The normal route from Cocklebiddy to Esperance would have been via Norseman but the boys decided to rather do a bid of a shortcut by going through some 4×4 territory…


Cocklebiddy to Esperance


The normal route    and the “short cut route “ taken by Team Lipstick


The turnoff was taken just after the  Balladonia roadshouse where the boys stopped for coffee and were amazed to see some debris of a US spacelab ….


In the early hours of the 12th of July 1979, Skylab crashed on WA’s south east coast, scattering debris across the Nullarbor and the eastern goldfields and causing a worldwide sensation.


And here is Willy touching a piece of the US Skylab which fell down in this part of the world.


The first 760km of the short cut was real rough with very heavy corrugations in the single track gravel route which reminded the boys about the rough roads in the Congo forests…

Lots of warning signs about the state of the road …


Other travellers seem to have left their dirty clothes on the gates to show they were here


A clothes gate


Thanks to these gates the boys realised that one of the spotlights rattled loose and would obviously have fallen off – but because of the gate stop the boys could tighten the light up again.


Chance to tighten the light


The only other car seen by Team Lipstick in almost 2.5 hours is a sign that this “shortcut” does not seem to be very popular.


Esperance is a town on the south coast of Western Australia. Its beaches include calm Blue Haven, and West Beach, with its surf breaks. Nearby, Cape Le Grand National Park has beaches like Lucky Bay, plus heathlands and wildflowers. Offshore, the Recherche Archipelago islands shelter fur seals and sea lions. On Middle Island, Lake Hillier is a striking shade of pink. In town, Pink Lake is sometimes pink.


In California, the San Francisco Examiner ran a competition to award $10,000 to the first person to bring a piece of Skylab back to their offices.

t was ultimately won by an Esperance teenager called Stan Thornton, who made the journey to San Francisco with the financial help of a Perth radio station and Qantas. There was barely enough time to get him a passport and visa for the trip, the Examiner reported the following day, nor did he have time to pack any clothes – but he won the award.


$400 fine for littering


One of the Shire’s rangers at one point handed the NASA team a $400 fine for littering, meant as a tongue-in-cheek gesture.

Three decades later, a radio broadcaster called Scott Barley from Barstow, California crowdfunded the outstanding penalty among his listeners and hand-delivered a novelty cheque to the Esperance Shire.


The boys arrived in time to watch the semi-final match between Wales and New Zealand which the All Blacks won with a big margin…

Day 37 – 1st November 2019 – Cocklebiddy to Esperance