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  • Lisa

The Ultimate Guide for Driving the Nullarbor with Kids! (travelling east from WA to SA)

Updated: Jan 17

The Nullarbor Plain is such an iconic part of Australia. We grew up learning about its desolation and vastness, and we were so excited to explore it with our kids!


Driving the Eyre Highway from the town of Norseman in Western Australia to Ceduna in South Australia is an epic 1,200 km road trip that takes you through some of the most incredible parts of Australia.


Although it might not sound like a particularly appealing holiday with kids, there is so much to see and do along the way, and it is a surprisingly fantastic family adventure!


I will share with you the best places to stop along the way and the facilities available at each place, so that you can plan your journey and make it as hassle-free and enjoyable as possible!


This blog will guide you through the journey from Western Australia east to South Australia. If you will be travelling the opposite direction, I have created a blog for that too here.


"Nullarbor" comes from the Latin words "nulla" (meaning "no") and "arbor" (meaning "tree"), and its name really speaks for itself. It’s characterised by its treeless landscape, dominated by vast stretches of rugged terrain and sparse vegetation.


The Eyre Highway (named after the explorer Edward John Eyre) is the main road that crosses the Nullarbor.


It has one lane going each way, and although it is sealed and well-maintained, it is essential to come prepared as amenities are scarce along the way and you will need lots of breaks to stretch your legs, especially if you are travelling with children.


Before I get started, there’s a couple of tips I want to share:


Map


I have created a Google Map of all the places I mention in this blog.


Although there is VERY limited mobile reception on this drive, you can download the pages that you need when you are in wifi, and then you can follow along with the GPS dot on your map to see where you are.


Fuel


Firstly, you need to plan your fuel consumption!


There are quite a few petrol stations across the Nullarbor, but they vary a lot in price. We use the app FuelMap to show us the current fuel prices at each servo.


We know that we get about 400km per tank, plus we had more on the roof, which meant that we could plan to stop at the cheapest servos - sometimes it was a difference of over $1 per litre, which definitely adds up!


Download a camping app


We used Wikicamps to find spots to stop, but I’ve been told that Camper Mate and Campedia might be better options.


This is particularly useful when you are looking for the dirt track turnoffs to the cliffs, as these are not signposted at all. It's also good to check up-to-date reviews on the apps as conditions can change dramatically.


RFDS


The third tip is to teach your kids about the Royal Flying Doctors Service and the incredible work they do.


As you drive the Eyre Highway there are several spots where the road widens and becomes an emergency runway for the RFDS. When there are such long stretches of nothing much to see, getting excited about driving on upcoming runways is great!


You can find the locations of them on Wikicamps, so you know when they are coming up.


The RFDS has a kids club for kids aged 6-12, which is free to join, and they send your kids a newsletter with all kinds of fun stuff a few times a year. You can sign them up here.


Nullarbor Links


Finally, is a quirky thing to keep your kids entertained - Nullarbor Links!


Nullarbor Links is the world’s longest golf course, stretching 1,365km through the outback from Kalgoorlie WA to Ceduna SA.


At each roadhouse along the Nullarbor there is a spot to tee off and if you want to take it seriously, there is a score card available from the visitor centres in Norseman, Kallgoorlie and Ceduna.


We just played imaginary golf - mostly it was just fun to check out the fairways and it gave us something to look forward to at the next roadhouse!


Ok, let's get this adventure started!


Norseman


Starting your journey across the Nullarbor in the town of Norseman, located in the Goldfields-Esperance region of Western Australia, you are already well and truly in the outback.


Norseman gives you the opportunity to fuel up, stock up on supplies, and prepare for the adventure ahead. There is a small IGA supermarket, as well as a Visitors Centre (with excellent toilets), petrol stations, a water refill station and paid showers.


If you are self-contained there is a free campground with dump point, and there is also a caravan park.


