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To many crossing the Nullarbor is one of Australia’s top road trip adventures. This 1,201 km journey may be one of the loneliest in the country but as you travel you will be greeted with vast landscapes and the spectacular beauty of the Great Australian Bight.
The Nullarbor stretches from Ceduna in South Australia to Norseman in Western Australia. We chose to begin our Nullarbor crossing in Norseman Western Australia.
The drive across the Nullarbor from Norseman to Ceduna takes around twelve and a half hours to complete and is best broken down into a two or three day trip. So, come along with us as we show you the tips and tricks for crossing the Nullarbor!
Where is the Nullarbor Plain?
The Nullarbor extends along the bottom of Australia linking the West Australia and South Australia border.
Considered to be the world’s largest limestone bedrock plain, the Nullarbor edges the coastline of the Great Australian Bight and is fringed by the Great Victoria Desert in the north. This parched flat plain is mostly treeless and was once a shallow seabed.
How long is the Nullarbor Plain?
The Nullarbor Plain is around 1,100 km from east to west stretching through South and West Australia. In total the Nullarbor Plain occupies an expanse of around 200,000 sq km.
Nullarbor Plain map
To help you get a better understanding of the region and to make planning your trip easier we have included our crossing the Nullarbor map.
Best time to cross the Nullarbor
The Eyre Highway is a 1,660 km highway that starts in Port Augusta and makes its way through the Nullarbor from Ceduna in South Australia to Norseman in Western Australia.
The best time of year to cross the Nullarbor is during the cooler months between May and October when temperatures are lower and driving across the Nullarbor is more comfortable.
While the Nullarbor has recorded temperatures close to 50 °C the average summer daytime temperature is around 28 Celsius and 16 Celsius overnight.
Average winter daytime temps are around 18 Celsius and drop to around 5 Celsius in the evening. Note that temperatures have been known to drop below freezing during this time of year. Summers are dry with most rain falling between May and August.
**Australia’s seasons are opposite to the Northern Hemisphere. Summer is from December to February, autumn is between March and May, Winter from June to August and September to November is spring.
Preparing for the Nullarbor
Like any Australian trip into the outback, certain precautions need to be taken before beginning your trip. Remember that you will be travelling long distances and you need to be prepared for the unexpected.
- Make sure your vehicle is in good working order.
- Carry plenty of water and food.
- Make sure to top up on fuel at every stop.
- Be aware that phone coverage is sparse.
- If you break down do not leave your car.
- The Nullarbor speed limit is 110 km.
Fuel prices on the Nullarbor can be expensive and sometimes the smaller roadhouses can run out of fuel. If you want to save money and feel secure an option is to carry your own fuel in jerry cans.
This was not an option for us as we did not have the room, but we found that topping up at every roadhouse gave us more than enough fuel to get from A to B.
Booking accommodation for crossing the Nullarbor
If you plan to stay at one of the roadhouse motels or caravan parks make sure to book your accommodation well in advance as they sell out quickly.
Nullarbor Links Golf Course
The Nullarbor Links is the world’s longest 18 hole golf course which stretches 1,386 km from Kalgoorlie in Western Australia to Ceduna in South Australia, incorporating the Nullarbor roadhouses along the way.
Nullarbor golf links score cards can be purchased from Kalgoorlie Visitors Centre, Norseman Visitors Centre or Ceduna Visitors Centre. Score cards must be stamped at every hole through the visitors centres or roadhouses.
On completion you will receive a Nullarbor Links Certificate which is only available at Kalgoorlie or Ceduna after all holes have been stamped.
Norseman Western Australia
Norseman is a 721 km drive east of Perth the capital of Western Australia. The town marks the beginning of the Eyre Highway and is the last town until Penong in South Australia, which is 1,127 km away.
Legend has it that in 1894 a horse named ‘Norseman’ scraped the ground with his hoof and unearthed a large gold nugget. You will find a life size bronze statue of Norseman the horse in the centre of town.
This small country town has a laid back vibe, other attractions include the Norseman Town Clock, the Tin Camels of Norseman and the historic Norseman Hotel. The Norseman Town Clock is shaped like the head frame of a mineshaft and commemorates the centenary of Norseman and the towns gold mining past.
When driving into town you will see the Tin Camels of Norseman. Decorating a roundabout, the camels pay tribute to the camel trains that supplied the town and installed the telegraph lines in the early pioneer days.
The historic Norseman Hotel is a typical country pub that serves great meals and has pub style accommodation. Norseman has a well-stocked IGA supermarket and is the place to pick up any last minute needs before heading across the Nullarbor.
Norseman has a range of accommodation to choose from and it is the perfect place for a layover before tackling the Nullarbor. You can book your Norseman accommodation below.
