Driving across the Nullarbor is a bucket list item that every Australian should do at least once in their lives. We drove 1400km west from Esperance in Western Australia to Ceduna in South Australia over 3 days, stopping overnight at Baxter Rest Area (between Caiguna and Belladonia), Bunda Cliffs campgrounds and Ceduna.
Nullarbor is Latin for “no trees” but we did not find this to be true as there was plenty of vegetation and trees along the journey. The vegetation did change with the journey but some of land is potentially more fertile (albeit more remote) than other parts of Australia we have seen. It could be possibly used for livestock grazing. We were led to believe that the drive would be long and boring but in reality, the scenery was not as featureless as other parts of remote, regional Australia. A stark reminder of the remoteness were the occasional Royal Flying Doctor Service airstrips we saw on the drive.
We started our Nullarbor journey in Esperance. The most striking thing about Esperance is the startlingly blue colour of the water. It’s exquisite albeit icy cold! It’s worth spending some time here and preparing for the journey ahead because from here, it gets much less populated!
After heading off from Esperance, we stopped for a picnic lunch stop in Norseman. From there, we drove on and visited the free museum at Belladonia which has pieces of NASA’s Skylab space station which re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere and fell near Belladonia in 1979. As there were still daylight hours, we pushed on and overnighted at the free Baxter Rest Stop. There was only a couple of other vehicles that overnighted here.
The next day, we drove on. The intention was to overnight at Eucla Motel and Caravan Park. The motel building looks very new and modern. It must have been recently built. When we tried to check-in for an unpowered campsite, the honest manager told us we should go 12kms down the road to Border Village where we could have an unpowered campsite for half the price! Fancy turning down business in such a remote location!
When we got to Border Village, we decided to freshen up with some hot showers at $3 for 5 minutes and then drive on to camp with a view of the Great Australian Bight. For the night, we free camped at the Bunda Cliffs Campground. On this occasion, it was extremely windy. It is possible to camp right on the cliff’s edge but we chose to shelter further back in amongst some dunes. The view at the cliffs is spectacular.
The next day, once we got into Nundroo, it felt like the remoteness of the Nullarbor was over. There were more signs of human impact and civilisation e.g. fence posts and fields. The landscape also was less flat.
We were happy to see Ceduna and to camp at a lovely waterfront caravan park with lush green grass. The remoteness of the Nullarbor was now behind us and we are thankful for being able to cross it without incident.
It is important to prepare properly for crossing the Nullarbor. Ensure you carry a generous amount of drinking water. Bring insect repellant and watch out for the horrible, large March Flies. They are horrid biting things!
There is a lot of road train traffic that cross the Nullarbor trucking goods back and forth. It can be quite nerve-wrecking passing these massive vehicles at speed and getting a stone chip in the windscreen is always a possibility. Carry a windscreen repair kit and hold your nerve as you pass these big trucks!
Understand the fuel prices and locations to obtain fuel on the journey. Write them down before you leave a larger stop like Esperance or Ceduna and understand the distances, your fuel tank capacity and decide where to fill up to minimise cost. This was our list of diesel prices and it is clear, there is a massive variation in price.
- Norseman $AUD 177.2c/L
- Belladonia $AUD 204.2c/L
- Caiguna $AUD 210c/L
- Cocklebiddy $AUD 212c/L
- Madura $AUD 208c/L
- Mundrabilla $AUD 199c/L
- Eucla $AUD $AUD 199c/L
- Border Village $AUD 221c/L
- Nullarbor Roadhouse $AUD 222c/L
- Nundroo $AUD 165.9c/L
- Penong $AUD 165.9c/L
- Ceduna $AUD 156.9c/L
There are stops along the Nullarbor where fuel and food and be purchased. They will have toilets which are very clean, motel and caravan park facilities. Shower facilities can be used for a nominal fee and the staff in these remote stops are professional and friendly. I had to wonder about these people who do these jobs in these unbelievably remote locations. What is their story and how did they end up living and working in such remote locations?
There are a lot of straight roads and great distances involved when crossing the Nullarbor. The upside is that it is possible to see a great distance ahead for overtaking. The downside is that it can get boring and it would be easy to fall asleep. Don’t drive at dusk as the animals venture out at this time. Take rest breaks. There are well signed rest stops along the way. Understand how you will stay alert during the drive. We downloaded a heap of podcasts for the long journey to keep us entertained.
Finally, for those on the Optus network, there is no mobile reception. There may be some Wifi at some roadhouses e.g. Border Village and Nullarbor Roadhouse but don’t rely on it.
Safe driving and safe travels!