Where is the Nullabor, and what is it all about?
Spanning from roughly Balladonia in the west, to just over 100 kilometres from Ceduna in the east; the Nullabor comprises a significant part of the drive between eastern and western Australia.
The 1000km stretch of land is believed to be an ancient seabed and hence is entirely ancient limestone. Not only is the area deficient in nutrients for plant life, but it freely drains what little rainfall the area receives. The resulting lack of any significant forests or trees has prompted people over time to name it ‘the treeless plain’.
While it may sound flat and boring, the lack of vegetation or geological features is made up for with the quirky sights and activities, historical areas and tales of survival and hardship which adorn this traverse.
8 Awesome things to see across the Nullabor
- Play the worlds longest round of golf
The Nullabor links golf course goes the full 18 holes from Ceduna in South Australia, to Kalgoorlie in Western Australia. That’s a 1365km long golf course! Each hole is situated at a point of interest where you can take in a view, learn a little history, and strive for the hole in one.
- Drive the 90 Mile Straight
This part of the drive sits right near the western limits of the Nullabor, the 90 mile straight is the longest straight stretch of road in Australia and beaten only to the world claim by a highway through the desert in Saudi Arabia. Though since it’s creation we have changed to the metric system, the 146.6 kilometre straight doesn’t have the same ring to it does it?
- Explore tracks to find caves
This one is for the experienced remote travellers only and a four-wheel drive will be required. The Nullabor is home to some of the worlds most expansive cave networks and many of them undiscovered and unexplored! Arm yourself with a good mapping app or paper maps and you’ll see caves marked from just a few hundred metres off the highway, all the way down to the cliffs where you could spend a few days exploring tracks and caves.
Always exercise caution when approaching cave areas, and do not enter caves unless you’re properly trained and authorised.
- Discover the historic ruins of Old Eucla
Eucla stands only 12 kilometres inside the West Australian border, about three kilometres from the old townsite. Eucla was originally placed as the midpoint of the telegraph line between Port Augusta in South Australia, and Albany in Western Australia. The ruins of the old telegraph station are easily accessible by conventional vehicle and are well worth exploring. Go a little further with a four-wheel drive and you’ll find the remains of the old jetty where supplies were once delivered.
- Soak up cliff top views along the Great Australian Bight
There are several points between Border Village and the Nullabor Roadhouse where pull overs and lookouts have been constructed over the cliffs. If you can catch a view around sunrise or sunset the colours are amazing. If you are travelling between June and August, be sure to bring a good set of binoculars and you’ll more than likely catch a show of Southern Wright Wales as they migrate to the area.
- Explore the OLD Nullabor
The original highway across the Nullabor was unsealed gravel road, and when the sealed road was created; it was positioned around 30 kilometres south of the original! If you’re a well-equipped and seasoned remote 4WD traveller, you can actually traverse the old route from Border Village to Nullabor. It’s very rough and slow going, but you’ll come across old homesteads, caves, stockyards and farming infrastructure, and hundreds of car bodies that never made the journey.
If you’re traveling in a conventional vehicle, you don’t have to miss out completely. The Nullabor roadhouse has kept the original roadhouse building intact, so you can see how tuff it really was back then.
- Visit the Penong Windmill Museum
Everyone loves a lonely windmill on a hill, an all too familiar sight on any country drive. But what if those windmills didn’t have to be lonely! The Penong ‘Windmill Warriors’ have collected windmills of all shapes and sizes, restored them; and erected them at Penong along with information on the type of each one and where it came from.
- Cactus Beach (a renowned surfers paradise)
As the Nullabor plain begins to come to an end, and you start seeing trees again; there’s one more worthwhile detour for beach lovers. The breaks here are regarded by many surfers as some of the best in the country. Just head south for 21 kilometres from the town of Penong where the road is well signposted.
What do I need to safely cross the Nullabor?
Breakdown and safety ready
First of all you need to be aware that it’s a long way from the nearest city, and is quite remote. You’ll want to be carrying a full list of spares and consumables should a breakdown occur. Mechanical assistance along the Nullabor can be VERY expensive. You’ll also need some safety essentials, food and water and communications for your personal safety.
As this is a multi-day journey, be sure to put consideration into accommodation. There are plenty of places to camp along the way; but there’s also motels at many of the roadhouses which are perfect if you plan ahead.
The dangers of driving at night
Always avoid driving at night in remote areas. The main concern is animal strikes, with Kangaroos being the most common. Wombats also pose a real threat towards the eastern end of the Nullabor, and the occasional stray cattle will decimate your vehicle.
Best to pull over and enjoy camp with a nice sunset and if you must drive at night; do so in a four-wheel drive equipped with a bullbar and driving lights.
Never drive tired
146 kilometres of straight road can be enough to put many people to sleep, which is fine if you’re not behind the wheel! Pull over if you start feeling sleepy and have a stretch.
Try not to run out of fuel
Finally, always keep an eye on the fuel gauge. The longest stretch between fuel is from Balledonia to Norseman, and this fuel is not available 24 hours a day.
It’s certainly a different adventure, and not suited to all tastes. But with some solid planning and allowing some time to see the sights; you’ll get the most out of your Nullabor adventure. It’s certainly different, but you won’t forget it!
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