Crossing the Back Paddock 2 [contains PCL references]

To: Birding Aus <>
Subject: Crossing the Back Paddock 2 [contains PCL references]
From: Laurie&Leanne Knight <>
Date: Sat, 21 Dec 2002 08:41:28 +1000
Day 3 of my trans-Oz drive was the long one, and I left Kimba before dawn. 
Appropriately, there were many port lincoln ringnecks along the base of the Eyre
Pen. as well as masses of starlings.  I also spent 10 minutes following a house
[it pretty much took up the whole highway] before its police escort waved me by.

By far and away, the most common bird along the 'Nullarbor" section of the trip
was richard's pipits ~ 10 or more per km lurking on the road in some sections. 
The dingo at the Nullarbor roadhouse was amusing the tourists and car
thermometer indicated rapidly fluctuating temperatures as I approached the WA
border [eg a change from 24-34C over 10 km].  One indicator of the proximity of
the road to the coast was a pacific gull flying in front of the car 65 km east
of the border.

I passed through a few rain bands between Madura and Norseman, and consequently
there were hundreds of roos on the wet sections of the road.  This meant slowing
down to 60 clicks as one in ten of the dopey buggers would decide to cross from
one side of the road to the other and some inevitably slipped over as they
turned around on the wet bitumen.

I noticed numerous flocks of purple-crowned lorikeets zipping about in what I
perceive to be the 'salmon gums' section between Balladonia and Norseman.  I
also had a fleeting glimpse of what appeared to be a peregrine sitting in a tree
near a wedgetail as the sky darkened, and I drove the last 60 km into Norseman
through a tropical downpour.  [I think that rain made it all the way to the
Adelaide Test a couple of days later].

I decided 1500 km was enough for one day and so spent the night in Norseman. 
This proved to be a mistake as early the next morning the road north was blocked
by a burning semi-trailer which was releasing potentially toxic smoke.  The
police weren't letting anyone through and the backroads were closed due to the
previous day's rain.  I had been on track to complete the trans Oz traverse in
three and a half days, but the five hour wait [while the fire crews from
Kalgoorlie / Kambalda worked out what to do about the burning payload] put paid
to that.  To add insult to injury, there weren't too many interesting birds to
perve at [mostly purple-crowned lorikeets and red wattlebirds].

The drive into Perth was relatively unremarkable [apart from the growing patches
of salinised land].  Overall, on the traverse, one interesting observation was
that I saw more emus than wedgetails.

For those of you who may someday drive the black lane across the 'nullarbor', I
took note of the petrol prices between the two last 'cheap' points [Penong in
the east and Norseman in the west].  Basically, the ULP price jumps 20-30 cents
per litre [to about 50 cents higher than the price in Brisbane] the instant you
leave the respective wheatbelts. 

The ULP prices I observed [on both legs were]
Penong 97c
Nundaroo $1.28
Yalata $1.21
Nullarbor $1.22
Border Village $1.24
Eucla $1.17 [easily the cheapest and definitely the place to fill up]
Mundibilla $1.24
Madura $1.27
Cocklebiddy $1.24 [I think]
Caiguna $1.23
Balladonia $1.24
Norseman $1.07 [the obvious station is not the cheapest].

Regards, Laurie.

[to be continued]

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