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Home > Travelogues > 2009 Travelogues Index > The Eyre Highway

The Eyre Highway – Crossing the Nullarbor

The Eyre Highway stretches from Port Augusta in the east to Norseman in Western Australia. 

2009 saw us on our seventh drive across the Nullarbor via the Eyre Highway. All have been interesting drives; sometimes in the rain, sometimes in dry weather, sometimes windy, sometimes hot and sometimes mild. Photos shown here were taken from various trips, but the earliest were pre digital photogrpahy.

 

A small town remains at Iron Knob, and as we head west from Port Augusta, the colourful slag heaps from the former Iron Knob iron ore mine dominate.  The first discoveries of iron ore mined in Australia were in the Middleback Ranges near Whyalla, commencing in the 1890s.  Iron Knob was one of these early mines.  Mining ceased at Iron Knob in 1998.

We have never been at the right time of year for whale watching at the Head of Bight, but it is still worth driving in if the gate is not locked. There is a small information centre (locked out of season), and good platforms for viewing whales in season or viewing the cliffs to the west and the dunes to the east of the Head. A wind generator provides power.

Photo to the left is sand dunes east of the Head of Bight and photo at right shows the cliffs that commence the Bunda Cliffs which continue all the way to Eucla. 

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Travelling through the Eyre Peninsula wheatbelt towns such as Kimba, Koongawa, Kyanbcutta, Pigery, Wudiina, Minnipa, Poochera and Wirrulla there are large grain receival bins. The Eyre Peninsula is one of the main wheat growing areas in South Australia.

 

Two coal fired power station dominate the view to the of Port Augusta.  These are supplied with coal from the Leigh Creek coalmine, which was closed in November 2015.  The power stations will be closed when the coal on hand has run out, with latest estimate being 9th of May 2016.  Solar and wind power will be used instead of coal to generate power. 

From the bridge which crosses the tip of the Spencer Gulf in Port Augusta, looking south.  The wharf marks the central business district of Port Augusta with a good selection of shops and business and the Wadlata Outback Centre (visitor centre).   

Turning off to visit Fowlers Bay the sand dunes are visible all the way.  See our visit in 2005
High sand dunes overlook Fowlers Bay, seen from the jetty 
Together with Port Thevenard, Ceduna is the largest town on the Eyre Highway between Port Augusta and Norseman.  Exports from the Port are mainly gypsum, salt, mineral sands, wheat and other cereal grains.  We watched gypsum and wheat being loaded. Ceduna is the quarantine point for those entering South Australia from the west.  
 
Seventy three kilometres to west is the tiny town of Penong with windmills being their theme.  There is a surprisingly good little caravan park well away from the highway.    

Much of the land between Nundroo Roadhouse and Nullarbor Roadhouse (145 kilometres) is the woodlands of Yalata Aboriginal Land. Older maps show a roadhouse at Yalata, but this has been closed since February 2006 after the building was declared unsafe due to asbestos in the building, and that is even more of a hazard due to vandalism of the derelict old building.  

 

The Head of Bight turnoff is within these lands, not far east of Nullarbor Roadhouse.  Entry fees apply, with a reduced rate off season. 

See Question and Answer “We are planning to cross the Nullarbor east to west.  Will I need to carry extra fuel?  When is the best time of year to avoid headwinds?  What about safety?” 

When travelling the Eyre Highway in 2005 and 2006 we also visited some of the large granite outcrops and the Gawler Range National Park. 

Kimba is the largest of these Eyre Highway wheatbelt towns, and lays claim to being the half way point across Australia. This is not a factual claim, with Ceduna being nearer to the half way point either by road or ‘as the crow flies’.   There is a large statue of a pink and grey galah in the centre of town. 

The last coal train travelled from Leigh Creek to Port Augusta on 27th April 2016.  This train was three kilometres long. 
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