With urban legends like the Nullarbor Nymph, it’s not too hard for tourists travelling the famous Australian east-west highway to get confused.
- A stretch of desert on the Nullarbor has its own time zone
- It is not officially recognised and mobile phones won’t automatically pick it up
- The time zone exists for about 340 kilometres and takes in the tiny roadhouse communities of Cocklebiddy, Madura, Madura, Eucla and Border Village.
But it’s the three clocks at the Border Village roadhouse on the South and Western Australian borders that get the oddest looks.
The WA and SA times make sense, but it’s the “local time” or the officially unrecognised Central Western Time Zone, which requires you to set your clock forward or back 45 minutes, which catches visitors out.
The time zone exists for about 340 kilometres and takes in the tiny roadhouse communities of Cocklebiddy, Madura, Eucla and Border Village.
Border Village roadhouse assistant manager Jim Crawford said taking daylight saving out of the equation today helped reduce some of the confusion and the novelty of the time zone.
“They want to know why and I say ‘Well, I can’t explain why really, but there’s a display here of the three clocks’, and out come the phones and photos are taken,” he told the ABC.
On the Western Australia side, co-owner of the Cocklebiddy Roadhouse, Brian Pike, said their biggest concern was making sure people understood when the kitchen would be closing.
“We’re used to it, but it totally confuses the travelling public,” he said.
Mr Pike has lived on the Nullarbor for 47 years and said that at least today — removing the daylight saving component from the South Australian side — helped a bit. But mostly people leave baffled.
“They just give up. They wait until they get to the next one that has Perth time or going the other way that has Adelaide time.”
Why does this 340km unique time zone exist?
Although the Central Western Time Zone is not officially recognised (your phones won’t automatically change), there is a sign instructing you which way to wind your clocks 45 minutes and scrawled underneath one of them in Texta is the word: ‘Why’?
“Good question,” Mr Pike said.
“I don’t even know that, and it’s been going for over 50 years.”
The boss of Eucla police station, Sergeant Russel Chamberlain, works on standard WA time but he said being more than 1,400 kilometres from Perth it made sense.
“For every 1,000 kilometres that you travel you lose or gain roughly 20 minutes of sunlight,” he said.
He also said it had a practical purpose when dealing with the South Australian businesses just 12 kilometres down the highway.
“If you’re a business, it would help because a lot of your dealings are with Ceduna and Adelaide so you fall closer within their timeframes.”
Sergeant Chamberlain said when it comes to life on the Nullarbor, the custom made time zone was at the lower end of quirky.
Topics: deserts, federal-government, eucla-6443
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