The Full Moon Thai Restaurant has an excellent range of cakes and pastries, as well as coffees and take away food (both Thai and Australian).


Once you are stocked up, it is time to leave Norseman behind and drive one of the world's longest straight stretches of road. And I’m sorry to say that it’s not going to be one of the most interesting roads to get to the WA/SA border, but there are a few places worth stopping for:

Ten Mile Rocks Campground


Just over an hour out of Norseman is Ten Mile Rocks campground.


It doesn’t come up on Google Maps, but you can find it on Wikicamps. We have camped here twice, it’s our preference over staying at the caravan park in Norseman.

On our first trip we were the only ones here, but on the second there were a few groups, but the area is huge so you don’t even notice.


There is a drop toilet, campfire pits and rubbish bins, but no other facilities.


If you drive back away from the road, there are some amazing spots to camp in the red dirt, far from everyone and the noise of the highway. It is one of our favourite free camping spots!


Balladonia Hotel Motel

Just over an hour drive from Ten Mile Rocks is the Balladonia Hotel Motel the first roadhouse along this stretch of road.


As well as fuel and take away food, coffee, ice creams etc, they have clean toilets, mobile reception, public phones and the Skylab golf hole. They also have a small playground.


If you’re not camping, they have motel rooms (including family suites for 5 people) and backpacker accommodation. They have a caravan park with showers, a pool and camp kitchen, but we didn’t check it out.


Inside the roadhouse is a museum, which we found pretty interesting - all about the history of the area, the Royal Flying Doctors, constructing the Eyre Highway etc, but the section that we loved the most was about Skylab!


Skylab was the first US manned space station, launched in 1973. At 73,000kg, it was one of the biggest things ever sent to space, but in 1979 it entered an unstable orbit which would mean that it would crash into earth - but they didn’t know where.


The space station ended up breaking into chunks - the biggest of which landed (luckily!) in the Indian Ocean - the others scattering around South Western Australia.


There is a newspaper article in the museum which explains how on the early hours of 12th July there appeared to be a huge fireworks display, seen by people at the Balladonia Motel, and numerous chunks of the space station were found around the area. Apparently the President of the USA, Jimmy Carter, even called the owner to apologise!


We are a bit space-obsessed in our family, so found all this really great! There is also a very simple playground, which is a good chance for the kids to burn off a bit of steam, before hitting the road again.

90 Mile Straight


35km from the Balladonia roadhouse is the famous “90 Mile Straight” sign.


Although there’s nothing else to do there, I think that it’s worth stopping for a photo! This next section of road is 146km of straight driving so you have to take what you can get!


Woorlba Homestead Rest Area


If you are busting to use a toilet, Woorlba Homestead Rest Area is about 7 minutes drive from the sign. It isn’t on Google maps, but it’s approximately here. You can find it on Wikicamps.


The rest area isn’t anything fancy, but it has toilets, shaded picnic tables, rubbish bins and a dump point. You can camp here for a maximum of 24 hours.


Baxters Rest Area Off road camp


A similar rest stop is a bit further along at Baxters (80km from the 90 Mile Straight sign). They also have camping, toilets, shaded picnic tables, fire pits and rubbish bins.


We found these rest areas to be a bit skanky, so if you can, I recommend holding on until the next roadhouse at Caiguna.


Caiguna Road House


181km from the Balladonia roadhouse is the next roadhouse to stop for petrol, food and to use the facilities. Just before the roadhouse is the eastern 90 mile straight sign, so if you didn’t get a photo earlier, now is your chance!


The roadhouse serves hot meals, snacks, ice creams etc, and the toilets are clean. There is also a small playground, mobile phone reception and the next Nullarbor Links hole.


The John Eyre Motel and Caravan Park is next door to the roadhouse, with motel rooms and camping facilities.


Cocklebiddy Roadhouse


65km further east along the Eyre Highway is the Cocklebiddy Roadhouse, which has the usual array of petrol, food and facilities, but also a bar if you are in need of a stiff drink!



