Thursday, April 11, 2013

Esperance and the drive home

Norseman marks the start/end point of the Nullarbor crossing, from this town there are two main roads leading to Perth. The first is via the historic mining town of Kalgoorlie which we visited on our way over and the other takes you through the seaside town of Esperance. Before commencing our long drive home we planned to spend two nights in Esperance at a caravan park until I made a last minute discovery of some moderately priced pet-friendly accommodation. After an eight hour drive it was great to be able to check-in to the studio unit and not have to bother about unpacking and setting up camp.

Although the unit was equipped with a kitchenette I was tired from the drive on our first night so once again we ate heat and eat curries. Different varieties of the Tasty Bite curries had been available at the majority of decent sized supermarkets, punjab eggplant had remained one of our favourites throughout the trip. It wasn't until Margaret River that I spotted a different brand called Maharajah's Choice. The range in this brand wasn't as diverse, dhal tadka and saffron rice were the only ones I was able to find that were vegan.

Before leaving Cowaramup I picked some silverbeet/swiss chard and spinach from the garden, cooked them together and sealed them in a snap lock bag. The greens were stirred through the dal to provide some additional goodness. I went slightly overboard with the greens as they dominated the dal slightly too much yet I was still able to determine that this brand had a more interesting blend of spices than the Tasty Bite variety. The saffron rice wasn't terribly exciting, it was nowhere near as good as the basmati rice and peas we ate in the Pattu range.

Heavy rain and thunderstorms set in overnight and the weather was still looking very glum the following morning. We had planned to tour around the Esperance beaches some of which have been voted as Australia's best. As the rain looked like it was going to stick around for a while, instead of checking out the local beaches we took an hour long drive to Wharton Beach in the hope that we would out drive the bad weather.

The rain and heavy clouds followed us the whole way although it started to clear a little when we reached Wharton Beach. We had some fun with Ollie on the pristine, isolated beach with the whitest sand I've even seen before hopping in the car and heading back to Esperance. The weather was clearing when we reached Esperance so we took a shorter drive along the coast to marvel at more stunning beaches (top photo - lookout over Blue Haven beach).

Twilight Beach was named Australia's best beach in 2006. The white sands combined with crystal clear waters and tranquil rock surroundings were simply breathtaking. It was one of the only beaches where dogs were not permitted which didn't matter as the beaches just around the corner were equally gorgeous spots where you could exercise dogs.

The man was exhausted after so much driving and given we had to hit the Nullarbor the next day I suggested that he have an afternoon nap while I did some final bits of food shopping, filled up the car with fuel and took Ollie for a last romp at the beach. This was my best solo decision of the holiday as I spotted a pod of dolphins surfing the waves about 50 metres offshore. I watched them in awe and neglected Ollie's ball game until they eventually disappeared. Even though the sky became full of heavy clouds once again, it was the most perfect ending to the trip!

For dinner we ate a big bowl of spaghetti with a bolognese styled sauce topped with grated Vegusto piquant cheese. I usually make this type of sauce with lentils but couldn't find any dried or tinned lentils at a smallish IGA so I bought a tin of 4 bean mix instead. The sauce also included carrots, mushrooms and zucchini with a touch of chilli. I made a big batch of sauce as I figured it might be an easy meal to eat while travelling home.

After departing Esperance we had three full days of driving to get home which also meant two nights of setting and packing up camp. In the afternoon we started discussing possible stop off points for the night and the man asked how I would feel if he kept on driving. The only concern I voiced was regarding wildlife, night driving in these areas is considered extremely dangerous as it's when the animals are most active. Colliding with kangaroos or wild camels has claimed the lives of many drivers. I probably haven't mentioned before now that the man drove the entire time we were away!

Without going into all of the details, we did continue driving and made it home the following evening. Just under 3000 kms in 36 hours and neither of us had a wink of sleep! It was a crazy thing to do and I wouldn't recommend anyone do the same. The drive had some harrowing moments such as almost running out of fuel because there were no 24 hour service stations on the Eyre Peninsula, passing a huge kangaroo on the opposite side of the highway in the middle of the night, big groups of kangaroos grazing by the side of the road in the night, peak hour traffic in Adelaide, long weekend traffic and road works between Adelaide and Melbourne and more peak hour traffic when we made it back to Melbourne. We did manage to have a lengthy stop in a nice park in Adelaide to stretch Ollie's legs as well as our own.

After such a long drive it was wonderful to be home, especially as we had the young man and our cat Monty waiting for us. The entire trip was such an enjoyable travelling experience which has fuelled my passion for further road trips around this vast country. Over the past month we saw kangaroos, emus, dingos, goannas, lizards, frogs, dolphins, turtles, sting rays, colourful reef fish, water birds, birds of prey, parrots and a beautiful owl in Kalbarri. The total distance we travelled was almost 13,000 kms.

That brings me to the end of my travel posts. The emphasis wasn't solely on food so I apologise for that and thank you all for reading along. More food focussed blogging will be back very soon!


  1. I've enjoyed following your travels :) I'm too impatient to do long road trips so my hat's off to you for that crazy drive :P

    1. Thanks Veganopoulous! Glad you enjoyed the travel posts.

  2. Those travel posts have been so beautiful - those photos are outstanding. I have no driving licence, so I get to do roadtrips vicariously! Glad to see you got some decent food on the road - you never know how vegan friendly supermarkets on the way will be!

    1. Thanks Joey, I'm not surprised to hear that you enjoyed the posts given all of the travelling you have done. Supermarkets in larger towns were a lot more vegan friendly than the smaller expensive ones in more remote areas. I planned our shopping trips around that as I didn't have much faith in finding vegan food in the smaller towns.

  3. Great series of posts on your travels - the photos of the beaches near esperance were stunning and the dolphin moment sounds magical. I can't believe you did 3000km in 36 hours - it was hard enough for the two of us to drive from orange to melbourne in a day last year. I'd love to drive across the nullabor but I think I would get too anxious about too many things. Heartening to see you took it all in your stride. And I loved seeing how you ate well along the way.

    1. Thanks Johanna. The beaches around Esperance were my favourites, I fell in love with them which made it difficult to leave. If only the weather had been kinder there...

      It was a very crazy drive, it felt even crazier to have done it after we arrived home! The Nullarbor is a wonderful drive to do but I recommend having lots of time available. Even though we relied on packet foods more often than I would have liked, I'm glad I was prepared as there were few or no food options available in a lot of places.