The Nullarbor Plain is a 195,000 square kilometre, flat, limestone, bedrock surface generally considered to extend approximately 700 kilometres east-west and 400 kilometres north-south. The seas covered the area 42-50 million years ago.
The word Nullarbor comes from the Latin ‘null’ meaning no and ‘arbor’ meaning trees – first used by E.A. Delisser during his 1867 explorations for the South Australian government. The aborigines called the Plain Oondiri, ‘the waterless’. They did not venture further than about 30 kilometres into the Nullarbor – a day’s walk – because of the lack of water but also because they believed it to be the home of a terrible serpent named Jeedara. When the first trains crossed the Plain the aborigines thought that these spark and smoke breathing monsters with their long tails of rail trucks were Jeedara.