Lets go on a Road Trip and explore some of Australia’s must do sites, camp spots, monuments and historic locations. Join us on an adventure and share your stories and must see places.
Today we will be crossing The Nullarbor which stretches 1256 kilometres between the goldfields of WA and the Eyre Peninsula in SA.
Why is it one of the greats? This legendary, (almost) treeless plain meets with the towering sea cliffs of the Great Australian Bight. It’s home to prolific wildlife (emus, kangaroos, dingoes, camels…) and a series of unique caves, interesting outback characters, and the world’s longest golf course.
Don’t miss: The ruins of Eucla Telegraph Station, built in the 1870s for the overland telegraph, which are slowly being swallowed up by ever-shifting sand dunes.
Driving tip: The Nullarbor is sealed but it’s very remote, so it’s essential to be prepared when driving the outback with a full tank of fuel and plenty of water. Accommodation is basic at best – roadhouses and camping.
Come join us on 6 day adventure across the Nullarbor, where we will show you some amazing spots to help you plan your journey.
The South-West, Beaches and Goldfields Drive take you from Perth to Norseman, where your Nullarbor journey begins.
Norseman is the last major town in Western Australia before heading east across the Nullarbor Plain. Started as a mining town by prospectors convinced that the area was as rich in gold as Kalgoorlie-Coolgardie, it has yielded over 100 tonnes of the precious metal since the late 19th century.
It has always suffered acutely from it annual rainfall (it is only 276 mm) and a shortage of water. In the early years of settlement miners lived in houses that were primitively built and poorly maintained. Today Norseman is a large, sprawling town driven by mining and tourism, dominated by a huge (4 million tonnes of fine quartz) tailings dump, and vulnerable to the changing price of gold. It is sustained increasingly by the large numbers of people crossing the Nullarbor and using it as an important centre for supplies and information.
Beacon Hill Lookout
The best overview of the countryside around Norseman can be had from Beacon Hill which lies only 2 km from the town centre. It has seating, 360° views and there is a scenic walk down the hill. The view includes the remarkable Phoenix Tailings Storage Facility (which you pass on the way up) which is 40 metres high, holds 4 million tonnes of tailings and covers 12 ha of land; views of Lake Cowan; the Butterfly Tailings Storage Facility which ceased operating in 1986 and is slowly being rehabilitated; the Central Norseman Gold mine operation which has been mining in the area since 1936.
The Woodlands Walk
Located on the eastern outskirts of the town (it is easy to incorporate Beacon Hill Lookout into the walk) this 700 metre walk is through the woodland wilderness which surrounds the town. It has 13 interpretative panels along the way and is part of the 250,000 square kilometre woodland wilderness which surrounds Norseman.
Statue of Norseman
Given that the town was named after a horse, it is entirely appropriate that Norseman celebrate the discovery of gold with a statue of the horse that uncovered the first gold nugget in the area. There is a plaque beside the statue which explains: “This life size bronze sculpture of the horse called Norseman was erected by an elected fund raising body of Norseman residents to perpetuate the memory of the horse and the early pioneers of this town. The history of the Western Australian goldfields records the story of the discovery of Norseman by Laurie Sinclair on the 13 August 1894. Mr Sinclair was one of the six founders of Norseman, which also included his brother George Sinclair, Mr Allsop, Mr Ramsay, Mr Talbot and Mr Goodliffe. The story told, recounts Mr Laurie Sinclair’s horse, Norseman, pawing up a very rich specimen of gold bearing ore on that fateful day and from it another chapter from the rush that never ended was born, and the town came into being. Mr Laurie Sinclair originally came from the Shetland Islands off the coast of Scotland and was proud to call himself a Norseman. Mr Laurie Sinclair called his horse Norseman after the Clan Norseman and named the new goldfield, Norseman, after his horse.”
