During the course of this journey I had so far not been all that successful in my attempts at whale watching. Would the next few days unfold better luck? The flooding rains had finally departed (for now) but there were still plenty of sweeping plains to navigate. After leaving the Head of the Bite we were truly crossing the Nullabor Plain. No trees in sight for as far as the eye could see.
To my surprise I did find my first whale, all be it a sculpture, does that count? We were literally in the middle of no where! An area of sweeping plains that seemed far from any coastline. The whale took pride of place in front of the Nullabor Roadhouse. I guessed it was a sign I was on the right track. The roadhouse also had the original petrol station as a museum, a memory from times when the road was dirt and rarely travelled. It was good to see it all sealed these days, and frequently used. Although the one thing worse than being stuck behind a massive road train is being stuck behind a road train and a caravan! The road is single lane each way, and although reasonably straight, it surprisingly rises and falls quite frequently making it difficult to see to overtake. I was grateful we installed a CB radio into our car before we left home which enabled us to talk to the truckies and caravan drivers. I must say, they were all very polite and helpful letting you know when it is safe to pass.
Just when we thought we were reaching the other side of the Nullabor we came across this sign – Australia’s longest straight road, 90 Mile Straight (146.6km). Finally we arrived at another roadhouse, a welcome rest stop after a long stretch of nothing and to our surprise this one held the museum for Skylab. Skylab was an American owned space station sent into orbit by NASA in 1973 and crashed to Earth in 1979 spreading debris across the Nullabor Plain and Western Australian goldfields. It made widespread news not only in Australia but worldwide. I was in my teens at the the time and remember watching the events unfold with fascination, so to visit the museum and read the history was amazing. To my delight I found and read a newspaper article that depicted our typical Australian sense of humour, On arrival to retrieve the debris, officers from NASA were handed a $400.00 fine for littering the Shire of Esperance with space junk. This fine has not been paid to this day, not that it was ever expected to be paid.
Three days after leaving Ceduna on the South Australian coast, we arrived in Esperance at the bottom of the Western Australian coast. Beautiful white sandy beaches, aqua blue clear oceans, rugged rocky outcrops, a picturesque coastline with a road that wound around providing magnificent scenic views, including a windmill in a rather unique spot. We stood in almost gale force winds while watching the surf and rain roll in, then yes, my first real sighting of whales! A mother and calf were sheltering in the bay. It was wonderful to watch them breach the water, here were the planting of seeds for my short story “A Whale of a Christmas Time.”
My wish to see whales satiated for the time being it was time to settle into our B&B for the afternoon to watch Sharks. It was the NRL Grand Final, and our local Shire team, the Cronulla Sharks, were playing. It was a game not to be missed. In the history of 50 years in the competition the Sharks had never won a grand final. This was our year! I was already ticking things off my bucket list on this holiday and now to watch our team finally win was the icing on the cake we had all been waiting for. The Shire celebrated for weeks after the game, I admit there were moments where I would have liked to have been home. I phoned my mum at the end of the game. she was in tears with exhilaration. We made calls to other friends too that night, the excitement is a memory that will last a long time in our hearts.
What about you, do you have a memory that was so exciting the feeling will last a lifetime? Winning a Grand Final football match may seem inconsequential to the birth of children or your wedding, but when you have followed a team all your life, your parents and grandparents also followed the same team, to see them finally win for the first time in history is an emotional unforgettable experience.
Next week : Another unusual discovery, a whaling museum and wildflowers.
If you missed parts 1,2 and 3 and would like to catch up on the journey so far, here are the links –