Author: Mrs A
From: Gibson’s Soak
To: Fraser Range Station
Distance driven: 283 km
Distance hiked (at high speed under great duress): 6 km
March flies fed: 200+ (estimate)
After a poor to fair night’s sleep at Gibson’s Soak, we were on the road bright and early to head up to Noseman. The main downside to our free camp was its position – right in between a rail line sporting freight trains hooting their horns from 4am and the main road north, sporting roaring road trains. Not the best combination for relaxation.
We headed first to Norseman, an old goldmining town, and what we expected to be the last frontier before commencing our crossing of the Nullabor. What we found was far from our expectations. Mr A had a nap while I popped to the local chemist and IGA supermarket for some final bits and pieces. Every shop and building was heavily protected with bars on windows, often no windows at all, replaced with shutters. Many shops were long closed and boarded up, the paint peeling and a strong feeling of deprivation. It was very sad indeed. We had intended to find a cash point, but alas there was none – I later discovered the bank closed two years ago.
Just over an hour beyond Norseman was our stop for the night, a sheep station on the Fraser Range. The station was originally settled in 1872, and was the first on the Nullabor. Its located in the Western Woodlands, and with its granite hills apparently looks little like the rest of the Nullabor Plain.
As we called in to announce our arrival we were surrounded instantly by flies, many of them biting March flies. Ouch. We were not impressed. The temperatures here are up in the late 20s, the warmest we have felt in a long while, but we were forced inside behind the safety of the flyscreens for most of the afternoon.
As the day wore on we decided we ought to try and get out. Mr A attempted a cycle but found few tracks to explore, so we decided to head up to the summit of the range on foot. We mistakenly thought the March flies would be preoccupied with other campers, but found there were plenty to go around.
Despite being bitten frequently on all limbs, tap dancing our way up the hills over granite bolders, we did manage to see some incredible scenery. It took some skill to stop for the minimum amount of time to quickly frame, focus and shoot photographs while sustaining the fewest bites, but we did it. A few looked vaguely ok even!
On our 90 minute high speed dance up and down to the summit, we failed to see a single sheep. We did spot a baby camel, a calf, several red kangaroos, a pair of shingleback lizards, and a wild goat.
Reaching the summit was a relief. I quickly wrote a message in the visitor’s book, and it was about turn and back down to camp as the sun went down.
With darkness the flies vanished, and we retired for dinner and a good night’s sleep…we hope.