Driving The Nullarbor: Plan Your Epic Roadtrip

Nullarbor road sign
Drive the Nullarbor Australia road trip/>

Driving the Nullarbor is a road trip that every Australian and visitor to the country should experience at least once.

Talking with people about the Nullarbor either provoked a look that clearly said they thought I was mad to drive it, or I was met by enthusiasm by the people who had loved their trip as much as I had. 

Don’t listen to the naysayers who will tell you that the drive is long and boring as there’s plenty to see and do along the journey.

If you treat it as a straight through drive from Perth to Adelaide or Melbourne, then you’re likely to find the highway incredibly tedious. 

However, if you’ve got time on your hands to relax and enjoy the ride, then you’ll discover this remote section of Australia harbours incredible vistas, star-studded skies, jaw-dropping coastlines and the kind of wilderness that only crossing the Nullarbor offers.

Eyre highway ninety mile straight

Where does the Nullarbor start and finish?

The Nullarbor Plain stretches between the goldfields of Western Australia to the Eyre Peninsula in Southern Australia.

The sealed road that runs across the Nullarbor Plain is called the Eyre Highway. The highway begins in Norseman in Western Australia and runs across the Nullarbor via the town of Ceduna to end in Port Augusta, South Australia 1,660 kms (1,030 miles) away.

Where is the 90 mile straight?

The Eyre Highway is famous for what is regarded as the longest straight sections of road in Australia, known as the 90 Mile Straight. The section of road between Balladonia and Caiguna stretches for 146.6 kilometres (91.1 miles) without turning. 

It is signposted, so it’s well worth getting out of the car for a photo at this point!

What does Nullarbor mean?

The Nullarbor gets its name from Latin and means “no trees”. 

Out on the road you will appreciate why as the Nullarbor Plain is flat as far as the eye can see. The land has been extensively cleared for agriculture, but you can still spot wildflowers amongst the scrub. 

Native animals such as kangaroos roam these parts, which is why you do not want to be driving after dusk as it’s difficult to spot them in the dark. 

Nullarbor plain road sign Eyre Highway

How long does it take to drive the Nullarbor?

Travel time for crossing the Nullarbor can depend on how much time you’ve got on your hands. 

If you’re blitzing through with nothing more than a few toilet stops, the Nullarbor Plan from Norseman to Ceduna (750 miles) could take you roughly 16 hours. I wouldn’t advise this approach, especially if you’re a solo driver, as it’s likely that you’ll become extremely fatigued and miss all the sites along the way.

If you’re travelling at a more leisurely pace, you could drive from Norseman to Ceduna comfortably in three or four days. This is how long I took for the Nullarbor section of my road trip from Perth to Melbourne. 

If you’re lucky enough to have more time, you could extend your road trip further and spend time thoroughly taking in the geological formations along the coastline, whale watching and playing golf (more on that later).



Things to see on the Nullarbor 

Fraser Range Station

Half way between Norseman and Balladonia on Eyre Highway is the lovely Fraser Range Station. This immaculate property is a leafy little oasis in comparison to the starkness of the Nullarbor, with eucalyptus and gum trees providing a haven for birds and wildlife. 

There is a welcoming outdoor camp kitchen that is free for hungry travellers to use. I stopped here to make lunch on the first day of my Nullarbor road trip and enjoyed the peaceful surroundings.  

There are tours of the station, plus some local walks to enjoy by yourself with help of maps provided by the office. If you’d like to stay a little longer, you can camp here or book one of the station’s guest properties.

Nullarbor links golf course

Play golf along the Nullarbor

Although I’ve never played a round of golf before, I was amused at the thought of giving the Nullarbor Links a go as it is probably the most famous golf course that no one has ever heard of!

The Nullarbor Links is an 18-hole par 72 golf course that spans 1,365 kilometres, making it the longest golf course in the world. It has a hole in towns and roadhouses along the Eyre Highway, from Kalgoorlie in Western Australia to Ceduna in South Australia.  

I stopped off at the Kalgoorlie Visitor Centre where the helpful staff gave me a Nullarbor map marked with the holes, golf balls and clubs for the journey, telling me to drop them off in Ceduna. 

Mostly playing in what felt like the middle of nowhere, it was a funny diversion from the long hours on the road and a chance to see some remote spots where very few people ever roam. 

Madura Pass Lookout

Two kilometres west of Madura (located 91 kilometres east of Cocklebiddy and 115 kilometres west of Mundrabilla) there is a scenic lookout situated on the Hampton Tablelands, just off the Eyre Highway. 

