Driving Across The Nullarbor: Everything You Need To Know
A trip across the Nullarbor is something that every true camper trailer lover must do once in their lives. Just the name its self ‘The Nullarbor Plain’ oozes with mystery. The plain spans across two Australian states, broken up only by a small stretch of the journey on the Eyre Highway.
If you’re planning a trip across the Nullabour, you’ll most likely have heard it all before, and had dozens of people tell you not to bother, catch a plane instead and forget any hope of seeing anything interesting on your trip. While it is a big, looooong, and sometimes empty stretch of driving, it’s an incredible experience that along with your camper trailer, can’t be passed up for any plane trip.
Crossing the Nullarbor Plain is one of the best and most authentic ways to see Australia. If you’re craving the freedom, space, the feeling of the great open road and a true blue Aussie experience, this is for you.
Apart from a few roadhouses, all placed 200kms or so apart, the Nullarbor is one empty place. But at the same time, driving across the Nullarbor is an experience like no other. It makes you realise how big Australia – and the world – is. It’s home to some amazing sights – like the beautiful head of Bight – and some of the most spectacular sunsets and sunrises in Australia, if not the world. Most of all, driving across the Nullarbor is a huge adventure.
Now, let’s throw in your camper trailer. Camping on the red sand, being front and centre to all the action and soaking it all is sounding pretty good to us here at Mars, so, keep reading as we unpack everything you need to know to make your Nullabour trip an unforgettable one.
What exactly is the Nullarbor Plain?
Basically speaking, it’s a 200,000km2 stretch of flat, treeless, limestone bedrock that stretches across South Australia to Western Australia. When you put it that way, it doesn’t sound like the place to be, but remember, this is Australia, and there’s something exciting to see everywhere you look.
The unofficial beginning and end of the Nullarbor crossing is at Ceduna in South Australia and Norseman in Western Australia. Between these two towns, you’ll find roadhouses, caravan parks, secluded beaches and more wildlife than you’d find in any zoo.
If you’re in a rush, the Nullarbor can be crossed in as little as two days. But, to really experience the crossing and see all there is to see, we reckon setting aside three or four days is better. This extra time allows for detours to see the Great Australian Bight and to explore a few of the roadhouses along the way.
Where should we stay?
Being predominantly Aboriginal land, a lot of free camping spots require permits. It’s better to plan slightly, although it might be hard to know when you are going to be in a certain place, it’s better to have an idea of what is around and nearby. Here is a list of camping grounds from Perth to Adelaide.
Ceduna Big 4 (South Australia)
Penong Cohen Old School Site (South Australia)
Head of the Bight, Whitewell Tank (South Australia)
Australian Bite (Western Australia/South Australian Border)
Cocklebiddy (Western Australia)
Balladonia (Western Australia)
Salmon Gums Caravan Park (Western Australia)
what should I stop and see along the way?
Apart from long stretches of road, there’s still plenty of awesome Australian spots that you should see during your trip across the Nullarbor Plain. The first one is the Great Australian Bite.
The Great Australian Bight is the largest indentation on the Australian coast, has the longest line of sea cliffs in the world, and even holds the title for being the longest south-facing coastline in the world. Already, you can see how this makes for an epic road trip in your camper trailer, complete with bendy turns, amazing sights and sand driving.
Simply stated, a Bight is a bend in the coast that forms an open bay, and this particular one starts in the west at West Cape Howe and stretches all the way to the South West Cape in Tasmania.
If you’re making the journey from Perth to Adelaide, it’s the perfect opportunity to see this awesome part of Australia
It’s easy to see the Bight or at least part of it. Anyone who has been on a sightseeing tour in Australia, such as a Great Ocean Road tour, who has driven across the Nullarbor Plain, or who has spent much time on the West Coast of Tasmania has been able to catch a glimpse of it.
Another one that you can’t skip past is Alligator Gorge. Prepare to feel small in this colossal area. Located in the Flinders Ranges, this is a great spot for both hikers and people who live to see eye-popping sites. The gorge can be accessed along a 10-minute walking trail, and during the spring he addition of native wildflowers and orchids add to the beauty.
Continuing through the flinders ranges, among the trees and creeks are countless amazing views.
Esperance in Western Australia is one of the most beautiful beaches in the country. The two-kilometre stretch was voted the most pristine beach. The promise of endless beach fun becomes a reality here. Swim, surf, fish, hop on a boat, or simply lay under the sun – this is paradise for beach bums.
If you have the time, this is a great place to stop and set up camp for the night, the sunsets are unimaginable, and our friends the Kangaroos also love this beach. It’s a pretty awesome sight to see.
And last but not least, you can’t miss the opportunity to drive on the longest stretch of straight road in Australia. The 90 mile straight is the name of this straight highway. It’s between Balladonio and Gaigna, and measures at a lousy 145.6km long.
Some tips to keep in mind for the open road
Don’t drive at night. That’s where you’re likely to come into contact with a Kanga, wombat or the likes. Crossing the Nullarbor at night is just tempting fate – accident are much more likely to happen at night. There are loads of roaming animals around the Nullarbor after the sun goes down, who will jump out suddenly at night. Plus it’s so much easier to become drowsy when it’s not light. It’s really, really not worth it.
Pack right. As with any outback adventure, driving from Melbourne or Adelaide to Perth requires basic car kit and camping gear. Hopefully, you will have everything packed in your camper trailer already. But none the less, here are some basics that everyone needs.
– Spare tyre and screws
– Engine Oil
– Jump Leads
– Tow Rope
– LOTS of water –try to keep 10l for each person at all times and top up when possible
– Canned and dried foods – enough to last a couple of extra days than you need. You could buy stuff at the roadhouses on the Nullarbor, but they’re super expensive – a bag of chips for $7 expensive…
Be aware and on alert for trucks and road trains. In high wind, they can create a ‘wind tunnel’ which will feel like your car is being pulled into them. It won’t actually hit you, and there’s not much you can do other than hold your nerve, but it’s important to be vigilant.
Road trains are interesting. They can be over 50 meters long and go at speeds of up to 130 kmph. If you see one coming towards you, (and you will see it in good time thanks to the good old flatness and straightness of the plain) it’s best to pull onto the side and wait for it to pass.
Know your fuel stops
Here’s a list of fuel stops along the Nullarbor, so you’re prepared. It’s always best to check ahead and to make sure that the particular petrol station is open and accessible.
71km – this is the start of the Nullarbor