 miles. Very corrugated, pot-holed and solid rock surface for the most part. For several hours we averaged 17mph. Lots of traffic including cars and caravans, trucks, motor bikes and even one guy on a push bike!"
And now, in places, it is just two wheel tracks through the salt bush.
That trip continued on to Darwin, Mt Isa, Townsville and back down the East coast. The things we saw, the jobs we had, the people we met, made it the experience of a lifetime. We still talk about it!
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Reply By: allein m - Friday, Aug 23, 2013 at 12:08

Friday, Aug 23, 2013 at 12:08
When I did the trip they were working on the new section of Hwy and on my return to Perth 6 months later it was all sealed from ceduna to Perth.

I have some memories from that trip I was so young a naive in those days I do rember washing my face at the old Nulibore road house to find with shock it was salt or bore water did not taste too well

but it was a experience many will never have so I am lucky there.

thanks for the memories
AnswerID: 516963

Follow Up By: landseka - Friday, Aug 23, 2013 at 12:27

Friday, Aug 23, 2013 at 12:27
My first trip to WA from Adelaide was in 1976, can't recall the time of year, the road was dirt from Penong to the SA / WA border. The new road was under construction and close to being sealed and was crossed in several places. The return trip was a couple weeks later.

The next trip across was 2 years later in July 1978 when I moved permanently to WA and of course was sealed all the way, what a difference.

On the first trip the WA Quarantine Station was at Norseman but was moved once the road was sealed.

Cheers Neil
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Follow Up By: allein m - Friday, Aug 23, 2013 at 14:39

Friday, Aug 23, 2013 at 14:39
Yes the quarantine station was at norsman but I went through at night and it was closed lol

one thing I do r ember

was I had a 1969 ford falcon wagon and they had a small plate to hold the battery in place at the bottom of the battery

well after a few hours i heard some noise from the engine the battery was hanging upside down the plate had come loose the road was very rough on one section but put some water into the battery and off we went again.
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Follow Up By: landseka - Friday, Aug 23, 2013 at 15:05

Friday, Aug 23, 2013 at 15:05
Ha ha, the things that come back to us.
I did that first trip in a 1971 XY Falcon (5 years old then) and the worst "damage" it suffered was on the bitumen near Balladonia where the road had been resurfaced obviously late in the day & I came over it in the dark. I don't remember any signage but in daylight next morning I could see the whole side, both sides of the car were black with tar. Several hours with kero in Perth to remove it. Yuk!
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Reply By: didjabringabeer - Friday, Aug 23, 2013 at 15:59

Friday, Aug 23, 2013 at 15:59
Hi Yes what a trip.Can't remember much and no photos came out.We did it Oct 1970
in a Ford Cortina towing a trailor. Took 7 days Sydney-Perth. Dirt started Ceduna to
the border WA/SA I think. One fuel stop Ivy Tanks Don't know what happened to it,
weather it changed it's name when the road got sealed.I can't remember much traffic
crossing the Nullabour.Anyway we made it with no problems,and are still here in the west. Brian
AnswerID: 516979

Follow Up By: allein m - Friday, Aug 23, 2013 at 17:12

Friday, Aug 23, 2013 at 17:12
you deserved to be knighted for that effort lol ford cortina what what a trip that must have been
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Follow Up By: mulgamagnet - Saturday, Aug 24, 2013 at 23:53

Saturday, Aug 24, 2013 at 23:53
Ivy Tank ruins still there about 50k east of Nullarbor roadhouse on the old Hwy
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Reply By: allein m - Friday, Aug 23, 2013 at 17:19

Friday, Aug 23, 2013 at 17:19
Actually i first went through by train from Sydney to perth 1967 you have to change train in Kalgoorlie what a trip that was I was only 12

we had just migrated from glasgow to Southampton then by ship through the sueze onto perth and then by ship to Sydney after several months in a migrant camp we found out we had relatives in perth so off we went by train .


i did some serious ks that year 4 weeks on the ship fair star with 2 hr school each day and that was fun and a huge train trip only thing I have is memories no photos to show my kids .
AnswerID: 516989

Reply By: Ron N - Saturday, Aug 31, 2013 at 18:04

Saturday, Aug 31, 2013 at 18:04
In July 1969, my best mate and I took my fairly new HK Holden ute from Perth to Darwin to Port Augusta, and back to Perth - in just one month!

