Tag Archives: Y61


Monday 21st December 2015 – Eyre Highway

19:49 Taylor’s Maze Campsite / Free Camp, Eyre Highway, WA

A chill wind whips around my ears at this free campsite some 100 meters off the Eyre Highway. Apart from rustling leaves and a few birds calling to each other at the end of the day, it’s peaceful. No other campers either. It’s been a long day and as I sit here, I notice the time is only 8pm, and I shouldn’t be this tired, but then realise that my body thinks it’s 10.30 at night and its almost time for bed, not dinner.

Free Camping on The Nullarbor Highway
Free Camping on The Nullarbor Highway

It felt very surreal at the Border Village Roadhouse today when we were transported 2.5 hours back in time for crossing a boundary the eye couldn’t see, but on a map this is where the line is drawn and South Australia becomes Western Australia just like that.


Time Zones at SA - WA Border
Time Zones at SA – WA Border

We were having a cuppa when we realised that Border Village is in its own little time zone bubble  – neither South Australian nor Western Australian time. Dr Who would love it.


Travelling around Australia brings many challenges. One of the most demanding of these is getting a photo of each and every one of the “Big Something” things. There are Big Carrots, Big Bananas, Big Guitars and even a Big Prawn! At the Border Village, if lucky, you will find the “Big Kangaroo”.

The Big Kangaroo
The Big Kangaroo


We left the time bubble and fell foul of the strict quarantine controls at the Western Australia border and had to dispose of almost all of our fresh veggies and fruit. That map line meant we were down to basic foods for the next few days, with no opportunity to repurchase fresh veggies until a basic supermarket at Norseman some 720km to the east and then those were expensive, old and tired. So be warned!

Border Village between SA & WA
Border Village between SA & WA


On The Road

Scurvy aside, crossing the Nullarbor Plain (the largest limestone area in the world) is fascinating. Today we covered approximately 620km in the Patrol, starting from the Murrawijinie Caves.

Yep, the roads are straight, but there are glimpses of sea and cliffs. And surprisingly the landscape does change, without you being aware of it – subtle shifts in the type of trees, shrubs and vistas from closed in, to wide expansive as far as the imagination will take you.

We spied a few rabbits and a lone camel. How cool to see a camel all alone in the bush, in Australia. Apparently, there are some 1.2 million of them out there.


Nullarbor Emptiness (well it seems empty but actually full of life)
Nullarbor Emptiness (well it seems empty but actually full of life)

The sheer scale of sky and land imparts a sense of awe and the juxtaposition of land and sea makes you realise you are right on the edge of the largest continental island on the planet. Standing on the Bunda Cliffs above the Great Australian Bight you get a dramatic view as the land drops 65 metres to the ocean. These stunning cliffs stretch in an unbroken line far beyond our eyes, some 200 kilometres to the Western Australian border.

Nullarbor Open Road
Nullarbor Open Road

It was difficult not to stop at every enticing viewpoint along the way, there are many that look out onto the ocean or inland to the Nullarbor Conservation Parks. But ever mindful of the vast distances we need to travel, we picked what we hoped were the best ones and pushed on. Hoping to be back one day for the other must see stops.

Great Australian Bight Cliffs
Great Australian Bight Cliffs
Deserted Wild Southern Ocean Beach
Deserted Wild Southern Ocean Beach





We use the excellent mobile app Wikicamps to plan our rest stops during the day and our evening camp and also the Hema HN7 GPS in 4WD mode to show us exactly where we are at all times. The Hema has the added advantage of displaying the names of natural features that we pass and 4WD drive tracks that can offer additional side trips. It was a combination of these two invaluable touring tools that we decided to rest at this camp for the night.

Our view for the night - free camping
Our view for the night – free camping


So, with our own private “happy hour” consisting of a couple of cold Coopers Pale Ale, we sit back and reflect on a most enjoyable day. Dinner was from our emergency stash of Back Country Freeze dry packs where you add boiling water, but washed down with a nice South Australian Barossa Shiraz we didn’t miss our fresh veggies too much. Cheers!

Day 4 to come – Taylor’s Maze Campsite to Esperance.


South Australia – Western Australia Road Trip – Day 1

Adelaide to Ceduna, South Australia

With 3 weeks off work scheduled over the Christmas and New Year period Maree & I decided to take a 3 week trip from Adelaide, South Australia over the Nullarbor Plain to Albany on the south coast of Western Australia.

Prior to the trip, we debated long and hard, over many glasses of red wine and long into the night the pros and cons of purchasing an off-road 4 wheel drive vehicle to make the most of the beach and off-road driving experiences out that way.

The photo below shows our purchase, a 2004 Nissan Patrol Y61 loaded with our Giant mountain bikes on the Rhino and Thule roof rack and our wee, cute little Oztrail 6 camper-trailer. What you cannot see is the jumble of “stuff” across the backseat and cargo area of the Patrol. We are learning as we go along!

You can follow each day in the blogs associated with this site and perhaps be inspired to get out into the backblocks where ever you may live.

