We were recently contacted by long term BIG4 Club Card members Brian and Joy H. Avid travellers who are soon to retire from towing their van to enjoying cabin accommodation, we were delighted to be able to share a few recollections from their travels across the years!
Brian wrote: “We will be re-joining BIG4 again for the next two years; we have been given good service by you for the last twenty two years and we will continue on until we can no longer travel together by car.”
Brian and Joy have been BIG4 Club Card Members since 1990, where they joined at BIG4 Capricorn Palms Holiday Village – Yeppoon. We were curious to find out more about their last 54 years travelling, but could never have imagined the interesting account we would have received! We thank Brian and Joy for sharing a few insights of their travels.
Brian’s recollection of their first trip
Our first big trip was 5 days after we were married on the 5/12/1959. We drove across the Nullarbor to Sydney in our 1950 Holden over incredibly rugged unsealed roads (sleeping in the dust filled car!). Between Norseman WA and Port Augusta SA the “Eyre Highway” consisted of about 1700km of dirt…believe it or not, our love of travel began there. Caravans later became a luxury!
We have taken photos on every trip we’ve made since 1959. We have travelled the Nullarbor countless times over the years including twice around Australia in 1990/91 and 1996/97 and have never felt it was a problem apart from our first trip in 1959.
It took more than a week to travel from Norseman to Port Augusta. We were lucky to see any more than about four or five vehicles per day…usually travelling together and in the opposite direction to us. The road was at least forty metres wide in places as vehicles kept edging further to the side to avoid the real bad patches. In fact we travelled along the nearby telegraph line maintenance track at times as it was better than the Eyre “Highway”!
We nearly came to grief between Madura and Eucla as I was finally able to get up to about 35 miles per hour (about 55 km/h) and rounding a bend we ploughed into huge wheel ruts left in the road by a previously bogged truck. The old Holden took off like a startled gazelle and bounced alarmingly all over the place till I was able to stop and examine the carnage…two shock absorber mounts torn off and two mudguard stays broken; hence driving along with guards flapping like bird wings for the rest of the trip to Sydney!
We travelled rough, sleeping on a mattress on top of the luggage in a dust filled car, the WA/SA border signpost with joy, the road as it was in 1959. The highlight of the crossing was our overnight stay in our first Motel room in Port Augusta.
The fuel stops available when crossing from WA to SA in 1959 were: from Norseman…the next stop was the old Balladonia Homestead and then on to Madura, followed by the old Eucla telegraph station near a big tree on the flats, a few hundred metres from the old jetty. The original town of Eucla is now completely engulfed by sand with only an odd chimney showing. Of course the present Eucla Township is at the top of the pass. Petrol cost six shillings and sixpence a gallon in 1959, incredibly expensive at the time.
Today, the big tree still marks the spot near the old telegraph station there but is completely surrounded by sand. The next stop was the old Nullarbor Homestead, off the Eyre Highway, north of the present day Nullarbor Roadhouse. The last fuel stop was Ceduna.
One had to take care when planning such a trip then, especially with regard to having a reliable vehicle, enough fuel, food and a bit of common sense.
I hope this gives some idea of the crossing as it was before being sealed; Joy and I still cannot believe it when we hear people complain about having to do the trip, they just do not know what travel is about…in our opinion.
Thank you Brian and Joy H for sharing your story from the road. We will never complain about a long road trip again!
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