Nullarbor

By Madison Pyke (Guest Blogger)

Mother-daughter bonding takes on Australia. After spending no more than 5 weeks at a time with my mum over the past 9 years, (and mind you this time was shared evenly among many family members) we decided it would be a great idea if we spent every hour of an entire week together driving a not-so-large-car across Australia.

Five years ago I moved my life (via areoplane) from Melbourne, in the most eastern state of Australia, to Perth, in Western Australia (WA). For those of you who struggle with geography, directions and bearings East and West are polar opposites. Recently however I was lucky enough to land a job back over on the eastern side of Australia in a town called Warrnambool, which is located in Victoria, 3 hours from Melbourne at the end of the Great Ocean Road. Realising that over the past five years I had accumulated an excessively large amount of belongings, as well as a car, I was given two options to move my life back over east; fly to Melbourne and freight your car back with no worries at all or alternatively spend every minute of every day for 4 days with your mum, driving in a Mazda 3 from one side of Australia to the other on suboptimal roads and having little to no other human contact than yourselves. Obviously I chose the latter.

After packing the little but ever so tough Mazda 3 with 87.6% of my belongings, saying a ridiculously hard goodbye to my friends, crying until my eyes were sore and finally buying enough confectionary to last a lifetime and legitimately concern my cousin I was going to get diabetes, we were off. But not before mum got her ‘day one’ selfie. Having recently picked up on the selfie craze and become somewhat obsessed with taking photos of herself, mum was adamant about getting as many ‘selfie snaps’ of us as possible along the way so she could update every one of our whereabouts.

Day one: 907kms, 8 hours of driving, one questionable sandwich, a plethora of grey nomads and their caravans doing 80km/hr on a 110km/hr road, two guys dressed in superman and pirate costumes walking in the bush and three selfies later we made it to Balladonia; a (I’m not even going to use the word ‘town’ here) service station with a hotel in the middle of nowhere. Leaving Perth at 630 that morning, slightly sleep deprived we came across some very odd road names and began questioning the sanity and creativity of those who named them; such as ‘Ski Lake Road,’ ‘Coolgardie Tip Road’ and finally ‘Wheat Bin Road’ I mean what could possibly be down Wheat bin road…?! Approaching a town called Coolgardie which is just outside of Kalgoorlie (a large mining town in rural Western Australia), mum decided that now was a great time to inform me that my dad had discovered and established a (still in use might I add) gold mine here several years before I was born. I mean what better time to tell me than now, as we’re bumping along the dusty roads of WA that a. I should have been a millionaire, b. I would not be driving this car, let alone this car across WA, c. I wouldn’t have even needed to get a job over east/a job at all and more importantly d. why has it taken you over 23 years to tell me this?!

Day Two: 1023kms, 10 hours of driving, Australia’s longest stretch of straight road, a couple on bikes trekking up a giant hill in the bush, again an excessive amount of slow moving caravans, the Nullarbor, the Great Australian Bight and an ‘oversize load’ wide enough to force all oncoming traffic off the road and into the adjacent salt bushes later we made it to Ceduna. We started the day at 530am and one selfie later (yes we have mastered them) we were off, beginning with Australia’s longest stretch of straight road (146.6km). Due to the severe lack of radio stations out in remote WA, we decided to listen to an audio book, (I won’t give the name away in case anyone out there is silly enough to put themselves through all 67 chapters and find absolutely nothing happens) but it was odd (you will hear about this later).

Then we reached it, the ‘Treeless Plain of Australia,’ more commonly known as the Nullarbor (originally I had planned to emphasise the ‘bore’ but to my surprise it was the complete opposite). Quite literally as you drive onto the beginning of the Nullarbor, all the trees disappear and you are left with an endless amount of salt bushes and shrubs and a ‘caution kangaroos, camels and wombats in the next 186km’ sign; that is all. The Nullarbor for those of you who don’t know is a road that stretches between remote WA and remote South Australia and is situated almost on top of the Great Australian Bight. The Nullarbor is one of those roads that makes people who haven’t done it shudder at the thought of being cooped up in a car all day travelling across the desert. I for one was guilty of thinking this but after travelling across it recently I will happily say that if anyone needs a Nullarbor buddy, I will be there with bells on.

