Hitching to Perth Part 6 – Nullarbor plains and Cape Le Grand

A new challenge ahead. The Nullarbor plain/desert has an unique set of attractions like the longest straight road in the world, 150 km with no single bend. Several towns and roadhouses are separated by hundreds of kilometres of salt bush and scrub.

Erin offers me breakfast and I don’t refuse. I help her fed one of the boys while consuming a toast myself. She packs me some fruit and cake.

– I don’t like to waste food.

Ghe gives me excuse, followed by a cheeky grin. Such a generous lady! I refill my bottles with the rainwater from their private silos. I am ready to go. Erin gives me a lift to the exit of Port Augusta.

– Hopefully grey nomads will pick you up

Grey nomads, retired caravan travelers usually smile while passing by. The storm is coming, it starts to rain. Sometimes it helps, bad weather. People don’t like to get wet and feel obligated to help. The car stops within few minutes. I am happy. The zip for my bag’s waterproof cover is stuck and I was struggling. Once in the car I fix it quickly, typical. 50 km lift to crossroad helps me a lot. I skip most of the traffic heading South towards the peninsula. The storm is gone, I’m waiting for lift.

David was hoping to see a hitchhiker. He is on his way to Perth. A long road and not much to do. His story moved me. He was homeless for over 5 years, met a girl, got married and worked in a mine. Accident changed a lot. He was injured while working. He lost his job, got divorced and was on the way to pick up his stuff. For a guy who lost a lot, he could still generate empathy.

Nullarbor Plain
Nullarbor Plain

450 km to Ceduna goes quick. After a long chat, I past out and sleep quite a bit. Once in the city we encounter a problem. To put it simply, the car needs a repair. David needs to stay and overlook the repair, I thank him and say goodbye. The town is small. I visit a local supermarket and have a dinner in pub. I look for a place for the night. It’s too late to continue hitch. I decide to wild camp. I set my tent close to the petrol station and exit of town. I’m ready for the next day.

Exit of Ceduna
Exit of Ceduna early morning

I wake up early. Nullarbor plain seems to start in Ceduna and finish in Norseman. I want to push as far as I can. I approach Neil once he finishes fuel up his car. He travels home from Sydney. Two heart attacks and a major fix don’t allow him to fly. Together we go back in time. I listen to stories of roads with no speed limits and police car chases.

We have a short stop in Eucla, Western Australia quarantine check is rather quick. No fruit can enter the state, which is very cautious of fruit fly.

WA quarantine checkpoint
WA quarantine checkpoint

I have a bit more time in Balladonia roadhouse. There is a small display dedicated to Skylab space station. The station fell from the orbit in 1979 in WA. Some of the scattered debris decorates the roof of the building.

Balladonia roadhouse
Balladonia roadhouse

We arrive with Neil to Norseman after the sunset. A whole day of travel in his comfortable car. I had great time with Neil, I learned a bit about the history of WA and got numerous tips from him on local attractions. I shared stories of my adventures and made him laugh.

I have my new hitchhiking record! 1200 km from Ceduna through Nullarbor Plain to Norseman with a single driver within 12 hours! My previous records were 1000 km in Turkey, 800 km in Myanmar and Queensland, Australia. Something to be proud about.

I still have energy to go further. The town of Esperance, where I plan to stay is only 200 km away. I already found host on couchsurfing for the following days. I decide to stay in Norseman for the night rather than surprise my host with a late night visit. The cheapest accommodation for the night is around 100$. I decide to find some food and wild camp. At 8pm the only supermarket in town is closed. I buy fish and chips at local petrol station. A lovely lady working there advise me to crash in a lounge room. I spread my yoga mat and sleeping bag on the floor, I’m comfortable.

Tip Hitchhiking – personal contact and empathy

Hitchhiking with friends in Thailand
Hitchhiking with friends in Thailand

I traveled with hundreds of drivers in multiple countries. From my experience the most important is personal contact and empathy. It’s usually easier to find a ride once you communicate face to face with the driver. Anonymous silhouette standing on the side of the route has relatively smaller chance of catching a ride. I tend to look for lift at petrol stations and red lights at the outskirts of towns. I can select my driver and feel more comfortable during the journey. Empathy, being able to place yourself in other person situation and understanding their motive, is very important. There is no point pushing your agenda on another person. If someone says no to your request, smile, say thank you and wish a pleasant day. It’s all about the experience and sharing it with another person, you should both enjoy it.

