Nudging the Nullabor: Port Augusta to Ceduna

Having experienced the dry desert heat on the Barrier Highway, we opted for a very early morning start on our drive to Ceduna.
It was lovely and dark and solitary on the highway … helping my imagination flee to the original settlers who traversed this land on horseback. And when the sun finally came up I couldn’t help feeling sympathy for those women 200 years ago who nursed small children struggling to cope with the heat. I also felt incredible admiration for the our indigenous people who lived so successfully within this harsh landscape and climate.
There isn’t much to say for this strip of highway, except that it has 3G the whole way – a score for social media junkies like me and Lee. There is a cute little town called (?) that has a giant galah. I’ve seen many a giant roadside animal/fruit/object in our ten years of Aussie road trips. The galah wasn’t really that big to be honest, and even more amusing was the fact that we didn’t observe a single galah in that town or on the highway. What was cool for us though was that this town is considered to be exactly half-way across Australia – no mean feat for a ’74 Kombi towing a trailer with two dogs in it.
By the time we left (?) the sun had mounted high in the sky, ensuring that the next couple of hundred ks were going to be tough.
I don’t think I’ve ever been so pleased to see a little seaside town. Ceduna is quite a tidy place with good shops – two bottle shops, big supermarket and other specialty type stores – and friendly locals. As soon as we pulled in we headed for the beach. The cool thing about Ceduna is that it is a remote seaside town – which means a quiet beach! This is not a Sydney beach – the sand was coarse, the sea was calm with only the smallest of rippling waves and the turquoise water was warm yet refreshing. The boys and the dogs raced up and down the beach, jumping in and out of the water, then they waded out to a rocky island.

We spent the night at the Foreshore Caravan Park which is expensive but is super convenient being so close to the shops and sea. The boys really loved Ceduna, it was their ideal spot cos they could play in the sand, play cricket and generally just muck about.
I liked it too but for one incident that made me sad. As we headed for the beach to see the sun set we came across a young mum and her three children. One of the kids, a sweet little thing of about four or five went quietly whimpering to her mother holding out a finger dripping blood. As we walked closer we could see dark claret patches on her little white shirt – she’d cut herself pretty badly. There was a group of tourists looking at the sunset and staring a little at the situation but mostly ignoring it. We immediately showed concern for the girl and worried mum – how could we not? – and I ran back to our van to grab our first aid kit. I applied a small cloth bandage and some bandaids to her baby-like fingers and gave her mum a few more for the trip home. She was very thankful and her big-eyed daughter looked up at me a little bewildered. This situation might not impact you, and you might be curious as to why it impacted me. The mum and her kids were Aboriginal. I can’t help but think that if they had been white those tourists might have been more eager to help. It made me so mad, I couldn’t help observing loudly – within their hearing – that I was surprised and disturbed by the bystanders lack of care.
And it’s that memory of Ceduna, more than the turquoise sea, that will stay with me.

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3 thoughts on “Nudging the Nullabor: Port Augusta to Ceduna

  1. The town with the giant galah is Kimba. I spent a year in the 80’s teaching at Ceduna so I know that part of the world quite well – the coast is some of the most beautiful and unspoilt in the state. My favourite spot over there was Smoky Bay and there is a fantastic beach there called Browns Beach where the sand is granular like instant coffee and squeaks under your feet when it is wet. Oh, and I also spent four years teaching at Port Augusta as well! Have fun for the rest of your trip!

  2. Pingback: Crossing the Australian continent in a 1974 Kombi camper | Bianca Hewes

  3. The ignorance of some people can be quite distressing. A child is a child, no matter where he or she comes from, where they’ve been or who they’re with – a child is to be cared for and nurtured. David and I had a similar experience when we were in Kenya. We were in a small tour of only 8 people – 3 Americans – 2 English – 2 Australians and 1 Dutch lady. We stopped near the Rift Valley at the scenic lookout and there was a Masai mother who had a very young child papoosed on her back, a child about 16 months old and two children about 3 years old all holding on tightly to her torn and tattered clothing – albeit very colourful – it was extremely dirty and tattered. One of the 3 year olds had a very nasty bruised foot and he had it raised off the ground – his actions reminded me of a wounded animal. There was a small store there and the other people on our tour went to buy trinkets of non-descript junk. David and I got 4 bottles of water (more expensive than the souvenier junk) and gave them to the mother for her children. There wasn’t much we could do for the little boy’s bruised foot, but I’m sure the smile on his little face took away some of his pain and discomfort. We got back on the bus only to be scorned by the Dutch tourists for being silly as she was sure that that Masai lady was there just to take advantage of us. To us it matter the reason, the smile on the children’s faces was enough to keep me happy and the memory still does.
    Thank you for being a caring person Bianca.

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