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Eyre Highway

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The Eyre Highway is the main road that connects South Australia with the south of Western Australia. It runs for 1668 km. from Port Augusta in the east to Norseman in the west. In Port Augusta it splits into the Princes Highway taking you to Adelaide and the East Coast cities of Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, and the Stuart Highway going all the way to Alice Springs and Darwin. At Norseman you have the choice of taking the direct route to Perth via the Coolgardie - Esperance Highway and the Great Eastern Highway, or you can visit Esperance and the scenic Southwest region by following the South Coast Highway.

Where the Nullarbor Plain and the Great Australian Bight meet

Understand[edit]

For much of its length, the Eyre Highway can be described as a long and lonely road. While in the East you still find some towns like Kimba, Wudinna and Ceduna, the western three quarters is almost devoid of life. What you will find is a number of roadhouses, a mixture of hotel, caravan park and garage. One or two of them are quite fancy (relatively speaking, that is), like Border Village, right at the border between South and Western Australia, but most of them are just plain dusty and boring. The mean distance between them is about 100 km., with the longest stretch being 190 km. (between Balladonia Roadhouse and Norseman). The stretch of road between Caiguna Roadhouse and Balladonia Roadhouse is known as the 90-mile straight. It's the longest stretch of straight road in Australia, 146.6 km. of asphalt without a single curve! Towns east of Caiguna do not follow official Western Australian time. Instead, they use what is unofficially known as Central Western Standard Time, which is halfway between Western and Central time--UTC+8:45.

Prepare[edit]

The trip can be done in a conventional vehicle, and services are spaced such that you should not need to carry fuel. Not all service stations are open 24-hours, so if you are not travelling daylight hours then you will need to plan accordingly. Some of the side trips require a four-wheel drive, and you should let someone reliable know when you depart from the main road. Telstra has their NextG mobile coverage for significant parts of the highway. No other carriers offer service. This means you will need a 850MHz capable phone and Telstra SIM.

Get in[edit]

You could conceivably fly to Port Augusta, and out of Norseman, but for most attempting this drive they are starting either from either New South Wales, Victoria or Adelaide, and are heading for Perth (or vice-versa).

Drive[edit]

The highway skirts the southern end of the notorious Nullarbor Plain, roughly between the Nullarbor Roadhouse in the east and Balladonia Roadhouse in the west. Between those two roadhouses you can make a number of side trips, penetrating north and into the Nullarbor itself. Just south of the highway, between Nullarbor Roadhouse and Border Village are a number of lookouts. Here you can see how the flat Nullarbor Plain abruptly ends and the waters of the Great Australian Bight begin. The 70-meter high cliffs, beaten by wind and water are quite an impressive sight.





Eyre Highway distance table
East to WestPlaceWest to East
Cumulative
distance (km)
Point-to-point
distance (km)
Point-to-point
distance (km)
Cumulative
distance (km)
0-Port Augusta261668
2626Lincoln Highway turnoff421642
6842Iron Knob871600
15587Kimba881513
24388Kyancutta491425
29249Minnipa331376
32533Poochera481343
37348Wirrulla891295
46289Flinders Highway turnoff31206
4653Ceduna731203
53873Penong351130
57335Bookabie441095
61744Nundroo (roadhouse)501051
66750Yalata (roadhouse)941001
76194Nullarbor (roadhouse)186907
947186Border Village (roadhouse)13721
96013Eucla (roadhouse)64708
102464Mundrabilla (roadhouse)116644
1140116Madura (roadhouse)91528
123191Cocklebiddy (roadhouse)66437
129766Caiguna (roadhouse)181371
1478181Balladonia (roadhouse)190190
1668190Norseman-0


Side trips[edit]

Nullarbor Roadhouse to Cook[edit]

The track from Nullarbor Roadhouse to Cook

You can make a short but interesting side trip by taking the track from Nullarbor Roadhouse to Cook, a settlement on the Indian-Pacific Railway. The track starts just behind the roadhouse airstrip and runs in a north-northwesterly direction. You don't need a 4WD because the track surface is quite solid and there are no obstacles to negotiate. On the other hand, you do need a reliable topographic map and a compass since there are almost no reference points along the way. A good way to get a feel of the Nullarbor is to stop about halfway between the roadhouse and Cook, climb on top of your vehicle and look around. The surrounding landscape is as flat as a pancake and seems to consist of only two dimensions.

Cook's sole reason of existence is to serve the Indian-Pacific Railway - most of its inhabitants work for the railway company. Apart from the train station, this bland little settlement boasts a shop and even a hospital. Judging by the signs at the station, living on the Nullarbor must be quite healthy. One gives you the advice: "If you're crook, come to Cook." A second one is more blunt: "Our hospital needs your help. Get sick!" You'll also learn that you're actually looking at the longest stretch of straight railway in the world. Due to the incredible flatness and the extent of the plain this piece of track has no curves for 479 km!

A gravel road brings you back to the Eyre Highway, to a point about 42 km west of Nullarbor Roadhouse. The total distance of this side trip is somewhat over 200 km.

Do[edit][add listing]

  • Nullarbor Links, [1]. A golf course spanning the Nullabor, much of it on natural terrain. Billed as the world's longest golf course, the first hole is 1600km from the last. Some holes are 200km apart. Play all 18 holes while you cross the Nullabor plain.  edit


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