Stretching across three time zones and encompassing the longest stretch of straight road found anywhere in Australia, the road trip from Ceduna in South Australia to Norseman in West Australia is a journey of extremes. Literally meaning no trees, Nullarbor is best known for its miles upon miles of barren clay ground but venture slightly off the main road and you’ll find an array of natural wonders. Spot whales socialising in the waters right off the Bunda Cliffs, go surfing at the beach locals have been trying to keep a secret for 50 years or catch your dinner at renowned fishing spot Fowlers Bay.
You’ll be travelling down the Eyre Highway which hugs the coast along the Nullarbor Plains. If you’re keen to break up this long stretch, bring your golf clubs and tee off at the world’s longest golf course which runs right beside this road. Or stop and romp over the whitest of white sandhills.
Tip for trippers, it can get very windy on the Nullarbor, which can make driving difficult. The least windy months are said to be April - June, and the winds tend to pick up August to March.
Tee 1 on the Nullarbor Links 1,365-kilometre Golf Course.
Practice your swing and cover some ground along the Eyre Highway at what’s said to be the world’s longest golf course. Stretching from Ceduna in South Australia to Kalgoorlie in Western Australia, it takes the average punter around five days to complete the 1,365-kilometre long Nullarbor Links. Each hole is located in a different town, or what’s known as a roadhouse, along the Eyre Highway. After golfers are done with one hole, they then throw their clubs back in the car and drive for what can be several hours to the next tee. The course creator designed this vast course to help tourists and truckers spend more time stopping along the Nullarbor instead of trying to drive it in one long stretch.
Don’t worry if you’re not interested in spending a whole working week golfing. You can choose to take on one of two holes from either the Kalgoorlie or Ceduna-end of the course.
Kick off your road trip by slurping on some freshly-harvested oysters purchased directly from an oyster farm at Denial Bay. This tiny settlement, 12km northwest of Ceduna, is known for its thriving oyster farming industry. As you make your way through the town, keep your eyes peeled for “oysters for sale” signs - the local oyster farmers only advertise when they have a fresh harvest of these Pacific Ocean beauties.
If you’re travelling through the Nullarbor in late September and early October, see if you can time your stop for the annual Oysterfest. This all-out oyster-loving festival is usually held on the first weekend of October.
Get off the well-worn track and discover the surfing beach locals have been trying to keep a secret since the 1960s. Cactus Beach, located 21 km south of Penong, is renowned for its famous left and right hand surfing breaks which have been attracting surfers from across Australia for the last 50 years. Spend the day in the surf and then spend the night camping at nearby Point Sinclair Camping Ground.
Cast a line and catch your dinner at what’s considered the luckiest fishing spot you’ll find along the Nullarbor plains. This beautiful white-sand bay is known for its abundance and variety of fish including Snapper, Garfish, Whiting and the prized Mulloway which can weigh up to 80 lb. Take your rod down to Fowlers Bay jetty, located a short walk from the Fowlers Bay Caravan Park and Kiosk, or drive to nearby Scott’s Bay for a spot of surf fishing.
If you’re keen to take to the seas, Fowlers Bay Fishing Charters offers half and full day fishing excursions onto the ocean, otherwise you could head to the dunes for a spot of sandboarding - sandboards are available for hire at the kiosk. And after a busy day fishing and boarding, spend the night at the Fowlers Bay Eco Park, located right on the beachfront.
Take a moment here and look out across the clear waters of the Southern Ocean to spot whales swimming with their calves at the Head of Bight, located around 20km east of the Nullarbor Roadhouse. Between May and October, these 70-tonne mammals travel from Antarctica to give birth and socialise right in front of this prime viewing spot.
Visit between July and August if you want to see more than a hundred of these majestic creatures dive and frolic in the waters hugging the coastline. Keep an eye out for the sea lions and pods of dolphins known to also make their way through this marine playground.
This iconic Nullarbor institution has been serving hearty meals to travellers for years. Try one of their beef and Guinness pies, a home-style burger or choose a steak cooked to your liking.
The roadhouse is also famous for its murals, dotted across the property, which celebrate the history of the area. A full-scale model of the old gas station has also been built out front.
Stay overnight in one of their motel rooms or pitch a tent at the campsite.
Take your sight-seeing underground in the cool, dark shadows of the Murrawijinie Caves, located around 10km down a rough, dirt road from Nullarbor Roadhouse. The caves can be up to 10 degrees cooler than the outside temperature, especially during summer, making them a comfortable spot for an afternoon of exploring.
Aside from enjoying the cool temperature, you’ll be able to get up close to ancient indigenous ochre hand stencils in the furthest cave. You’ll also spot the nesting sites of the swallows and hawks that frequent the caves known as 1 and 2 and marvel at the amphitheatre-size spaces dotted through this limestone complex.
Inside the 3,340 hectare Eucla National Park, you’ll find the ever-expanding and contracting Delisser Sandhills. These sandy dunes have never been the same since a rabbit plague passed through the area in 1890, leading to a loss of the vegetation that covered the dunes. This caused dramatic movements in the sand that have repeatedly covered and uncovered the now abandoned telegraph station.