Roadhouses on the Nullarbor West Australia
After leaving Norseman in West Australia or Ceduna and Penong in South Australia you will find a series of roadhouse petrol stations on the Nullarbor.
When looking at a map of the Nullarbor it is easy to feel a little intimidated when it comes to planning your trip. Dots on the map with exotic names such as Balladonia, Cocklebiddy and Mundrabilla stare back at you.
These roadhouses are important as they are home to much needed Nullarbor accommodation. If you are crossing the Nullarbor by caravan you are also well catered for at the roadhouse caravan parks.
Before we started our journey, we tried to do as much research on the Nullarbor roadhouses as we could, but we found that there was not a lot of information. Here is our take on what you will find when you start crossing the Nullarbor.
When coming from Norseman you will reach Balladonia, the first of the roadhouse fuel stops across the Nullarbor. The Norseman to Balladonia distance is 218 km and takes around 2 hours and 20 minutes to drive.
I always imagined the Nullarbor to be a landscape filled with saltbush but surprisingly along this section of the Eyre Highway there are trees and lush bushland. As you drive you will see signs telling you to be on the lookout for camels, kangaroos and emus. If you are looking for that little piece of Australiana, make sure to stop for a photo op.
Balladonia Roadhouse is open from 5:30am to 9:30pm seven days a week. The roadhouse is the perfect place to freshen up and stretch the legs. There is a playground for the kids and a good range of takeaway or dine in meals if you are feeling hungry.
In 1979 Balladonia made world headlines as NASA space station Skylab made its fiery re-entry to Earth scattering pieces around Balladonia. As a joke the local shire issued NASA with a $400 fine for littering. You can learn more about Skylab and the history of the region at the adjoining museum.
For those wanting to take a break from the road there is motel accommodation with a variety of room configurations and a caravan park with powered and non-powered sites. For bookings call (08) 9039 3453
When driving the Nullarbor to Caiguna Roadhouse you will see a change in scenery as trees thin out and make way for saltbush. The distance between Balladonia and Caiguna is 154 km which takes approximately 1 hour and 35 minutes to drive.
You will come across a sign marking the 90 Mile Straight, Australia’s longest straight road which runs for 146.6 km and is another popular photo stop along the Nullarbor Plain.
Caiguna Roadhouse is open 24 hours and has sit down meals and takeaways. Nearby you will find the 90 Mile Straight hole of the Nullarbor Links.
You can take a breather from the road by staying the night at the John Eyre Motel and caravan park which is adjacent to Caiguna Roadhouse. For bookings call (08) 9039 3459.
The distance from Caiguna to Cocklebiddy is 65 km which is roughly a 45 minute drive. Once you get there you will find that Cocklebiddy has a population of 8 people, 25 budgies, 7 quails, 1 dog and 1,234,567 kangaroos.
Cocklebiddy Roadhouse is open from 7am to 7pm seven days a week. It is the place to top up on fuel, grab a bite to eat or bed down for the night at the Wedgetail Inn motel or caravan park. At the end of the day, you can relax with a beer at the bar after a hard day of driving. For bookings call (08) 9039 3462.
Leaving Cocklebiddy, the landscape changes again from saltbush to trees. As you drive along the Nullarbor there are plenty of parking bays where you can stop and rest if you are feeling tired, a few even have toilets.
The distance from Cocklebiddy to Madura is 91 km, about a 1 hour drive. The road takes you over the spectacular Madura Pass where you can look down over a vast plain that stretches to the horizon.
Madura Roadhouse opening hours are from 6:30am to 10:00pm Monday to Saturday and 6:30 am to 9:00 pm on Sunday. The roadhouse has fuel, a restaurant which serves meals and a snack bar where you can get takeaways.
If you are feeling tired you can stay at the Madura Pass Oasis Hotel or caravan park. For bookings call (08) 9039 3464.
Again, the scenery changes to saltbush with a scattering of trees as we drive to our overnight stop at Mundrabilla Roadhouse. The distance from Madura to Mundrabilla is 82 km and takes around 1 hour to drive.
Mundrabilla is open from 6am to 7pm seven days a week. There is a bar and beer garden which was perfect for unwinding after our 7 hour drive from Norseman.
The menu was full of old family favourites and portions were large and tasty. Just be aware that the kitchen closes at 6:30pm, so you will need to bring food if you are arriving late.
While exploring, we discovered another Nullarbor Links hole (Watering Hole) which was framed by the magnificent Hampton Tablelands. In the evening we watched the sun set, the only sound in this quiet and peaceful setting was a light breeze that rustled through the trees, a truly memorable experience.