Corrugated Iron Camels
Located on Prinsep Street this really is one of the most unusual “tourist attractions” you are ever likely to see. The life size camels were created by Western Australian artist, Kurt Hotker, and are made out of corrugated iron. They are all wandering around the centre of the Prinsep Street roundabout. The sculptures are a tribute to the camel trains that carried the freight and mail to the town in the early days of settlement. They are also a reminder that Norseman has very wide streets because the camel trains needed to be able to turn around. The same applies to Coolgardie and Carnarvon
If you would like to play the 18 hole, par 72 Nullarbor Links, which is spread across two states and two time zones, before you start your Nullarbor trip make a detour to the gold rush town of Kalgoorlie-Boulder, where you can buy your scorecards from the Visitor Centre.
Play the first two holes at the Kalgoorlie Golf Course, one hole at the Kambalda Golf Club, and two holes at the Norseman Golf Club (clubs can be hired at each course). It is 190 kilometres (118 miles) between Kalgoorlie and Norseman. Check out life-sized tin monuments to the early camel trains before heading east along the Eyre Highway. Drive past the woodlands of Dundas Nature Reserve and climb the granite hills of Fraser Range, circled by the world’s largest eucalypt hardwood forest. Walk through the towering blackbutts, salmon gums and green gimlets, and see Mount Pleasant rising over the forest.
Visit the Fraser Range sheep station (105 kilometres or 65 miles east of Norseman), spot birds, camels and wildflowers on a bushwalk, and play the Sheep’s Back par 3 hole. Drive 40 kilometres (25 miles) east to Newman Rock for views of forest, range and plains.
It is just another 50 kilometres (31 miles) east to the Balladonia Roadhouse, which is the first stop on the Nullarbor journey from Western Australia to South Australia. In 1979 Balladonia hit the world news when parts of the US Skylab space station fell to earth around here. You can see some bits at the free Balladonia Cultural Heritage Museum, which also has exhibits of Aboriginal heritage, European exploration and settlement and local flora and fauna. It is located at the Roadhouse, where you can cool off in the pool, have dinner and spend the night in a motel room or the caravan park.
Drive from Caiguna Roadhouse 65 kilometres (40 miles) to Cocklebiddy, once an Aboriginal mission, where you can play the par 4 Eagles Nest hole. (You also set your watch forward 3/4 of an hour just out of Caiguna.) If you have a 4WD and are experienced in rough conditions, explore the Nuytsland Nature Reserve to see a series of small caves and collapsed caverns known as dolines. Cocklebiddy Cave is the Nullarbor’s most famous cave and the site of the world’s longest cave diving penetration. Due to unstable rock at the entrance, it is now closed to public entry.
Book ahead to visit (you can also stay overnight) the Eyre Bird Observatory, Australia’s first bird observatory, it was established in 1977 in the 1897 stone telegraph station nestled between woodlands and white dunes within walking distance of the beach. It is a 34 kilometre (21 mile) detour (via 4WD only) south-east of the Eyre Highway.
You’ll be rewarded by seeing the likes of silvereyes, singing honeyeaters, brown falcons and the pretty pink and white Major Mitchell’s cockatoos. Back on the Eyre Highway continue for 92 kilometres (57 miles) to Madura, the midway point between Adelaide and Perth, where robust horses known as Walers were bred for the Australian Light Horse Brigade in World War I. Today sheep graze alongside the roadhouse, where you can rest and refuel for the night after playing the par 3 Brumby’s Run hole (a brumby is a wild horse).
Caiguna Blowhole is located 5 kilometres west of Caiguna and 10 metres on the Eyre Highway, access to the site is and well signposted. A visit to Caiguna Blowhole will provide you with an interesting short road side stop. On the Nullarbor, blowholes are formed by chemical and physical weathering processes that erode the limestone bedrock common in this part of Australia. The name blow hole refers to the fact that these natural features breathe air in and out as high and low pressure weather systems pass accross the Nullarbor. The periodic reversal of air flows is a result of pressure equalisation between the underground caverns and the above ground air pressure.
When travelling between Caiguna and Balladonia travellers have to drive along Australia’s longest stretch of straight road. Despite using metric measurement for the past 30 years this area is still referred to as “The 90 Mile Straight.” In metric terms that translates into 146.6 kilometres without a bend.
