Day 53 – Fraser Range to Eucla – Driving on zero

It was a novelty last night being able to sit outside in shorts and T shirt reading and looking at the stars. So peaceful and we really appreciated the warm weather, and Lach especially appreciated it as I didn’t have to put my freezing feet on him to warm up in bed.

The night was windy, but the girls went straight to sleep without any fuss and awoke on cue at 630am. Lach took them to the toilet and came back commenting that it was windy but beautiful, so he set up the breakfast table away from the van looking at the views of the hills and outback surrounding us. It was a lovely way to have breakfast.img_2313

We were very efficient this morning and managed to leave Fraser Range at 740am for a very long drive of slightly over 600kms, we had our target of having lunch and a play around 1230am WCT. Changing timezones by 45minutes just outside of Caiguna is an odd feeling (about 300km west of the border) but we decided to make the change so that the 2.5hr change tomorrow will have less of an impact when we cross the WA/SA border. The girls have been fantastic again on a long drive, they slipped right back into just sitting and looking out the window and playing with the toys and books they have in the car. Ava’s Barbie isn’t with her today as she was naughty, so if she is good today she can have it back in the car tomorrow. Audrey has learnt a lot of the words for Frozen now, and suddenly bursts out in song whilst adult music is playing and even when we think she is asleep . Thanks to her playing with Elsa the whole time. Elsa hasn’t left her side since Christmas day – she even had both Elsa and Mimi on the playground this morning before we left.

Lach commented this morning that its great meeting new people on the road as they have a completely different approach to introductions and assumptions compared to when you meet new people in a city. When you meet in a city, the standard questions are: Where do you work?, where do you live?, do you have children? people then draw assumptions immediately about you based on your responses. We have found that when meeting new people on the road, they ask: Are you well? Are you enjoying your holiday? Where have you been? How long have you been travelling for? Then after some conversation they might ask where your from and where you work. Lach had one guy actually apologise about whether we minded him asking what we did for a living?

It’s been nice with Lach driving a big stretch of the Nullarbor today, as last time I drove the whole 4 days due to Lach hurting his leg at the servo before we started. He did the longest straight stretch and joked about in theory not having to hold the wheel – aside from the wind. We talked about fuel and that we should maximise the number of fill-ups and fill up when we are as empty as possible and with the cheapest fuel, rather than fill up earlier with less fuel at the more expensive price. Along the way he tricked me into thinking he had seen a camel – the girls and Lach both thought it was hilarious, as yesterday I tricked Lach about the same, and he fell for it too. About 3.5hours into the trip, we were trundling along and Lach mentions very calmly to me that we have 50km left to go until the next fuel stop and the fuel light has just come on. Fuel gauge said we have 60km, road sign said 50km. Lets hope the fuel gauge is correct… The air con went off, the music went off and the foot came off the accelerator, and we hoped for downhills. There was a caravan in front so we went up behind it hoping that we could get some of its slipstream… I was thinking we are likely to pull in to Madura on diesel fumes and momentum (Madura from memory was in a basin). Lach went all silent and the girls were saying they were sweaty – it was 34degrees outside. I turned to Lach in a calm voice and said “it is what it is, worse case we pull over and hail someone down to either take us to Madura or we use their jerry can”. I was calm as i knew there was nothing we could do apart from what we were already doing. Lach kept his calm externally too, but I know him well, and he would have been bubbling inside. When we passed the 20km sign, I asked Lach what the fuel gauge said – his response 15km. Hmmmm more silence and praying that my thought on fumes would be true. We passed the 10km sign and after about 2mins Lach said “OK we are now on ZERO”. We were close to the caravan in front using their slipstream and intended to stay there. I made a note of the odometer to see how far Zero in the tank took us. At the same time all I could think of was how long it would take me to run/walk the remaining way to the station, in this heat, to get some diesel, the closer we got the more relief I had that I had less distance to go. We passed the sign saying Madura Pass and we started downhill, the relief was intense but still silent. We pulled into the service station and realised we had pulled into the unleaded pump, and just hoped we had enough to take us the additional uphill 50m to the diesel – we did!!!! We travelled 8km on Zero fuel. So for those mathematicians out there, zero doesn’t actually mean zero….. thank goodness. What an intense 30minutes. We both stepped out of the car happy for the 35degree heat and wind rather than the claustrophobic heat of the car, and our whole bodies relaxed. We both congratulated each other on dealing with the intensity so well, and that we would NEVER let it get that close again. He mentioned ‘tongue in cheek’ later on in the journey that he did well to maximise the efficiency of the fill up to get the most fuel in he could at the lowest price – which was his intention – and that he couldn’t have got it more accurate.

Having filled up 160 litres of diesel we ate our lunch in the now cool car and started on our final leg of the day – 4 hours down, 2 more to go to Eucla (which is only 12km east of the SA border). We have been discussing whether we change our new year plans and push through to closer to civilisation before meeting Nanna and Grandpa – research tonight. On this leg, we have now added to our list of animals seen (albeit dead ones) – Echidnas. Still no camels, but we are only half way across the Nullarbor. We did finish the Santa biscuits on this leg. Every single one you gave us Nanna was eaten with huge appreciation. Thank you.