More often than not, you’ll only be able to see the station’s chimney rising from ground but every now and again, the shifting sands will roll away to reveal the whole ruin. Make sure you also take a walk along the stunning beach to check out the now derelict and somewhat haunting jetty.
Take in the sweeping ocean views or have a refreshing dip in the pool at the Eucla Motor Hotel and Caravan Park. This motel also has a restaurant, with take away food available for those who’d rather have a picnic on the beach. Before settling in for the night, do check out the Eucla Museum, near the restaurant, for a glimpse into their area’s settler past.
And do make sure you refuel before leaving town in the morning. Eucla is known by locals who frequent the Eyre Highway to offer some of the cheapest petrol around.
Stay overnight in a beautifully-restored telegraph station right in the heart of the Eyre Bird Observatory. The observatory can be found down a 12 km-long, sandy road suitable for 4WDs only. If you’re travelling in a 2WD, make sure you call ahead to get a member of staff to pick you up from the carpark if you want to avoid the pricey services of a tow truck!
This tranquil sanctuary is home to more than 240 species of birds including the Mitchell Cockatoos and the Mallee Fowl. If you’re lucky you may even get to see one of the elusive Pygmy Possums!
Spend your evening watching the sun set behind the sand dunes at the nearby beach before heading back to the old station for a delicious, home-cooked meal.
Take a look at what lies beneath the rocky outback ground at this geological wonder, located 5 kilometres west of Caiguna. Here you’ll be able to feel the cave beneath the Caiguna Blowhole “breathing”. This natural phenomenon occurs as air flows in and out of the cave, resulting in a pressure equalisation between the underground cavities and the air pressure above the ground. Make sure you stand right up close to the blowhole to feel the air moving in and out.
While blowholes can be found across Australia, the Caiguna Blowhole is famous for its very vigorous breathing. Air movement at one end of the cave is measured to be about 72km per hour – faster than any other cave in the country.
Drive down the longest stretch of straight road in Australia known as ‘Ninety Mile Straight’. This curve-less asphalt track is part of the Eyre Highway, starting 30km south-east of Balladonia and carrying on all the way to Caiguna.
While it may be straight, this road is anything but flat so be prepared for some gentle inclines. You may also get the chance to spot some of the wild camels, emus and kangaroos known to travel close to the highway - so please drive cautiously as they're not so good on the road code.
If you’re a space enthusiast you may recognise Balladonia as the site where debris from the US Skylab space station fell to the ground in 1975. Today, the only trace of its extraterritorial past can be found inside the Balladonia roadhouse where you’ll find a display of space debris and newspaper clippings.
Read about the area’s fascinating history then settle into one of their comfortable motel rooms or set up shop in their caravan park. The roadhouse is also famous for serving enormous burgers - big enough for two to share!
Keep driving east from The Roadhouse and you’ll reach Afghan Rocks. These eerie red rock formations were named due to a legend that has surrounded them since early pioneering days. Apparently, an Afghan camel driver was killed by passing travellers, whilst swimming in the sparkling waters formed by this catchment of rocks. The thirsty travellers apparently took exception to the man’s cavalier attitude towards this very precious source of drinking water and decided to do away with him and the bather’s grave lies nearby. Water has always been precious on the Nullarbor!
Home to the world’s largest Eucalyptus Forest, the fauna-rich Fraser Range is a welcome change from the barren landscape of the Nullarbor Plains. Take a walk through the dense forest to see the towering blackbutts, salmon gum and gimlet trees and the impressive selection of wildlife they attract. If you’re still feeling energetic, climb one of the granite hills that make up the Fraser Range. Mt Pleasant is the highest at 579 metres.
After a day of walking, relax with a glass of wine in front of the campfire at the Fraser Range campground. And if you’re too tired to pitch a tent, rooms in the 100-year-old stone house and self-contained cottages are also available.
If you take a short detour south of Norseman you’ll get to see the 550 million year old Dundas Rocks and the spooky site where the old town once stood.
After a brief walk through the bush, you’ll come to a plaque showing where the original settlement of Dundas once stood. Old telegraph lines and building ruins are almost the last remaining signs of this once bustling gold-mining town. However, if you continue along the walking trail to the end of Lake Dundas you see a more personal side of the derelict town as you come across the lone grave of a seven month-old baby who died in 1897.
On a chirpier note, if you’re feeling energetic, discover more about the area’s fascinating history by walking the entire Dundas Coach Road Heritage Trail. The Norseman Tourist Bureau will be able to help by giving you loads of information about the trail and walking maps to guide you once you’re out walking.
Book end your journey across the Nullarbor with a night at the Railway Motel & Inn in Norseman. Built in 1939, this traditional art déco building has provided accommodation to travellers making their way through this once booming gold mining town for almost 80 years. Since then, a series of owners have been working hard to maintain its former style. The current owners have even employed the services of the local psychic to cleanse the building of some of its more ghostly “guests”.