Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Border Village

Caiguna – Madura – Eucla – Border Village (SA) 350(14311) kms

Sunrise at Caiguna
It was a warm night - our first one since Karijini in the Pilbara region. 17C was a big change from the single figure nights in Albany and Esperance. That was good but the advent of the sun this morning was even greater. Because of cloud in the eastern sky, we were treated to quite a show to put our day on a great footing. With Sue up and standing beside me as the sun made its appearance, we were underway soon after, fully inspired.

Not much to report until we reached the Madura Gap Lookout. Situated on the top of a ridge which runs all the way to Eucla, this long jump-up must go on for 250 km or more. Viewed from up at the lookout, the very flat plain before us stretched beyond the length of our gaze. Tucked up against the jump-up, taller eucalypts grow where the water is most available and below us, Madura roadhouse nestles among the gums.

Sign post at Eucla
Our cuppa down at the roadhouse was very pleasant and we enjoyed the company of a staff member who told us all about the drawbacks of working and living in such small and isolated communities. This is the eighth roadhouse she has worked in, in all locations across Australia. According to her, isolation is having to drive 750 km for a haircut (Kalgoorlie). They advertised for a hairdresser from among travellers for three months before finally getting lucky. Those wide-combed shearers are clever fellas.

When the Eyre Highway finally bent back toward the jump-up and climbed to the top, Eucla unfolded before us. A roadhouse with a few extra facilities attached (eg a Bureau of Meteorology station), it is also the only access point to the old telegraph station which lies down in the creeping sand hills near the coast. We lunched and then drove down there. A once large limestone brick building with a corrugated iron roof, it now lies deep in the sand ... deep enough to have sand lapping the bottom of the door arches and chimneys exposed only from the roof line. I was just starting to be absorbed in the photography but had to break off my interest because of rapidly approaching rain. Drops were striking the windscreen as we climbed in after a run back to the carpark. A planned walk down to the coast and the old jetty had to be cancelled.

Our last act at Eucla was to look through their museum. Apart from a few personal letters describing tearful events in the lives of people from among the first in the area, this was haphazard and badly constructed. We didn't spend much time here.
Ruins overtaken by sand at Eucla

The last 10kms to the SA/WA border were quickly covered and photos taken to record the event. Eight weeks after we crossed into WA at Kununurra and a wonderful set of experiences later, it was time for new adventures even if we only have a few weeks left.

Set to camp out in the Forester, an approaching storm – by now a familiar friend - and Sue feeling below par, drove us indoors. No sooner were bags in the room than  a squall measured up to 105 km/hr ripped through the caravan park/roadhouse and rain wet everything down but the wind soon had dirt dry enough to be dust and swirling into the air. It was a good decision because we would have be picking up pieces of the tent all the way to Adelaide.

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