Australia, Road Trips, Travel Guides

What it’s really like to cross the Nullarbor

June 8, 2017

The Great Australian Bight

Crossing the Nullarbor had always been on my bucketlist. Driving from one side of Australia to the other. It has a certain lure of the impossible. In 2015 we got to tick it off. 1200kms from South Australia to Western Australia.

Here is what you need to know

Distance | Most importantly, it’s long, really long! The Nullarbar crossing officially starts from Ceduna in South Australia and finishes in Norseman in Western Australia. That’s 1200km. Yes twelve hundred kilometers.

Technically, you could cross the Nullarbor in as little as a day; one very long non-stop day on the road. However, some choose to take weeks. We managed to comfortably cross in 3 days. You can read about our experience in our travel diary here.

Service Stations & Fuel | Servos are at fairly regular intervals with the maximum distance being almost 200kms. Both petrol and diesel are available at every stop.  Fuel prices are slightly higher but nothing to worry about.  Unless you plan to head off the main road there is little need to cans and cans of spare fuel.  However, it is advisable to carry an extra 20 litres just in case.

Towns | See above. The towns are pretty much the service stations.

Accomodation | Motels and caravan parks are frequent along the road and well sign posted. All caravan parks have powered or unpowered sites, toilets and showers.  Do not expect much from the caravan parks, some are as little as the parking lot next to the servo.  There are no ‘official’ free or bush camping sites but there are plenty of rest stops.

Cold sunset at The Nullarbor Roadhouse watching for dingoes

Cold sunset at The Nullarbor Roadhouse watching for dingoes

Food and water | Although the Nullarbor crossing isn’t merely as bleak as people make out you should still take enough food and water to last the duration of your trip.  The last supermarkets are located in Ceduna and across in Norseman on the otherside. You can re-stock on the basics at servos but they come at a premium price.  You will be required to dispose of all fruit, vegetables and dairy as you cross the border quarantine so eat up or don’t take any with you.

Mobile reception | There is little to no mobile service out there. Your best bet is Telstra.

Venturing off the main road

Venturing off the main road

Time Zones | You will pass through two time zone changes.  It all gets incredibly confusing (especially when it comes to day light saving which Western Australia does not adhere to).  We passed through two sets of 45 minute changes and ended up cooking our dinner and drinking beer at 3pm. If you are unsure just ask someone.

Climate | It’s blistering hot during the day and cold overnight. Ensure you have warm clothes and covers.

Night time driving |  Don’t risk driving at night time, particularly dawn and dusk.  This is when the local wildlife comes out to feed.  This includes kangaroos, wombats, dingoes, emus and camels.  Be vigilant even when driving during the day time and fit a roo bar (bull bar) if you can.

Dangers | Be aware of the dangers along the crossing including massive road trains, wildlife, lack of food and water and driving tired.

The infamous Aussie road sign

The infamous Aussie road sign

Places of interest:  East to West

Cactus Beach | If your 4WD is able to take on miles of corrugated roads this spot is worth a visit for some of the best surfing in South Australia. The corrugated sand road is 21kms long.

Nullarbor Plain | The actual Nullarbor is a 1,100 km stretch of land from South Australia to Western Australia.  Nullarbor literally translates to ‘treeless plain’.   Nothing grows here but small knee height shrubs.  This is the perfect habitat for wombats (be careful if driving at dawn or dusk).

Murrawijinie Caves | Located behind the Nullarbor Roadhouse along 10kms of unsealed road (accessible with 2WDs) are the Murrawijinie Caves.  You are not able to enter the caves, merely peak from the surface. I would not put this as a must see.

Murrawijinie Caves

Murrawijinie Caves

Great Australian Bight | If you visit between June and October you may see whales from the lookout points along the Great Australian Bight.  Even outside of these months it’s worth taking a look out from these incredible sheer cliffs.

Old Telegraph Station in Eucla | The old building is almost completely covered by sand.

The Old Eucla Telegraph Station

The Old Eucla Telegraph Station

90 Mile Straight | One of the longest straight roads in the world. You can’t miss it. It’s long and it’s boring going straight for 90 miles.

90 Mile Straight

90 Mile Straight

What did you think of my guide to crossing the Nullarbor? Are you planning a road trip across or have you taken on the Nullarbor crossing? If you enjoyed this post or found it helpful, please leave me a comment below.

What it's really like to cross the Nullarbor

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