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the road The drive from Adelaide to Perth is epic, but it’s full of unexpected delights, finds David Whitley


DESTINATIONS ADEIDE TO PERTH | AUSTRASIA


t


he clinking bottles in the back, picked up in the wineries of the Clare


Valley a few days ago, are a reminder of civilisation. Phone signal? That’s a distant memory. Traffic lights? A hazy concept. On the Nullarbor Plain, there are just the microscopic changes in landscape for company. It is designed to make those who tackle it feel small, isolated and cut off from normal life. The 1,675-mile drive from Adelaide to Perth is an acquired taste. The mere thought of it fills most Australians with dread, and it is not the sort of road trip packed with great lookouts and cultural attractions every hour or so.


But for those craving the open


road, a test of stamina and a rite of passage, driving across the Nullarbor is a truly epic experience.


SETTING OFF The journey starts deceptively gently, with the Barossa and Clare Valley wine regions giving


way to the endless wheat fields across the top of the triangular Eyre Peninsula. The scenery is lazily undemanding, but hardly the stark, thirsty nothing that is to come. Just off the Eyre’s western coast lies Jones Island. No humans live there, but plenty of sea lions do. Baird Bay Ocean Eco Experience takes visitors out to meet them from the hamlet of Baird Bay, about eight hours’ drive from Adelaide. When they’re on the rocks, the sea lions are hilariously entertaining. They honk and scuffle with each other, then make their ungainly way into the water, shunting themselves along with their flippers. It’s when you get in the water with them, however, that you realise that the decidedly ungraceful oafs on land suddenly become elegant, gliding sweethearts underwater. Just donning a snorkel and mask to watch them would be privilege enough, but the guides here have been building up trust with


² travelweekly.co.uk 24 OCTOBER 2019 65


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