Southern Coastline Day 188 - Esperance to Adelaide

Wednesday, Jan 27, 1999 at 01:00

ExplorOz - David & Michelle

Last night we pulled off the road at a Parking Bay and noticed a track leading out the back and a sign for Nuytsland Nature Reserve and the symbol for a gas cooker. We followed the road for about 10mins and found nothing and agreed to continue until we'd done 10km and turn around if we found nothing. At the 9.5km mark we stumbled across a huge cavern in the middle of the desert and got out to look. It was the famous Cocklebiddy Cave! This cave is famous for it holds one of the longest underwater passages in the world. A world record was set here in 1995 by Adelaide diver Chris Brown, who managed to reach a depth of 6.25km. There have been many cave diving expeditions here since the early 70s in an attempt to reach the end - but no one has yet seen it! The cave has tunnels 30m wide in places and two dry rock piles where divers camp overnight - and of course, it is pitch black. It was only a fluke that we chanced upon the cave. We were so excited to find it that we camped the night right above the open cut of the cave. It was quite an eerie experience as our presence awoke masses of small birds that came out of the cave and circled our vehicle until dark. We didn't hear a sound all night, no UFOs or animals or even trucks thundering along the Nullarbor.

Today, we passed the roadhouses of Cocklebiddy, Madura, Mundrabilla and Eucla. These places don't rate as townships or even settlements as they exist purely to pump fuel into vehicles doing the long haul across the Nullarbor. Fuel prices vary greatly along the Nullarbor; we paid 99c/litre for diesel at Balladonia at the start of the our trip and then filled up again at Mundrabilla for only 79c/litre. Petrol of course, is about 20c/litre more. I picked up a flyer from the Tourist Information Bureau called "The Nullarbor - More to see than just the road" and we've tried to find all the points of interest. Yesterday we saw a blowhole in Caiguna and then the Cocklebiddy Cave. Today, we saw Carmel the camel, Edna the goat, an emu and a pig at the Mundrabilla roadhouse animal farm. From Eucla, the trip improved significantly because the highway runs along the cliff tops of the Great Australian Bight and there are many turn-offs to good vantage points.

We crossed the WA/SA border at about 2pm and kept driving until just before the Aboriginal community of Yalata where we found an idyllic parking bay set off the road in a grove of stringy bark trees where we set up camp around 5pm. We got a bit confused about the time zone so it was something like that. Again, we had a free camp with no other campers or noisy vehicles. We were pleasantly surprised how few vehicles drove the Nullarbor at night. We heard probably one truck at about 5am and then the first car at about 6am. Someone even pulled into our campsite area for breakfast at 7am - they must have been driving through the night - crazy!
David (DM) & Michelle (MM)
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Always working not enough travelling!
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