“Life on the edge”, “living on the edge”, “if you’re not living on the edge you’re taking up too much space”, “I tried living on the edge, didn’t like it much”, “I’ve been to the edge and back” etc. etc.
No shortage of sayings about living on the edge. Well here’s my story about camping on the edge! Working on some old files the other day for my World Panorama Stock portfolio I rediscovered an old favourite destination and story of mine – The Great Australian Bight!
The Great Australian Bight is a bight than runs for more than 1,000 kilometers along the southern coast of Australia. If you look at a map it looks like someone took a huge bite (bight, geddit? haha) out of Australia! When you get there it literally is the end of the world; you stand at the top of cliff faces that descend 50-60 meters straight into the ocean and you truly feel like you’re on the edge and at the end of the world! I don’t know many people who have been to the Great Australian Bight and yet it is one of the most stunning and remote locations in Australia!
I realised the other day that I didn’t always have to write about the current photos I shoot, I could also write about older tours and older photos! This opens up a whole new bag of tricks (some might say can of worms) for this blog – so this is my story and “Lonely Planet Style” travel guide to living on the edge…
Getting there & around
To get to The Great Australian Bight you simply travel in your 4WD along the Nullarbor plain for a long time and when you feel like you’ve gone far enough you turn due South (there are no roads so any place will do). You then bump (be prepared for a few dislocated discs in your back!) across the open flat plains for a few hours and all you have to do now is remember to stop when the world ends! Here’s a map showing you the location, you won’t need a more detailed map, you really just need to remember to brake before you go over the edge. You can drive your car straight over the edge, but the chances of reversing back up are slim!
My trip to the Bight began in January 1999 in Perth with my mate Andrew’s tour company Bolstaor Coastal Safari (sadly the company is now closed) and onboard his 4WD OKA truck. We drove to the mining town of Kalgoorlie (distance: 600 kilometers) like a bat out of hell, stocked up on beer, food and Coke at Woolworths and then took the Trans Access Road (no food or fuel for 862 kilometers!) to the great Nullarbor Plains:
We bush camped in the middle of the … bush! The next day we hit the Nullarbor Highway and at some point we took a right turn. After hours of bumping across the amazing landscape accompanied by Kangaroos we suddenly run out of World and have to come to a full stop!
Places to stay
Bring your own! (same goes for beer and food). There are no signs of civilisation here at all which is what makes it so fantastic so remember to bring your swag (bedroll) and some tukka (food)! We camped almost on the edge of the Bight and it was a spectacular camp and spectacularly windy! Here’s the late great Bolstaor Coastal Safaris OKA truck and our camp on the edge of the world:
It certainly is one of if not the most amazing place I have ever bush camped. Hold on to your belongings though, the cold Antarctic winds arrive from the Indian Ocean with nothing in the way to slow them down and you’re the first thing they meet on land!
Things to see & do at the Bight
Sunrise! You simply must spend a night here so you can catch the sunrise! It is one of the prime locations in the world for watching the sunrise and see the day come alive and the red rock light up like gold. See my photo at the end of this post. Be prepared to get up really early and be prepared for working without daylight. I slept in all my clothes sans shoes and had my camera bag with me in the swag. So I just had to wake up at 4am (took some kicking from Andrew before that happened), find my shoes, check the shoes for snakes and scorpions and caterpillars, put on shoes, grab camera bag, stumble slowly towards the edge while wiping the sleep from my eyes so I don’t step over the edge – and I was ready for some magic!
Go fishing! At some places you can actually descend down to the beach and there are so many salmon to catch even I caught several (I actually caught a huge 5 kilo whale of a salmon!) The water is so clear you can see large schools of salmons dart across the waves and you just need enough arm strength (I have none, it’s a miracle I caught some fish) to throw the line out to these big waves!
Watch the dolphins! There are a large number of dolphins surfing the waves and putting on a show. At the right time of the year you can also see humpback whales.
Study the wildlife! We found a very nice quiet python snake (I have a photo of me holding it that I’m not showing you!) and Andrew’s brother Peter got stung by a small scorpion (nothing happened except his finger turned purple)
When to go
It’s a fairly windy location to say the least! And the wind is usually of the cold variety coming from the Antarctic. So I would reckon it would get a bit cold camping here during the Winter months (June-August) and I would recommend going during Summer (Dec-Feb) as I did.
The earth is flat, believe me, I have seen the edge! If you’re in Australia and get a chance, I wholeheartedly recommend going to the Great Australian Bight and see the edge of the world with your own eyes. It has been 9 years and this is one experience that never fades, I absolutely loved every second at the Bight. Loved how remote and desolate it was, how rough it is, no signs of civilisation at all and plenty of wildlife.
And now…the photo that won’t fade either thanks to digital technologies.
My Great Australian Bight panorama
This is the shot I was dusting off for World Panorama Stock. It is my favourite photo of the Bight. Originally shot on Fujichrome slide and scanned on a Minolta slide scanner using the super VueScan software it is now a lovely 16-bit colour high quality 72 megabyte tiff file.
This is sunrise at the Great Australian Bight in all its glory,
click to see large size on my gallery:
Great Australian Bight – the edge of the world
Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography