It was time to leave Adelaide, Australia, once again. This time, I headed towards Perth by way of the Nullarbor (the flat, almost treeless area in the southern part of Australia). I made a few phone calls, went to the chiropractor, ate breakfast, and then hit the road.
I drove to Port Augusta, a small town where I had stayed twice before. The drive was beautiful with mountains in the background and the sun starting to set. I booked a different hotel this time. It was an old Victorian building that didn’t offer WiFi or breakfast. The bathroom was shared with other rooms, but it was cheap, so it would have to do. The woman at the front desk lives at the hotel, and she warned me about the incredible amount of flies in the outback (something I was already aware of). I picked up Chinese food and went to bed.
The next morning, I drove to McDonald’s for breakfast. Check-out time in Australia was almost always 10:00 am, so I didn’t have much time to get things done online. I hit the road and drove west. Signs were warning of the dangerous drive. It’s a flat, two-lane road with no to little shoulder. People get tired and end up crashing head-on with a vehicle going the other way. One sign read, “Survive this drive.” Another said, “Drowsy drivers die.” They recommend that you stop every two hours to take a break.
The drive was beautiful with changing trees. Occasionally, I drove through a small town. In Kimba, the welcome sign read, “Halfway Across Australia.” There was a beautiful painting that went across several giant silos.
I enjoyed the drive because there wasn’t much traffic. I drove past long, gravel driveways. A tire painted in white paint often marked the entrance. I loved all of the unique trees. They were mostly isolated but had such cool designs, illuminated as the sun started to go down.
During the drive, I thought about my old job. I remembered that feeling I had when I left – freedom and the excitement of the unknown. I knew my life would be different, and I was excited about an unknown future. Driving long distances is always a great time for me to reflect.
I arrived in Ceduna around 4:30 pm and went into the visitor center. A woman gave me some tips on things to see and do. I booked a motel to stay the night there and then took the woman’s advice and ate at the oyster place down the road. The restaurant was off the highway in a trailer. I ordered six Mexican oysters (avocado, salsa, sour cream, and cilantro) and six grilled in garlic butter. I got some wine and took my food to the roof, where there were a few tables.
It was chilly outside, but the view was amazing! I could see the ocean through the trees in the distance. There were just two women at another table and me on the roof. I ate the oysters and was in heaven! The flavors melted in my mouth, and I was so glad that the woman told me about it. I watched a beautiful sunset while drinking my wine. It got colder by the minute, though.
By the time I arrived at my motel, it was dark outside. The man at the front desk confirmed my name and gave me a key. He didn’t go over any other information. I worked on my blog and went to bed.
The next morning, I drove to the National Trust Museum. It was a small, wooden building. I walked inside and met Allan, the owner of the museum. He appeared to be in his early 80s, and gray hair stuck out from his baseball hat. He wore a black fleece with a National Geographic logo on it. It cost $4 for entry and was only open that day from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm. It was 10:20 am, so I figured I had plenty of time to check things out.
The museum was more like an old building with accumulated stuff laying around. I was the only person there. The items were arranged by category, and some were very old. It was a little creepy with dust covering some things.
Allan told me that he doesn’t hear very well. He talked in a regular volume, but sometimes I had to speak loudly to him. He followed me around and pointed out the section of bombings in Maralinga. Between 1956 and 1963, the British conducted seven nuclear tests in South Australia’s Great Victoria Desert. It was close to where we were, so locals knew all about it. One of the bombings was twice the size of the one dropped on Hiroshima. The local aboriginal people (Maralinga Tjarutja people) were affected the most. They refer to it as “Mamu Pulka,” meaning “big evil.”
There was also a mess with the clean-up efforts. They attempted a clean-up in 1967, but in 1985, a report concluded that there were still significant radiation hazards. In 2008, the Australian government did another clean-up at the cost of 108 million dollars.
One newspaper clipping talked about the jinx flight path going to and from Ceduna (the town I was in). It read, “He believes it all started with the disappearance of a light aircraft flown by Jim Knight in 1962, after a refueling stop in Ceduna. Knight starved to death after coming down in the Great Victoria Desert, and his plane wasn’t found for three years.”