Next day I am picked up by a French couple. Remy and Oceane are heading to Esperance. We quickly get along. Sometimes it’s just a coincidence, I made new friends. Once in Esperance, I visit a supermarket. I buy some fruit, bread, tuna, milk, cornflakes and mix of nuts and seeds. Just outside the supermarket, I find a laundromat, perfect.

Hitchhiking Tip – Laundromat

Laundromat

While travelling for longer period of time places like laundromat come very handy. Within a couple of hours you can wash and dry your clothes. This way I can travel quickly and light, 2 kg of clothes is more than enough. I save time and I feel comfortable. The last thing you want is to make your driver or host uncomfortable because you smell.

Garth welcomes me at the entrance of his house. My couchsurfing host in Esperance shows me around, ensures I’m comfortable and provides information on local interest points. He also introduces me to permaculture. Current agriculture system is flawed. We invest more and work harder to produce limited food and water. Permaculture is in my eyes revolutionary and necessary investment in our future. It asks you to work with the ecosystem you have rather than against it. Use local resources and advantages of the terrain to produce goods with minimum investment over longer period of time. Garth is right now involved in a large scale project away from his home. I could however admire his idea being implemented locally. He selected shaded place for his garden, the roof of his house directs rain water in the required places. He chose plants that grow the best in the provided condition. He spends around 1 hour a month and has constant supply of salad. In conclusion, permaculture requires initial investment but will benefit you long term.

I quickly discover Cape Le Grand National Park is the most interesting place in close distance to town. I am lucky. Anh arrives a couple hours later. She is on holiday with plans similar to mine. The next day I borrow a push bike from Garth and together with Anh we cycle to see the sunrise. The local viewpoint is only 20 min away. Breathing heavily we arrive to admire town, coast and islands from above.

Esperance sunrise
Esperance sunrise

We start sightseeing Cape Le Grand with a hike to Frenchman’s Peak. A short but enjoyable walk to the top with a couple of steeper parts. The rock is easy to climb, the only nuisance is wind, especially strong at the top. On the way we discover a beautiful cave with an amazing view of the coast.

Frenchman's Peak cave
Frenchman’s Peak cave

Once at the top the photo session starts. We have lots of fun posing while admiring the spectacular view of the coastline.

Photo session with Anh
Photo session with Anh
Frenchman's Peak view
Frenchman’s Peak view

Anh’s main target this trip is Lucky Bay. I quickly understand why. The view of the beach makes me scream with excitement.

Lucky Bay, Cape Le Grand
Lucky Bay, Cape Le Grand

The finest white sand and clear crystal water create a powerful combo. I am stunned. We walk down the beach and go for a swim. The water is cold but refreshing. A paradise.

Lucky Bay beach
Lucky Bay beach

Kangaroos hanging out in close proximity to the beach are accustomed to people. You can easily approach them and pet them. Nearby caravan campsite is busy, the beach is one of the most attractive destinations in the area.

Lucky Bay kangaroos
Lucky Bay kangaroos

Thistle Cove Bay was the last attraction that day. We passed by Whistling Rock, quiet that day, and walked the beach. I found it beautiful and equally interesting thanks to surrounding rock formations.

Thistle Cove Bay, Cape Le Grand

On the way back to Esperance we lost our swimwear hanged at the back of the car. I was ready to give up, we were back in the city when we realised it was gone. My shorts were not valuable but the price of Anh’s top raised my eyebrows. We found it 25 minutes later. We were laughing and cheering. We spent the evening chilling and chatting with Garth. Another amazing day.

The next day Anh was heading to Albany. It was also my destination. I asked and received permission to join. The time past by quickly. We listened to podcast recommended by Garth, enjoyed music and the horizon. Once in Albany Anh dropped me by the sunset location. She already found her place for the night. On my own, I’ve enjoyed the sunset, view of the city and rain, while protected by the viewpoint`s observation tower.

Albany sunset

On the way to Albany, I’ve sent out a single request on couchsurfing. It was a last minute request, the host wasn’t online, I decided to chill in library for a couple of hours. Once the library closed, I found online a local Dominos and ordered a pizza. They had an amazing deal, only 4$ for pork sausage, red onion & mozzarella on a BBQ sauce… yes please! I’m holding pizza box in my hand, it starts to rain. I was about to look for the campsite… fuck! One more look at my phone. Rachel replied! `Yes, you can stay at my place!`. A quick look at the address provided, it’s only 10 minutes walk from my location. I’m laughing while walking through the rain to see Rachel.

A) Port Augusta B) Ceduna C) Norseman D) Esperance E) Albany

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