The rooms at the Mundrabilla Motel are a little rustic but the sheets were clean and the bed comfortable, so we had a good night sleep. The roadhouse also has caravan park accommodation with powered and un-powered sites. For bookings call (08) 9039 3465.
Leaving Mundrabilla, we drove in the shadow of Hampton Tableland escarpment and continue travelling the Nullarbor toward the scenic Eucla Pass. At the top of the pass, you will find the Eucla Roadhouse. The distance from Mundrabilla to Eucla is 100 km and takes approximately 1 hour to drive.
We stopped in for breakfast at the Eucla Roadhouse and found the staff to be super friendly giving us tips for our continuing journey. The coffee and vegetarian brekky wrap were delicious and fortified us for crossing the Nullarbor.
When visiting Eucla, you can learn more about the legend of the Nullarbor Nymph, a scantily clad young woman with long blonde hair who runs wild with the kangaroos. The roadhouse is also home to Eucla Historical Museum which tells the story of Eucla’s early days as a telegraph station.
Eucla WA accommodation styles include motel with pool and caravan park with powered and unpowered sites.
Border Village – Nullarbor Plain
When driving across Nullarbor you will cross the West Australian and South Australian border. The distance from Eucla to Border Village is a short 12 km about an 11 minute drive.
Border Village is one of the Nullarbor’s largest roadhouses and is open 24 hours seven days a week. It is the place to freshen up, have a meal or if you are staying the night, a drink at the bar. While there why not dust off the golf clubs at the Border Kangaroo hole of the Nullarbor links.
There is a range of accommodation to choose from including executive to family rooms at the motel or caravan and camping sites at the caravan park.
The Great Australian Bight Lookouts
Not long after you cross the border from West Australia into South Australia you will find a series of lookouts with views overlooking the Great Australian Bight. Lookout signs have a drawing of a camera indicating photo opportunities.
These spectacular Bunda Cliffs stretch for 200 kilometres along the Great Australian Bight to form part of the longest uninterrupted line of sea cliffs in the world. You can see the Bunda Cliffs between Border Village and the Head of the Bight in South Australia.
If you are coming from the Western Australian direction, there are four free lookouts in the Great Australian Bight Marine Park that begin at lookout No. 4 through to lookout No.1. For the ultimate views take a short 20 km drive east of the Nullarbor Roadhouse to the Head of Bight Visitor Centre & Whale Nursery.
If you are coming in the South Australian direction, lookouts start at the Head of Bight Visitors Centre which is 84 km west of Yalata on the Eyre Highway. After the Nullarbor Roadhouse you will find lookouts No. 1 through to lookout No. 4.
Head of Bight Visitors Centre & Whale Nursery
If you are coming from the Western Australia direction head east from the Nullarbor Roadhouse to the Head of Bight Visitor Centre.
The Head of Bight is one of the top Nullarbor attractions. It has stunning views of the Bight and the best whale watching Nullarbor experience.
Each year between the 1st of June and the 30th of October whales come to frolic in the waters below the Head of Bight. The best time to visit is during July as the Head of Bight becomes a whale nursery as whales begin calving season.
The Head of Bight Visitors Centre gets busy between June and October. The centre is open between 8am and 5pm during whale season. Off season is between the 1st of November to 31st of May, visitor hours are from 8:30am to 4pm.
Entry fees apply to the Head of Bight and how much you pay will depend on what season you visit. Note that pets are not permitted in the Tourist Centre or boardwalk.
Nullarbor Roadhouses South Australia
After crossing into South Australia at Border Village we continue to drive the Nullarbor stopping at the roadhouses and country towns along the way.
Our first stop was the Nullarbor Roadhouse where we planned to spend the night. The distance from Border Village to Nullarbor Roadhouse is 184 km which is a 2 hour drive. The roadhouse is open from 7:00am to 10:00pm seven days a week.
Sitting next to the roadhouse is a replica of the original corrugated iron station garage. White dirt from the windswept plain whipped around this age worn building, a scene that captured our imaginations and transported us back to a time where the Eyre Highway was nothing more than a rough track.
The Nullarbor Roadhouse is a great place to break your trip. Freshen up with a shower, dine in or get a takeaway meal, check out the Oz Rock Legends mural with a beer in the bar or stay the night in the motel or caravan park.
As you wander around the roadhouse you will see murals by talented Australian mural artist Pam Armstrong and creations by landscape artist Marty Powell.
Nullarbor Roadhouse Motel
The rooms at the Nullarbor Roadhouse are clean and comfortable with a desk, fridge and air conditioning. Meals are large and you can either dine in or take meals back to your room.
