Crossing the nullarbor
Widen your vistas traveling the Eyre Highway through the huge Nullarbor Plain, four times the size of Belgium.
By Sue Gough Henly
Feel the wide open expanse of Australia’s immense outback under your wheels on one of the world’s greatest adventure drives as you traverse the huge, semi-arid Nullarbor Plain.
The Nullarbor spans across the southern frontier of Australia between the goldfields of Western Australia and the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia. You may connect to this adventure from Adelaide or Perth and travel west to east or east to west via the Eyre Highway.
While this is a paved road, it traverses through rural places and the journey demands careful planning. You should bring additional gas and lots of water and snacks.
You’ll need a 4WD car to wander off the roadway. If you’d rather make the travel on a tour, check out the spectacular experiences provided by Untamed Escapes.
What to anticipate
Watch whales under the world’s longest stretch of sea cliffs
Drive the longest, straightest, flattest road in Australia
Play a round on the longest golf course in the world
Time: 6 days
Distance: 1,256 kilometres (781 miles) (781 miles)
Nearest major city: Perth and Adelaide
Nullarbor meaning “no trees” in Latin, although in actuality, the Nullarbor is covered with bluebush and mulga scrub, and even wildflowers after rain.
You’ll see lots of wildlife, including wild camels, kangaroos and emus (be cautious at dark), meet quirky outback inhabitants and even uncover space trash that crashed to earth.
Go whale watching on a clifftop viewpoint, tour large cattle ranches, and play the world’s longest golf course — an astonishing 1,365 km (848 miles) long, with a hole at each town or roadhouse along the route.
DAY 1: NORSEMAN TO BALLADONIA
An eight-hour drive from Perth leads you to Norseman, where your Nullarbor odyssey starts.
If you would want to play the 18-hole, par 72 Nullarbor Links, which is split over two states and two time zones, be sure to make a detour to the gold rush town of Kalgoorlie-Boulder, where you can get your scorecards at the Visitor Centre.
Play the first two holes at the Kalgoorlie Golf Course, one hole at the Kambalda Golf Club and two holes at the Norseman Golf Club (clubs may be leased at each course) (clubs can be hired at each course). It is 190 kilometres (118 miles) between Kalgoorlie and Norseman.
Check admire life-sized tin memorials of the early camel trains before travelling east along the Eyre Highway. Drive through the forests of Dundas Nature Reserve and ascend the granite slopes of Fraser Range, encompassed by the world’s biggest eucalypt hardwood forest.
Walk through the towering blackbutts, salmon gums and green gimlets, and view Mount Pleasant rising above the forest. Visit the Fraser Range sheep station (105 kilometres or 65 miles east of Norseman), observe birds, camels and wildflowers on a bushwalk, and play the Sheep’s Back par three hole. Drive 40 kilometres (25 miles) east to Newman Rock for views of woodland, range and plains.
It is barely another 50 kilometres (31 miles) east to the Balladonia Roadhouse, which is the first halt on the Nullarbor trip from Western Australia to South Australia. In 1979, Balladonia broke the international headlines when components of the US Skylab space station came to ground near here.
You may visit certain pieces at the free Balladonia Cultural History Museum, which also features exhibitions of Aboriginal heritage, European exploration and colonization and local flora and animals.
It is situated at the Roadhouse, where you may cool down in the pool, enjoy supper and spend the night in a hotel room or the trailer park.
DAY 2: BALLADONIA TO CAIGUNA
Start your day with an amazing coffee at the roadhouse and load up on water, food and gas before playing the par three Skylab hole through the bush (beware of snakes) (beware of snakes).
This is when the golf course begins to become strange. The holes in the Nullarbor contain greens and tees and challenging fairways through the brush. Playing the course becomes a peculiar Aussie outback experience.
Ask at the roadhouse for instructions to the neighboring Balladonia Rocks (loosely translated, Balladonia originates from an Aboriginal term meaning “great red rock”) for magnificent views of the flat plains.
The Afghan Rocks are 14 kilometres (nine miles) east of Balladonia, where fresh water dams supplied water for the early Afghan camel drivers. From here travel the 90 Mile Straight, which at 147 kilometres (91 miles) is one of the world’s longest segments of straight road (don’t forget to snap a picture at the famous wildlife road sign).
It terminates in Caiguna, where you may travel south to the coast to check out the Caiguna Blowhole. Play the par four 90 Mile Straight hole through the forests before supper and a night spent at the John Eyre Motel and Caravan Park.
DAY 3: CAIGUNA TO MADURA
Drive from Caiguna Roadhouse 65 kilometres (40 miles) to Cocklebiddy, originally an Aboriginal mission, where you may play the par four Eagles Nest hole.
If you have a 4WD and are comfortable in harsh circumstances, visit the Nuytsland Nature Reserve to view some of the world’s longest unbroken cliffs, along with spectacular coastline landscapes and beaches.
Book ahead to visit (you may even stay overnight) the Eyre Bird Observatory, Australia’s first bird observatory. It was created in 1977 in the 1897 stone telegraph station set amid trees and white dunes within walking distance of the beach.