The “Eagles Nest” golf hole is just behind the roadhouse and there is a pretty dire playground out the front.


There are toilets, and also pay showers here, so it’s a great place to freshen up.


They also have motel rooms and camping, and mobile phone reception.


Madura Pass Oasis


In another 90km, you will reach the Madura Roadhouse, which has petrol, a snack bar, camping and motel rooms.


They have toilets but we couldn’t get any mobile reception. There is a small playground and the Brumbies Run golf hole.


Moodini Bluff Rest Area


If your kids are like mine, as soon as you leave a roadhouse with fairly decent toilets, they complain that they need to go. Luckily, 17 mins from the Madura roadhouse there is a little rest area with toilets.


The toilets are decent, and there are also shaded picnic tables, fireplaces and rubbish bins. You can camp here for 24 hours if you need to.


Mundrabilla Roadhouse

116km from the Madura roadhouse is the Mundrabilla Roadhouse. They have petrol, camping and motel rooms, as well as the only renewable energy power station on the Nullarbor.


They have patchy mobile reception, toilets and rubbish bins, but no playground. The “Watering Hole” golf tee off is here.


You have now almost made it to South Australia! Just one more stop before you reach the border near Eucla (65km from Mundrabilla).


Eucla


We stayed in Eucla twice now and have actually love this little spot!


The first time we crossed the Nullarbor we camped here - you pay at the motel reception ($30 per site) and then drive a couple of minutes to the campground. It’s nothing fancy, but they do have good toilet facilities and pay showers (which are definitely worth the money!).


When we did this drive the second time it was the middle of winter and bloody freezing, so we decided to stay in their motel.


The room was excellent! We stayed in the Deluxe family room, and it was big and clean and we loved having our own bathroom, especially after bush-camping for a few nights beforehand.


You don’t need to prebook the campground, but I recommend booking beforehand if you’d like to stay at the motel, as the first time we were there it was booked out.


There is a restaurant and bar, and both times we have eaten there it was great (fairly standard pub food). They have kids' menus and we loved that the tablecloths are paper and they give you crayons to draw on them!


There is also a cafe which does great take away breakfasts (omg their pain au chocolats were mind blowingly good, and they have proper barista coffee!).


There is a very dangerous looking, dodgy old-fashioned playground (which of course my kids loved...) and a statue of a whale, as from here you will get to the cliffs of the Great Australian Bight, where every year from May to October the Southern Right Whales arrive to mate, give birth and socialise.


Petrol was much cheaper here than at the next stop at the Border, so check the fuel app before leaving.


The golf spot here “the Nullarbor Nymph” at Eucla Golf Club is about 5km north of the highway.


Border Village


Although the WA/SA border is only 14km from Eucla, the quarantine station (where you are not able to bring fruits, vegetables, plants, seeds, soil, livestock etc) is in Ceduna, so you are able to bring these things across the border, as long as you have eaten or thrown them out before then.


You are able to bring fruit and vegetables if they have been processed, dried, preserved, cooked, frozen or canned, and a few other things (like pineapple, sweet potato, carrots and beetroots), but best to give them a call if you want to check - 1300 666 010.


At the Border Village (on the SA side of the border) there is a petrol station which has a huge statue of a kangaroo holding a jar of vegemite - classically Aussie!


They have campsites and accommodation available, although the reviews I read weren’t as good as the Eucla ones.


There is a small shop, a restaurant and bar, as well as mobile reception, picnic tables and toilets. We didn’t stop here, so I can’t comment on their facilities. The golf spot “The Border Kangaroo” is located here, just behind the big kangaroo.


The Great Australian Bight


From the border it is only a ten minute drive or so until you reach the cliffs of the Great Australian Bight. Now this is what makes this long drive all worth it!


Travelling from west to east means that you can spot the Bight for the first time as you drive along the highway, and at some points in this section, the edge of the cliffs is not very far from the road at all!


You can camp along the cliffs - you really should be self-contained to do this as there are no facilities at all - and be warned that it does get super windy here!


There are a lot of dirt tracks heading off the highway out to the cliff tops, but if you are travelling with kids you may be a little hesitant to set them free to run along the top of the cliffs, which can be 120m high!


At the 13 K peg scenic lookout (13km from the border) the cliffs are not so high, so it feels a bit safer to camp here if you have young kids. You can actually scramble down to the beach, although probably not with little ones. The track in is pretty good and there is lots of space and, of course, spectacular views. There are no facilities here.


Great Australian Bight Scenic Lookout #1 (110km from the border)


If you want to be on the top of the incredible cliffs, but you are a bit nervous, we definitely recommend stopping here at the Great Australian Bight Scenic Lookout #1. 



It is easily accessible in a 2WD. There is a parking area and then a fenced off walkway out to a spectacular lookout.


This is very safe and we think the best of the 3 “official” sites along this stretch of road.


Honestly, it is unmissable, I mean check out those views!


Bunda Cliffs Campground


While there are many places to follow a dirt path off the highway to the cliffs, our favourite is the Bunda Cliff Campground (you can find it on Wikicamps).


This is not an official campground, there are no facilities and the cliffs are really high, but it was so beautiful, and easily accessible in our 2wd van.


You can drive right up to the edge of the cliffs (although I am far too anxious for that) and it was a great place to put the drone up and get some epic shots.


There are some sand dunes that you can camp behind to be out of the wind, and for it to be a bit safer for little kids.


Back on the Eyre Highway, continuing east, there are several rest areas and cliff access paths, but no toilets that we found until the Nullarbor Roadhouse.

Nullarbor Roadhouse (184km from the border)


Just before you arrive at the roadhouse, on the lefthand side of the road is the western end of the Nullarbor Plain sign - you know I love photo opportunities so we most definitely stopped here!


The Nullarbor Roadhouse is worth stopping at for its awesome retro vibes!


Back in 1956, the manager of the farm station here started to sell petrol, which he hand pumped out of drums into gallon tanks.


Business was going well so he established a small shop as well, selling grocery items and his wife would sell her freshly baked scones and cakes.


In 1976 the Eyre Highway was built and the shop’s popularity continued to grow and today there’s a roadhouse with petrol, a small shop selling supplies and proper coffee, a restaurant (can confirm the hot chips are great!) and a bar.

No kids playground though.


There is a scale model of the old roadhouse, a camel/wombat/kangaroo warning sign and a big whale statue, which are all great photo opportunities!


They have toilets and showers as well as mobile reception.


There are powered and unpowered camp sites and motels, including family rooms for up to 6 people. The Dingo's Den golf spot is here.


Head of Bight


14km from the Nullarbor Roadhouse is the well-signposted turn off to the Head of Bight Visitor Centre.


11km from the turn off along a sealed road, you reach the carpark (plenty of space for big rigs) where there are public toilets.


From there you walk into the visitor centre, opening hours:


Whale Season (1 June to 30 October) - 8am to 5pm every day


Off Season (1 November to 31 May) - 8.30am to 4pm every day, except Christmas Day and Proclamation Day


During whale season a family ticket is $40, out of season it’s $16. The centre has a small gift shop and they sell snacks, drinks and ice cream. Dogs aren’t permitted.

Once you have purchased your ticket in the centre, head outside to the well maintained path that takes you to the cliff edge. Everywhere is well fenced and very safe, and there are shaded areas along the path for when it’s really hot.


You can often spot whales from up here, and the views of the cliffs are awesome - you aren’t able to fly your drone here though. It is accessible to people in wheelchairs or with prams.


Back on the highway, it’s a 3.7km drive to the "Eastern end of the Nullarbor Plain" sign, which is on the opposite side of the road.