Seeing as I finished my book last night “The Rosie Project” (Mum a great one for you and Dad) and downloaded my last one from Mia’s recommended list (great having a SIL who works at a bookshop to be able to recommend great reads!!! – Thanks Mia) I really wanted to get into my new book “The Dry” and so I synced it on my phone and have been reading that whilst Lachs been driving – great way to spend the Nullarboring.

We arrived at Eucla Caravan Park at 230pm and the girls immediately wanted to go for a swim. Lach and I were amazed at the view as we hadn’t appreciated on the way West that Eucla was on a hill. We chose the camp spot with the view of the Nullarbor and the sea – stunning.

We took the girls for a swim, it was north of 30 degrees and steamy. When we got back from the swim our friends Kylie and Andrew from Fraser Range pulled in and parked next to us – the girls were really excited. We then headed for showers and set up the chairs and tables for a beautiful sunset. Kylie and Andrew mentioned that they had driven through two storms today – we had none. Then as time passed the wind picked up and you could see the dark clouds moving towards us. Within 15mins of seeing the clouds we were all inside and battened down the hatches. Luckily the rain storm passed us with only a few minutes of rain, but the wind lasted about 30mins. Our other friends Darren and Donna from Fraser Range had also arrived by this time – a big drive in the converted bus for them. We put the girls to bed (using the adjusted time zone) and whilst waiting for them to fall asleep i managed to upload the majority of the photos (Although having issues with todays! for some reason) from the last few days and finish today’s blog, before heading to the bus for drinks with our new friends. Unfortunately for one of our new friends they received a phone call from Brisbane saying that one of their parents was unwell with heart failure and that they needed to go. So within a short time they had organised a flight from Ceduna to Adelaide and then to Brisbane tomorrow – but in the mean time had to unload their freezer and fridge to the two remaining families – Our fridge and freezer are now full to capacity – enough food for a week – Thanks Kylie and Andrew. We wish you all the best for your trip to Brisbane for such unfortunate circumstances.

Once the wind calmed down the sunset was spectacular. I walked out thinking the sky was pretty, but didn’t expect anything like I saw. Being able to see the Eyre Highway and cars approaching with the sun shining on them surrounded by the Nullarbor Plain was pretty stunning. Its bleak out there and watching the storm come in and disappear and then the sunset, just makes you realise you definitely want to be settled before sundown.

4 responses to “Day 53 – Fraser Range to Eucla – Driving on zero

  1. What an amazing trip and sounds like the girls have developed the art of long distance travelling. Must be great to be so high up and look out the window!
    Guessing you have most of your ‘long’ drives out the way now. Not long til NY and the start of an exciting 2017 with Ava and Audrey heading off to Arden. (I know you don’t want to think about it as so much travelling to still enjoy)
    Sorry not commented much recently but I have read them all. Great to have a proper FT on Xmas day… glad you found a good spot!
    Love to all xx

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  2. Waking early like Lach and Ava the sun sitting low shining through our window rising brightly waiting for my cup of tea looking forward to reading the Blog from your previous day. What and should one say an exciting day you all had, probably one that you could have done without.
    8 km on Zero, well guess there has to be a little bit of excitement if you cannot see many animals and the road is so straight. It is interesting that you have not seen camels in the wild as I believe we are meant to have more camels than anywhere else in the world, is it they are well camouflaged or just are good of finding somewhere to keep out of the heat. Should we ask Mr Google? Plug for Gus.
    Beautiful photo of Ava and Audrey walking hand in hand in their cosies. Lach and Caroline you must admit the girls have been so good on such long hauls, sitting patiently playing in the car for hours. Well done girls. Audrey we are looking forward to hearing you singing Frozen songs and we are looking forward to your sleep over when we meet up.
    Hope you have a good trip today and such sad news about your friends who had to leave suddenly. I guess one must say eat up before the border!
    We are off to Northbridge today for a day of packing and sorting, started to panic last night as time is running out and we will not be doing anything for a while. As I waited to go to sleep I started to think of what had to be done in each room and are there any more surprises!!!!!
    Safe travels today, with a full tank please, no more excitement needed. Counting the days……….
    Love to you all
    Mum, Rosie Nanna xxxx

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  3. Running on empty – that’s an understatement. Golly you must have been worried. You will be neurotic from now on watching the gauge as it gets lower. At least you can now appreciate what it is like to travel without aircon, with the good news that the temperature has warmed up. Sounds as though the girls were very good on the journey which must mean Ava gets her Barbie back.
    Does the scenery look any different travelling the same road in the opposite direction? Now you can both say you have driven the longest straightest road, something not many Aussies can say.
    Will having the additional food mean you have to eat even more food before you cross into SA?
    We are back home with Nicki and the children arriving on 28th which we are looking forward to. TTFN xxx

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