Caiguna – start of a long straight

It’s easy to romanticise the truckers – ‘knights of the road’ – as they carry the nation’s goods from east to west and back again. There is no doubt they are skilful drivers and their job is a tough one. While these days they have power steering and air conditioning and CCTV to see behind them, it is still a very physical job. I watched one driver in a roadhouse literally jumping on the end of a two-metre-long wheel wrench to ensure everything was still tight after the vibrations on the road.

truck

But the real strength is in their mental stamina – being able to keep awake and alert on long boring stretches of road.

Caiguna roadhouse and motel were built to service people travelling to the Perth Commonwealth Games in 1962. It is a good place to stop and stretch before setting out on the 90 mile straight.

Caiguna roadhouse

The 90 Mile Straight (roughly 146.6km) between Caiguna and Balladonia is one of the longest straight stretches of road in the world. And this is where you will test your mental stamina. Many times we saw vehicles – including trucks – gradually veering to the edge of the road then straightening up at the last moment, only to repeat the sequence. It is a bit scary driving a small hatchback and watching three-trailer road-trains doing this!

90 mile straight sign

We talked a lot about our forthcoming trip to Europe and the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage. A lot of time and words about why do a pilgrimage, and reviewing and previewing our life together over the past 36 years. And of course we stopped periodically to stretch our legs and take another photo of the straight road 🙂

90 mile straight

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Caiguna Blowhole

Around 5km west of Caiguna on the Nullarbor Plain, you will see a blue sign pointing the way to the Caiguna Blowhole. The sign breaks the monotony of the view 🙂

Straight road

The Caiguna blowhole is disturbingly close to the highway, being only about 20m from the road, and it marks an entrance to the vast underground limestone cave system that lies beneath the Plain. And I briefly wondered how solid was the road foundation – a thought quickly put aside as hundreds of heavy hauling road trains criss-cross over it daily.

Caiguna Blowhole

Caiguna Blowhole

Blowholes are a result of weathering of the ground surface through to a cavity. The cave beneath the Caiguna Blowhole is between 0.5m – 1.5m (1.6 feet – 5 feet). Some blowholes on the Nullarbor have been measured with a wind speed of up to 72kph. Caves breathe out when the air pressure falls, and breathe in when the air pressure rises. The speed of air flow is dependent on the size of the cave entrance and the volume of air contained in the cave.

Some of the caves beneath the Nullarbor have been mapped for several kilometres, and many of them contain large reservoirs of water that collectively form the artesian aquifer. This aquifer supplies the region’s bores and wells with fairly fresh water.

Caiguna blowhole is one of an estimated more than 100,000 blowholes scattered across the plain and it is certainly one of the most accessible. I noticed that someone had tied a piece of cloth to a stick placed at the bottom of the hole to show the air movement, so I made a short video…

 

 
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