Nullarbor National Park
Declared in 1979, the huge Nullarbor National Park is a 50-kilometre by 200-kilometre strip of the famous Nullarbor Plain, stretching from the head of the Great Australian Bight to the border of Western Australia. Along its southern edge, 80-metre-high cliffs drop to the deep blue of the Great Australian Bight Marine Park. In the north, the park joins the massive Nullarbor Regional Reserve, which extends to the Trans Australian Railway.
The Eyre Highway, Australia’s main east–west link, follows the line of this spectacular coast. In the past travellers battled bulldust, potholes and corrugations on the epic Nullarbor crossing. Today, the sealed road is excellent but the journey still remains incredible and the landscape is just as legendary. This is one of Australia’s unforgettable journeys.
From Adelaide or WA via A1
Winter; best time to see whales
800 km west of Adelaide; 296 km north-west of Ceduna; 13 km west of Eucla (WA)
- Parks SA (08) 8204 1910
- Parks SA Ceduna (08) 8625 3144
Camping permit required
590 000 ha (Nullarbor National Park)
2.3 million ha (Nullarbor Regional Reserve)
Ceduna 1800 639 413
Featured Activities in the National Park
Gaze over the Great Australian Bight from the Bunda Cliffs
View whales at Bunda Cliffs with an Anangu guide
Explore the cool depths of Murrawijinie Caves and look down into Koonalda Cave
A look at the past
In 1841 Edward Eyre began his epic trek across this hostile country. He and his Aboriginal companion, Wylie, faced awful conditions in the searing heat of summer and survived the Nullarbor crossing after local Aboriginal people gave them water. The national park was formerly part of Nullarbor Station, a sheep property that left their ﬂocks to graze on the ubiquitous saltbush and bluebush.
The Wirangu and Mirning people, members of the Anangu Pitjantjatjara group, are the traditional owners of the Nullarbor region. There are 60 known archaeological sites on the plain including hand prints, hearths, stone implements and paintings. Some of these indicate that people have been here for 40 000 years. Today the Wirangu and Mirning live in several centres around the park and their spiritual beliefs and traditional customs remain strong; others still live on their traditional lands, relying on game meats such as malu (kangaroo), kilpara (Australian brush-turkey) and wadu (wombat) as important food sources.
The Nullarbor, the world’s largest single piece of limestone, is one of the ﬂattest plains of exposed bedrock on Earth with an area so featureless that the Trans Australian Railway runs across its surface for about 483 kilometres in a completely straight line. On the surface of the plain there are slight depressions where sparse rainfall has slowly dissolved away some of the limestone; there are also places where underground caves or sinkholes have collapsed to form dents in the surface. The plain is mostly – as its Latin name suggests – devoid of trees, and its horizontal surface ends abruptly at the spectacular Bunda Cliffs, comprising a 200-kilometre-long precipice curving around the Great Australian Bight.
It is what lies hidden beneath the Nullarbor’s surface that makes this an internationally renowned national park. The underground network of limestone caverns and sinkholes is the largest arid-zone karst landscape on earth. Most of the caves have underground water, and some have been found to contain the skeletons of extinct animal species. In Koonalda Cave there are ﬁnger markings on the walls, believed to have been made by Indigenous people at least 20 000 years ago.
Native plants and wildlife
While saltbush and bluebush appear the dominant species, with heaths and coastal mallee near the cliffs, a recent biological survey revealed a staggering 794 species of plant in this region.
Southern right whales gather in the waters of the Bight during winter in increasing numbers – at last count there were 60 – to breed and care for their newborn calves. Inland there are 38 species of native mammal, 85 species of reptile and one frog. The rare southern hairy-nosed wombat thrives in the park along with red kangaroos, western grey kangaroos, camels and dingoes.
Travel in more remote parts of the park requires considerable expertise and preparation as there are no facilities. Cliff edges are extremely steep and undercut in places. The park offers sightseeing, caving, 4WD touring and whale-watching. There are scenic ﬂights from Nullarbor Roadhouse. Cycling across the Nullarbor is possible but only the ﬁttest cyclists should attempt such a trip. Be prepared for extreme conditions and punctures, and watch out for large semitrailers.
Cave tours and caving
The three Murrawijinie Caves, 10 kilometres north of Nullarbor Roadhouse, are open to the public but the road is rough. Contact Parks SA Ceduna for information about access to other caves (cave tours are available). Koonalda Cave and Bunabie Blowhole may be viewed from the top.
Between Nullarbor Roadhouse and Border village are ﬁve of the most spectacular coastal lookouts in Australia. On each side the cliffs curve to the horizon and massive ocean swells smash onto the rocks below. These lookouts are some of the world’s best places to view whales with their newborn calves. A viewing centre is at Head of Bight on Yalata Aboriginal Land and Anangu guides also offer cultural walks.
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