INFORMATION FOR RIDING ACROSS THE NULLARBOR

Compiled from the personal experiences of The Nullaboys,
who have crossed the continent many times since the formation of the club in 1998.

All of our trips have started and finished in Perth, Western Australia, so this has been written with those of you from the East Coast of Australia in mind.

As you will be coming from places as far North as Cape York and south from Tasmania, we thought it best to leave it to you to get to the starting point of Port Augusta in South Australia, and we will inform you from there.

Normally, we would leave from Adelaide at 7.00am in the morning and ride through to Port Augusta, arriving around 10.00am. We usually have a short lay over in Adelaide before heading across the Nullarbor for home, just so we can get packed and prepared for the ride across.

But it is from here that you will start your trek across the continent and eventually arrive in Perth, the sunny capital of Western Australia, some 2400kms away.

But before you head off on this epic journey, have the bike checked and serviced first.

Things like tyres, the battery, any little oil leaks, re-grease the wheel bearings, have them all done before you head off because there is nowhere to get the bike repaired on the way over.

If your bike is not in good condition now, there is a good chance you may not make it to the other side, and that will stuff up the ride and your holiday completely.

Remember that the bike is going to be running for long periods at a time at highway speeds, and for days on end, so everything must be spot-on. If it's not, you could end up stopped in the middle of nowhere and it could be an expensive exercise to get it back home again.

And even though the bike has run faultless each day, just have a look over it each night after your travel. Grab a beer, sit down near the bike and just stare at it. You'll be surprised of the little things you can see each night, things that might need tightening, things you might not have noticed before.

Bolts coming loose, the little oil leaks appearing, or maybe little oil leaks that are getting bigger, or just something that's getting ready to fall off tomorrow. Trust me, things do fall off and usually when you're miles from home and without the tools to fix it. It's just called 'preventative maintenance', it doesn't take long and it could save your arse one day.

Take a basic tool kit too, just so you can fix these things each night. A pair of pliers, a couple of screwdrivers, some rag, Allen keys, a couple of spark plugs and a spanner to change them with. They may never be used, but carry some anyway.

And pack sun screen or a bandana, you'll need it in the late afternoon when you're ridding into the sun. After a couple of days, you'll start to peel, badly. We know because it's happened to us.

Normally we leave early in the morning at 7.00am every day, and try to keep our stops to a minimum. We allow 30-40 minutes at each food / fuel stop and 15 minutes at fuel only stops. As we travel in a group, we have found that the bigger the group, the slower things move at these stops, so we have to impose a time limit on them.

By doing this, we find we can accomplish 800-900kms per day easily. The other reason is the last thing you want is to find yourself doing is riding into the dark to get to the great overnight stops we mention on this page. There are too many animals out there that move around at dusk, so we try to be off the road by 4.00pm each day.

So, now that you've been told what time we're leaving, you've got the bike all fixed up, got a tank full of fuel, you're ready to go. So let's hit the road and head west into the sun.

Leaving Port Augusta, about 20kms out on the left, are the famous Water Tanks. This is where you will find the largest Harley Davidson logo we have every come across, that's providing the graffiti taggers haven't attacked it and destroyed it again.

We believe that the West Coast South Oz HOG Chapter is responsible for this piece of artwork and from time to time, they have to repaint it so as to maintain for our viewing pleasure. Take a photo if you can, it may be the only time you come past here on the bike and it's in one piece.

Down the road away and you will get a choice to go straight on or turn right. Straight on will take you down the Eyre Peninsula to Whyalla, Port Lincoln and back up again through Smokey Bay, Streaky Bay and to Ceduna. It's a great ride on good roads, and we recommend it if you have the time, but this leg will add at least another day to your trip.

Turn right and you head the express way, past the mining town of Iron Knob, onto the Nullarbor and finally into Perth. Over the years of our crossing, we have watched the hill at Iron Knob change its shape as the mining continues to strip the iron ore that it contains inside its shell and it's been interesting to witness those changes over the years.

Through the rolling hills you go as you get deeper into the farming communities of the Eyre Peninsula. You will pass through towns with some pretty weird names to pronounce, but don't tell the locals we said that.

Towns like Poochera, Kyancutta and Kimba, which has a huge Pink Galah as it's tourist attraction as you enter town. You can't miss it either it's massive. I always thought of Kimba as a White Lion, yet they want a pink galah, huh, go figure !!

From Kimba it's a 100kms to go as you roll on through a couple of small wayside farming towns and finally come to Wudinna. Now this is a great town to stay at overnight, we stay here every time we cross the Nullarbor.

It has a great Hotel / Motel with comfy rooms, and good food. Tony Griffin is the publican and he always looks after us very well. As we normally travel in a group, he gives us a special rate for our evening meal and a bed for the night in the motel rooms.

We bunk in together to cut costs, and usually end up paying a fairly small fee per head. Mind you, that charge is fairly well subsidised with the extra bar takings we usually provide him from our night of merriment. Give him a call if you want to stay the night on 08 8680-2019.

