When you think of the classic Australian landscape, the straight, lengthy, and nearly featureless expanse of the Nullarbor Plain may come to mind. If you plan to drive between the states of Western Australia and South Australia on a cross-country voyage, you’ll need to pass through this uniquely desolate region. Nullarbor means “no trees” due to the flat monotony of its landscape, which can bring to mind a trip to another planet at times. Stretching along the Eyre Highway between Western Australia’s Norseman and Port Augusta in South Australia, this passage includes the longest straight stretch of road in the world: you’ll drive 146.6 kilometres without a single curve in the road.
Wildlife and Scenery
So why would so many motorists flock to the Nullarbor if it’s essentially a straight road without any trees? Although there may not be sights like the Great Barrier Reef or Sydney Opera House, the Nullarbor has its own distinct Australian charm. There are in fact a few gum trees, along with plenty of low-lying shrubbery to enjoy. You may spot plenty of kangaroos, wombats, and emus in your pathway, so keep one eye on the road and the other out the side window. If you’re lucky, you may even spot an elusive herd of wild camels!
One scenic detour is in South Australia, where you can follow signs to see the Bunda Cliffs. These rugged cliffs drop straight into the ocean, providing dramatic views. The Head of Bight is another popular turnoff, particularly between May and October when visitors can catch a glimpse of Southern Right Whales in one of their few breeding grounds. Spot mothers and calves as they frolic offshore.
It’s possible to complete your drive from Norseman to Port Augusta in only two days, but this isn’t really recommended unless you have more than one driver available to break up the monotony. If you give yourself three days you’ll have plenty of time to stop, stretch your legs, and rest. Many travellers choose to drive campervans which provide sleeping facilities, otherwise rest stops provide adequate facilities to allow drivers to get some sleep. These include bathrooms, pay showers, and fire pits. There aren’t many stopping points in Western Australia, but once you reach South Australia you’ll see more scenic attractions and rest areas, including the Nullarbor Roadhouse.
There are a few safety issues to keep in mind as you cross the Nullarbor. Take particular care during dawn and dusk, when wildlife is more likely to be active and visibility drops. Temperatures can soar in the Nullarbor, so take along more water than you think you’ll need. It’s vital to stay hydrated in the heat and you’ll need extra for camping. There is a stretch along the highway where you go 190 kilometres between petrol stations, so be sure to stock up to avoid running out at an inopportune time.
Driving across the Nullarbor can be an unforgettable and quintessential Australian experience. Load up the car with a few of your friends and plenty of caffeine, and get out there into the wild.