The Long Trek Home

With the Nullabor behind us we point the car in a north easterly direction towards Queensland and home. On the way we pass through 2 more states, South Australia and New South Wales, and many (familiar) large towns including Ceduna, Port Augusta, Broken Hill, Wilcannia, Cobar, Narrabri, Gilbagdra, Coonabarabran, Moree and, finally to cross into Queensland at Goondiwindi.

The Nullabor

The Nullarbor Plain is part of the area of flat, almost treeless, arid or semi-arid country of southern Australia, located on the Great Australian Bight coast with the Great Victoria Desert to its north. It is the world’s largest single exposure of limestone bedrock, and occupies an area of about 200,000 square kilometres (77,000 sq mi). At its widest point, it stretches about 1,100 Kms (684 mi) from east to west across the border between South Australia and Western Australia.

The railway line that crosses the Plain has the longest straight section of railway in the world (478 km, 297 mi), while the road contains the longest straight section of tarred road in Australia (146.6 km, 91.1 mi).

The distance across the Plain from Norseman in Western Australia to Ceduna in South Australia is 1,200 Kms and we take 4 days to make it across. We pass several sections of the road which have a dual purpose by acting as emergency airstrips for the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

Our in-car GPS didn’t speak to us for 3 days. Then we realised that she had told us to turn right after 729 Kms yesterday !!


Our trip plans have changed. The weather is not so good to keep going south so we are going to cut the trip short and head towards home.

First stop is Kalgoorlie. Now known as Kalgoorlie–Boulder after the towns of Kalgoorlie and Boulder joined, it is a city in the Goldfields-Esperance region of Western Australia. It is located 595 Kms (370 mi) east-northeast of Perth at the end of the Great Eastern Highway. The town was founded in 1893 during the Yilgarn-Goldfields gold rush, and is located close to the so-called “Golden Mile”.

In January 1893, prospectors Patrick (Paddy) Hannan, Tom Flanagan, and Dan O’Shea (yes, they were all Irish) were travelling to Mount Youle when one of their horses cast a shoe. During the halt in their journey, the men noticed signs of gold in the area, and decided to stay and investigate. On 17 June 1893, Hannan filed a Reward Claim, leading to hundreds of men swarming to the area in search of gold and Kalgoorlie, originally called Hannan’s, was born.

The mining of gold, along with other metals such as nickel, has been a major industry in Kalgoorlie ever since, and today employs about one-quarter of Kalgoorlie’s workforce and generates a significant proportion of its income. The concentrated area of large gold mines surrounding the original Hannan find is often referred to as the Golden Mile, and is considered by some to be the richest square mile of earth on the planet.

Kalgoorlie’s main mine, known as The Super Pit is an enormous open-cut gold mine approximately 3.6 Kms (2.2 mi) long, 1.6 Kms (1.0 mi) wide and 512 metres (1,680 ft) deep. Occasionally the excavation has revealed an old shaft containing abandoned equipment and vehicles from the earlier mines. The mine operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and a visitor centre overlooks it. The mine blasts at 1:00 pm every day, unless winds would carry dust over the town. Each of the massive trucks carries 225 tonnes of rock and the round trip takes about 35 minutes, most of that time being the slow uphill haul. Employees must live in Kalgoorlie; it is not a fly-in fly-out operation. The mine is expected to be productive until about 2029.

We play golf at the spectacular Kalgoorlie Golf Club, an amazing contrast of green fairways with iron ore coloured sandy rough.


Mingenew, just 380 Kms north west of Perth, is one of the best places to base yourself to take advantage of the wildflowers. It has many spectacular displays of wildflowers between late July to early October. Varieties include everlastings, hakeas, banksias and grevilleas. Mingenew is in the heart of the Western Australia’s “Wildflower Country”.

Located 33 km north east of Mingenew, the Coalseam Conservation Park is a renowned site for its carpets of native pink and white everlastings and yellow pom pom wildflowers. The area was named the Coalseam after the Gregory brothers discovered coal exposed within the sedimentary layers of the banks of the Irwin River in 1846. This marked the first discovery of coal in Western Australia.