If you wish, there is a caravan park also, but watch out for the ants because they like to sleep in the tent with you at night, and there are lots and lots of them too.

In the morning, we set off as usual at 7.00am and run in the crisp clean air until we come to Ceduna, and breakfast. It's fuel up first then around to the bakery in the main street. Nothing like a fresh pie or pastie for breakfast, and wash it down with a hot cappuccino.

We might look a bit scruffy, but we still like to eat well, and the girls at the bakery are always happy to see our smiling wind burnt faces. They say we're regulars now as we drop in there twice a year. Once on the way over for lunch, and few weeks later, coming home for breakfast.

After our morning feed, it's out of Ceduna, past the eastbound quarantine station and off towards Penong and Nundroo. This is mainly farming area through here and the roads are reasonably straight with a lot of numbered power poles. If you're getting bored, you can count them down, or up, whichever way you're travelling.

At Nundroo, we refuel and just grab a drink and continue to head west, going past Yalata Aboriginal Mission. If you have time, and are interested in having a look at Aboriginal artefacts, it's always worth the stop if nothing else.

If you look along the sides of the road through this part of the trip, you will see the old gravel highway that was in operation for many many years before the new bitumen road was commissioned. Wouldn't like to do that on an old WLA back then.

You'll travel with a lot of bush on either side for a little while and then, all of a sudden, you will crest a hill and see white sand hills. Don't get too excited, you're not there yet, it's just an indication that you're getting close to the bottom of Australia.

You're actually coming up to the real start of the Nullarbor Plain, which by the way is only about 32kms long. If you've brought the dog along, better let him off for a minute or two here, because there's no trees coming up for a little while now. Remember the Latin you did at school, Null - Arbor = No Trees.

On the left, you will see a sign saying, " Head of the Bight ". It's a popular spot to watch whales frolicking in the ocean, but it's seasonal stuff and you have to be lucky.

It's still worth swinging in for a look even if it's not whale-spotting season as there is a museum there and a walk-trail that'll take you down pretty close to the waters edge.

You've got about 300kms to go for the day, and your running with the sun, so if you're travelling okay, and you've got some spare cash to throw around, go up in the whale spotter plane that operates out of Nullarbor Roadhouse.

You will fly over the cliffs and the shear drop from the land to the water is something to behold. And don't forget to take the camera.

From Nullarbor to Border Village is a bit of a tourist ride and it is this section that you will need your camera handy.

60kms from Nullarbor is the first camera opportunity but if you miss it, there are 6 more spots for you to view the cliffs and the Great Oz Bight. Some are only 400mtrs off the road, some a little further, but all are easy to get to even if they are gravel roads.

Border Village is the western edge of South Australia, and it's where you will need to fuel up and pass through a quarantine check to enter WA. Sometimes this can be a hassle, opening saddlebags for inspection for foodstuffs and other contraband items. And some days they even have sniffer dogs patrolling the place, but thankfully not too often.

Border Village is also a great place to stop overnight and who knows, you may even see a UFO in the sky that night. This place has recorded more UFO sightings than anywhere else in Australia, so keep your eyes skyward, or you could be next one taken.

Only 13kms further on and you come to Eucla, the first town you will pass in WA and the site of the old telegraph station. It's just about buried now by the moving sands, but you can still walk down to it and take some photos if you wish.

Eucla also houses the first police station on the WA side, and sometimes the boys get a bit restless and bored with life, so be prepared to be intercepted and have your licence checked for validity.

Down through the Eucla Pass and onto the flat lands, which were under water many years back but are now just the coastal plains. This is a great road to rocket along, but beware of the urge to twist that throttle, for the police may be waiting for you to come howling along here.

Remember that you ride a Harley Davidson and it can be heard from long distances away, especially when under a heavy throttle load. You can almost guarantee that they will be listening for you, just waiting for you to come along that stretch of road.

The next stop is Mundrabilla, about 80kms down the track. This is also great little rest stop for the night. Bruce and Jo Mulroy are definitely bike friendly people and will make you welcome with their hospitality. When we are travelling out here, this place is close to the top of the tree for hospitality with great food and, although only average, acceptable accommodation requirements. And there's no shortage of a cold beer or three, if only to wash away the road grime.

Coming home in 2000, we rang Jo from Ceduna and said we would be there for dinner, and arrived to a full-blown roast meal. We had lamb, beef, roast vegies, Yorkshire pudding and gravy. And then to top it off, she made us sweets as well, which consisted of a Trifle and Jelly & Icecream. Still fairly basic, but it was plentiful and one of the best feeds we had had on the road for many nights.

All up, we paid a pittance per head for our meal and bed. Mind you, and as usual, we ended up spending a few extra dollars at the bar, but it was worth it. If you don't camp here for the night, you're crazy. Mundrabilla Roadhouse, remember the name.

Also if you're travelling with a vehicle, Bruce sells his fuel a fair bit cheaper than the places on either side of him, so this is the place to get your fuel too.