This viewpoint gives you a magnificent look over Madura Pass and the Roe Plains over to the Great Australian Bight in the distance. Although it doesn’t seem much, this landscape is millions of years old and was formed by differing sea levels. 

You may think the Nullarbor is flat and boring, but the Hampton Tablelands are proof that it is anything but!

Great Australian Bight Nullarbor road trip

Great Australian Bight

The Great Australian Bight is a large open bay that spans the central and western portions of the southern coastline of Australia. 

The Head of the Bight, 20 kilometres east of Nullarbor Roadhouse, is a great place to try your luck to catch a glimpse of the Southern Right Whale. Between the months of May and October, these whales come to the coastline to breed and nurture their newborns. 

Unfortunately, I wasn’t there at this time, but the tremendous coastline is still worth a look at any time of the year. The sense of scale here is breathtaking and it left me with a giddiness that only dramatic landscapes can.  

All along this section of the coastline you can pull off the highway and view the thundering ocean at the base of the mighty cliffs below.

There is a visitor centre at the Head of Bight where you can arrange whale watching and other day trips to view the cliffs, flora and fauna of this beautiful area. 

Say hello to Big Roo

At Border Village, which is located rather unsurprisingly at the border between Western and Southern Australia, you will find Big Roo and his can of Vegemite. 

He’s definitely worth pulling over for and taking a few pictures. 

One hole of the Nullarbor Links golf course is here too, so you can spend a while at Border Village grabbing a bite to eat at the restaurant or refuelling.

Big Roo Border Village Nullarbor

Fowlers Bay

Fowlers Bay is a township on the coast with a history in whaling and sheep farming. Whales were hunted in this area almost to extinction in the 1800s. The Southern Right Whale supposedly gained its name because it was seen as the ‘right’ whale to hunt. 

Whaling ceased here around 1843 but you can still see whale bones outside the old whaling station at the south side of the town.

If you’re a fisher then there’s plenty of fishing to be done in Fowlers Bay, otherwise you can enjoy the sand dunes spreading back from the town or take a boat trip to spot whales, seals, dolphins and sea eagles. 

Ceduna

At the end of the Nullabor Plain is the small town of Ceduna, approximately 780km by road from Adelaide and 1900 km from Perth. It’s easy to find as the Eyre Highway goes right through. Known as the oyster capital of Australia, if you’re visiting in October the locals celebrate their title by holding an annual Oysterfest.

In town there are all the amenities you’ll need after a long drive, with a supermarket, bank and a tourist information office. If you’re staying a little longer, the coastline here is dotted with white sandy beaches, rocky bays and lots of water based activities such as whale watching, scuba diving, fishing, sailing and surfing.

I dropped my golf clubs off in Ceduna at the visitor’s centre and headed to the park by the foreshore to eat lunch. 

driving the Nullarbor

What time of year is best to drive the Nullarbor?

The weather from Perth to Adelaide can vary and temperatures on the Nullarbor can be extreme. It’s not uncommon for it to reach 40 degrees celsius. 

Consider taking your trip in Spring or Autumn when the temperatures are cooler and the weather is less likely to be wet. The Eyre Highway is a sealed road, so if it’s raining it should still be ok to drive, although you should always check road conditions before you start to travel. 

I drove across the Nullarbor in February and found the temperatures to be ok, although I made sure to sun cream, wore a hat in the sun and drank plenty of water.  

Some of the spots along the coastline could get quite windy, so my best advice would be to pack what you would usually take for a road trip: layers. 

Taking a variety of layers means you can wrap up if you need to and of course stay warm at night, when the temps can drop quite dramatically under clear skies if you’re camping. 



Nullarbor accommodation

During your drive the options for accommodation can vary from roadhouses to camp grounds, depending on your budget and your preference. 

Camping 

Along the Nullarbor, most roadhouses offer camping facilities. I camped at Caiguna Roadhouse and Nullarbor Roadhouse. At Nullarbor there is a bar that will serve you a cold beer; tempting after a long day on the road!

If you want to wild camp for free, Wikicamps can provide suggestions for where to pitch your tent and look out for a shower the next day at a roadhouse. Wikicamps Australia is an app that recommends free camping and campsites across the country. It is a paid app (approx $7AU, £5GPB), but one that you’ll refer to frequently.

A definite bonus in a place such as the Nullarbor where phone reception is often non-existent is that the Wikicamps app works offline, so you can find a place to sleep even in the remotes of areas.   

