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  • Lisa

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

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 Ceduna in South Australia to Norseman in Western 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 South Australia west to Western 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, 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!


Ceduna


By the time you reach Ceduna, chances are you have already driven quite far, and so it’s a great town to have a rest in and stock up on all your supplies.


It 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.


This will be pretty much your last chance to fill your esky with fresh fruit and vegetables, but please remember that there are very strict rules for what you can bring into Western Australia. You are not able to bring fruits, vegetables, plants, seeds, soil, livestock etc across the border, so you need to eat them or throw them away 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, peeled and sliced watermelon, sweet potato, carrots etc), but best to check out their website before you travel.


When you cross the border, it will be a long time until you reach the closest supermarket in Norseman, and depending on how slow you travel, that might be a couple of days. We made sure that we had enough of the allowable fruits and vegetables to last us, as even in Norseman the selection isn’t always that great.

As well as food supplies, Ceduna is a great place to fill your water tanks. There is a drinking water refill station near the Ceduna Sports Club, where you can fill up your tanks - $1 for 150 litres.


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


Ok, so you are all stocked up, let’s hit the road!


Penong


Leaving Ceduna, driving west along the Eyre Highway, the first town you will come to (after about 75km) is 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.


Fowlers Bay


46km from Penong 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.


Nundroo Roadhouse


About half an hour drive, along another dirt road and then back out on the highway is 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.


When we drove this way the last time, this road house had the cheapest petrol, and we rolled in on fumes! It’s not a road trip without almost running out of petrol, right?


Head of Bight


126km from the Nundroo Roadhouse is the "Eastern end of the Nullarbor Plain" sign, which is on the your side of the road - you know I love photo opportunities so we most definitely stopped here!


About 3km further along the highway is the well-signposted turn off to the Head of Bight Visitor Centre (on the left hand side of the road). 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.



Nullarbor Roadhouse

After you come back out onto the highway, it’s 14 km until you reach The Nullarbor Roadhouse, which 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.

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. No kids playground though.



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.


Just after you leave the roadhouse, on the right hand side of the road is the western end of the Nullarbor Plain sign.



The Great Australian Bight

From the Nullarbor Roadhouse, it is about a 50km drive or so until you reach the cliffs of the Great Australian Bight. Now this is what makes this long drive all worth it!


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 left 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!


Bunda Cliffs Campground

Our favourite spot to check out the cliffs (and camp) 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.


Great Australian Bight Scenic Lookout #1


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 which is about 13km from the above campground.


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. There is no camping here though. Honestly, it is unmissable, I mean check out those views!


13k Peg Scenic Lookout

At the 13 K peg scenic lookout (13km before 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.


Along this stretch of the highway, you can actually see the cliffs from the road, which is pretty spectacular!


Border Village


After 13km, you’ll arrive at the SA/WA border. Don’t forget to eat your fruit and veggies before you get there!

At the Border Village (just 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.


When we travelled, the petrol here was much more expensive than just down the road at Eucla, so make sure you check your fuel app!


Eucla

Just ten minutes past the border is Eucla. We stayed here 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 an old statue of a whale.


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


Mundrabilla Roadhouse

65km from Eucla 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.


Moodini Bluff Rest Area


116km from the Mundrabilla Roadhouse is a little rest area with toilets.


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

Madura Pass Oasis


If you can hold on, I recommend waiting 17 minutes until you reach the Madura Roadhouse, which has petrol, a snack bar, camping and motel rooms.


They have toilets (much nicer than the rest area!) but we couldn’t get any mobile reception. There is a small playground and the Brumbies Run golf hole.


Cocklebiddy Roadhouse


90km further west 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.


Caiguna Road House

65km from the Cocklebiddy roadhouse is the next roadhouse to stop for petrol, food and to use the facilities.


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.


Just after the roadhouse is the eastern 90 mile straight sign, so now is your chance to get that cheesy photo I know you always wanted!



Baxters Rest Area Off road camp


If you are busting to use a toilet, there is a drop toilet at Baxters (66km from the 90 Mile Straight sign). They also have camping, shaded picnic tables, fire pits and rubbish bins.


Woorlba Homestead Rest Area


A similar rest stop is a bit further along at Woorlba Homestead Rest Area. 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.


90 Mile Straight


135km from the Caiguna roadhouse is the other “90 Mile Straight” sign. Although there’s nothing else to do there, I think that it’s worth stopping for a photo. You’ve just driven 146km of straight road so you have to take what you can get!


Balladonia Hotel Motel


Half an hour drive from the 90 mile straight sign is the Balladonia Hotel Motel.

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.


Ten Mile Rocks Campground


Just over an hour from the Balladonia road house 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!


Norseman


Heading back out on the highway, it’s just under an hour until you reach Norseman and the end of the Eyre Highway. You’ve done it!


Norseman gives you the opportunity to fuel up, stock up on supplies, and prepare for whichever way you will go from here - south to Esperance, north to Kalgoorlie or continue west to Perth (we recommend going via Wave Rock on the Hyden Norseman Road!).


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).


___


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 Western 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)!

1 Comment


Hayley Morrison
Hayley Morrison
Jun 05

This was the most useful info on the Nullarbor. Thank you 😊

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