The Murrawijinie Caves are a little over 10 km north of the Nullarbor Roadhouse. There is a signposted dirt track which leads to this Nullarbor cave system.
When visiting make sure to bring a torch as some of the caves feature indigenous ochre hand art. The caves are also used by a variety of birdlife as nesting sites. For safety reasons talk to the roadhouse staff before leaving for the best tips on the area.
The distance from Nullarbor Roadhouse to Nundroo is 143 km which is roughly a one and a half hour drive.
Penong in South Australia is the first country town you come to after Norseman which is 1,127 km away in West Australia. The distance from Nundroo Roadhouse to Penong is 80 km a short 50 minute drive.
Penong is the last stop before reaching Ceduna if you are coming from West Australia and the first stop on the Nullarbor if you are travelling from Ceduna in South Australia.
Penong has a pub, petrol station, caravan park and a couple of shops. One unique attraction to the town is Australia’s Biggest Windmill. The Penong Windmills pump the local water supply from a large underground basin.
On the home stretch from Penong to Ceduna the landscape changes to wheat belt farmland. Ceduna is 74 km from Penong which is roughly 1 hours’ drive.
Ceduna is located on the shores of Murat Bay. A trip to Ceduna would not be complete without visiting Ceduna Jetty for swimming and views overlooking the bay.
For those finishing their trip across the Nullarbor Ceduna has a wide range of motels and caravan park accommodation. If you are starting your Nullarbor crossing Ceduna is the place to stock up on water, food and fuel.
We stayed at the Ceduna Foreshore Hotel Motel which was right across the road from Ceduna Jetty. The hotel is a great place to relax with a beer and wine while taking in views of Murat Bay. If you are hungry the restaurant menu has a delicious selection of counter meals.
There are a range of motel room styles from spa suite to standard. The rooms are clean, comfortable with some featuring a balcony and ocean view. The motel serves a continental breakfast in the hotel.
Best overnight stops on Nullarbor
Where should I stay when crossing the Nullarbor? It is a question we are often asked so here are our suggestions on where to stay on the Nullarbor.
A top tip when looking for accommodation on the Nullarbor Plain is to decide where you want to stay and book early. Places fill up fast so make sure to book as soon as you have finalised your plans.
Advantages of Nullarbor Roadhouse are that it has a history, and you can experience the true Nullarbor. The rooms were clean, comfortable and it is an interesting place to stay.
Border Village is a large Roadhouse that is open 24 hours a day. At the Village you will have everything you need at your fingertips.
In West Australia I would choose to stay at Eucla or Madura as they looked clean and modern.
Eucla was the friendliest roadhouse on the Nullarbor, the staff were welcoming, helpful and it was located on the scenic Eucla Pass. The motel has a pool, and the accommodation is well set up for travellers with a motel and caravan park.
Madura is located on the stunning Madura Pass. The Madura Pass Oasis Motel is clean, friendly and has a reputation for serving large, tasty meals. For bookings call (08) 9039 3464.
Last Words on Crossing the Nullarbor
Crossing the Nullarbor has been on our bucket list for many years and now that we have ticked it off, I am so grateful we got the chance to experience it.
Crossing the Nullarbor is like crossing the last frontier, it is an landscape that can be monotonous but one that can also surprise you with its arid beauty and majesty.
I will always remember white dusty days where the sun was so bright, tumbleweeds blowing in the wind and the tranquil silence of the sunsets and dawns.
Have you crossed the Nullarbor? We would love to hear about your experiences! Feel free to leave a comment.
The Nullarbor Plain is one of Australia’s epic journeys which covers vast distances. Here is our distance chart to make planning your trip across the Nullarbor a little easier.
Norseman to Balladonia distance is 218 km (around 2 hours 20min drive)
Balladonia to Caiguna distance is 154 km (approx. 1 hour 35 min drive)
Caiguna to Cocklebiddy distance is 65 km (roughly 45 min drive)
Cocklebiddy to Madura distance is 91 km (about 1 hour drive)
Madura to Mundrabilla distance is 82 km (around 1 hour drive)
Mundrabilla to Eucla distance is 100 km (approx. 1 hour drive)
Eucla to Border Village distance is 12 km (11 min drive)
Border Village to Nullarbor Roadhouse distance is 184 km (2 hour drive)
Nullarbor Roadhouse to Nundroo distance is 143 km (roughly 1.5 hour drive)
Nundroo to Penong distance is 80km (50 min drive)
Penong to Ceduna distance is 74 km (roughly 1 hour drive)
Norseman WA to Ceduna SA Distance is 1,201 km (about 12 hour and 20 min drive)
Eucla to Port Augusta distance is 960 km (around 10 hours’ drive)
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