Saturday 19th December 2015

20:57 East West Motel, Ceduna, SA

So the day I have been waiting for finally arrived. I knew it would, they always do. I have come to understand that more and more as I have aged. It eases my mind these days to know this obvious fact. I think I have been fighting this knowledge for many years – there will always be a time when I can actually do what it is that I am missing.

Anyway, I digress.

The purchase of the 2004 Nissan Patrol Y-61 was completed on Thursday after a lot of running around by Maree. Maree tested a couple to get the feel for them. We viewed a couple and in the end actually went back to the 1st one we thought looked good. We paid AU$16K for it and I think we have a good deal. Although this afternoon we have electrical problems that may manifest into a serious issue, as electrical problems tend to do. We are both very excited to have this new member of our family. I am already thinking of hi-fi sales to buy new gear for the “truck”.

So after making it through the week at work I finally finished at 17:30 on Friday. Adelaide has been very hot of late and so I took the bus on Friday and on the way home pondered the fact that this moment of finishing work on Friday 18th December 2015 had finally come. Of course, I knew it would (see above).

I presented Primetime Jazz on Radio Adelaide on Friday evening dropping some of my favourite releases of 2015 and thoroughly enjoyed it and after much consideration have decided (like much of the jazz media) that Kamasi Washington’s The Epic was and is my top release of the year. Stunning project and music. I took a taxi home, we pottered about packing for the trip for a while then hit the hay around 22:30.

Up at 05:30 on Saturday morning and after 3 hours of more pottering around, dropping things, cursing and swearing, picking the truck and camper trailer we were on the road by 08:30. The temps were probably around 32 degrees at that time of the morning and climbed steadily all day. We experienced a maximum of 47.2F in Port Augusta at midday today. Apparently the hottest day on record for that town. Seriously it was uncomfortably hot when we had the battery charging function checked at Super Cheap Auto in Port Augusta. The wind was blowing strong from the north creating almost unbearable conditions.

Nissan Patrol loaded and ready for the off!

And so the drive?

Adelaide to Port Augusta is flat and primarily wheat or barley agricultural land. I would not recommend this for cycle touring but would take the roads inland from Gawler to Melrose and through the gorge for this section. From Port Augusta the road undulates and is neither predominantly up nor down however again it is mainly agricultural and pretty boring. As the day progressed it became extremely hot. We heard on the radio of fires towards Ceduna but did not encounter any on the trip across the Eyre Highway westward. We did however, encounter a couple of lightning flashes that were uncomfortably close to the truck and for a few kilometres I was slightly scared.


I said to Maree as we headed west

“If we see a cycle tourist we have to stop and chat and ask if they have enough water”

Well, wouldn’t you know just 40km west of the somewhat abandoned settlement of Iron Knob we saw a shimmering image on the horizon that turned into a cycle tourist. We slowed right down and pulled over to the left and as he came alongside we asked if he was OK for water. Initially, he said he was but when we told him that Iron Knob was a deserted ghost town he asked if we had some water to spare. I jumped out of the truck and gladly gave him a 1.5 litre sealed bottle. He seemed appreciative. So his name is Angus and he is on a cycle tour that ends in NZ. Not a full around the world tour but very cool none the less. It was approx 45 degrees F and he was cycling into a headwind. We guessed his destination for the night was to be Iron Knob and he still had a 40km hot, headwind ride to go.

We said our farewells. I found his blog on WordPress and posted a comment. Perhaps we will meet up in Adelaide?



So we continued to head west looking for a place to buy lunch. It didn’t happen. As usual on road trips here in SA we fell foul to the fact that not many places are open on a Saturday afternoon and if they are they will sell only white bread sandwiches or pies. We wanted neither.  We ran through some pretty severe rain showers that had us marvelling at the windscreen wipers and the handling of the Patrol in the wet. At one road T-junction we turned right and as I accelerated out of the junction the rear end fishtailed and I suddenly remembered that the truck was rear wheel drive!

The Eyre Highway across the top of thepeninsular is pretty much devoid of landscape except wheat and barley fields. Beautiful in their own right but 450kms of them become somewhat monotonous after a while. We fed ourselves on nut bars and bananas. We stopped at some small settlement and on checking the truck realised that the sidelights, the dashboard panel light and the rear lights were not working. This also affected the camper trailer lights. After a bit of investigation I ascertained that the 10amp fuse for the rear light was constantly blowing. Not much to do but get to Ceduna ASAP and investigate.


We drove into Ceduna at 19:30 that evening just as the light was fading. The southerly change had come through reducing temps to a pleasent mid 20’s and the air smelt fresh with the rain storms that had rolled through. On arriving at the motel I checked the connections to the camper-trailer as best I could but the fuse blows as soon as the lights are switched on. Could be a massive problem. We have decided to continue to Albany, not drive at night and hopefully have it looked at there. Not much else we can do.

So after 850km our first night ends in a motel. For dinner we have shared a 750ml bottle of Coopers Stout and eaten a “boil-in-the-bag” each. Not exactly how I thought the first day would end, but it could have been worse.

Read Day 2 here as we venture into the mighty Nullarbor Plain.