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12 April 2012 / leggypeggy

On the straight and narrow in Western Australia

Welcome to the start of the 90 Mile Straight

Australia’s longest straight road is in the middle of nowhere in Western Australia. Heading west, it runs from Caiguna to Balladonia through the Nullarbor Plain.

It’s 90 miles or 146.6 kilometres of dead straight road that really isn’t all that boring.

The night before, we’d found a very nice spot to camp not far from Caiguna, so were well-rested when we hit the long stretch the next morning.

There really isn’t much to say about the road. It is usually called the 90 Mile Straight, which sounds better than the metric version. I don’t recall there being a single passing lane. There are a couple of curves as you come out of the 90-mile stretch and then it’s straight again, just not for as long. The speed limit is 110 kph, which is about equal to 70 mph.

There is enough variety in the vegetation to keep it interesting. Aside from some of the big rigs, there wasn’t a lot of traffic, but we were surprised to see quite a few bicyclists with the strength, courage and water needed to tackle the Nullarbor.

By the way, don’t forget to check what’s cooking on page 32.

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  1. gary Walker / Apr 12 2012 10:55 am

    I wish I still lived in Arizona so I could take you and Poor John for a four hour drive from Phoenix to Payson. It is one of the most remarkble road trips anywhere in this country. It’s a very crooked and narrow two lane road with scary drops hundreds of feet should you be unfortunate enough to not be paying attention to road. It is one of the most beautiful drives in the USA but one of the most dangerous. You will see dozens of road-side crosses marking the place where unfortunate motorists plunged to their death or had head-on collisions. It’s a sobering and morbid reminder to pay attention to this dangerous drive.

    Phoenix is very near sea level but Payson is at elevation 5500 feet above sea level if I recall, correctly. It is a spectacular drive becuase it is a gradual uphill climb and you go thru five different climates on your ascent upwards towards Payson and the landscaping changes remarkably every 20 minutes or so. You start in the arid desert of Phoenix then you pass thru semi-arid climate, then it is a little more lush with plateaus and buttes, then the flora and fauna becomes beautiful wildflowers and shrubbery. By the time you get to Payson you are in the Tonto National Forest with its lush forests and gorgeous lakes and creeks.

    But, I digress. The US has a mandate for interstate highways which I did not know until recently but it makes pragmatic sense.

    The Eisenhower interstate system requires
    that one mile in every five must be straight.
    These straight sections are usable as airstrips
    in times of war or other emergencies.

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    • leggypeggy / Apr 12 2012 9:52 pm

      Oh wow! I’d love to do that Phoenix to Payson drive. It sounds fantastic and oh-so photogenic. We’ll put it down for our next USA visit.
      Long ago I knew that mandate for the interstate, but long ago I forgot it. Like you said, it makes sense.

      Like

  2. Sy S. / Apr 13 2012 4:23 am

    Hi,

    The New York State Thruway in New York State where else, goes straight from New York City north to Albany, NY (the capital of the state). And the turns west and goes straight again to the Buffalo/Niagara Falls area. They learned that it was a mistake to make a highway so straight, because people tend to fall asleep and putting in curved roads would have helped.

    Further, I would love to see the Phoenix to Payton highway and take photos… also of the Slot Canyons in that area of the country (southwest, Utah, Arizona and California). And as far as seeing Australia on the long trek LeggyPeggy and John are taking… it is interesting viewing the photos on my computer and reading the commentary.

    Sy S.
    Metro NYC

    Like

    • gary Walker / Apr 13 2012 9:26 am

      Hey Sy S! We’ve crossed paths via mutual friends but don’t think we have ever spoken, directly. Yep… The Phoenix/Payson drive is astonishingly beautiful. You would enjoy it.

      From Payson (elevation 5500) you can drive to Flagstaff (elev 9000+) with a similar ascent.

      When most people think of Arizona they think it is a barren desert state but it as, actually, quite beautiful and lush once you get above low deserts of Phoenix and Tucson.

      Although, I think Phoenix and Tucson are beautiful in their own way and I enjoyed living in Phoenix for 12 years in the 1990s. Actually, I miss it terribly and would move back in a second.

      Like

      • leggypeggy / Apr 13 2012 10:27 pm

        I’ve only spent a small amount of time in Arizona and really want to visit again. Once we get the remote travel locations out of the way, we’re going to spend some months travelling the USA. So many places, so little time.

        Like

    • leggypeggy / Apr 13 2012 10:25 pm

      Hi Sy, so glad you are enjoying the photos and commentary. They’re a great way for me to remember the trip too. Also, I’ve never heard of the Slot Canyons. Another destination for me to plan! Thanks.

      Like

Trackbacks

  1. Crossing the Nullarbor Plain « Where to next?
  2. A walk on the wild side in Norseman « Where to next?

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