The idea of driving across the Nullarbor sparks excitement in some people, while others couldn’t think of anything worse.
It’s one of the longest drives in Australia. Stretching across 1,256 kilometres with virtually nothing around. It’s made up of the longest flat road in Australia, the longest treeless plain, and is generally one of our longest drives. One very long road that connects South Australia and Western Australia together, across the Nullarbor Plain.
There’s probably more to see and do across the Nullarbor than you might think, with roadhouses, iconic road signs and all kinds of strange sculptures and even stranger towns to keep you amused as you drive along. We’ve put together a collection of our best tips for driving across the Nullarbor, as well as all the places there is to stop along the way.
Planning to drive the Nullarbor
A few things you should keep in mind before and during your drive across the Nullarbor:
Know where the fuel stations are: there are plenty of fuel stops along the Nullarbor, but they can still be hundreds of kilometres apart. Make sure you know where the fuel stops are and fill up regularly to avoid running out of fuel or not making it to the next stop.
Don’t drive at night: the Nullarbor is home to lots of different wildlife, most of which come out of hiding at night and roam around. Avoid driving at night, when it’s more likely that wildlife could be on or near the road and you have limited visibility. We actually saw a dead camel on the side of the road that had been hit by a car or truck. I would hate to see the damage on the vehicle that hit a camel!
Bring some warm clothes with you: even if you’re travelling during the summer time, temperatures drop at night and can be very cool, especially along the Bunda Cliffs. Bring a warm change of clothes to be prepared for any conditions.
Be careful of road trains: the trucks out here are just MASSIVE. Some with three or even four huge trailers, and can sometimes have upwards of 90 tyres. Be careful when you’re driving past them, especially if it’s windy, and drive as far to the left of your lane as you can.
There is no water: there is nowhere to get clean water along the Nullarbor, unless of course you’re buying it in a plastic bottle. Make sure you have enough water and all your tanks are full before you leave Ceduna.
There are quite a few interesting places to stop along the Nullarbor, some with iconic things to see. Others that are just a necessary fuel and toilet stop. Here are all the places you can stop along the way, and what you can expect to find there:
Ceduna to Fowlers Bay: 143 kilometres, approximately 1 hour and 40 minutes
While many consider Ceduna to be the last town in South Australia, our last stop in SA before we embarked on the Nullarbor was Fowlers Bay. A very small, very remote town at the fringe end of the Eyre Peninsula where sand dunes mark the end of the street and the caravan park convenience store is the only store in town. It’s so remote in fact, that there is no mains power or water here, with the residents of the town creating their own solutions.
Fowlers Bay is made up of a caravan park, a public laundromat and that’s about it. But it is a charming, cute little town, where vintage caravans can be seen everywhere, and you can walk around the whole town like walking around the block. It provided us a great overnight spot to do our laundry and have a good sleep before we started our long drive across the Nullarbor.
We woke up bright and early, ready to go. We were excited for the Nullarbor.
Important note: There is no fuel station in Fowlers Bay, so we had stopped and filled up in Ceduna before we stayed the night. When you’re in Ceduna make sure you use one of those fuel price apps to find the lowest price – we were able to find diesel for $1.29 at a petrol station we probably wouldn’t have seen otherwise!
Head of the Bite
Fowlers Bay to Head of the Bight: 164 kilometres, approximately 1 hour and 53 minutes
The first stop we made along the way was at the Head of the Bight Visitors Centre. It is the beginning of the iconic Bunda Cliffs that extend all the way to the Western Australia border. It’s also a great place for whale watching during the winter months, with whales and dolphins regularly spotted swimming close to the cliff face.
The Visitors Centre has boardwalks that extend all the way down to the ocean, with beautiful lookouts over the cliffs and the Great Australian Bite. Even though we weren’t visiting during the whale season, it was still a lovely spot to visit and break up the drive a little bit. There was also phone reception in the Visitors Centre and a small cafe, in case you need a snack or to connect.
The Head of the Bite is open from 8:30am until 4pm, with extended hours from 8am to 5pm during the whale watching season. It cost $8 per adult for entry when we visited, which was considered the off-season.
Head of the Bite to the Nullarbor Roadhouse: 25 kilometres, approximately 21 minutes
Only a short way down the road was our next stop, the iconic Nullarbor Roadhouse.
This might be one of the most famous sites along this stretch of road, where the original roadhouse from the 1950s still stands, despite a new petrol station, motel, pub and store being built all around it. It’s a favourite spot to stop of anyone crossing the Nullarbor, and a great place to stop for a photo.
You can still go inside the old roadhouse, where you can see kind of a shop set up on one side, while the other side resembles more of an abandoned shed. There’s even an original petrol pump still standing outside.
Nullarbor Roadhouse to Bunda Cliffs: 165 kilometres, approximately 1 hour and 40 minutes
The Bunda Cliffs are, quite simply, AMAZING. Spanning for hundreds of kilometres, they really give you the feeling that you are standing on the edge of Australia. Even though (the thought came to me as we stood there), you’re kind of standing at the edge of Australia every time you go to the beach!
There are four designated lookouts along the Nullarbor that provide some of the best views of the Bunda Cliffs, but there are also plenty of other spots where you can simply follow a dirt track and see the views from wherever it takes you. There is also plenty of free camping spots all along the Bunda Cliffs and this area before you get to Western Australia. Can you see us on the cliff edge in the photo above?
