Through the Big Flat Nothing

Nullarbor Travel Blog

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I have been through the Nullarbor. Yes I have.

Okay, my experience must be described as „Nullarbor light“. The journey took place on air-conditioned Gold Kangaroo Class train cars with chilled beer, enormous amounts of excellent food, around-the-clock service and entertainment, and nothing to worry about except which brand of beer to try next.

We did the journey on the Indian Pacific from Adelaide to Perth, two nights and a full day on the train. So we crossed two thirds of the continent's width. A full day of travel through flat nothingness, and it was not boring even for a single minute. I loved it.

Even many Aussies think the name „Nullarbor“ derives from a local Aboriginal language. It does not.

Sunrise east of Port Augusta

The plain was in fact named by the early European explorers. The name is Latin, „nullus arbor“, which means „no tree“.

Remember this when travelling on the Indian Pacific because this question is part of the quiz they do for the passengers.

The Indian Pacific

The Indian Pacific is Australia's longest train route which runs from Sydney to Perth and back twice a week. The full journey, all in all 4352 kilometres, takes three nights and two days.

All details about classes, fares, timetables, route, service etc. etc. etc. can be found on the website of Great Southern Railways: http://www.

greatsouthernrail.com.au/trains/the-indian-pacific so there is no need to repeat everything here.

We chose travelling Gold Kangaroo Class, the most expensive way but it was worth it. We had a two-bed compartment with ensuite shower and toilet to ourselves. First thing in the morning the conductor brought coffee or tea according to our wishes („A weak tea with a drop of milk“) to our compartment.

Meals were served in the neo-Victorian restaurant car. Food was abundant and excellent.

The meals are taken in two shifts. You have the choice, the conductor will ask after departure and you'll be in either first or second shift during the whole journey. They have some fancier names for the two shifts but I forgot. The shifts will be called for meals over the loudspeaker. *Whispers:* Take the second shift if there are still openings.

The Big Flat Nothing
The first shift has to get up for breakfast very early and will have to leave the dining car immediately after finishing their meals while the second shift can take their time.

If we wanted company there was the lounge car with bar at our disposition, if we wanted quiet we had our compartment. The friendly staff also did some entertainment for the passengers in the lounge, including a quiz about the route and the places along which I did together with three Australians who were sitting at the same table. It was fun but we did not win anything...

Don't expect the trains to be very modern, this is more a nostalgic journey. Maximum speed is about 100-110 kph.

I have to admit, though, that we (40 and 53) were by far the youngest passengers in Gold Kangaroo Class...

Bill Bryson has, by the way, given a wonderful entertaining description of the Indian Pacific in „In A Sunburned Country“.

World's longest straight railway track

All the landscape photos in here are snapshots that I took from the train during the ride.

We departed from Adelaide after dark. At sunrise we awoke somewhere northwest of Port Augusta. Here we still have bush with fully grown gum trees.

During the morning trees became less and less. After breakfast we still saw shrubs and some green.

Then we reached the Big Flat Nothing. The soil is never completely bare, though, some plants still grow, so the Nullarbor can be called a half-desert.

The train route includes the longest straight stretch of train tracks in the world: 478 kilometres without even the slightest curve. A figure to remember for the quiz they do for the passengers.

Hard to imagine that there are indeed cattle farms in this landscape.

If you keep your eyes open you can, with a bit of luck, spot wildlife from the train.

Lounge car
The plain does not look inviting, nevertheless it is inhabited by a variety of animals.

Wedge-tailed Eagles are frequent in the sky above the wide plain, although I saw only one. This bird has been chosen as the symbol of the Indian Pacific.

In one place where a side railway turns to a distant farm, some empty cattle wagons were standing on the track. They created the only shady spot for hundreds of kilometres. The kangaroos know. A bunch of Grey Kangaroos were resting underneath the wagons.

I also saw some unwelcome intruders from the old world: a feral cat and two foxes.

Late in the afternoon we were back in the bush. There was still a whole night to go.

In the evening the train stopped in Kalgoorlie for about two hours. For us Gold Kangaroo passengers, a guided tour by bus was offered. It was already pitch dark. We were driven though the city and to the Superpit lookout. The view of the illuminated mine was quite something. It was hard to estimate its true dimensions, though. 

vicIII says:
You did it! Well done, Kathrin!:)
Posted on: Aug 30, 2017
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Sunrise east of Port Augusta
Sunrise east of Port Augusta
Only small shrubs are left
Only small shrubs are left
The Big Flat Nothing
The Big Flat Nothing
Worlds longest straight railway t…
World's longest straight railway …
Lounge car
Lounge car
Indian Pacific locomotive
Indian Pacific locomotive
The Nullarbor
The Nullarbor
Hard to believe that there are cat…
Hard to believe that there are ca…
Traces of a bush fire
Traces of a bush fire
Hooray, the first trees
Hooray, the first trees
Passing time in the lounge car
Passing time in the lounge car
Kalgoorlie at night
Kalgoorlie at night
This is no abstract painting, but …
This is no abstract painting, but…
Arrival in Perth in the second mor…
Arrival in Perth in the second mo…
Nullarbor
photo by: rollerblading