The Australian outback is 6.5 million square kilometres consisting of sand, rocks and the legendary Eyre Highway. Spanning 1660 kilometres from the east to west coast of Australia, it is the centrepiece of the Nullarbor Plain; a sandy, flat, treeless desert region. Because of its length and geography, travelling across the Nullarbor Plain on Eyre Highway is the quintessential outback road trip.
The Nullarbor Plain, like the Sahara, has a rich history of attempted crossings. Before Eyre Highway was completed in 1942, the area had to be crossed on foot or by bike. From August 1897 to 1898, Henri Gilbert walked thousands of kilometres in 40 degree heat to become the first non-indigenous person to cross the Nullarbor on foot. Thankfully, you can now cross the Nullarbor from the comfort of your air conditioned vehicle and in much less time – it will take around three days and requires careful planning (tips and considerations noted below).
The most iconic stretch of Eyre Highway is the 90 Mile Straight. Located between Balladonia and Caiguna, it runs for 146 kilometres without turning, and is considered the longest straight section of road in all of Australia.
Now that you know the facts, it is time to start planning:
Being one of the most remote regions of Australia, amenities are limited. So when considering what to bring, food, extra clothing and lots of water is essential. Also be prepared to camp one or two nights at either a campsite or roadside motel. Although petrol stations are plentiful along the highway, bringing extra fuel is a good idea if you`re planning on branching off on roads less travelled.
Most importantly, you’ll need a dependable vehicle, and an emergency car kit is essential. While much of Eyre Highway is smooth sailing, some parts – especially near Norseman – have been given one and two star safety ratings. A sport utility vehicle like a Chevrolet Equinox or Ford Expedition is built to handle rough terrain with ease and will manage these rough patches, but pack an emergency car kit just in case.
Travelling across the Nullarbor Plain on Eyre Highway is the most Australian road trip you can take. The region is a spectacle to behold, and thanks to modern technology, with proper planning you can can see it all safely and comfortably.
Have you travelled the Nullarbor, or are you planning to? Share your tips and experiences in the comment section below.