…finish up strong…

I just returned all the way to Texas yesterday, but I’ll write about homecoming and the cocktail of feelings on that matter in a later post. Right now, I want to finish the tale of my road trip with Dyana across the Southern coast of Australia!

It’s cold in the desert, water never sees the ground.” – Cold Desert, Kings of Leon

Call me crazy, but it looks like some dragon perched in the water.
Call me crazy, but it looks like some dragon perched in the water.

Like most evenings, when we drove into Esperance, we did not know where we would sleep. We drove out to Twilight Beach, but the wind started coming in strong and the temperature dropped, so we elected to eat our fruit and canned food near the visitor’s center before heading to a low-traffic area for sleep. Our first choice in a neighborhood proved poor as some guy kept walking back and forth by our car, talking away on his phone – not the most comforting way to sleep. We then drove to a newer development on a hill and slept peacefully, awaking to an incredible sunrise. Rushing back to Twilight Beach, we took photos, Dyana went for a run, and later joined me for a swim in the cool, shallow waters ‘neath the Guardian’s watchful gaze (I don’t know if that’s the rock’s name, but it’s what I call it).

Welcome to Norseman
Welcome to Norseman

After showering, we fueled up, looked for bug screens for the windows (no store had any that fit the Kluger), and took off for Norseman and the Nullarbor desert. Sadly, the only camels we saw on the trip were the tin camels in Norseman. The Nullarbor is an interesting place: it’s not a desert in the sense of large sand dunes and rock outcroppings with no signs of life. There’s actually quite a bit of vegetation, albeit small, scrub brush and patches of trees on either side of the plain. I enjoy a quote from the first European to cross the Nullarbor, Edward John Eyre: “a hideous anomaly, a blot on the face of Nature, the sort of place one gets into in bad dreams”.

The remainders of SkyLab
The remainders of SkyLab

There are roadhouses every 200 kilometers or so and one holds the prized remains of the U.S. SkyLab which fell out of orbit in 1979. On the largest piece of limestone in the world rests the Treeless Plain with one of the longest stretches of straight road. We slept in roadside rest areas during the two nights it took us to cross the desert. I would say the two most remarkable aspects of the desert are the Bunda Cliffs which literally look like the end of the world and the ever-present flies.

I've never seen anything that looked more like the end of the earth.
I’ve never seen anything that looked more like the end of the earth.

Within seconds of leaving the car, we were swatting, waiving, and tugging our shirts to keep the flies at bay. It’s hard to enjoy the beauty of the cliffs while flies are landing near your nose, mouth, ears, and eyes.

Dingo in the wild!
Dingo in the wild!

We saw a dingo in Ceduna and  went for a much needed hike in the Mt. Remarkable National Park.

Hamming it up on the long hike up Mt. Cavern
Hamming it up on the long hike up Mt. Cavern

The hike ended up lasting a lot longer than either one of us wanted, but it was nice to stretch and add a rock to the stack at the top of Mt. Cavern. One night, we enjoyed a show of lightning and rain in South Australia before making it to Adelaide. The capital of this state is expertly planned and really beautiful.

Our Fiesta in Adelaide, complete with margaritas
Our Fiesta in Adelaide, complete with margaritas

Large parks surround the downtown area and the market is one of the best we visited. Dyana treated us to a wonderful Mexican meal at Zapata’s and a restful night away from the car in Rydges Hotel. After so many hours on the road and so many meals from a can, both of these things were greatly appreciated.

The 12 Apostles on the Great Ocean Road
The 12 Apostles on the Great Ocean Road

The Great Ocean Road lived up to the hype with spectacular views of the deteriorating limestone called the Twelve Apostles. Technically, there are only 8 of the Apostles left, but these mammoth rocky structures in the water really are stunning. With the early morning light, we captured some good shots and had a few laughs. We soon noticed that the Great Ocean Road actually goes through quite a bit of forest and is well away from the ocean for a long time. One of those things, I guess.

The Gorge on the Great Ocean Road
The Gorge on the Great Ocean Road

As we pulled into Melbourne, we were grateful for the corporate apartment Dyana’s new job supplied us, a hot shower, somewhat familiar surroundings, a huge, comfy bed and the knowledge of having just experienced an amazing road trip together.

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