Photo Essay: Driving Australia's Nullarbor Plain by Chris Nicholson
The Nullarbor drive is Australia's equivalent of
America's old Route 66, except that Americans may drive their
rustic route for nostalgia, while Australians cross the Nullarbor
because it's the lone southern route to the west coast. At 1,400
miles, though, the desert trek from Port Augusta (known as the
"crossroads of Australia") to Perth (the "most
isolated city in the world") is typically made by plane or
rail. Drivers of the Nullarbor are rare (you'll pass perhaps two
cars per hour), but their willingness to attempt the journey creates
a camaraderie among the lot; nearly every passing motorist will
The drive is made on the Eyre Highway, named for
the first European explorer to cross the region, Edward John Eyre,
who did so in 1841. Though he achieved his goal of finding a navigable
land route to the west coast, he found nothing else of value.
"On the contrary," he said, "all has been arid
and barren in the extreme."
The land is so flat and featureless that the highway
lies straight for most of the drive. One stretch of road has no
curves for 87 miles; it's the longest straight portion of road
in Australia. But patience and a willingness to explore the areas
just off the highway will yield the secrets and history to one
of the world's most fascinating regions.