An Adelaide to Perth road trip is one of the most incredible journeys possible in Australia, driving straight through the famous Nullarbor, one of the most baron lands in all of Australia!
Taking a road trip from Adelaide to Perth is certainly not one for the unadventurous. Driving from South Australia to Western Australia was the first taste of true outback Australia for us and it blew our minds!
Here is a summary of what we will cover:
Full self-drive road trip itinerary from Adelaide to Perth in a campervan
Driving distances between Adelaide and Perth
Where to stop for the night
How to save on motorhome costs
Things to do and things to see along the way
Total budget spent on the road trip $$
Lets get to it.. Here is a quick overview of our stops across our 3,060 km journey!
Before you go!
Before you head off on any road trip in Australia, it is really important to make sure you have everything you need to be safe. Particularly with this journey, we cover a huge expanse of barren land called the Nullarbor, where there is zero phone signal and limited petrol stations. One of the worst things that could happen is running out of petrol with no way of getting help in very high temperatures! We have written a full Road Trip Packing List that you can read here, but here are a few extra tips from us to help you plan for a journey like this:
If you have a petrol tank half full, ALWAYS fill up with petrol at the next station as you may not know where the next one will be. Even if you know there is another petrol station coming up, sometimes they have run out of petrol as they do not receive re-fuels as often
The distances between places are huge, make sure you have plenty of water and food to last you a few days in case of an emergency
Check you have tools and safety equipment in case of an emergency
Ensure you have a basic understanding of your vehicle rental before setting off, eg tyre gauges, water levels, oil etc
This road trip will involve long driving distances, make sure to take breaks and stretch your legs!
Take a good level travel insurance (if required) to cover any unexpected incidents
Download the campermate app, it will be your best friend for the entire journey telling you where you can stay, petrol stations close by, water taps and points of interest on the way
Adelaide to Port Augusta: 302 km / 187 miles
Time without stops: 3.5 hours
Pick up your rental vehicle for the week and head for the grocery store! We recommend stocking up on enough fresh food and drinks that will last you at least a few days.
TIP: The reason we suggest not for the entire week is because when you reach the Western Australian border you will have your vehicle inspected and have to get rid of anything fresh, they are super strict on this. This is only in relation to fresh food; packet and other food is fine.
We had a big 6 seater RV for the week as we did a relocation journey from Adelaide through to Perth using a company called Imoova. How this works is you have a set number of days to get from Point A to point B, sometimes they even contribute towards your petrol! Sometimes you can add extra days (which is what we did on this trip).
We have been to Adelaide before and so left for Port Augusta the same day, but if you have longer on your trip check out our Road trip blog just in South Australia that covers the wine regions Mclaren Vale, Barossa Valley and Clare valley within and around the Adelaide region. We stopped for a coffee at Mister's Sunshine's before making our way to Port Augusta.
Overnight spot: We pulled over just off the A1 highway in a layby. Cost: FREE
Port Augusta to Cactus beach: 565km / 349 miles
Time without stops: 5hrs 45
An early start, we set off after brekky for Cactus beach.
Now there are two ways you can get to Ceduna, this will be our first stop of the day.
The way we took, staying on the A1 highway inland straight through to Ceduna
If you're up for a longer drive, head straight for Port Lincoln, it is a lot more scenic down the Eyre Peninsula where you will be on the coast. If we had another day, we would have selected this option.
Things to do in Port Lincoln
There are many great seafood restaurants
Visit the Talia caves
Watch the sea lions sun bathe on the rocks
Head to Coffin Bay National park and Almonta beach for a spot of sun bathing
Camp at 1 of the 33 available sites along this way
Stop to fill up with gas at Ceduna, this is the last big town before starting your journey into the Nullarbor plain! Head straight for Penong and down towards Lake Macdonnell for the most sensational pink lake in South Australia!
Overnight stop: Cactus beach campsite, cost: $15 per person.
Just 15 minutes or so beyond the lake is Cactus beach where you can stop for the night. The toilets here are very clean and there is an area to wash up your plates. Cactus beach is absolutely beautiful, the campsite itself is lovely with plenty of campervan spots available.
Cactus beach to Madura: 620km / 385 miles
Time without stops: 6hrs 20
This next part of the journey will take you well and truly into the Nullarbor plain! You may want to spend longer at Cactus beach but bare in mind that you do not want to be driving the Eyre highway when it's dark. This road is well known for having lots of wildlife that are very active around dusk and dawn including kangaroos, wombats, dingoes and even camels! The distances between places in the outback are far, and the last thing you want is an accident in the middle of nowhere, with zero phone signal!
With that said, we set off with plenty of time to get to the next stop, Madura.
The Bunda Cliffs are on this leg of the route, the 90 metres sheer high cliffs are pretty awesome! There are a fair few stops to pull over and have break and check out the sights. The clifftops can be a little unstable, so take care when walking!
The Nullarbor drive is an experience in itself, it is literally the world's largest limestone plain landscape covering a whopping 200,000km! The name literally means 'No trees' as there is not a single tree in sight for miles.