Book ahead on 08-9039-3465, or fax on 08-9039-3200. If you're technologically advanced, e-mail at mundrabilla@bigpond.com.au and let them know your staying the night. They'll be pleased to have you, and you'll not regret it.

Up with the sparrows in the morning and off to the next stop about 100kms down the track to Madura Pass. Forget the fuel and food, unless you need it, and just go straight past and up to the top of the hill where you will find the Madura Pass Lookout. The view from up here is magic; you can see the ocean and dream of what the planet must have looked like before Harley-Davidson's were invented. And drag out the camera again, while you're there.

After your rest, it's on to Cocklebiddy for more fuel and a hearty feed of breakfast. This is another bike friendly establishment on the road west and one that has had it's up and down over the years with different landlords.

Another 80kms down the road and you will come to Caiguna. This place has been renovated and is also reasonably biker friendly now-a-days, although we have had dramas here in the past. But again, since a change in management, things have been looking better for the biker community and we are quite happy to stop here again.

At one stage, they would only supply fuel to one bike at a time, and when you are travelling in a group of 10 or more, it slows the whole process down to buggery. Before if we stopped here, we loose nearly an hour of travel time just to get fuel for 10 bikes, so we used to go start past without a second thought. Things are much better now though and a stop here is not a hassle anymore.

Heading further west, and it's on to Balladonia, but before you get there, you will travel on the longest straight section of road in Australia, 142.6kms in length, or about 90 miles in the old language. Flat as a tack and not a corner in sight for miles.

By the way, Nullaboys tradition requires you to indicate at the sweeping left-hand corner at the other end. Yeah, I know, it's 142.6kms down the road, but try not to forget.

Balladonia is only 191kms from Norseman, and is the last roadhouse you will pass through on the Eyre Highway heading west. When you get to Norseman, you will have officially crossed the Nullarbor, but you are still one full day's ride from Perth when you get there.

It's a 4 day trip from Adelaide to Perth for us, mainly because we try to ride responsibly, reasonably close to the posted speed limits and enjoy the trip.

However, I have spoken to riders of other brands of machines who have done the 2800km run from Perth - Adelaide in 18¼ hours, and that includes fuel, food and piss breaks, and they like to brag about being able to do 240 or 260kmh out there, for hour after hour.

I haven't worked out if they brave or just bloody stupid yet ??

But I reckon life is short enough, so why the hell try to get to the other end faster than you need to. Each to their own I suppose, but I certainly don't want to be the one that has to clean up the mess.

Hit an animal out there at any speed and it might be the last thing you do. I've seen what they can do to a truck that's fitted with lots of bar-work, so just imagine what they can do to your bike, and more importantly, to you and your pillion.

Enjoy the ride by all means, and remember that you're on holidays, but please keep your eyes open and always be very aware on the dangers that live out there.

From Norseman, you can either stop for the night, go left to Esperance and around the coast, or go right and on to Kalgoorlie.

Esperance is a farming community town of about 8,000 people and supports a fishing and tourism industry, as well as its surrounding farming community.

Kalgoorlie on the other hand is a town with lots of old-time history, a town with leftovers from a gold mining era, with its stories of untold riches, two-up rings and prostitution.

If you can find the time, stay a day or two and have a good look around. In it's hey-day, Kalgoorlie had a pub on every corner, more breweries than you could count on both hands and feet and a red-light district that would've made Kings Cross look like the Vatican City during holy week.

Norseman to Perth via Esperance is around 1000kms, via Kalgoorlie it's about 800kms, but whichever way you go, you're heading back into civilisation again.

You will find that going back home, travelling from Perth to Adelaide, is a little bit harder as you are going against the clock and also against the sun which makes your days naturally shorter. However, even with time is against us we find we can stick to the same schedule both ways without much effort.

Well, that's it. We hope you've enjoyed the virtual ride that we took you on, and we hope that, one day, you will travel it in safety, accident and incident free.

We've heard people complaining that the Nullarbor is boring and lifeless, but I'll bet that those people did it by car, with the windows up, air-conditioning on and the CD playing in the background.

If they bothered to wind down the window and smell the air, or stop every now and then and have a look around, I bet they'd have a different opinion.

The Nullarbor is far from boring, it has plenty to see and do, and it IS a great ride. Just treat it right and you'll have a ball.

We love it, and that's why The Nullaboys do it all the time. If you decide to travel over on your bike, let us know whether you enjoyed it or not. Maybe you found things out there that we have missed during our trips across.

Ride safely in this country of ours, and maybe we'll see you at a roadhouse or rally sometime.

The information contained in this document has been compiled from personal experiences and after many crossings of the Nullarbor, all by motorcycle. It is offered purely as an guide to help you plan your ride across Australia, and is based on the experiences and knowledge that we have gained during these rides.

No responsibility will be accepted for any information given which maybe misleading, misread or misunderstood and you should use your own judgment and make your own decisions during your travel across Australia.

 

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