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Crossing The Nullarbor
 
nullarbor australiaThe easy option for travel between Adelaide and Perth is to jump on a plane for a few hours. However if you wish to experience something a little more intriguing and satisfying, embark on the journey of a lifetime and cross the Nullarbor. Spanning for thousands of miles, this stretch of land would have to be one of the most barren and desolate areas of Australia. 'Crossing the Nullarbor', as its referred to, may not be for the faint hearted, but it's seen as the ultimate way to experience the Australian outback without completely surrendering yourself to the elements. Excellent road conditions make the trip even easier and there are plenty of settlements along the way to keep you safely refuelled and stocked up with water. As a result, more people then ever now are deciding to embark on this challenge so you should get in quick before you find it one day to be overflowing with tourists, destroying the serene atmosphere present here.

The shortest route from Adelaide to Perth, through the Nullarbor spans for a total of 2, 680 kilometres. However, this route is lacking in amazing sights and may even reach the stage of boring you. This route will take you through Kalgoorlie and through vast amounts of desert until you reach Perth. An alternative and longer route will take you along the south west coast of Australia, through Esperance, Albany and other coastal hotspots. Although this route is closer to the 3000 kilometre mark, it is something that you should attempt at least once. There are so many interesting sights and along it may just seem like long straight roads, dry shrubbery and lots of blue sky, this will be an experience you will be able to treasure forever.

If you begin your journey in Adelaide, the first leg of it will last for 320 kilometres and you will wind up in Port Augusta. You have the option of heading straight down Highway One, or taking a more leisurely drive through the lush wineries of the Barossa Valley. Either way, overnight in Port Augusta before attempting the next leg in the journey is a must.

This second leg of your adventure will take you across the Eyre Peninsula, offering you two options of where to head to next. If you choose the longer journey, you will add an extra 280 kilometres, but you will be able to visit the beautiful Port Lincoln, which is the hub of the Eyre Peninsula. This pretty coastal town is surrounded by sheltered beaches and impressive lookouts and is simply awe inspiring. If you choose the shorter option, you will completely bypass Port Lincoln and head straight into Ceduna. This town is pretty isolated so make sure you stock up on supplies before you arrive.

The next 1220 kilometres of the Nullarbor will eventually lead you to the Western Australian border. When making this crossing there are a few things to keep in mind. Firstly and most importantly, water is in very short supply. Ensure you have taken more than enough for your own drinking purposes and for the radiator in your car. Secondly, extra fuel is always a good idea as most fuel stops along the way are only open during the day. Always keep an eye out for kangaroos as well because they tend to pop up when least suspect them. They are easily frighted into running into your path, as the hordes of dead ones on the road testify to! So be careful.

Although the highway through the Nullarbor (the Eyre Highway) runs parallel and close to the coast for much of the way, there are very few opportunities where you actually get to see the ocean. This is why it is essential to take a detour to appreciate the fantastic coastline here. If you are going to check out any of the coastline, be sure to at least pay a visit to Cactus Beach, which is a popular surfing spot and can easily be found by turning off from the highway at Penong. When driving through Penong look out for the old windmills scattered through the fields alongside the highway and be sure to have your camera ready.

300 km further on from Ceduna is the Nullarbor Roadhouse. Home to a motel, restaurant and caravan park, as well as the opportunity to refuel this is the perfect spot to take a break. From here it is 186 kilometres to the state border, and this stretch of road will take you past the amazing Bunda Cliffs, which stand 80 metres high and are definitely one of the highlights of the trip. Once you cross the border you will be met with flat earth and the occasional settlement until you reach Norseman. Eucla first, and then Mundrabilla, over the Madura Pass, and on to Cocklebiddy. From Cocklebiddy its just over 430 kilometres to Norseman. Now well into WA, its time to congratulate yourself; you've crossed the Nullarbor!

Once you have finally reached Norseman head south to Esperance, and then drive up the beautiful coast of South West Australia. Lush landscapes and stunning scenery are awaiting you here, offering a welcome contrast to the bare and open land you have travelled through. Its about 1000 kilometres from Esperance to Perth via Albany and Bunbury, and it's a fitting final leg to an epic journey of one of our great country's most treasured highlights.

Christine Barton




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