It is a 34-kilometre (21-mile) diversion (by 4WD only) south-east of the Eyre Highway. You’ll be rewarded by viewing the likes of silvereyes, singing honeyeaters, brown falcons and the gorgeous pink and white Major Mitchell’s cockatoos.
Back on the Eyre Highway continue for 92 kilometres (57 miles) to Madura, the halfway point between Adelaide and Perth, where sturdy horses known as Walers were bred for the Australian Light Horse Brigade in World War I.
Today, sheep graze near the roadhouse, where you may stay and refuel for the night after playing the par three Brumby’s Run hole (a brumby is a wild horse) (a brumby is a wild horse).
DAY 4: MADURA TO BORDER VILLAGE
From Madura, the hill-flanked route runs into the horizon without interruption for 117 kilometres (73 miles) to Mundrabilla Roadhouse, where Australia’s biggest meteorite was found.
Play the par four Watering Hole and load up on food, drink and petrol at the roadhouse before traveling 66 kilometres (41 miles) to the top of the Hampton Tableland at Eucla, home to the interesting, changing sand dunes of Eucla National Park.
See the historic telegraph station, previously Australia’s busiest regional telegraph station, which is being slowly taken by the dunes. Walk to the dilapidated jetty that previously was used to ferry supplies to pioneers, and enjoy the beautiful sandy beach.
Visit the little museum and take in magnificent views from the top of the cliff. Back in Eucla, play the par four Nullarbor Nymph hole on the Eucla Golf Course before travelling 12 kilometres (7.5 miles) to reach the South Australian border at Border Village. Enjoy a refreshing dip in the pool, a bite to eat and a comfy bed at the Border Village Roadhouse.
DAY 5: BORDER VILLAGE TO NULLARBOR ROADHOUSE
Head up to the Giant Kangaroo to play the par three Border Kangaroo hole before you fill up on water, food and gas.
Follow the Eyre Highway through Nullarbor National Park, beside the sheer 90-metre (300-foot) high, 200-kilometre (124-mile) long Bunda Cliffs, the longest stretch of sea cliffs in the world. See Australia’s southern edge plummet abruptly to the sea from any of the five indicated lookouts over the cliffs.
Be cautious while stepping around the limestone clifftops since they disintegrate quickly. From here, the route passes typical Nullarbor landscape — treeless and apparently boundless plains where you will see plenty of semitrailers and road trains moving products across the continent.
It is 184 kilometres (114 miles) between Border Village and the Nullarbor Roadhouse.
Play the par five Dingo’s Den hole at the freshly rebuilt roadhouse before checking out the Aussie music icon murals in the bar, where you can play a game of pool with passing truck drivers (truckies) and grey nomads (retirees traveling throughout the country towing trailers) after supper.
Don’t forget to gaze at the night sky to view the Southern Cross and other Southern Hemisphere constellations Because there’s no light pollution out here.
DAY 6: NULLARBOR ROADHOUSE TO CEDUNA
From here till Nundroo you’ll be going across Yalata Aboriginal Land and will require a permit to walk off the route. Pick one up from the White Well Ranger Station on the short 20-kilometre (12.5-mile) ride south to the Head of Bight.
The whale viewing station here is one of the world’s top land-based vantage locations to witness a whale nursery. Southern right whales, which may grow to 18 metres (59 feet) long, mate and calve in these sheltered waters between May and October.
Back on the highway, travel around 130 kilometres (81 miles) to the next roadhouse, at Nundroo, and play the par five Wombat Hole.
You may take a 55-kilometre (34-mile) detour to the lovely fishing resort of Fowlers Bay. Watch whales from the craggy sea cliffs (you can also join a whale watching boat excursion, on which you may view fur seals and sea lions), trek through the sand dunes and discover animals at Fowlers Bay Conservation Park.
From here it is 71 kilometres (44 miles) to Penong, where you’ll witness hundreds of old-fashioned windmills at the windmill museum and play the par four Windmills Hole at the Penong Golf Course.
Just 22 kilometres (13.5 miles) south of Penong, surf the world-class breakers of Cactus Beach or swim in the netted cage.
From Penong, it is 72 kilometres (45 miles) to Ceduna, on the sandy curves of Murat Bay, where you can buy Aboriginal art and craftwork from the Ceduna Aboriginal Arts and Culture Centre and play the last two holes of the Nullarbor Links (the par five Oyster Beds Hole and par four Denial Bay Hole at the Ceduna Golf Club) (the par five Oyster Beds Hole and par four Denial Bay Hole at the Ceduna Golf Club). From here fly to Adelaide, or begin the trip, which is about 800 kilometres (497 miles) (497 miles).
Spend a few days in Adelaide, or continue your tour in South Australia. Kangaroo Island is rich with wildlife, while the Great Ocean Road is one of Australia’s most spectacular coastal road journeys.
Topic: Crossing the nullarbor
I am arguably the most popular Australian writer of all time. I am from the town of Karrinyup in rural Western Australia. When I was young, I was fascinated by the unique landscape of Australia, and I decided to support himself by writing books about the Australian landscape.
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