If you’re going to free camp along here, just make sure you pull into a spot that is off the tracks and the main roads, as others might need to get past you. Also make sure that you leave the site as you found it, take any rubbish and toilet paper with you to keep the environment as pristine as possible.
We spent the night camping on Bunda Cliffs, just about an hour or so east of the state border. It was super windy overnight here, which I expect is always the case at the cliffs.
Border Village & the SA/WA Border
Bunda Cliffs to Border Village: 20 kilometres, approximately 12 minutes
The next morning we crossed the border into Western Australia! I actually thought there was going to be a lot more driving on the South Australian side of the Nullarbor, but as we found out, WA had snuck up on us quickly.
The small town at the border is literally called Border Village. On the SA side you can find a petrol station and small takeaway store, as well as the strange giant kangaroo holding a jar of Vegemite.
It’s important to know that WA has a very strict quarantine inspection for anyone crossing the border. You are not allowed to take any plant matter with you to WA, which means any fruit or vegetables you have needs to be eaten or thrown out before you cross the boarder. It’s annoying, but it’s an attempt to stop fruit-flies and other insects from crossing over into WA.
We already knew about these rules, so we had already eaten most of our fruit and veggies and didn’t have to throw away very much. Once you’re ready to be inspected, and leave SA, you need to line up at the quarantine station to be inspected.
The quarantine official looked through our car fridge and the fridge and freezer in the caravan to check that we didn’t have anything that wasn’t allowed to be taken in to WA. She was lovely and very polite to us, however I have heard about ruthless inspectors that want to look through everything you have, making people throw out honey and all sorts of things.
She waved us on and just like that we were in Western Australia!
Just after the quarantine inspection point, pull over to the left hand side to take a photo with the iconic SA/WA border sign. There’s a line on the floor that clearly marks the separation of the states, and we couldn’t resist taking one of those silly photos with Thom standing in SA and me standing in WA.
Border Village to Eucla: 12 kilometres, approximately 11 minutes
The first stop you will come across in WA is Eucla, literally just on the other side of the border. Again, another rest stop with a petrol station, a small takeaway store and a place to stay. We stopped here to fill up the car and noticed that we were in a weird timezone, that wasn’t inline with either Perth or Adelaide.
Yep, welcome to border time. A fictitious time zone in my opinion apparently officially called ACWST Australian Central Western Standard Time, that just covers this small area of the Nullarbor from Border Village to Balladonia. The time here makes absolutely no sense, it’s 45 minutes ahead of Perth (UTC +8:45) and just throws out all logic. If you can, just ignore the time until you get through this weird zone. It will make your head hurt.
Eucla to Cocklebiddy: 273 kilometres, approximately 2 hours and 46 minutes
After a few hours of driving Cocklebiddy was the next stop. A very strange place where the number of residents (8) are wildly outnumbered by the number of budgies (25). We stopped for a break to stretch the legs, use the bathroom and check out this infamous weird cage of budgies before we kept driving.
There’s a small motel here if you need accommodation for the night, as well as a petrol station and bar where you can have a drink or a quick fast food meal. This place also runs on “border time”, although they call it Cocklebiddy time. Honestly, these little rest stops along the Nullarbor are some of the weirdest places we have visited around Australia so far.
Cocklebiddy to Balladonia: 220 kilometres, approximately 2 hours and 15 minutes
After a full day of driving we pulled in to Balladonia as it was getting dark. At Balladonia you can find a petrol station and convenience store, a pub and a caravan park.
We were running very low on food, having had to get rid of all out fruit and vegetables before we crossed the border into Western Australia, so we stopped at the pub for dinner. There were no other options, let’s be honest. The food was quite good at the pub, I had a Thai Beef Salad (the only option that resembled a salad on the menu) and Thom had a parma that was very large.
We didn’t want to pay to spend the night at the caravan park – it was very expensive for what you got (about $35 a night), and we wouldn’t even be leaving our van to use amenities. Instead we drove about 5 kilometres back down the road where there was a great free camp to stay in for the night. There was no more road noise than there would have been at the caravan park and it was a big rest stop, perfect place to spend the night.
Balladonia to Norseman: 219 kilometres, approximately 2 hours and 17 minutes
On the morning of our third driving day we reached Norseman, the end of the Nullarbor! A real town with just about everything you might need including a huge petrol station, grocery store, visitors centre, accommodation and dining options. After crossing the border, Norseman will be the first place where you can finally stock up on fruit and veggies again.
There is a dump point behind the Visitors Centre if you need it, and the BP will let you fill up your water tanks with clean drinking water for a gold coin donation which goes to the Royal Flying Doctors Service.
From Norseman you can either continue south to Esperance and the south-east coast of WA, or north to Kalgoorlie and the Goldfields region. Both are about a two hour drive from Norseman, and will take you onward to Perth if that’s your final destination.
Norseman Visitors Centre || LOT 1781 Roberts Street, Norseman || Ph: (08) 9039 1071
If you haven’t driven it before, the Nullarbor is definitely not as scary as you might think. It took us about two and a half days, reaching Kalgoorlie by about lunch time on the third day. We were taking our time and not rushing at all, so you could definitely do it a lot quicker if you needed to. In fact, both days we took our time and didn’t get moving until about 10am.
Surprisingly, the Nullarbor definitely wasn’t as boring as you might think either! While some parts were definitely longer and more boring than others, there are lots of different things to stop and see to break the trip up, as well as lots of colourful characters working at the rest stops along the way that are sure to keep you entertained.