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On Walkabout In: Cook, South Australia

A Town Called Cook


Cook, South Australia is in the middle of the Nullarbor Plain and adjacent to the longest stretch of straight railroad track in the world at 478 kilometers.

As the train continued across the Nullarbor Plain it eventually came to stop in a town called Cook. The town of Cook is located in the dead center of the Nullarbor Plain and is about the half way point of the over 2000 mile journey between Perth and Adelaide.

In this Google Earth image you can see Cook in the center of the image and the railway you can see running east and west on the image. A small dirt travels southward from Cook. Notice how desolate the area around Cook is.

Here is an even closer look at Cook. Once again the railway line in the center with the train station adjacent to the track. You can see the homes for the people who live in Cook behind the train station.

The Indian-Pacific stops in Cook in order to refuel and resupply the train. While the train is doing this, the passengers are allowed to deboard the train for about two hours and explore the town of Cook. Trust me there is not a whole lot to see because Cook only has a population of seven people. Yes, I said seven. The seven people that live in Cook are older folks who work for the railroad maintaining the facilities at Cook.

The Cook Train Station

Despite it’s small size there is still enough things to look at while in Cook. If you run out of things to look at then spend some time talking to the locals because they are a friendly bunch in Cook. I’m sure you learn to be friendly with the few people you do meet out in Cook when you live officially in the middle of no where:


Be careful though, because if you are not friendly you may end up in the Cook city jail:


Here is a sign that kind of gives you an idea how remote this place is:


Talking to the locals they were telling me that it takes two hours of driving on a dirt road to reach the nearest paved road, which is the highway that connects South Australia with West Australia. Once they reach the highway they have to drive another 8 hours to reach the nearest city of Port Augusta. So basically a trip to the market takes you 10 hours from Cook. Because of this distance food and other items requested by the people of Cook are brought in by the Indian-Pacific when the train stops in Cook. Not only are the people of Cook resupplying the train, but the train is resupplying the people of Cook.

The train also brings in tourists that allow the residents to sell souvenirs to including these official certificates of crossing the Nullarbor that were going for $5 dollars:


Something else I liked about Cook was that the people there definitely have a good sense of humor:


I guess you have to have a sense of humor when you live in place like Cook.

Cook housing area that included by far the largest trees I had seen in the whole Nullarbor.

Before long the train was blowing its horn, which signaled that it was time to load up on the train again and continue the long ride across the Nullarbor.


Next Posting: Last Stop Adelaide

Prior Posting: Across the Nullarbor

Return to the Western Australia Holiday Journal Archive


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