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Nullarbor National Park
Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrLocated about 850 kilometers west of Adelaide in the state of South Australia, Nullarbor National Park lies pretty much in the middle of nowhere. It is a part of the vast Nullarbor Plain. Covering a surface area of almost 3,000,000 hectares, the national park itself is quite large too. Nullarbor National Park stretches from the Great Australian Bight to the South Australia – Western Australia border.
The main settlement on the border is Border Village, consisting of not a lot more than a roadhouse and a few other buildings, while the Nullarbor Roadhouse lies at the park’s eastern end. The Eyre Highway runs through the center of the national park, close to the coastline. To its north lies the empty vastness of the Nullarbor Plain or Nullarbor Regional Reserve. South of the highway lies one of the park’s major features. There, 60-meter-high cliffs drop into the Southern Ocean , doing so over a distance of 200 kilometers at the park’s southern edge. The views are incredible. The Eyre Highway is the main east-west artery in Australia and essentially follows (or at least keeps close to) the coastline. The 1,000-kilometer crossing of the nothingness that is the Nullarbor is legendary. Even nowadays, with its paved road, it is a spectacular journey that requires some preparation.
The Nullarbor is the largest piece of limestone in the world. In addition, it is also one of the world’s flattest plateaus of exposed rock. The plain does have some depressions though, that collect water which dissolves the limestone. Therefore, this seemingly flat and boring plain is in fact dotted with sinkholes, caves, and undergrounds caverns that were created in the course of thousands of years. Most caves have underground waters and some contain skeletons of long-extinct animals. The plain’s lack of features is shown in the fact that the Trans Australian Railway runs across it in a perfectly straight 483-kilometer line.
Nullarbor is Latin and literally means ‘no trees’, which is exactly what the landscape looks like. The vast flatness seems to be covered in just two species of bushes. There are, however, almost 800 different plant species to be found in the Nullarbor. High-profile animals that can be spotted are red and grey Kangaroos, Camels, Wombats, Dingoes and, in the Great Australian Bight, Southern Right Whales.
HistoryIt seems an empty place, yet there are sixty archaeological sites on the Nullarbor Plain. Ancient hearths, paintings, hand prints, and sculpted stones have been found. These findings prove that the region has been inhabited for at least 40,000 years. The original people of the region are known as the Wirangu and Mirning peoples. Many of these Aboriginals still live in settlements in the Nullarbor National Park and, to their credit, hold on to their beliefs and traditions.
The first European who crossed the Nullarbor was Edward Eyre in 1841. He was aided by a local Aboriginal. Both men survived this legendary crossing in the middle of summer.
A former part of Nullarbor Station, an enormous sheep farm, the Nullarbor National Park was established in 1979.
Things to See and DoNullarbor National Park can be crossed on the Eyre Highway. There are a few short detours to sights and attractions, but people who want to travel to more remote areas are strongly advised to prepare themselves and carry sufficient water, food, fuel and emergency materials, as there are no facilities whatsoever. Popular activities are caving, 4-wheel-driving, whale watching, and sightseeing. Visitors can go on scenic flights over the park, possibly the very best way to grasp the sheer size of the Nullarbor.
Probably the park’s main attraction is the coastal cliffs (Bunda Cliffs). These spectacular cliffs can be reached along a short unpaved road off the Eyre Highway. There is a large car park, a boardwalk and a nice viewing platform.
A few caves are open to the public. The three Murrawijinie Caves lies about ten kilometers from the Nullarbor Roadhouse, at the eastern end of the national park, and can be reached on a rough unpaved road. A 4WD is recommended there. Other caves, such as Koonalda Cave and Bunabie Blowhole, can be seen from their tops.
The national park is home to five fantastic coastal lookouts, from which, in season, visitors can spot Southern Right Whales and their calves.
How to Get ThereThe Nullarbor National Park begins 300 kilometers east of Ceduna, which, when coming from the east, is the last real town before the Nullarbor Plain begins. Ceduna itself lies 500 kilometers west of Adelaide. Coming from either South Australia or Western Australia, the only road to and through the national park is the Eyre Highway (A1).
Similar LandmarksSouth of Nullarbor National Park lie the Far West Coast Marine Park and the Great Australian Bight Marine Park. The Nullarbor Plain is unique in the world and therefore, there aren't really any similar national parks anywhere. Australia, of course, does have other Outback parks. Great examples of those are Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park and Purnululu National Park.
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Author: bramreusen. Last updated: Oct 09, 2014