's longest stretch of highway
, officially running 1208 kilometres from Norseman
in Western Australia
in South Australia
, over the barren Nullarbor Plain (pig latin for 'no trees')
and skirting the Great Australian Bight
Unofficially, people think that it ends in Port Augusta
. Contrary to the Australia
n habit of understatement
, this highway
only consists of only a single eastbound and a single westbound lane.
The highway is named after the explorer John Eyre, who was the first European to cross the Nullarbor in 1841. Both sides of the Australian continent were linked by telegraph in 1877, and by railway in 1917 (albeit using different gauges). It was only in 1941 that a rough track was hacked through the low shrub, and it took until the late 1970s for this track to become eventually sealed and known as the Eyre Highway.
The terrain is so bland, flat, homogenous and repetitive - with one 146 km stretch being dead straight - that drivers are at greater risk of fatigue. Fortunately the flat, straight road serves as an ad hoc runway for the Royal Flying Doctor Service's fleet of emergency responding Cessnas.
The only communities between Norseman and Ceduna are the solitary roadhouses that straddle the highway.
Balladonia (193 km from Norseman). Close to where Skylab landed in 1979. Where an Afghan camel driver was once killed by thirsty travellers when he bathed in the only unpolluted waterhole.
Cocklebiddy (108 km from Balladonia). Caves nearby.
Caigana (74 km from Cocklebiddy). Where John Eyre ran out of water, leading to his offsider John Baxter being shot by two rightfully annoyed Aboriginal guides who later absconded with what meager supplies remained.
Madura (157 km from Caigana)
Eucla (170 km from Madura).
WA/SA Border Village (12 km from Eucla). I was told that some crafty fellow moved the border post so that his tavern would be in a jurisdiction with more favourable licencing laws.
Nullarbor Roadhouse (173 kms from the border). Around here the Great Australian Bight can be seen, and occasionally some restless whales.
Nundroo (145km from the Nullarbor Roadhouse)
Then Ceduna is 153 kms away.