Road train crossing the Nullarbor highway

Motel accommodation

  • Nullarbor Roadhouse – Eyre Highway, SA 5690. This roadhouse offers motel rooms, caravan/camping, bar, restaurant.
  • Eucla Motelat Eucla WA 6443. It is 12km west of the WA/SA border. It offers budget motel rooms (suitable for groups), hotel rooms and campsite/caravan park.
  • Border Village Roadhouse –  at Border Village, SA, 5690. It is on the border between South and Western Australia on the Eyre Highway. It offers caravan/campsite, motel accommodation, backpacker dorms and cabins.
  • Mundrabilla Roadhouse – at Mundrabilla, WA 6443. It is 644km east of Norseman and offers caravan/camping, motel, restaurant and takeaway.

Travel tips for driving across the Nullarbor

    • Take a map – you can pick up a map at tourist information centres in towns like Norseman, Esperance, Kalgoorlie in Western Australia and Ceduna in South Australia. 
    • Fuel – know where your fuel stops are. You do not want to be 100s of kilometres away from the nearest roadhouse and running on empty. Take a supply of fuel with you in case of an emergency and use your Nullarbor map to plan your route. Fuel on the Nullarbor is expensive as it is remote. 
    • Telstra SIM – signal will be patchy or non-existent. For your best chances of getting reception in Australia’s more remote areas, Telstra is the mobile network provider you should be with. 
    • Time differences – the time difference between Western and South Australia is 1hr 30 minutes. However, there is a 350km section between Caiguna and the Border Roadhouse where there is a ‘border’ timezone.  As I drove past Caiguna in WA I noticed that my phone moved forward by 45 minutes. As I crossed the border into SA it changed again. It may throw you out a little! 
    • Take food and water  – a staple of any road trip, but essential when you are in remote areas with limited access to food. Especially important if you have dietary requirements that roadhouses may not cater for, or want to cook your own meals to keep costs down. 
    • Download apps / music – large stretches of this drive will be done without phone reception, so remember to download a big stash of music and any important apps you’ll need so you have them offline.
    • Share the drive – or give yourself plenty of rest breaks if you’re driving alone. It’s a long and sometimes monotonous drive!
    • Don’t drive at night – kangaroos roam the area and the risk of one colliding with your car increases after dusk. 
    • Ensure your car is ready – the Eyre Highway is sealed so you won’t need a 4WD if you’re only planning on driving straight across without nipping off to explore any unsealed roads along the coastline. 
      • Whatever you’re driving, ensure your car is road trip ready with air, water, oil, screen wash and fuel all topped up and tyre pressures checked.
      • Carry the essentials in emergency equipment with you such as spare tire, jack, jump leads etc. 
      • I am not a mechanic, so I would definitely recommend doing your own research (or speaking with your mechanic) about how you can ensure your car is prepared to undertake this long journey.
    • Watch your fruit at the SA/WA border – it is forbidden to take fresh fruit and veg across the Western / South Australia border. At the border, either make sure you have already eaten all of your fresh fruit and vegetables, or destroy them at the quarantine point. 
    • Speed limit – the national speed limit of the Nullarbor / Eyre Highway is 110km / 68mph, however, this decreases in towns and built up areas.  

Nullarbor road sign

How to get there

Flying

Perth in Western Australia or Adelaide in South Australia are your best bet if you are flying as they both have international and national airports. 

Note that it’s 594km drive from Perth to Kalgoorlie or a 700km drive from Perth to Esperance, depending on which route you want to take to begin the Nullarbor.  

Car Hire

If you’re hiring a car or campervan in Perth or Adelaide, research whether you can find a relocation vehicle so that you only need to drive one way. 

Some companies to compare prices: Hertz, Thrifty, Avis, Europcar and Wicked Campers. 

Train

You can take the train across the Nullarbor if you fancy an alternative to driving this distance. The Great Southern Railway’s Indian Pacific railway serves this area between Perth and Adelaide. There’s an option to take your car with you onboard so that you can travel by train one way and drive back the other. 

More Australian road trip inspiration

If this has taken your fancy, why not read up on one of the other road trips I’ve experienced in Australia:

Have you ever crossed the Nullarbor? What was your favourite thing about your road trip? Share your memories with me. If you’ve got a question about planning your Nullarbor road trip, let me know and I’ll be happy to help.

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Drive the Nullarbor Australia road trip

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