You'll see signs for Border Village Road house, which is the end of South Australia and entry into Western Australia, here you'll need to ditch any fresh food.
Overnight stop: Madura Roadhouse caravan park, Cost: $25 per night. Hot shower facilities, toilet facilities.
Madura to Lucky Bay: 602 km / 374 miles
Time without stops: 6hrs 45
A big drive but oh so worth it to the incredibly stunning Lucky Bay!
This part of the drive includes the 90-mile straight road, be sure to stop here and get a photo next to the famous sign which is in Caiguna on the Eyre Highway.
The road down towards Esperance is so picturesque, lots of fields and beautiful scenery. We won't be heading for Esperance today, we will head there tomorrow, instead, we take a left heading towards Cape Le Grand national park where one of the best beaches in all of Australia is... in our opinion anyway!
Cape Le Grand national park is spectacular, as we drove through and began to see the ocean our minds were blown at how white the sands are and blue the water is.
Overnight stop: Lucky Bay Campground, $10 per adult. There are hot showers, toilet facilities, and bbq/wash up area. The site is so beautiful and overlooks the bay. (No campfires are allowed though) There is a cut through to the beach and it's absolutely stunning! If you look closely in the picture above, you can actually see the campervans parked up for the night.
Lucky Bay to West Cape: 574 km / 356 miles
Time without stops: 6hrs 15
Enjoy an early start on Lucky Bay beach as kangaroos are usually roaming freely. They are very friendly and curious, and will usually stay around for a while.
Next stop is Esperance for another beautiful view. It has it's share of great beaches too, Twilight beach is particularly beautiful and Pink Lake is only a 10 minute drive from Esperance.
Tip: This is a good place to stock up some fresh food for the next few days if not done so already.
Heading to the West Cape Howe, Two Peoples Bay is a beautiful stop on the way and a chance to enjoy more white sands, if time permits there are bushwalking tracks too.
Just past Albany (30 minutes) is West Cape Howe, after a slow and very bumpy journey we reached our stop for the evening, a secret little beach at the bottom of the green cliffs. I almost didn't want to share this slice of luxury, it was our absolute favourite spot during this trip and did not want to leave.
Overnight stop: Shelley Beach, $10 per person
This is a basic stop; with toilet facilities but no other amenities and is right on top of Shelley beach.
West Cape to Injidup: 392 km / 243 miles
Time without stops: 4hrs 30
This drive doesn't feel long at all because of the beauty along the way!
Denmark - sensational beaches with the whitest sands, Green pools and elephant rocks are probably the best you will find and are the most popular, however still pretty quiet in comparison to Eastern Australian beaches. We stopped here to get a coffee at Luscious Organic Cafe, the coffee was great and they do lots of snacks including vegetarian and vegan options too.
Nannup - this is the place to make a decision to whether to continue inland, or take a detour to Margaret River.
Margaret River - We recommend a detour to the famous wine region Margaret River in Western Australia, it is only 3 hours from Perth and is a really popular day trip. Not only are the wineries absolutely beautiful (and the wine delicious) but there are many beautiful beaches nearby too.
Our recommended winery stops are:
Larry Cherubino Wines
These wineries are all really conveniently located near one another and so not much driving required at all. There is a huge amount of choice around this area and so if one isn't open, you will still be completely spoiled for choice!
Injidup (15 minutes drive from Margaret River)
After wine tasting, head on up to the Injidup area where the beaches are divine, and you can also find Injidup's natural spa area! The rock formations are so perfect that a natural spa is formed. We recommend getting down there first thing to have it to yourself and when the tide is usually just right.
Overnight stop: Just at the top of the road next to the natural spa (car park). Cost: FREE
Disclaimer; we were not sure if we were able to stop here for the night but we didn't have any problems. There were a couple of other cars parked in the same car park, do so at your own risk.
Injidup to Perth: 272 km / 169 miles
Time without stops: 3hrs
The last leg of the South Australian to Western Australian journey!
Stops worth making if you have time before your flight:
Koombana bay - this is where bottlenose dolphins are known to swim fairly close to the shoreline! We sadly ran out of time and needed to catch our flight so have saved this for our next trip.
Fremantle - Where old meets new! There is a lot to do in Fremantle like visit the local museums, hang out at the vintage stores or take a swim at Fremantle beach. If you are a Little Creatures beer fan, stop to check it out (or one of the other local craft breweries).
Eventually, you will make it to Perth. We ended up at Perth airport after dropping off our campervan with a flight back to Sydney in the afternoon. If you have some time to stay in Perth, check out the city or continue up the coast for more Aussie gems!
Budget breakdown ($AUD):
Flight cost from Sydney to Adelaide return from Perth: $420 for 2 adults
Food and drinks (including wine/beer): $160
Additional day with Apollo campervan rental: $130
Petrol costs: $640
Entrance into National parks: $15
Campground costs: $95
TOTAL COSTS: $1,460 for 2 adults