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Friday, May 14, 2010

Roadhouses of the Nullabor Plain, Cocklebiddy

For the last week RW, MW and myself have been staying in roadhouses along the Eyre Highway, the only highway going east west across the south of Australia --- another highway goes across the top of the country (imagine the US with only two paved roads connecting the east and west coasts). The Eyre is so monotonous along the Nullabor a bend in the road is worthy of comment.  The roadhouses tend to be spaced about a hundred kilometers apart, relatively close by outback standards, and each consists of five key components:

The gas station (~$AU1.74/litre or roughly $US5.50/gal)

 The restaurant/bar/snack store ($AU6/beer or ~$US30 for a six-pack)

The motel (typically cinder block “lego-style” architecture)

The caravan park (a tree for shade if you are lucky)

And a very big parking lot for the road trains.

Each morning we leave the world of road-trains and “grey nomads” (retirees with caravans) and head off into bush on dirt tracks.  Most days we do not see another car or person until we come back to the highway at end of day.  The bush is incredibly beautiful with lots of skippies (roos), emu (is that plural?), snakes, lizards, wedge-tailed eagles, parrots, falcons, wild horses, one dingo, one red-back spider, and various other small creatures and birds.  Mostly it is just all beautifully remote…..and dusty….the shower at the end of the day feels great.

Each roadhouse typically offers one last amenity at the end of each day….an incredible sunset.