Crossing the Nullarbor, between Adelaide and Perth, by road or by rail, is one of the world’s great transcontinental journeys
By Lee Atkinson
Most travellers are surprised by what they find on the Nullarbor, the massive semi-arid plain across the southern edge of Australia. Nullarbor means "no trees" but, in fact, the Nullarbor – which stretches between The Eyre Peninsula in South Australia and the goldfields of the west – is covered with bluebush, saltbush and mulga, and alive with wildlife and even wildflowers after rain. It might be big and flat, but there’s plenty to see and do along the way.
- Watch whales beneath the longest line of sea cliffs in the world
- Drive the longest, straightest, flattest road in Australia
- Play a round on the longest golf course in the world
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Top things to do on the Nullarbor
Drive the longest, straightest, flattest piece of road in Australia
The Nullarbor is famous for being long and flat, but the most famous stretch is the 90 Mile Straight, a 145.6 kilometre (90.5 mile) stretch of road between Caiguna and Balladonia in Western Australia, which doesn’t have a single rise or bend along the way. It’s the longest, straightest stretch of road in Australia. Don’t forget to snap a selfie in front of the iconic wildlife sign (pictured) for the ultimate Nullarbor souvenir.
Have a whale of a time
The whale watching platform at Head of Bight, 20 kilometres (12 miles) east of Nullarbor Roadhouse, is one of the best spots in the world to get a good look at baby whales. Southern Right Whales come here from the icy Antarctic waters to give birth, and between June and October you can sometimes see up to 100 whales and their calves in the water below the cliffs.
Uncover a lost town in the sand
Large sand drifts have repeatedly covered and uncovered the Eucla telegraph station since it was established in 1887, just west of the Western Australia border with South Australia. No-one really knows how much longer you’ll be able to see the stone buildings before they are completely buried under a mountain of sand, so take the chance to see them while you can.
Peer over the edge of the Great Australian Bight
The Bunda Cliffs are the longest line of sea cliffs in the world, stretching a colossal 200 kilometres (120 miles) along the Great Australian Bight. Towering up to 65 metres (213 feet) above the sea, they are a truly impressive sight. The highway runs quite close to the edge in some sections and there are six lookouts where you can peer over the edge between the Nullarbor Roadhouse and Border Village, so don’t forget to take pictures.
See Balladonia’s space junk
In 1979 the tiny settlement of Balladonia made international headlines when America's Skylab space station crash landed nearby. The local council fined NASA for littering which prompted then US president Jimmy Carter to phone the Balladonia Roadhouse to apologise, or so the local legend goes. There are bits of the space station on display in a museum at the Roadhouse.
Play the world’s longest game of golf
Spread across two states and two time zones, the 18-hole par 72 Nullarbor Links golf course spans a mind-boggling 1365 kilometres (848 miles) with one hole in each town or roadhouse along the highway, from Ceduna in South Australia to Kalgoorlie in Western Australia. Distances aside, the course has a unique set of challenges. Seven of the holes are on existing golf courses, but 11 have been purpose built, although the fairway is the existing scrub. Play the whole course and you’ll receive a certificate. It costs AUD $70 a round and golf clubs are available for hire for AUD $5 at each hole.
How to get there
Driving across the Nullarbor is easy – just follow Highway 1 which is fully sealed the whole way. It is long, though, around 1850 kilometres (1150 miles) from Port Augusta in South Australia to Kalgoorlie in Western Australia, and you should allow at least three days. Along the way you'll come across several friendly roadhouses that have accommodation. You can also catch the Indian Pacific train from Perth to Sydney or vice versa.