Nullarbor Myths or Misconceptions

Misconceptions about Nullarbor Plain
Stunning view of Hampton Tablelands and Roe Plains from Madura Pass lookout, Madura, WA

When I drove across the Nullarbor Plain, I realised that there was a lot of mismatch between what I read on the Internet about Nullarbor and what I experienced.

There are quite a few misconceptions about Nullarbor. I would like to list them so that you'll have a better understanding of driving across the Nullarbor Plain.

Table of Contents

Misconception #1: Nullarbor has no trees

The word Nullarbor comes from 2 Latin language words. They are "null" and "arbor", meaning "no" and "trees". So, Nullarbor means "no trees". Nullarbor Plain means "treeless plain".

However, I could see a lot of trees in the 1,200 KM stretch. Of course, there are a lot of stretches without any trees at all. So, the name suits well in those stretches.

The reason why I am raising this is not to argue whether Nullarbor has trees or not. But, to make a point that this is misleading the travellers.

A lot of travellers are driving across Nullarbor to see how a treeless plain look like. When they see a lot of trees, they raise a concern "I didn't expect any trees".

So, this is to tell you that there are trees across the Nullarbor. This is not a 100% treeless Plain. So, come with the right mindset so that you won't get disappointed.

Misconception #2: Crossing Nullarbor is an adventure

Crossing the Nullarbor was an adventure in the past. But, not now.

Decades ago, the road was not sealed and there were no roadhouses. So, travellers had to bring their food, water, camping stuff, car fuel and car mechanic kit to survive the distance of 1,200 KM. This was an adventure.

However, in present travel conditions (as of November 2018), crossing the Nullarbor is much easier. Thanks to the Roadhouses and the sealed road. All that you need is a reliable car and you need to know the location of the Roadhouses.

At present travel conditions, crossing Nullarbor is not an adventure. It is just a very long drive.

But, it doesn't mean that you need to take it very easy. You still need to prepare yourself for the very long drive and plan well for the places you want to stay in. Don't underestimate the driving distances.

Misconception #3: You should carry extra petrol in your car

You can see this advice in a lot of articles, books and guides. This advice held good in the past when there were no roadhouses.

But, this advice is not applicable to the current situation. There are 10 roadhouses across the Nullarbor. The longest distance without a fuel stop is 191 KM. So, when you reach a roadhouse, make sure your car has sufficient fuel to reach the next roadhouse.

Alternatively, you can top up fuel two or three times a day depending upon the consumption. For example, I used to top up fuel two times a day. I knew my car can run the entire day with one full tank of petrol. But, considering the outback area, I topped two times, one in the morning before starting my drive and another one after lunch.

So, you need not carry any extra petrol in your car. That is dangerous in case of an accident.

Misconception #4: If your car breaks down, it'll cost your life

This may be true when there were no roadhouses across the Nullarbor. I heard stories where travellers stranded on the road for many days when their car broke down. Survival was difficult with minimal food supplies and water they stocked up on their car. I am not sure whether it cost their life. But, I am sure it would have been a terrible situation.

However, the current situation is different. Even if your car breaks down, it won't cost your life. The traffic on the Nullarbor is pretty reasonable. You'll see one car every 5 minutes. Also, there are 10 roadhouses across the Nullarbor and they encourage you to contact them for any emergencies. I am sure you'll get some help in a reasonable time frame.

So, don't panic.

Misconception #5: Nullarbor is pretty boring. There is nothing to see

Many travellers think that there is nothing to see and do across the Nullarbor. So, they want to drive the entire distance of 1,200 KM in just one day. This is a big mistake in my opinion.

For your surprise, Nullarbor has a lot of things to offer to travellers. The list is huge. Hence, I have created a separate page with the attractions across the Nullarbor. You can have a look at them.

Nullarbor Attractions