Norseman to Balladonia (11th May, 121 miles)

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The story goes that a prospector named Laurie Sinclair tethered his horse ‘Hardy Norseman’ to a tree overnight in the 1890s. By morning, the horse had unearthed a piece of gold-bearing quartz by pawing on the ground. Eventually, Norseman became the second richest goldfield in Western Australia. Today, Norseman is past its prime, and in the pouring rain of 11th May, we were not enticed to wander around too much. We did stop to look at the corrugated metal camels at the roundabout though.

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I thought you might like to see where we stayed the night? Here at the Norseman Railway Motel. When we arrived in the wet gloom of late the afternoon, this run down-looking building was not inspiring at all. But the inside of the hotel part of the complex was an extraordinary mixture of vintages and styles and a very welcoming open fire! Our room even had a jacuzzi so we soaked there before walking along to the nearby Norseman Hotel for dinner. And, although we never found a railway station, we did here trains thundering through the night accompnaied by a noisy thunderstorm

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Our plan had been to spend the morning in Norseman following what is known as the Dundas heritage trail, which follows the route of the old coach road. But the weather put a stop to that plan, and we decided to drive straight on to Balladonia. Just after leaving Norseman, the clouds dumped tons of rain on us, as shown below (and yes, the wipers are on). I thought there might be light rain on this journey, but never imaged such a downpour in what is supposed to be one of the driest areas in the world! The rain not only come down from above, but also bounced up from below, so visibility was next to zero. It is not safe to stop on the road, and in Australia one cannot pull over as the verges are made of sand and driving into wet sand is not a good idea either. So, we relied on following the white line at the side of the road and kept going; it was not pleasant at all!

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Eventually, the rain stopped as we approached the Fraser Range which is a range of granite hills surrounded by the world’s largest eucalyptus forest in the Dundas Nature Reserve. We stopped to observe the view at Newman Rocks, and, as you can see, the view does not change for miles and miles. 

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The rocks have an interesting greeness to them due to a covering of lichen.

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We arrived in Balladonia which is the first stop on the Nullarbor Plain. We stayed in a roadhouse motel room, and although these tended to look a bit rough on the outside, they were very functional inside. Australians seem to like comfy beds, as everywhere we stayed had a comfy bed!

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These roadhouses really are in the middle of nowhere, which means that there are always great views all around. Here is the view from our front door which yielded a lovely view of the sunset at 5:20 pm.

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It did not take long to explore Balladonia which made headlines in 1979 when space debris from Skylab landed 40 km from here. The local major even sent a littering fine to NASA; Australians have a great sense of humour.

As a distraction along this route, every roadhouse/settlement has one link of the Nullarbor Links for you to play.

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The truck driver from this photo above had the job of driving this new truck all the way from Brisbane to Perth; that's a tremendous journey. Then he gets to fly back; there really is no short cut to transporting goods across the bottom of Australia. We had a good chat with some Australians driving in the opposite direction. They warned us of kangaroos on the roads now that it had been raining as they come out to drink from the puddles. Although it is nice to see kangaroos out in the fields, you do not want to see them on the road as this is a death wish for kangaroos.

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© Helen Gray 2021