Subscribe!Get all the best of On Walkabout by subscribing.

On Walkabout On: The Nullarbor Plain

Across the Nullarbor

We pulled out of Kalgoorlie some time around 4AM and my wife and I were understandably tired. I slept for a couple of hours before the sun rose and woke me up. When I woke up this is the view I was treated to right outside my window:

DSCF4459

The train was deep in the West Australian outback and the scenery was beautiful. The wife and I got up and proceeded to the dining car to east breakfast and it was about then that the train began to cross the Nullarbor Plain. Nullarbor is Latin for the words nothing and tree. In other words its the treeless plain. Here is a satellite image of this great treeless plain:

If you look at the bottom center of this image along the coast, that is the Nullarbor Plain. Here is the what the view looked like out of our dining car window:

DSCF4463

As you can see there is nothing but bushes across this plain. In fact these bushes stretch across this plain for 1,200 kilometers. In some areas there was hardly any bushes at all:

DSCF4491

The reason for this lack of vegetation is because the Nullarbor is really the world’s largest single piece of limestone. What little precipitation that falls here does not get absorbed by the ground because it is limestone. The water simply drips through the limestone and further into the ground. Thus trees cannot grow here because their roots cannot tap into any ground water. However, on a rare occasion you can see a small tree growing:

DSCF4465

Consequentially, this limestone plain does cause the Nullarbor to have one of the world’s most extensive cave systems. The plain is littered with caves that scientists continue to discover and explore. Occasionally we could see a dirt road presumably leading to a remote aboriginal settlement or sheep ranch. These ranches are so remote that their children go to school through a program called the School of the Air. The nearest School of the Air would be in Kalgoorlie where the teachers will teach the children on the ranches by radio. Interestingly enough we even passed an airport out in the middle of no where:

DSCF4468

What this airport is doing out here in the middle of no where is anybodies guess. However, the Nullarbor would have more surprises for us, like when we stopped in a town called Cook.

Next Posting: A Town Called Cook

Prior Posting: A Night in Kalgoorlie

Return to the Western Australia Holiday Journal Archive

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *