Crossing the Nullarbor is a pilgrimage of sorts; the long straight road that connects the east to the west is one that everyone should take on. And there’s a lot more to the Nullarbor than a drive across the land of no trees – epic coastlines, quirky pubs and colourful characters await.
Get Set At Ceduna
Ceduna is the last town before you hit the long straight road west. You’re most likely driving from Adelaide to Perth, but small towns like these are the best place to grab all your supplies.
Unless you feel like tucking into over-priced fried Pluto Pups and dim sims, it’s worth bringing fresh produce and cooking equipment for the trip. Petrol is expensive, but there are multiple places to fill up on the way. As you head out of Ceduna it all begins – you’re on the Nullarbor!
Waves In The Wilderness At Cactus
73 clicks into the drive, make a turn off to the little town of Penong, signalled by a rusty old windmill. Bypass the dilapidated sun-drenched township and bump along a dirt road to the unexpected jewel that is Cactus – it’s a camping spot around 20km south of Penong and lies near Port Sinclair.
Nestled amongst white sand dunes and the classic greenish-blue scrub of South Australia lies a campground backing onto a beach of unparalleled beauty. With three epic waves beckoning on the one stretch of beach, Cactus is a surfer’s paradise.
However, the beauty of Cactus isn’t just limited to the waves, it’s a magical place to set up camp, explore and really feel that you’re a million miles away from civilisation. There’s a certain sense of raw wildness to the place that makes it feel like such an escape and well worth the extra effort to get out to.
Like a giant shark bite out of the coastline, the Great Australian Bight frames the Nullarbor. The seemingly never ending flat plains run into sheer cliffs that drop away to the Indian Ocean, it’s a spectacle to behold.
After hours of driving down a very long, straight road it’s a real relief to the eyeballs to look out over the wide expanse of ocean. You feel like you’re teetering on the edge of the world as you stand on the brink of the southern coast.
Stop In For A Couple At Cocklebiddy
Further on down the road lies Cocklebiddy. Cocklebiddy sticks out like a sore thumb against the vast landscape, an old school pub sitting alongside a service station serving up every fried food under the sun to all of the wearied travellers.
Stop in for an Emu Export brew and layout your swag for a night of rest. You’re likely to find a colourful collection of characters to share stories with.
Feel like a swing of the iron? Have a crack at The Nullarbor Links golf course: it claims to be the longest course in the world. The general gist is that there are 18 holes distributed along the 1,365 kilometre stretch. Pack your clubs and a few balls and visit Ceduna Visitor Centre to grab your scorecard.
Australia’s Longest Straight Road
The stretch of road between Caiguna and Balladonia is the longest straight road in Australia. In fact, the 146.6km stretch (often referred and signposted as 90 Mile Straight), is one of the longest straight roads in the world. Some sections are even used as airstrips for the Royal Flying Doctor Service. It’s a spooky drive – make sure you swap drivers or take breaks often.
The Nullarbor is nowhere near as remote as it used to be, but it’s still worth putting in a bit of effort before the trip to try and ensure it’s a smooth one. Check over your car, including your tyre pressure, spare tyre and jack, coolant and oil levels before departing.
There are multiple petrol stations, but make sure you fill up in the closest town and utilise petrol stations when you see one. Telstra coverage is always advisable on these remote trips. Fill up water tanks whenever you have the chance and get yourself a good playlist of tunes for the drive ahead.
The Nullarbor is the quintessential Australian road trip. As you travel from one side of the continent to the other the old adage ‘the journey is worth more than the destination’ rings true. The land of ‘no trees’ is not simply a connecting road between East and West, it’s a real deal adventure. Time seems to stop and real living begins!