WA + Nullarbor: Pt4 – The Big Stretch

by Steven Chater from Trip Plan Australia. Check out Trip Plan’s free Itinerary Planner that will help you make the most of your next road trip through regional and outback Australia.

It was with nervous excitement that we took off from Esperance to head north to Norseman, the recognised start for the west to east crossing of the Nullarbor Plain.

Road trip planner Australia - Norseman, WA

Norseman, WA

Fellow travellers in WA had told us of differing experiences – some gave us a wind-up, but in the main most people said it was not an onerous journey, especially going at the time of year we were in – September. The message we did get is that it gets damn hot in summer!

We’d planned to spend one of the nights at Eucla, where the highway comes back to the sea and which is the closest place to the Bunda Cliffs lookouts. So working back from there, we figured it would be a good to stay the first night in Balladonia.

It turns out that the “towns” marked on the Nullarbor map that we were given at the Norseman visitor centre (drop-in recommended) are pretty much just fuel stops that also offer accommodation in the form of motel units and camping grounds. I’m not going to say that they are 5 star, and you are not going to find grassy areas on which to camp! Good atmosphere though.

Road trip planner Australia - Sunset at Balladonia

Sunset at Balladonia

The distances between roadhouses across the Nullabor is never more than 200kms, so fuel management across the 1,200km journey to Ceduna, South Australia is pretty easy.

Soon after starting out from Balladonia you are on the longest straight piece of road in Australia, the 90 Mile Straight that runs without a bend from Balladonia to the Caiguna roadhouse.

Road trip planner Australia - On the 90 Mile Straight

On the 90 Mile Straight

The bed of limestone that makes up the Nullarbor Plain means a flat and nearly treeless terrain (nullus arbor – Latin for ‘no tree’). There are a few places of interest along the way if you are prepared to go off the tar – such as Newman and Afghan Rocks near Balladonia, the Eyre Bird Observatory, Cocklebiddy Cave.

Road trip planner Australia - Cocklebiddy roadhouse, the welcome sign says it all

Cocklebiddy roadhouse – the welcome sign says it all

If you are sticking to the highway, the first feature that will get your attention is the descent from the Hampton Tableland to Roe Plain at Madura Pass.

The highway travels on the plain next to the escarpment for 180kms, to ascend again to the Tableland at Eucla Pass.

Road trip planner Australia - Looking across the eastern end of Roe Plain to the sea from Eucla

Looking across the eastern end of Roe Plain to the sea from Eucla

It was fortunate that we arrived at the Eucla roadhouse by mid-afternoon as the powered sites in the Eucla Caravan Park were soon fully occupied – the only place were this happened on our whole WA / Nullarbor trip!

Day 3 saw us cross into South Australia at Border Village and the first of the Bunda Cliffs lookouts is only 13km further east.

Road trip planner Australia - First view of the Bunda Cliffs

First view of the Bunda Cliffs

The Bunda Cliffs are 80 metres high and continue unbroken for over 200km to the sandhills at the Head of the Bight.

Road trip planner Australia - Lookout signpost Nullarbor PlainThere are a number of lookouts for you to observe the cliffs, marked on the highway by signs containing the symbol of a camera. Three of them are really easy to access by pulling into the designated areas just off the highway, with only a short walk to the viewing spot.

Going by the only sign I could find that had names and distances, I can say the lookout that, in my opinion, has the most spectacular view is Lookout 2 (75km east of Border Village, approx. 110km west of Nullarbor Roadhouse). Don’t miss that one!

Road trip planner Australia - Bunda Cliffs at Lookout 2

Bunda Cliffs at Lookout 2

This would be closely followed by the view from a Lookout 1 (going by the sign above), a further 37km east.

Road trip planner Australia - Bunda Cliffs from Lookout 1 looking east

Bunda Cliffs from Lookout 1 looking east

A further 75kms east from Lookout 1 is the Nullarbor Roadhouse, which boasts an airport and a golf course – well, one hole anyway of the Nullarbor Links, which at 1,365kms is the longest golf course in the world.

Road trip planner Australia - Dingo's Den hole on the Nullarbor Links

Dingo’s Den hole on the Nullarbor Links. The shelter in the distance is the tee

The gentleman in the photo told me that he became hooked on the game after being given a driver and a putter a few years ago whilst he was working in Broome, WA. After commencing play on the Nullabor Links at Kalgoolie, he was on a mission and had only another 4 holes to play. He said he would be very proud to receive a certificate after finishing the course in Ceduna. Fair enough – quite an achievement!

At the eastern end of the Bunda Cliffs is the Head of the Bight. If you are there in whale watching season, don’t miss driving the 10km down from the highway. There is a small entry fee, but wow – what a great spot to view mother whales with their newborns frolicking in the waters of this nursery area.

Road trip planner Australia - Whale watching at the Head of the Bight

Whale watching at the Head of the Bight

We took a diversion off the Eyre Highway to spend a night in the small fishing village of Fowlers Bay. Great atmosphere if you like to get away from it all – no mobile reception here!

Road trip planner Australia - Fowlers Bay, South Australia

Fowlers Bay with wonderful sand hills in the background

The west to east crossing of the Nullarbor ends in Ceduna, South Australia.

Road trip planner Australia - The spectacular waters of Ceduna, South Australia

The spectacular waters of Ceduna

Done at the right time of the year, crossing the Nullarbor is a great experience, one not to be rushed. Go on – treat yourself.

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Road trip planner Australia - Esperance WA to Ceduna SA

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