Nundroo Roadhouse


144km from the Nullarbor Roadhouse is the next petrol stop at the Nundroo Roadhouse.


As well as petrol, they have a kiosk, motel rooms (double, twin and dorm style) and a caravan park. There are toilets and mobile reception, but no playground. The Wombat's Hole golf spot is here.


Fowlers Bay

5km from the Nundroo roadhouse is the turnoff for Fowlers Bay. It’s about a 20 minute drive until you get to the tiny town, which is surrounded by beautiful sand dunes.


Fowlers Bay used to be a whaling station, and if you are driving over the whale season (July to September), you can join one of the EP Cruises boat trips


We did one in July and it was incredible - we saw whales, dolphins, fur seals and sea lions!


We stayed at the Fowlers Bay Caravan Park as we travelled both ways across the Nullarbor and thought it was great!


It’s a pretty small park and we loved that the power to all sites, park amenities and kiosk is supplied entirely by a unique hybrid solar system. The water is also naturally obtained through rainwater and from a sand dune aquifer.


As well as powered and unpowered sites, they have cabins and a holiday house. We loved their big communal fire pit, and on one night we were there they were selling freshly cooked pizzas!


If you don’t want to stay in Fowler’s Bay, it is still worth heading there for the day. As well as playing in the sand dunes and on the beach, it is apparently a great place to fish. There is a kids playground and public toilets, and a kiosk (which is also the check in for the caravan park) which sells take away food. 


Penong


Continuing east, drive back to the Eyre Highway and head to the next town - Penong.


Penong has a caravan park which has cabins available and there is a pub in town, as well as a general store and petrol station. There is also a windmill museum where you can learn about the history of windmills in Australia, and next to that is the Nullarbor Links hole “Windmills”. 


Cactus Beach is 20km from Penong down a pot-holey road. Although we didn't visit, it is supposed to be an excellent surf beach. Next to Cactus Beach is Point Sinclair, which has a day use area with toilets, rubbish bins, picnic tables and a jetty.


There is a campground near Point Sinclair, which has toilets and cold showers, and it’s

dog friendly. There is no booking, first in best dressed, and it’s $17.50 a night for adults and $5 for kids. 


On your drive to Cactus Beach, you will go through Lake Macdonnell - a very much Instagrammed place, which is often pink (sadly not when we were there). There are no facilities near the lake, and it was still a nice spot despite not being pink.


Ceduna


Drive back up to the highway, and then it’s another 75km to go until you reach Ceduna, the final stop on this epic drive!


In Ceduna you’ll find the South Australian quarantine station, so make sure you have checked the latest update and gotten rid of any banned fruits, vegetables etc. 


Just past the quarantine station is the Ceduna Oyster Barn, which is definitely worth a stop, their fish and chips are amazing!


A little bit further along is a drinking water refill station, where you can fill up your tanks - $1 for 150 litres.


Ceduna is a town of about 2,000 people and has 5 caravan parks. We stayed at the Ceduna Foreshore Caravan Park, which is fairly big, right on the foreshore with excellent facilities.


They have a swimming pool, camp kitchen and wifi. There is a playground across the road, and a beautiful jetty, which is incredible at sunset. It’s next door to the pub, the Ceduna Foreshore Hotel, where we had what I think was the best pub dinner we have ever eaten! 


There are public toilets near the jetty as well as at the visitor centre. There are quite a few shops and restaurants in town, as well as lots of motels, petrol stations etc.

___

And that concludes one of the most epic Australian road trips there is! 


The drive is so much more than just hoofing it across to South Australia. Getting off the highway and finding beautiful views of the cliffs with no one else in sight, checking out the quirky roadhouses, and no doubt stopping for a few bush wees in the middle of the desert, it really is an incredible journey to do with your kids! 


You will see so much mind-blowing natural beauty (and, to be honest, a lot of straight road…) that it surely will be a trip you will always remember, and hopefully want to do again (maybe at a different time of year next time)!


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