*Warning* long blog post.
Before we begin, our little campervan is now known as ‘Mazie Bongo’.
Places: Murray Bridge – Tanunda – Madulla – Winduna – Eucla
After leaving The Great Ocean Road we crashed back down to earth with the long “ocean route” to Adelaide. Even though the ocean was indeed a mere 50 metres away, the only view of it we had was on the Tom-Tom due to the dense bush. When the sea finally did reveal itself, unfortunately so did an intense whiff of seaweed which took some getting used to!
That night we stopped just shy of Adelaide, over looking the Murray River. Picturesque? Unfortunately not. Exhausted after spending an hour finding a campsite thats prices weren’t on par with the Ritz, we settled in and started cooking supper. After carbonara a la camp had been on the stove for an exceedingly long time we realised our gas was slowly giving up on us, leaving a less than appetising, half cooked meal. By this time it was dark, we were tired and hungry (NOT a combination where Charlotte is at her best). At this point Jamie romantically suggested McDonalds (aka MACCAS). Half satisfied it was bedtime.
The following day we headed for the Barossa Valley; a famous shiRAR (that’s Shiraz to you and I) wine region. The Barossa lived up to expectations of having beautiful rolling hills with endless rows of vines. We even stumbled across ‘The’ Jacobs Creek! After our fair share of wine tasting we pulled oursleves away to the city of Adelaide.
Adelaide was lovely. It had a very studenty vibe with a pretty river running through the centre. However not a huge amount more to say..
The next section of our trip was one that we were dreading. The Nullarbor! London to Moscow, or Adelaide to Perth? There’s not much difference, distance-wise. 2700kms to be precise! This stretch of road is commonly known as The Nullar-boring, with its name roughly meaning treeless plain. We’d been told by many that we were crazy to do this drive. However we did not have the luxury of options, given that this was the only road that would take us to the other side of oz; we decided to go for it!
We prepared ourselves as much as possible by stocking up on food, water, spare fuel, and most importantly lots of sweets!
All geared up and ready for the off with the perfect two hour tag team on board, we came into the last town – worthy of a name – we would see for the next three days. Unexpectedly we got pulled over by the police… The next thing we knew Mazie was surrounded by eight police officers, with every nook and crany under inspection. Charlotte had the pleasure of being behind the wheel at this point (Jamie convinced this is was the reason why we were pulled over). The not so friendly officer bluntly asked: ‘You haven’t been partying too hard have you? Taken any magic mushrooms, LSD etc?’. In a state of fluster Charlotte replied: ‘I wish!’. Whoops! Needless to say Charlotte was then both breath and drug tested. After what seemed like forever we were given the all clear and sent on our way.
The road signs initially were rather unnerving; ‘SURVIVE THIS DRIVE!’. So we thought we’d shed a little love on this drive we had to survive by waving at every passing vehicle, and a short while into the trip we felt a true sense of comradery between drivers. The road was far from busy but we did have the company of caravans, oversized vehicles and road trains. Road trains are essentially HGVs multiplied by three to four! They are also the fastest drivers on the road and insist on hugging Mazie as they fly by. A little hairy at times!
Travelling down from New South Wales to Victoria was like being in the UK (albeit there being no traffic) as we were surrounded by rolling hills and green landscapes. As we hit The Nullarbor however, we finally felt like we were in Oz (or what the media portrays it as). We were suddenly hit my the famous red soil and miles and miles of dead straight roads. The landscape was desolate, bleak, epic and near impossible to describe. Yet the wild life on the other hand was spectacular: Roos, emus, parrots, camels(!), eagles and… flies. The only signs of civilisation were the petrol stations every few hundred kilometres, thus the odd abandoned car kept us praying for Mazie to keep going! If your thoughts are anything like Charlotte’s mums, no, Mazie does not have cruise control so a large rock had to suffice. Very useful on the 90 mile dead straight section..
Remember we said we had stocked up before the drive? Well that backfired! Passing through the state border into Western Australia, we were greeted by a hostile officer who again checked Mazie with a fine tooth comb. Never did we think we would be pealing onions on the side of the road, in the middle of the desert in order for them to be approved. All other fresh produce unfortunately had to go. Rather annoying since the next supermarket was at the other end of The Nullarbor!
It took us three days to complete the drive. Three days of intense driving in desert like conditions, crossing two time zones. We kissed Mazie Bongo at the end, out of shear relief we’d made it!
We can honestly say that the critics got it wrong, we thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Although, perhaps not one to rush back to in a hurry!
Positive lessons: Don’t take advice from people that haven’t done the journey.
Next stop Perth..!
Love Charlotte and Jamie x x
Nullarbor start line
The Plain plunges into the Southern Ocean (Mazie to the left)
One of the many Royal Flying Doctors Service airstrips on the road……good to know when you’re in the middle of nowhere!