How the Road Trip across the Nullabor Plains has Changed over Years
Have you ever thought about traveling across Australia by road? Years ago before the road was sealed it truly was an adventure of a lifetime. People made money out of selling stickers that said “I crossed the Nullabor”. You can still see them today although the adventure is not the same. Because it is one very long road without many places to shop, in fact there is only a few roadhouses where you can buy fuel and the essentials.
The car we were going around Australia in but we got homesick
How it was back then
Before leaving home we drew a map of Australia on both front doors intending to go right around but we didn't make it all the way. In those days, you never knew what to expect or what you might see around the next corner, if there was a corner. Often the bend in the road was due to property gates that allowed access to the traffic. There were miles and miles of red dust, yes in those days it was in miles now it is kilometers. The dust was so thick at times that you could not see very far in front of you. More so without rain and when the wind blew you could not see a thing.
My husband thought he would be clever and sealed up all the air vents in our old Vauxhall Cresta car. Wrong, we looked like a couple of kids in need of a bath. We could not even read the road maps as they were covered in red dust. In those days the bitumen road ended in Balladonia in Western Australia and started again in Ceduna which is in South Australia. In those days you could travel most of the day without seeing another car or human being.
After traveling like this for a couple of days we stopped at a water tank and noticed another couple with no dust. On making enquiries they told us to unblock the vents. Oh boy, it was heaven after that. We also had to watch out for the bull dust holes. These were large pot holes filled with red dust; you didn’t know they were there until you hit them, often doing a bit of damage here and there. I tell you what in those days cars were made strong and if something came off you could put it back on with a piece of wire, that usually did the trick.
You would see old wrecks laying about, shattered dreams of hopefuls that never made it. We were lucky actually to make it without too much damage, especially as we left home with fifteen pound borrowed from my Mum as all our money went on maintenance to make sure the car would do the trip before we left. I did not tell Mum that was all we had though. We did use our head and stocked up with plenty of water and food before we left. And we arrived safe and well in Ceduna with two pound in our pocket. We both soon got jobs and replenished our pockets.
Camera lookout of cliffs at Eucla
Beware of Kangaroos when driving at night
There are still Kangaroos to watch out for today, that’s one thing that has not changed. And the traffic has increased with heaps of trucks, semi trailers, cars and caravans of all descriptions. You will not escape the traffic no matter where you are, which can be a good thing in case you break down.
Even today whether you cross the Nullabor in the forty plus degree temperatures of the summer or the below zero in the winter it is still very cold at night. So be prepared and pack the blankets to keep you warm and the thick socks and beanies to keep your ears warm in front of your camp fires. No you will not do this trip in a few hours; it will take a couple of days or more normal travel. We left Melbourne on a Friday night and arrived in Perth on the Monday many moons ago, but oh boy we were both driving virtually nonstop except to fuel up and eat. The Kangaroos were thick around Balladonia and still are today.
This is the longest straightest roads in Australia, the word Nullabor means no trees. That is exactly what most of this road crossing from one side of Australia to the other is like. This is a very dry barren land in summer and wet and dangerous in winter or after rain. If you are thinking of stopping by the side of the road, off the main bitumen surface after rain then think again. You will sink into the red earth very quick and may become bogged.
If you wish to camp overnight make sure to select an area provided by the main roads at a designated camp site. Do not just pull up in the bush during the wet season or you may have to stay until the ground dries out again. This is red clay and you can very easily become bogged; it has caught many people over the years even those that should know better.
For those wishing to go East from the West or West from the East, then I say go for it. Yes it is a long drive, although you will be surprised by the friendly campsites and campfires where you can sit around and share your experiences and chat over a glass of wine or a tinny.
Make sure that you do your homework and prepare for this trip. You will need to take blankets and plenty of water as you cannot expect them to share their precious water if you do not carry your own. Above all have a great trip.
Eagle on Nullabor Plains
Whale watching at Head of the Bite in South Australia
Between June and November it is well worth driving the extra 12k's to see the whales at the Head of the bite.
We went there off peak, and did not see any whales and it cost us $5 each to have a look at the viewing area.
This recent trip we decided to go and have another look as we were told there were 90 whales in the area some with their babies. It cost us as pensioners $12 each but to me it was worth it.
The whales were entertaining their audience. I think they liked to show off because they were starting to play while watching them.
Other travel links in Western Australia
- Tips Life and Travels: Travel to the Goldfields Fossick for Gold or Visit Historical Sites.
- Travel, Free park and Rest areas Perth,WA to Bendigo,Victoria
This is a free list of all the places to camp or stop overnight in a caravan or tent, while traveling across the Nullabor from Perth, Western Australia - to Bendigo. The East to West column is for travelers...
Highway that connects Western Australia with South Australia