Thursday, November 18, 2010

No Trees

I'm reading a novel by Patricia Shaw; The Feather and the Stone.  On page 78, it talks about how one of the characters was surprised to learn that Nullarbor is not a name with Aboriginal origins.  It's a Latin thing meaning No Trees.

When I looked closely at the word, it made sense.  It's not that I know Latin. But I do know that null means something along the lines of no. And arbor is a tree thing.  

This Nullarbor website says that the Mirning people referred to the area as Oondiri.  This means no water.

No water.  No trees. I don't think this is a place where I'd like to get stranded.

I'm going to see if there's any good Nullarbor photos on Flickr. 

Mark Hurley has taken a photo of a Nullarbor sign.  Apparently you can run into kangaroos, wombats, and camels while out there.  That would be cool....unless you hit one with your car.  I heard that can be very both the animal and the driver.    

Hurley also has this picture; I guess taken from his seat of the car.  It shows the Nullarbor. There's more green than I would have expected.  

It looks like Pekka Stokke has found a tree within the land of no trees. I look closer, I see there are several trees.  But no. I wasn't thinking the No Tree thing was literal.   I knew it probably meant something more like Not Many Trees.

In Gerry Cobb's photo, the Nullarbor looks vast and beautiful with the blue water in view.   The caption says the photo is of Cape LeGrand National Park. Looking at Google Maps (and I finally figured out how to link from there!), it seems that blue water is the Great Australian Bite. The park is right near Esperance.

I decided I had enough of Flickr photos, and went to look at Nullarbor via Google News. There's a disturbing article about animals being transported across the area. A spokesperson from an organization called Animals Australia says that the sheep and cattle go 48 hours without food and water.  If that's true.....It's very horrific.

Why are the animals being transported?  Are there not sheep and cattle stations in the east? That would shock me a bit.

The RSPCA website also has information about the transportation of animals.  They say We believe that live transportation must be kept to a minimum. Animals should be slaughtered close to the farms where they were reared and long-distance transportation of livestock for slaughter should be replaced with a 'meat carcass-only' trade. During transport, higher welfare standards should be used and the animals looked after by competent and caring staff.

Well, that makes sense to me.   

Now I'm on YouTube.  Here's someone driving their motorcycle on the Nullarbor.  Do you remember that scene in Poltergeist  where Jobeth Williams is trying to run to her childen's bedroom, and she experiences an illusion of the hallway going on forever and ever?   Well, that's what the Nullarbor reminds me of.

This Outback Australia website has interesting facts about the Nullarbor Plain. I found it on Google when I was trying to verify a piece of trivia provided in the video.

In the southern part of the Nullarbor Plain is the longest stretch of straight road in the world. Cool.

This American website says that the longest straight road in my country is highway 46 in North Dakota. It's 198 kilometers.  Lord Wiki says the famous straight road in the Nullarbor Plain goes for 147 kilometers. Either I'm reading the information wrong, or someone else is confused.

Maybe people have a different definition of what constitutes a straight road.

Oh.  Never mind. I went back to the American website, and read the next paragraph. Highway 46 is NOT a straight road.  They say it has little curves here and there. They say it stays really straight for 50 kilometers.

So the Nullarbor Plain IS the winner.  

And it has a reputation for other things besides the long straight road thing. The outback website says it is earth's largest piece of limestone.  

On the Nullarbor Plain, there is a straight piece of railtrack that stretches for 478 kilometers. That's even longer than the straight road.  Wow.

Here's some bad news.   Modern day farmers aren't the only one to do thoughtless things in the Nullarbor.  In the 1950's, the British used the area for nuclear testing. Because of this, some of the original inhabitants of the area were forced to leave.

Lots of meteorites have been found in the Nullarbor.

Anyway, I'm done for now.

I'd like to go to the Nullarbor someday; not this next trip, though.

Right now my plan is to try to visit Australia every three years.   I'm thinking 2012 will be Sydney, Victoria, and the eastern part of South Australia.  2015 might be the Northern Territory.   Maybe 2018 will be the Nullarbor.  We shall see....

Speaking of our next trip.

I've already changed my mind again about things.   We were going to drive from Melbourne to Adelaide, stay a few days; then head out to Broken Hill. Tim made me realize that it would be more economical to do a circle. Rent the car in Melbourne, drive out west, and then drive back again to Melbourne.  Have I already talked about this before?  I'm getting Deja Vu.

I don't think I'm up to going as far as Western Australia.  But maybe we can go more west than Adelaide.  Maybe Port Augusta?  I don't know. I'll have to look more into all of that.