Westward Ho!…

….. and how little did I know!


A half century ago, on Tuesday the of 1st November 1966, I clambered aboard aboard a ’22 wheeler’ in Adelaide, bound for Perth, Western Australia.

Against my better judgement I’d taken up my brothers offer of a ride to the ‘West’ aboard a ‘semi’, I’d turned down a free first class trip on Ansett’s direct flight to Perth, a trip of a few hours, for a road trip across the Nullahbor, which would take….?

It was anybody’s guess how long…nullah8The previous day, Monday the 31st October, I’d travelled across to Adelaide from Melbourne by semi, also at my brothers instigation.  This map will give you some idea what was in store for me. We were not metric in ’66, that’s 1966 not Route.

Today, one can tavel on sealed road, all the way, from Adelaide to Perth. Fifty years ago?Not on you Nelly! Dirt, gravel and bulldust for mile after endless mile. Once in  a while the State would send a grader to give the ‘road’ a bit of a clean up; but obviously it was not on the must do list. 

With no thought of it being “Cup Day”, I arrived well before time at the depot, to meet the truckie, who was to have the dubious pleasure, of my company for the next several days; or so it was believed. He wasn’t particularly happy about having a passenger along, but he’d been told he had to take me, like it or not.

I never did know what pull my brother had, obviously he must have some, if not considerable, at that time.

Naturally, I can’t remember this blokes name, so for the sake of this post I’m going to call him Fred;  surely you don’t expect me to keep calling this poor, suffering, bloke ‘the driver’ do you?

I’d taken the precaution of buying a reasonable supply of canned food as I had no idea how or when I’d be able to eat. Those were the good ol’ days, when I had a stomach, that needed filling every so often.

We got away late in the morning and Fred warned me not to doze off or go to sleep whilst we were mobile. Apparently, if a passenger on one of these long haul vehicles, does doze off, the driver can easily follow suit. 😳

The going was easy, as we went up South Australia, through Ports Pirie and Augusta; down to Whyalla, then across and up to Ceduna.

I must point out here that Fred knew his way, sort of, from Adelaide to Perth. However, on this occassion, he had to go to Perth via Port Hedland; and he had no idea how to get there! He confided this bit of, not useless, information to me, as we were heading for Ceduna and the Nullahbor at great speed with the suggestion that he thought it might be a good idea if we bought a road map, when we stopped for a break at a roadhouse. I thought it’d be a good idea too.



Obviously Fred had never been in the “Boy Scouts”.  Fred  also had another good idea, he appointed me navigator. Naturally enough, he would be too busy driving, and I didn’t have much to do except sit there and watch the sand and scrub flash by. I was free loading, so how could I refuse?  


It is not my intention to regale you with the full story of my great journey to Perth, it would take too long; just as the journey was. Melbourne, from where I started, to Perth runs 3281 km; not the 4000+ shown in the map above, that route follows the coast.

But going via Port Hedland added an extra 3207 km. A total of 6488km, or 4032 miles, for those who can’t be bothered, or don’t know how to,  to do the  conversion themselves; and of that there was more than 2000 km of dirt, gravel & bulldust.

My intention of going to  West was primarily for a couple of months holiday (vacation) and to suss out the boom that  had started.

My first marriage had broken down and ended some two years previous, and I knew that now was the time to go, never thinking for one moment that it would eventually land me up back in the East and marrying again some ten years later.

We left Adelaide on the 1st November 1966, arriving Perth, 2, yes two weeks before Christmas 1966. 8-).

Fifty years ago to the very day!


Not being a photographer, I cheated, and copied and pasted some photographs from Google of scenes across the Nullahbor. As you can see there is one of the road, when it was dirt.


23 thoughts on “Westward Ho!…

  1. What a long detour, to Port Hedland! It must have been flippin’ hot at that time of year. Next time, take up that offer of a plane flight, even if it’s not first class.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was a bit warm, but I like it that way. Never sorry I took the the Nullahbor route, I actually went west to east in ’69 this time was from Carnarvon to Melbourne by Pioneer Bus, then I flew back a few months, later to Perth before I headed up to the Pilbara. Told you I like it warm. XD

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I can’t imagine a drive that long, even on a paved road in a luxury car! The sign is fascinating. Certainly nothing like that in the states.


    1. By the way, did you drive the return trip? Or fly? Surely the westbound trip was more than enough time on that road.


      1. Actually I did do the trip back east in ’69 for a few months I went from Carnarvon, which is over a 1000 km north of Perth to Melbourne by coach, Glutton for punishment. When I returned to the West a few months later it was by air. XD


  3. What a grand adventure. Many, many years ago, I too crossed Australia, but by comfort of rail.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It certainly was, wouldn’t have missed it for the world. Pity I didn’t know what was in store, and had kept a log book,


  4. I was bouncing along with you, breathing in the grit


    1. Not sure about the bouncing Derrick, some earth shattering bumps when we hit the bulldust, which was often, butI never regretted doing this trip.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Maybe you should give us the long journey. Not too many us get to see Australia like that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nobody can do this trip now GP it’s bitumen sealed roads amd highways all the way now, plenty of roadhouses to stop at for some tucker . The fun and romance has gone.
      Might give some thought to doing what you suggest GP; I can pinch plenty of pictures from the net to make it more appealing, but I don’t think you should hold your breath


      1. Oh well, it was a thought….


        1. Nice thought though, kind of wishful thinking type of thought. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

  6. Those were the days hey! I befriended some of the guys who were sealing the road in ’74. They’d come into Adelaide cashed up and thirsty after several weeks with only their graders for company. The got me evicted. The neighbours couldn’t cope with our revellery.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. They really were Gwen, as you know I was the bloke that ran the boozer at Shay Gap a mining town, that’s now gone. and I admired those men enormously. They worked like dogs 12 hours on 12 off for 14 weeks and then got a break. They drank like fish and were the best behaved men I ever had the pleasure of serving and looking after; they were really happy days, sometimes I look back and think the happiest freest. I was actually on my way back to the west when I met you know who 😦

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Great memories – I see they have a Facebook page, and there you are 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Now you have me intrigued. Where the hell am I? 😕


        2. How clever of me I went to facebook which is a rarity for me and found a page or whatever it is for Shay Gap. Theres not much there is there? I was the KING of Shay, I ran the boozer and my word was law. XD there was an interesting pic I dont know if you saw it heres the link, good read, well for me at least

          Liked by 1 person

        3. That bloody great blue thing in my reply starts https://wwwfacebook.com finishes 1&theater

          Typical they give the yankee spelling stead of theatre. This one goes to some blogs I did on Shay sometime ago, don’t know if we’d met then

          Liked by 1 person

        4. Oh wow! Bit of reading there. I’ll save that for my morning coffee ease-into-the-day routine 🙂 Right now struggling with why Australian readers can’t see my giveaway on Goodreads for my memoir narrated by moi. I’m almost getting nostalgic for the days of carbon paper and triplicate everything.

          Liked by 1 person

  7. You commented on this facebook page a couple of years back. Look for your photo with chubby cheeks 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. And this looks like a second Shay Gap Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/7418156671/ Might be time for you to join them and start reminiscing with other former residents?

    Liked by 1 person

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