We travelled on "main" roads that would be called 4WD tracks today! - with a 2WD Holden ute!
Going North, the bitumen ended at the Barradale Roadhouse (long gone) on the Yannarie River.
We were greeted at Barradale by a fully-loaded tri-axle low-loader, bogged to the makers name in the Yannarie river crossing! (no bridges over ANY creek or river in those days!)

After Barradale, the NW Coastal Hwy was just two wheel ruts across the plains!
Every now and then, you'd have to brake and swerve like mad to miss a huge hole in the "highway" - where a semi-trailer had bogged to the deck, and then been hauled out by a station bulldozer or grader!
They never bothered filling the holes in, they just left them for other road users to find!

Every river and creek had a crossing, there was not a single bridge all the way to Darwin. Even the massive Victoria River had a crossing that we splashed through!

We never saw any bitumen until we got to Darwin - then we had this amazing WW2 American sealed "highway" all the way to the Alice!
Darwin was just a big frontier town in 1969, with the majority of the buildings being WW2 buildings.
From Alice South, the road was just dirt, a windy track (although quite broad), and with about 3 creek crossings to the mile!
Then disaster struck! We stripped the timing gear in the 186 Holden about 300 miles South of the Alice! Never-never country! The nearest "civilisation" was Coober Pedy!

I hitched a ride with a truckie from Adelaide who was driving an early 1950's Foden! This old Foden rumbled along about 40-50kmh, and the truckie never slept, he just drove all night!
We pulled into Coober Pedy about 7:00AM, got some breakfast at the only cafe/roadhouse in town - and got sent to the only mechanic in town, who had just built a new shed - about the only other above-ground building in the place!
I walked into this near-empty shed and said to the mechanic bloke - "You wouldn't have a timing gear for a Holden would you?"

He said - "Yes, I think I have!" - and he went to a 44 gallon (200L) open-top drum in the corner of the shed - and pulled out a new Holden timing gear! Thank God for GMH and their fabulous parts and service!
I hitched a ride back to the ute, and my mate and I installed the timing gear by the side of the road, and we were off again! We made it to Port Augusta in record time!

We drove out across the Eyre Hwy to be greeted by some of the biggest "flocks" of 'roos I have ever seen! (what's a group of 'roos called??).
There must have been 500-700 'roos in these huge flocks, moving South because the feed was drying up in the North. It was amazing to see!
We tried to drive through these flocks and it was like driving into a flock of sheep! They wouldn't get out of your way!
One big 'roo took a sharp left turn as we tried to pass him on the left, and he jumped in the air and came down right on top of the bonnet!! He slid off over the side, and hopped away!

We couldn't believe the size of the potholes in the worst 500kms of the original Eyre Hwy. They would nearly half swallow your car! God only knows how the truckies coped with them! Those old Inters and Dodges and 34' strap semi-trailers must have been tough!

We were so glad to see bitumen again once we got to Norseman and the Coolgardie-Norseman Road!
North of Norseman, we came across the MRD of W.A. at work, widening the bitumen on this section of the highway to 2 lanes, from the original 3.0 metre wide single lane.

My mate kept a diary and I have a big box of slides from that trip, and it's a real eye-opener to go through them today and see how much has changed - and how we think nothing of going 1000kms in a single day, with such ease, nowadays!

I lived alongside an old 'Slav prospector, Mick Urlich, at Higginsville, North of Norseman in the 1970's and 1980's - and old Mick would say - "You see that highway out there? They reckon it cost a million dollars a km! You want to know something? It's worth EVERY CENT of it! When I arrived here in 1923, the road was just two wheel ruts through the bush - and you spent more time driving IN THE BUSH, than ON THE ROAD!!"
AnswerID: 517423

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