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The Australian Nullarbor has quite the reputation, known for being one of the longest, straightest, most remote stretches of highway in the world. Driving across the Nullarbor is a daunting adventure for first timers, but it is a unique experience that any adventure traveller should go for!
The Nullarbor Spans across two Australian states – from South Australia to Western Australia and runs for 1675 km along the Eyre Highway.
There is no denying the fact that it is a long drive, with nothing but a couple of roadhouses every couple of hundred kilometres, but there is something truly magical about being on the Nullarbor, surrounded by native Australian flora and fauna with not a person in sight.
This is everything you need to know about driving across the Nullarbor.
How long is the Nullarbor?
The Nullarbor highway is actually called the Eyre Highway and is approximately 1675km long, taking two days to cross.
Because of the long distance, travellers must be prepared to camp for the night or stay in a roadhouse motel. It is not advised to drive through the night due to wildlife.
Where does the Nullarbor start and finish?
The Nullarbor stretches across the southern edge of Australia between the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia to the goldfields of Western Australia. The most remote section of the Nullarbor highway (Eyre Highway) is between Ceduna and Norseman. In between Ceduna and Norseman, all you will see is a roadhouse every couple of hundred kilometres. NOTHING else.
Things to do before driving the Nullarbor
Before starting your journey, I highly recommend downloading 2 apps.
Both these apps are essential for the trip across the Nullarbor.
CamperMate will help you find free and paid campsites, bathrooms, petrol stations, grocery stores, information centres, rubbish bins and more. The App can be used offline so it is very helpful when on the road.
Fuel Map Australia pinpoints all petrol stations. You should never drive past a petrol station on the Nullarbor unless you know how far the next one is and you are sure that you can make it. Petrol stations are generally 200kms apart, but you should check this on the Fuel Map App to ensure you don’t leave yourself stranded. The Fuel Map App also provides information about petrol prices, so if you are organised you can fill up at the cheaper petrol stations. The cost can vary up to 20 cents per litre so it is worth being aware of.
Before driving across the Nullarbor it is also highly recommended to service your car, and regularly check your oil and water along the way.
Now you have that sorted, it’s time to start packing for your trip across the Nullarbor.
Packing for the Nullarbor
Crossing the Nullarbor requires some preparation. You will need supplies to last a few days and camping gear (unless you plan on staying in a roadhouse motel). This is everything I recommend pack for the Nullarbor.
- Oil, coolant and brake fluid
- Carjack and spare tyre
- Jump Leads and Tow Rope
- Jerry Can with extra petrol – just in case
- Water – 10 L per person per day. This may sound like a lot but after you use it to wash your hands, brush your teeth etc, it will go quickly.
- Food – pack lots of canned and dry foods. There are quarantine checkpoints on the SA and WA border so any fresh food will be taken from you. You can buy food at the roadhouses but it isn’t cheap or healthy.
- Camping gear – a tent, blow up mattress, blanket and pillow and a camping stove and utensils.
- Warm clothes. It gets very cold and windy at night, even in the warmer months.
If you forget anything, the last town to get supplies in is Ceduna on the East and Norseman on the West. Here you can purchase any last minute food or camping supplies for the trip.
Keep fresh fruit and vegetable purchases to a minimum due to the quarantine checkpoints on the borders. We purchased lots of fresh salads in Ceduna and had them taken off us an hour up the road, so the quarantine checkpoint is something I wish I knew about prior to crossing the Nullarbor.
If you do forget anything, the roadhouses along the way sell a few supplies, at highly inflated prices.
Camping on the Nullarbor
You will find lots of free campsites as you are driving across the Nullarbor. I used the CamperMate App to find campsites. Some sites I recommend include:
(East to West)
Knobbies Camping and Caravan Park – This campsite is located in Iron Knob, on the Eastern End of the Nullarbor. This campsite has bathrooms, showers and a kitchen. It is run by donation, so you can donate what you can afford to sleep the night and take a shower. The campsite isn’t anything special, but it is a great place to get some sleep and freshen up.
Cactus Beach Campsite – This beachfront campsite is located west of Ceduna, and is a favourite because of the beachfront location and sand dune views. The campsite has all the facilities you need – toilets, showers and a BBQ. The cost is $15 per person.
Bunda Cliffs – There are lots of amazing campsites on the Bunda Cliffs, along the edge of the Great Australian Bight. We camped at 10k Peg Parking Area and loved it. You pull off the Eyre highway into the area and if you follow the trail back you will find lots of private places to camp. There are no facilities here, so be prepared, but it is a magical place to spend the night. This campsite is free. The sunrise below is from the lookout near 10K Peg Campsite.
Use the CamperMate App to find more campsites.
