And so we reached the Nullarbor Plain! We had decided to tackle the journey in two roughly equal parts: from Ceduna to Eucla and then to Fraser Range.
Once you are actually on the Plain a few things hit you (hopefully not kangaroos or road trains!)
* It takes a while for this famously treeless plain to actually become treeless. But when it does, it is truly beautiful in its stark majesty.
* With so few other vehicles you develop a sense of community with each and every traveller you pass. The laconic Aussie-farmer’s barely raised index-finger wave takes on great portent, a symbolic epistle; “God speed fellow pilgrims. May this mystic plain enlighten and renew you in your quest for inner peace and beauty…”
Or something like that.
Maybe it just means, “G’day. Bloody long drive isn’t it?”
* Stuff happens. Surprising stuff. Beautiful stuff. Spine-tingling stuff. You stop to refuel or stretch your legs and the shop keeper used to live down the road from you, a pair of lustrously plumed eagles will pause from their feast on fresh road-kill to eye you cautiously as you pass, a dingo trots out from the undergrowth and is as surprised to see you as you are to see him, you will have a ten minute, middle of the highway conversation with a pretty police officer who pulls you over for a licence and rego check because no other cars come by to make you move on, it will (unbelievably and unexpectedly) rain… and all the colours you had begun to take for granted, will intensify… and they will be beautiful!
* You are part of a family, a rag-tag collection of wandering souls with as many reasons for making the journey as there are cars on the highway… and you keep re-meeting them. Each camping ground fills with familiar faces from a day or two ago, the folk you shared a fuel stop with, camped alongside, ate breakfast with in the camp kitchen. You smile recognition, debrief, find out a little more of their story… brothers of the highway, sisters of the road. It is a good family to be part of.