Nullarbor Plain

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The Nullarbor Plain is part of the area of flat, almost treeless, arid or semi-arid country of southern Australia, located on the Great Australian Bight coast with the Great Victoria Desert to its north. The word Nullarbor is derived from the Latin nullus, "no", and arbor, "tree", and is pronounced /ˈnʌlɚbɔr/ NUL-ər-bor. It is the world's largest single piece of limestone, and occupies an area of about 200,000 square kilometres (77,000 sq mi)[1][dead link]. At its widest point, it stretches about 1,100 kilometres (684 mi) from east to west between South Australia (SA) and Western Australia (WA).

Contents

History

Historically, the almost uninhabitable Nullarbor was used by the semi-nomadic Spinifex Wangai Aboriginal people.

European settlers were determined to cross the plain, despite the hardships created by the nature of the Nullarbor. Although Edward John Eyre described the Plain as "a hideous anomaly, a blot on the face of Nature, the sort of place one gets into in bad dreams", he became the first European to successfully make the crossing in 1841. Eyre set out from Fowlers Bay, South Australia on 17 November 1840 with John Baxter and a party of three Aboriginal men. When three of his horses died of dehydration, he was forced to return to Fowler's Bay. He departed with a second expedition on 25 February 1841. By 29 April, the party had reached Caiguna. Lack of supplies and water led to a mutiny, and two of the Aboriginal men killed Baxter and made off with the party's supplies. Eyre and the third Aboriginal man, Wylie, continued on their journey, surviving through bushcraft and some fortuitous circumstances, such as receiving some supplies from a French whaling vessel anchored at Rossiter. They completed their crossing in June 1841.

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