The article continues, “Twenty-six years – and six more deaths – later the “Ceduna jinx” has struck again. Experienced charter pilot Erno Sopru crashed his Cessna on the same route on June 6 this year and was killed instantly. Sopru had been heading for Emu Junction but had veered way off course, just as Jim Knight did on Sunday, January 14, 1962.”
Allan went outside to the large backyard section to open all of the doors to the sheds, which he said would take him 15 minutes. I continued walking around the rooms in the front of the house. A middle-aged couple from Melbourne walked inside, and I explained the drill to them (where to put the money, etc.). We all laughed when we came across a large metal sign boasting, “Nullarbor Nymph.” According to Wikipedia, “The Nullarbor Nymph was a hoax perpetrated in Australia between 1971 and 1972 that involved supposed sightings of a half-naked woman living amongst kangaroos on the Nullarbor Plain.”
Allan came back inside and followed me around. I wandered through different rooms, checking out all of the old items that had been collected. I told Allan that it was nice seeing Australian history because, in the U.S., we don’t learn a lot about it. He responded, “That’s because the U.S. thinks they’re the only country.” I was getting tired of hearing this, so I explained, “Well, we’re a huge country with 330 million people. We have more history than Australia. We don’t learn much European history either. We learn British history because well, we broke free from their rule.”
I walked outside to the farm equipment. Allan joined me and occasionally jumped in to tell me about an item. One of the sheds had tables of dried out flowers that he had collected. Another old barn had a giant whalebone.
I ended up in the corner of the yard in an old indoor/outdoor shed full of random tools. Dust and rust covered most of the items. There was a dummy dressed in old clothes that was hunched over in a strange position. It looked like something out of a horror movie. I started to freak out a little bit as Allan continued to follow me around the isolated corner. I thought, “Maybe Allan pretends to be an old guy who is hard of hearing? Maybe he’s luring me to kill me? That’s how it goes – you’re too scared of being rude, so you go along with it…only to be murdered. Come on, Christy, stop letting your wild imagination go into a tailspin.”
I searched for the other couple, but they were heading out. I walked over to tiny buildings that were a church and a school. Some of them were stuffed full of items, so I just peeked into them. Allan would tell me about the deal he got on an item. Then he mentioned that he has even more things at his property where his home is located.
There was a piece of rusty equipment on the ground that was from a plane crash. Allan told me that after he split with his first wife, he was with the kids at the house, and they heard the crash in the neighbor’s property. I had seen two small aircraft crash on the T.V. in the last two days, making me sure that I don’t want to fly in one of them. Allan told me that he and his second wife were flying over Ukraine when another plane was shot down five years ago. Allan said, “We didn’t find out about that other plane until two months later, which is good because otherwise, I would want to walk back home.” His second wife was Dutch and died 18 months ago.
As I approached an old jail cell, Allan said, “Careful, I’ll lock you up.” “Ugh, you’re not helping my fears,” I thought. I walked into a small schoolhouse, and Allan told me about an old map hanging on the wall. People use that map to find graves because the new ones don’t show them. He has two graves on his property from babies. Allan explained that it often happened out there. Medical care was scarce, so babies died. It was so hot outside that they buried the babies quickly.
I came across a nail machine made in the U.S. Allan perked up with excitement as he told me that he paid $300 for it, and someone told him that if he took it to the U.S., it would be worth $20,000.
The whole place was like a random guy’s backyard. It was like a museum but was very dirty and dusty. I wondered, “Are collectors (even museums) just hoarders?”
I was back in the main house and was on my way out when Allan showed me a map where the whales go. He asked me where I was going next, and I said that I was heading to Perth. He said, “Too bad you’re leaving. If not, I’d invite you to my property and show you more for a couple of hours.” I had already been there for an hour and a half and didn’t want to get murdered. I said goodbye and headed towards the Nullarbor for several days of driving through the flat, barren land.
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