Accommodation on the Nullarbor
A couple of the roadhouses along the Nullarbor have motels/hotels. You can search for accommodation on the Nullarbor here.
A budget for driving across the Nullarbor
To create a budget for crossing the Nullarbor, follow these steps.
- Work out how many kilometres you can travel with a tank of fuel in your vehicle – 400kms
- Work out how much a tank of fuel costs – $60
- Google your trip length – 1600kms
1600 divided / by 400 = 4 tanks of petrol
4 tanks X $60 = 240.
Therefore you could estimate that you would spend $240 on petrol for the trip across the Nullarbor.
These are general figures for travelling the Nullarbor. Different car types would impact these figures dramatically.
I travelled from the Gold Coast in QLD to Margaret River in WA in a 2004 Mitsubishi Outlander and spent $1500 over 7 days on petrol, campsites (3 nights in Esperance), food and coffee.
Other tips for driving across the Nullarbor
- Check your cars oil, coolant and tire pressure regularly. At a minimum, this should be checked every second time you fill up.
- There is very little phone reception along the Nullarbor (Eyre highway). Send your friends and family a text when you do have phone service to let them know where you are.
- Telstra is the best service provider in Australia. If you can, I suggest getting a Telstra plan before driving across the Nullarbor.
- Make sure you stop regularly, and if you are feeling tired, stop for a rest. There are many rest stops along the way. You can find rest stops using the CamperMate app.
- There are bins everywhere along the Nullarbor, including at the truck stops, so don’t be a tosser. Put your rubbish in the bin.
- Dog baits are used in some areas, so be mindful of this if you’re travelling with pets.
- Don’t drive past dusk / into the night as this is when the wildlife is most active, making it more dangerous to drive at night.
- Be careful overtaking and passing trucks/road trains on the Nullarbor. They are very long and travel fast.
- Make sure you give a wave to other people crossing the Nullarbor.
Nullarbor Plain Facts
- To cross the Nullarbor, you actually drive along the Eyre Highway.
- The Eyre Highway is 1675km long and takes two days to cross.
- The name Nullarbor originated from the Latin terminology nullus arbor meaning ‘no trees’.
- The Nullarbor Plain is home to the earth’s largest piece of limestone.
- The first motorcar crossed the Nullarbor Plain in 1912.
- The last unsealed section of the Eyre Highway was finally sealed in 1976.
- Another form of transport to cross the Nullarbor is by the Indian Pacific Train. This train runs twice weekly from Perth to Sydney via Adelaide and takes 3 nights to cover the 4352km journey.
- The Nullarbor is home to Australia’s straightest stretch of road which runs between Balladonia and Caiguna. The road stretches for 146.6 kilometres (91.1 mi) without turning, and is signposted and commonly known as the “90 Mile Straight”.
- Even though the Nullarbor has very harsh weather conditions it is home to a surprising amount of animals. Kangaroos, emu’s, wombats and even camels all call the Nullarbor Plain home.
- If you travel the Nullarbor between June – October, you can spot whales off the coast. Head of the Bight is one of the best places to watch the whales.
Places to stop on the Nullarbor
There are a few places worth checking out on your trip across the Nullarbor.
Ceduna is a small town located on the Eastern end of the Nullarbor. Call into Ceduna for coffee, lunch or to grab some last minute supplies. Take a quick trip down to the waterfront of Ceduna where you will find a harbour filled with beautiful shades of water.
This is one of the most popular beaches in the area and a great place to camp for the night on your trip across the Nullarbor.
Bunda Cliffs and Great Australian Bight Lookouts
The Bunda Cliffs are the cliffs that run along the edge of the Great Australian Bight, close to the SA / WA border. There are three lookouts that are marked by a sign with a photo symbol. All three lookouts are worth checking out.
On the Western side of the Nullarbor, you will find Esperance, a picture-perfect town that is worthy of a visit. It isn’t exactly on the way, but the stop into Esperance is well worth it. Blue Haven, Lucky Bay and West Beach should all be on your Esperance itinerary.
Photo Opportunities along the Nullarbor
Despite the fact that the Nullarbor is known for being empty and having nothing around, there are plenty of photo opportunities. Make sure you pull over every now and then and snap a pic.
Along the Nullarbor, there are many interesting Australian signs, such as the ones below. They make for great photo opportunities.
The Great Australian Bight and Bunda Cliffs
Make sure you check out all three lookouts along the Great Australian Bight.
Australia’s straightest road
The section of the Nullarbor between Balladonia and Caiguna is regarded as the longest straight stretch of road in Australia and one of the longest in the world. The road stretches for 146.6 kilometres (91.1 mi) without turning, and is signposted and commonly known as the “90 Mile Straight“. Snap a pic at the start of the road, or on it!
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