Monday, 8 August 2016


We turned off the highway and headed north towards the Indian-Pacific railway line along a dirt and limestone track for about 16 km. We freecamped at Koonalda.

There is no signpost on the highway but I knew what to expect. Koonalda was a sheep station on the old Eyre Highway, about 25 km south of the railway line, built by very resourceful folk who recycled everything to construct sheds, a house for their family of 11, a shearing shed, fence posts and gates, hinges and machinery. They also installed a fuel pump to supply passing traffic. Any cars belonging to travellers that died on the property stayed on the property so that now the old homestead is surrounded by old rusting vehicles. All of the buildings at Koonalda were constructed with old railway sleepers and iron rails (narrow gauge) and corrugated iron.

The old Eyre Highway near Koonalda

Koonalda homestead
Service station, Koonalda

Koonalda shearing shed

Shearing shed detail - recycled kerosene tin

Shearing shed detail - shearer's grease tin (complete with grease)

Shearing shed detail - shearers' tallies

Koonalda shearing shed and dip
Grey Butcherbird

Stump-tailed Bluetongue

But, interesting as it all was, my main interest was in the caves. The Nullarbor is a huge, flat and deep expanse of limestone and there are cave systems throughout. At Koonalda there are at least two large openings where the roof of the cave has collapsed. We saw several smaller ones that have been used as rubbish tips in the past and we were told about several other vents where cool air rushes out at all times. The Koonalda homestead was supplied with water pumped from one of the caves. Research scientists are now exploring the rich natural and cultural history of the cave systems.

Koonalda Cave
Koonalda Cave (Phil standing on the edge above the overhang)
An unnamed cave on Koonalda station

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