Today was a day that I had been looking forward to driving for some time. Truth be told, I had sneakily suggested that Caroline drive from Coffin Bay to Smoky Bay, so I could start our journey over the famous stretch of road.
After a breakfast of pancakes with strawberries and bananas, fruit perfectly chopped courtesy of Ava and Audrey, we left Smoky Bay around 8.30am. Another relatively quicker day planned – approximately 350kms from Smoky Bay to Nullabor, with a stop off at Ceduna for petrol.
I filled the car up while Caroline cleaned the windows. Caroline was delighted that the petrol station had soapy clean water to clean windows – a luxury whilst on the road. I went to pay for petrol and pick up a few other necessities and realised I needed our flybuy details (we figured we should get points for all the fuel we are paying for!!). So I jogged to the car, fetched my phone and started running back to pay when I felt a tremendously painful sensation in my right lower leg. The sensation felt similar to what I imagine it would feel like if you were shot in the leg. Imagine you have a large elastic band connecting your ankle to your knee and it dramatically snaps. That is the pain I experienced!
I hobbled to the service station, like a brave soldier injured in battle making their way back to base camp. I paid the bill and hobbled back to the car – still wanting to drive. Caroline got out of the car and said I “wasn’t to drive if I was in that much pain”, so we switched roles and I sat co-pilot. I elevated my leg onto the front dash of the car and grimaced through the pain. The pain of my leg equaled my frustration that I couldn’t drive.
We passed through a small town called Penong, which I feel is worth a mention due to the approximately 20 windmills that greet you as you drive into the town. The windmills were erected by members of the town, in an effort to preserve the towns farming community history. It seems the locals try their best to promote tourism in the area, through their windmills and the eye catching signs enticing motorists to spend money at the shops – ‘last shop in 1000kms’. These distractions provided momentary relief from the sickening pain I was experiencing.
We passed numerous other signs today, ‘Nullabor Links Golf Course’, the world longest golf course 18-hole par 73 crossing the Nullabor in two states from South Australia to Western Australia. The first hole that grabbed our attention was the Wombat hole, a par 5, 520m hole commemorating the nearby southern hairy-nosed wombats. While this area is supposed to contain the largest colony of these wombats, Caroline saw half a dozen of these creatures in their familiar upside down position, paws in the air. Commemorating the re-introduction of the wildlife we would see, we also spotted a road sign boasting ‘Camel, Kangaroo and Wombats’. We had seen plenty of Kangaroos and Wombats – the camera was now out to try and capture a picture of the illustrious camel – one of the many animals we ate as part of the FMG meal at the Prairie Hotel, Parachilna.
We initially planned to see the ‘Head of Bight’ tomorrow morning before continuing our travels westward, however with Caroline’s good driving, we were able to see Head of Bight a little after midday. Caroline parked, we ate lunch in the caravan then proceeded to the information center. Due to the pain in my leg, I said to Caroline that I may sit behind as I was in so much agony – not up for any walking. Caroline disagreed and said that I had to see the ‘Head of Bight’. Hoping there was a wheelchair in the information center, I hobbled with Caroline at my shoulder acting as a brace before entering the building.
We were immediately greeted by a very helpful attendant, let’s call him Genie, whom empathised with my pain stating “Did you think about seeing a ‘quack’?”. I advised him that I would soldier on, commenting that I wished there was a wheelchair. For literary purposes lets imagine I saw a cloud of pink smoke and ‘puff’ there was a wheelchair. I hobbled to the wheelchair and tried out my new form of transport. Two wheels were definitely better than one good leg!
What’s better is that Caroline pushed me around the entire boardwalk – quite a lovely way to travel. I don’t know what came over me, probably in retrospect feeling sorry for myself, but I had a vision of being elderly (many years from now) being pushed around in my twilight years by Caroline. An after effect of the pain killers or a glimpse of the future – who knows.
The Head of Bight was spectacular, only slightly ruined by the cyclonic winds that seem to be following us everywhere. An area renown for whale watching (unfortunately we were just out of ‘watching season’). The stretch of spectacular cliffs approximately 80 metres in height constructed of white limestone. Pens ready for another answer to a random pub trivia question… The Great Australian Bight has the longest line of sea cliffs in the world!!
Whilst being pushed around by my darling wife, Ava and Audrey thought they would make fun of their poor ‘almost’ mortally wounded father. They both started chanting: “Daddy’s in a wheelchair, Daddy’s in a wheelchair”. Whilst I did have a slight chuckle at the girls making fun of me, it seemed to go on for the entire length of our visit.
Approximately 20kms up the road and we set up camp at the Nullabor Roadhouse. Around $1.75 per litre for diesel and high end Sydney prices for pub meals, we bunkered down in the caravan while the girls played games with Caroline. I lay in bed, like a wounded lion, fending my aching paw.
Tomorrow will be a new day. Hopefully my leg will be feeling a bit better and I can have a chance to drive. Destination unknown – we will see how far the Eyre Highway will take us.