I was on the Nullarbor Traveller bus on the adventure of a lifetime heading from Perth to Adelaide. Sandy, our tour guide, yelled out “we’re on our way to an old farm station and this is one of my favourite places on this tour.” This naturally made me very curious at what lay ahead because although there are many highlights on this trip, Koonalda Homestead was not one I’d heard off.
We were driving on the Eyre Highway about 100km after crossing into South Australia from Western Australia, not far from the iconic Nullarbor Roadhouse. We turned left onto a dirt road which was a pretty heavy road to ride (I couldn’t do it myself with a heavy vehicle and a trailer)! Sandy said that this road was the actual highway in the 1980s. What! I couldn’t image having to drive more than 500 kilometres on a dirt road.
Eventually we arrived at Koonalda Homestead which is an historical property in the Nullarbor National Park. Originally a sheep shearing station, the Gurney family also established a fuel and rest stop for people travelling along the Nullarbor in the 1950s into the mid-1970s. It was also sheep station so there is an abandoned shearing shed that still has old tools with everything in good condition. Sadly the family was forced to abandon their home because of a tainted water supply, and the homestead is now a very unique campsite.
When stepping off the bus I could see a big abandoned house and old petrol station. It was so remote and empty it made me feel a little bit sad to see at first but once I had a chance to explore, the sadness was gone. This place is amazing! It feels like the people who lived there just left all of a sudden and took nothing with them. And with a tainted water supply it’s no wonder they left quickly. Sandy told us the family who lived here still come back every year.
When you camp here you can really experience what it was like to live in the remote Australian outback at that time. You can actually sleep in the main house or workers’ houses which still have everything in them. It’s quite eerie but also really cool, and if you want to, you just put your swag in one of the beds. I slept in a small house nearby the old farm station. You can use the kitchen and if you want also the fireplace. I just loved this this place it had just so much character.