To the south of Caiguna, in four wheel drive territory only, lies the Nuytsland Nature Reserve. Within the area are a number of sites that may be of interest to the traveller. If you have a strong interest in the history of Australian exploration, twenty kilometres to the south of Caiguna you will find Baxter’s Memorial. Beyond this, on the Great Australian Bight, are the spectacular Baxter’s Cliffs.
From Madura the hill-flanked highway stretches into the horizon without interruption for 117 kilometres (73 miles) to Mundrabilla Roadhouse, where Australia’s largest meteorite was discovered. Play the par 4 Watering Hole and stock up on food, water and fuel at the roadhouse before driving 66 kilometres (41 miles) to the top of the Hampton Tableland at Eucla, home to the fascinating, shifting sand dunes of Eucla National Park.
See the old telegraph station, once Australia’s busiest regional telegraph station, which is being slowly claimed by the dunes. Walk to the derelict jetty that once used to ship supplies to pioneers, and enjoy the white sandy beach. Visit the small museum and take in sweeping views from the top of the escarpment. Back in Eucla, play the par 4 Nullarbor Nymph hole on the Eucla Golf Course before driving 12 kilometres (7.5 miles) to cross the South Australian border at Border Village (set your watches 3/4 hour forward). Enjoy a refreshing swim in the pool, dinner and bed for the night at the Border Village Roadhouse.
Head over to the Giant Kangaroo to play the par 3 Border Kangaroo hole before you stock up on water, food and petrol. Follow the Eyre Highway through Nullarbor National Park, alongside the sheer 90 metre (300 foot) high, 200 kilometre (124 mile) long Bunda Cliffs, the longest line of sea cliffs in the world.
See Australia’s southern edge drop dramatically to the sea from any of the five signposted lookouts over the cliffs. Be careful when treading around the limestone clifftops as they crumble easily. From here the highway traverses classic Nullarbor country – treeless and seemingly limitless plains where you will see lots of semitrailers and road trains hurrying goods across the continent. It is 184 kilometres (114 miles) between Border Village and the Nullarbor Roadhouse. Play the par 5 Dingo’s Den hole at the recently upgraded roadhouse before checking out the Aussie music icon murals in the bar, where you can play a round of pool with passing truck drivers (truckies) and grey nomads (retirees driving around the country pulling caravans) after dinner.
Don’t forget to look at the night sky to see the Southern Cross and other Southern Hemisphere constellations – there’s no light pollution out here.
From here to Nundroo you’ll be travelling through Yalata Aboriginal Land and will need a permit to venture off the highway. Pick up one from the White Well Ranger Station on the short 20 kilometre (12.5 mile) journey south to the Head of Bight.
The whale watching platform here is one of the world’s best land-based vantage points to see a whale nursery. Southern right whales, which can grow to 18 metres (59 feet) long, mate and calve in these protected waters between May and October. Back on the highway, drive about 130 kilometres (81 miles) to the next roadhouse, at Nundroo, and play the par 5 Wombat Hole. You can take a 55 kilometre (34 mile) detour to the picturesque fishing haven of Fowlers Bay.
Watch whales from the rugged sea cliffs, hike along the sand dunes and spot wildlife in Fowlers Bay Conservation Park. From here it is 71 kilometres (44 miles) to Penong, where you’ll see dozens of old-fashioned windmills at the windmill museum and play the par 4 Windmills Hole at the Penong Golf Course. Just 22 kilometres (13.5 miles) south of Penong, surf the world-class breaks of Cactus Beach or swim in the netted enclosure. From Penong, it is 72 kilometres (45 miles) to Ceduna, on the sandy curves of Murat Bay, where you can buy Aboriginal art and craftwork from the Ceduna Aboriginal Arts and Culture Centre and play the last two holes of the Nullarbor Links (the par 5 Oyster Beds Hole and par 4 Denial Bay Hole at the Ceduna Golf Club). From here fly to Adelaide, or begin the drive, which is almost 800 kilometres (497 miles).
A great description of a truly amazing drive