Nullarbor Sign 2

Driving along open roads, with a horizon full of salt bushes on your left, interspersed with ‘kangaroos, wombats and camels for the next however many kilometres’ signs and the picturesque views of the Great Australian Bight, with its endless stretch of cliffs and coastline is something that I will remember forever. Having little to no reception across the Nullarbor, allowed us to a. continue listening to this ridiculous book, b. appreciate the stunning views around us and c. come up with extravagant and bizarre survival plans if something were to happen. It also allowed Deb a solid amount of time to play ‘Sweet or Sour’ with herself and oncoming traffic. ‘Sweet or Sour’ is as easy as it seems; you wave at oncoming traffic and if they wave back they’re sweet and if not they are deemed sour – simple. Turns out a lot of people are sour on the Nullarbor, 7 waves out of 84 passing cars….poor Deb. Although for the majority of the Nullarbor we had little to no service, at the very end (might I add still in the desert) we came across full bars, I repeat full bars of reception in the middle of nowhere… I was lucky to get that in Perth.

Which takes us to day three; 854kms, 9 hours of driving, the end of the audio book (finally), the giant galah, many selfies and a small German town called Hahndorf later, we made it to Adelaide. Finally we were back in somewhat civilisation!!! Driving through Hahndorf, a small town just out of Adelaide which was full of German themed shops, playing German themed music with German dressed dancers, was enough to send anyone crazy, or if you were already crazy it was enough to make you think that you may well have taken the wrong turn across the Nullarbor and somehow ended up in Germany itself. The audio book finally finished and as it did we were left with the confirmation that absolutely nothing happened. The end. Oh wait no there where two terribly kinky sex scenes which were present in the second last chapters and went for 5 minutes each. For those of you who know me, picture me in a little Mazda 3 with my dear mum right next to me (all is well with this picture). Now picture the same scene and add in the most erotic and awkward sex scene you have ever seen on TV (worse than 50 Shades), yep got it. Now imagine that because this is a book and not on TV, the author needs to describe every detail to you so you can picture exactly what is going on… Now and only now will you understand why this was the most awkward 10 minutes of a car trip I have ever experienced.

The Bite

Day four: 614kms, the final home run, still an excessively large amount of confectionary, the final of the selfies, rain and a giant lobster later, we made it to Warrnambool, oh and did I mention that book had finished?! Strangely enough, this morning didn’t begin with a selfie… it began with a generous 7am ‘sleep-in’ and Deb’s rendition of the Saddle Club theme song ‘Hello World’ as she ripped back the curtains to let the morning sun and her dove-like voice wake up her peacefully sleeping daughter… safe to say I wasn’t peaceful for long! We left South Australia with sunny weather, blue skies and not a cloud to be seen. Victoria is known for its suboptimal weather and ability to change from summer to winter in a matter of seconds…. Well I assure you it certainly lived up to its name. Quite literally 100m into Victoria we were greeted with a sun shower and clouds. Finally after almost running out of fuel (which we had avoided the entire trip), dodging rain and a large amount of wind turbines we made it to Warrnambool, where we were able to ‘cut a hot lap’ like the rest of the locals do and discover some incredible coast line and sunsets; have no fear fellow Western Australians I have indeed managed to find myself not one, but three spots where I can watch the sun set over water… Perhaps it all won’t be so bad after all.

Welcome home

So there you have it, four days, 3,398kms, zero arguments, a lot of coffee, minimal sleep, a large amount of caravans, two awkward audio sex scenes, copious amounts of confectionary, minimal ‘sweet’ people waving back, one incredible mother and one hell of a lot of mother-daughter bonding time later we made it across Australia. If you asked me right now to do it all again, I would without a doubt say yes and encourage you all to do the same!

Mother-daughter bonding level: EXTREME.

Madison Pyke

Guest Blogger and recently graduated Physiotherapist 😀

My new Sunset

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