THE START OF THE NULLARBOR

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Camels have played a huge part in the history of the Outback and everywhere we have been from the North to the South and now here in the mid west, there have been heroic tales of explorers and pastoralists with teams of camels opening up the country.  Here, in Norseman, south of Kalgoorlie, the animals are honoured  in corrugated iron statues in the middle of the main street of the town.

Norseman is a small mining town at the very start of the drive across the Nullarbor Plain which is a flat, almost treeless, semi arid country stretching 1,100km from east to west.

The town was named after a horse called “Norseman” and belonging to a gold prospector named Laurie Sinclair.  He tied his horse to a tree near his camp one night and noticed in the morning that the horse had been pawing the ground making a hole in which he uncovered a piece of gold bearing quartz. Over the years gold has been mined here – once it was the second richest goldfield in Western Australia and today the Norseman Gold Mine is Australia’s longest continuously running gold mining operation and has been in operation for 78 years.

Beacon Hill Lookout gives a wonderful overview of the countryside around Norseman with 360 degree views.  We drove up and enjoyed a picnic lunch before starting the Nullarbor Crossing.

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Then we began the drive which was take us two days.  Along here is Australia’s longest straight road

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As well we had to watch for native animals and the very long road trains.

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The Flying Doctor uses part of the road as an airstrip in emergencies and we came across several of these.

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About 100km east of Norseman we found our lodgings for the night at the beautiful Fraser Range Station which is a working cattle station as well as providing tourist accommodation in the form of cabins, caravan park and camping grounds. The station is surrounded by the largest hardwood forest in the world.

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We had a cabin which was very comfortable and from which we could watch a glorious sunset and several wildlife visitors – emus, wallabies and lots of birds.

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Taking a walk around the property we came across “Mr Squiggle” the pet camel whose best friend was a young steer!

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And the baby camel was too cute!

We had a station dinner and a nightcap before bed with the prospect of more of the straight road in the morning!

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And this is the gorgeous station garden on this treeless plain.

 

 

 

THE ROAD TO BEAUTIFUL BROOME

It was a short drive from Derby to Broome along a bitumen road which was easy.  Broome is a cosmopolitan town on the coast which began during the pearling days in 1880’s.  The population is a melting pot of  traditional indigenous, Japanese, Chinese, Malays, Europeans, and Islanders.

It has an easy, laid back feel to it and, in what has become a tradition, viewing the magnificent sunset from Cable Beach is a must do on arrival in Broome! Many flock to the beach in their 4 wheel drives, others wander down slowly and sit on the rocks and yet others choose to watch the spectacle from the comfort of the Sunset Bar at the Beach Club or Zanders – both of which are located right opposite the beach.  Two camel trains wend their way slowly along the beach carrying eager tourists and children and as the sun goes down and the sky turns gold and then pink.

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The camels are a reminder of the Afghans who came to Australia in the 1840’s bringing their camels with them to assist in the exploration of inland Australia. Camels were also imported from British India at that time.  Today they are mostly feral with some being used for tourism purposes.

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Another tradition is to drive to Gantheaume Point which is at the end of a red gravel road and is a rocky outcrop which is stunning because of its intense red colour which contrasts with the very white sand of the beach and the shimmering aqua colour of the sea.  Dinosaur tracks can be seen in the red rocks at low tide. There is an old lighthouse here and the Keeper’s house is still occupied.  Legend has it that the Lighthouse Keeper had a wife, Anastasia, who was very beautiful but who was crippled from polio.  She loved to bathe at high tide and so her husband found a little rock pool which had formed naturally near the house and which would fill up at each high tide and then empty again on the low tide.  He would carry his wife down each day and thus the pool is now known as “Anastasia’s Pool”.

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We have been to Broome several times and this time decided to stay at the Cable Beach Club which, although a little way out of town, is in an excellent location on the beach itself.  Built in the style of the old bungalows of days gone by in the tropics, it has lovely gardens and an amazing Asian art collection donated by Lord McAlpine who developed the resort in the 1980’s.  This is one of my favourite places on the west coast and we will definitely return.

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