Well, 4,357 km in, and we arrived at Ceduna. Along the way there were plenty of dead straight roads, punctuated by the occasional bend and long flowing lazy rises and falls in the road as we headed towards the coast. Keen to avoid the price gouging from the occasional tiny town along the way, I had carefully calculated the fuel consumption and range (the good people at Toyota felt you needed to upgrade to a Sahara to get a trip computer). A little too carefully as it turned out – arriving at Ceduna with a worrying 9 litres left between the two tanks.
Although the park operator somehow decided it was too hard to pass on our membership discount, the camp site at Shelly Beach was lovely and shaded, had good facilities (including well-travelled water, ‘all the way from Port Lincoln, 450 km away’ they boasted), and a wonderful very well established grape-vine trellis, that would provide us with delicious seedless grapes all the way across the Nullarbor.
I dropped Kris and the boys at the local community library (doubling as a school library as well) while I went into town to fill up both tanks and the jerry can. When I came back, we were able to enjoy the local rather draconian school teacher subdue the kids with constant threats from her ample lungs. “You could be in THAT class” threatened Kris, trying to encourage Sam and James to get their own school work done.
Back at camp, we washed the dust out of clothes from the last few days of free camping whilst the boys tore around the site in a pedal powered go-cart (‘compensation’ for our camping fee discount).
The boys and I wandered past the dunes and down to the coarse sand beach at dusk to kick a ball around, to find the water here was much warmer than our last coastal visit at Baird Bay.
Next day, we planned an itinerary for the Nullarbor, including meal planning to have no fruit and veg left for the Quarantine station at WA. We had heard several horror stories of one particular amply proportioned officer confiscating almost everything. Perhaps she ate it all? So into the local Foodland we trouped to top up the larder and cellar. That night, we introduced the boys to ‘The Princess Bride’ – thanks Stuart for your vast ripped DVD collection. We had planned to head west the next morning, but thinking we still had a bit to get done and not wanting to be rushed (this is a holiday right?), we wisely decided to stay another day.
After a few spots of rain during the night, we went back into town on Sunday morning to take the boys to the beach and the local park. I started chatting to a local bloke (Andrew, a farmer) who was filleting a bucket of whiting, “tell me you’re going crabbing mate” he said when I told him we were just blowing through. I told him I didn’t have a crab pot and had never been crabbing in my life. “Wait here, I’ll be right back” he said. So while I butchered a few whiting for him, as good as his word, he returned 10 minutes later with four crab pots, furnished us with some fish heads and showed us the ropes (instructions consisted of “drop the pots in the water, you’ll work it out”). So three hours later, with borrowed bucket and pots, and much excitement from the boys (including a terrific squeal from James when he caught two in one pot), we had eight big blue swimmers from the twenty or so caught.
Enough for delicious chilli crab pasta and crab salad a few days later. An absolutely fabulous afternoon, and all from an off-hand conversation.