A Load of Bulldust

A visitor to Australia could be forgiven for assuming that bulldust doesn’t really exist, because to be told that something is “just a load of bulldust” means that it’s not true, “bulldust” in that context being a euphemism for a less polite word.

But for the Outback driver, bulldust most certainly does exist, and is not to be taken lightly.








We’re talking about unsealed roads in dry conditions. Sometimes you’ll be given warning of bulldust ahead by a small red flag on the road, or maybe a few branches from nearby shrubs placed in a heap, the latter indicating that some unfortunate driver has “discovered” an unmarked bulldust hole, and has been kind enough to mark it so that other drivers can avoid it.

Bulldust is extremely fine talcum-powder-like dust. It often occurs in areas which have been wet and then dried out. It can fill deep holes so that the road surface appears to be fairly smooth. But once you drive on it, it “boils” up around the vehicle, and unless you’re going reasonably fast, can completely block your vision for a couple of seconds.

And if you are going fast when you hit a decent bulldust hole, you could easily find yourself in serious trouble, mostly because the bulldust seems to provide virtually no resistance to the vehicle, and it will drop down to the bottom of the hole just as if there was nothing in it. Stories of blow outs, broken suspensions, and roll overs are not uncommon in the context of bulldust stories. (Of course, the story teller may omit the bit about excessive speed.)

When you get home after a trip through bulldust country, you’ll notice that there is a little sample of it in every nook and cranny of your vehicle. (Even if your door seals are functioning reasonably well, it will still find its way in.) Some people give up trying to remove it, and instead hope that it will provide an extra bit of “street cred” as they tell yarns about their amazing Outback trip. But don’t forget that it will also have found its way into your filters, and early replacement is called for.


About dazzlerplus

Writing about the things that interest me helps me to discover what I think. One of my loves is the Australian Outback, and I travel out there often, and when possible take friends with me.
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4 Responses to A Load of Bulldust

  1. Ah, yes — bulldust. And not only does it find its way into every cranny of your vehicle, if you’ve got luggage in the boot or stowed on the roof rack, you can expect it to have found its way in their, as well. One’s clothes take on a lovely Outback patina.

    • dazzlerplus says:

      It always intrigues me that even though every vehicle which travels through the bulldust takes a fair sample of it with them, there’s always plenty left. Maybe it’s because the bulldust hole just keeps getting a bit deeper.

  2. Anne says:

    I first “discovered” bulldust when I was working on a property on the Roto Rd north of Hillston in the Riverina during the widespread and severe drought in 1982 -1983.The back roads were treacherous and I found a slow crawl on the shoulder the best way to get through it.
    At a point on the Mid Western Highway between Hay and Goolgowi a bush comedian had posted a sign (painted on rusting corrugated iron) “Caution, Paddock Crossing Road”. Wish I’d had a camera.

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