Nevil Shute Norway Foundation

Our adventure to Eucula and Western Australia

The following is a bit about our adventure to Eucla, Western Australia which may be of interest.

My wife Linda and I made a pilgrimage to one of the more obscure Nevil Shute location, Eucla, Western Australia. Apparently this town was going to be the location of much of the action in the novel, "Incident at Eucla", that Nevil was working on when he died. In the actual typescript the protagonist, William Spear, does arrive in Eucla but the story stops shortly afterwards. Eucla is the site of the telegraph station that relayed messages between Western Australia and South Australia. As I understand things, they couldn't agree on the exact coding of messages. Thus the messages came in to one end of the building, were written out, passed across the counter and re-sent from the other end of the building. At one time they had operators working 24 hours per day doing these tasks. Automated relaying finally was installed sometime in the early 1900s.

As I'm sure many of you know, it isn't easy to get to Eucla. In our case we took the coach from Perth to Eucla, stayed a day, and then went on to Adelaide. The first problem was convincing an American travel agent to make the coach reservations. Airplanes, trains, rental cars, hotels they could do but the coach from Perth to Adelaide; are you really sure you want to do that? When they finally did do it they got us to Eucla but failed to make the second reservation from Eucla to Adelaide. The coach agents at Perth were most helpful in taking care of this problem; the coach was nearly completely booked but they did find room. The original bookers laughed aloud when we inquired about a rental car for this venture.

The coach left Perth at something between 8:00 and 9:00 AM; it arrived in Kalgoorlie in the early afternoon and finally reached Eucla at about 1:00 AM. We had made reservations at the only motel in town. Well, in fact, the motel, caravan park, restaurant and petrol station are the town. We were told our room was next to the museum and it would be unlocked. After a short night we got up, had breakfast, and then checked in and out of the motel.

As we had requested, the motel did provide us with a driver to show us around town. The first stop was the telegraph station, scene of the action in Nevil's book. When we got there all, that we could see was the top bit of the telegraph station; the rest is buried under sand. In "Incident at Eucla" there is mention of sand pushing against one side of the building; I presume this was the case in the 1959/1960 when the book was being written. From there we went on to the beach and the old pier (shown below) that was used to supply the town and, I believe, to export lumber. In California a beautiful beach on a beautiful summer day is completely covered with people. In Eucla it was white sand beach as far as we could see in both directions and the three of us were the only people there. We went on to see the original highway, a gravel road. After lunch we visited the entrance to a cavern, chased a big red kangaroo with the 4wd utility vehicle we were in, enticed an emu to come closer for a good look ( both ways), and visited the pile of rocks that marks the border between Western Australia and South Australia. We also visited the small museum which had numerous pictures and artifacts from the glory days of Eucla. One interesting item was the printing press used to print the 6" x 8" weekly newspaper.

After dinner we sat around until about 2:00 AM waiting for the coach to Adelaide under the most magnificent night sky imaginable. We had breakfast somewhere on the eastern Nullarbor and finally arrived at Adelaide about 7:00 PM.

Needless to say this was one of our more memorable adventures

Andy and Linda Banta