When the bus driver said: “We’re gonna be going nowhere and stopping everywhere”, I wasn’t expecting the road trip of a lifetime. But crossing Australia’s vast Nullarbor Plain ended up being a weirdly hypnotic experience.
I was travelling between Perth and Adelaide on Australia’s longest, straightest road, the Eyre Highway. This 1,660 kilometre highway links Western Australia and South Australia via the Nullarbor Plain. Ironically it is the very emptiness and its lack of visual stimulation which makes journey a unique. The Eyre highway is indeed straighter than straight, very long and seems to slice through the desert plain for miles and miles and miles.
As the the road sign says at the start, “90 miles straight – Australias Longest Straight Road – 146.6km
The Nullarbor boasts three superlatives, not just the longest and the straightest but it is also the largest block of limestone on Earth. The former sea bed is a calcium-rich loam made from sea shells, and it is because of this that trees cant grow. Hence the name Nullarbor from the Latin nullus arbor meaning ‘no trees’
There are a few hardy shrubs such as salt bush and blue bush and some myall acacia trees on the edge of the Nullarbor. But when I think of crossing the Nullarbor I think of being mezmerized by nothingness. It was this I wanted to capture in my painting – and the straightness of the road.
This piece of music was on a compilation tape a friend had made for me. It listened to it on a loop while crossing the Nullarbor and it will always be synonymous with travelling through Australia’s desertscapes. Admittedly looking back it could have been the 90s trance music which had helped to lull me into hypnosis.