The Far West Coast stretches from the western edge of the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia across the Nullarbor Plain to the border of Western Australia. This remote coastline is especially known for its rugged landscapes, small rural towns and pristine ocean waters.
The Nullarbor Plain covers much of the area along the coast and is where this unique limestone bedrock meets the Southern Ocean along the Great Australian Bight. It’s one of the most secluded and untouched coastlines in Australia and an incredible place to explore.
This article will cover everything that you need to know about visiting the Far West Coast.
Table of Contents
- 1 About the Far West Coast
- 2 How to get to the Far West Coast
- 3 When is the best time of year to visit the Far West Coast?
- 4 How to explore the Far West Coast?
- 5 What is the Far West Coast known for?
- 6 Life on the Far West Coast
- 7 History of the Far West Coast
- 8 Things to see and do on the Far West Coast
- 9 While you’re crossing The Nullarbor Plain
About the Far West Coast
The Far West Coast of South Australia is the rugged section of coastline of the Great Australian Bight that begins in Ceduna and runs to the Western Australia border. It is characterised by the arid Nullarbor Plain’s dramatic meeting with the Southern Ocean.
This coastline is particularly known for its pristine ocean and sandy beaches, towering sea cliffs and the almost-treeless plain dotted with small rural towns. The waters of the coast are a special haven for some incredible sea life, including the endangered Southern Right Whales and Australian sea lions.
The main coastal towns in the region include Ceduna, Thevenard, Denial Bay, Smoky Bay and Fowlers Bay, with other small inland towns on the Nullarbor Plain such as Penong and Yalata. Ceduna is by far the main settlement in the area and the gateway for exploring the coastline and the Nullarbor to the west.
How to get to the Far West Coast
The Far West Coast is a relatively isolated part of South Australia. However, the main way people explore the area is via the Eyre Highway. The highway is the only sealed road that runs through the Far West Coast and Nullarbor Plain, with it often following right along the dramatic coastline itself. It is a major road and connects Ceduna to Port Augusta, which is half the trek from Ceduna to Adelaide in the east, as well as, further west to the Western Australia border.
The Eyre Highway is also part of the famous road trip that includes crossing the Nullarbor from South Australia to Western Australia, which is considered one of the top must-do experiences in the country.
Ceduna is the main town and gateway to the Far West Coast and Nullarbor Plain in South Australia. Most travellers pass through Ceduna, either coming from the east or the west along the Eyre Highway. Travel distances and approximate times are:
• Adelaide to Ceduna 777km or 8 hours’ drive
• Eucla to Ceduna 493km or 5 hours’ drive
If you prefer to travel by air, the Far West Coast is also accessible by plane. The nearest regional airports are in the major towns on the Eyre Peninsula, including Whyalla, Port Lincoln and Ceduna. They all have daily connections to Adelaide, with a flight from Adelaide to Ceduna taking around 60-90 minutes.
When is the best time of year to visit the Far West Coast?
The weather is favourable on the Far West Coast for most of the year but there are certain benefits of travelling in different seasons depending on what you want to experience.
If you want to explore the beaches, summers are hot and the perfect time to enjoy the white sand along the coast. On the other hand, winters are ideal for animal lovers, as this is the only time to see the Southern Right Whales who can be found off the coast in the cooler months.
If you’re looking for the most ideal weather, Autumn and Spring have much more temperate days. It’s also generally less busy at these times, so you can enjoy the beaches without the summer holiday crowd. However, no matter the time of year you decide to visit the Far West Coast, you’re still bound to enjoy yourself with plenty of things to see and do.
How to explore the Far West Coast?
The Far West Coast can be explored a number of different ways, although it’s usually explored by car. The road trip across the Nullarbor Plain and along the Eyre Highway is considered one of the best experiences in South Australia and is the main way people travel in the region. Whether you’re coming from the west or heading that way, you can take your time and explore many of the highlights of the Nullarbor as you drive across.
Another popular option for travellers is to base yourself in one of the main towns on the coast and explore some of the attractions from there. The main towns include Ceduna, Penong, Fowlers Bay, Denial Bay and Smoky Bay, from where you can take day trips to the Eyre Peninsula or the Nullarbor and a range of surfing and fishing spots.
However, the Far West Coast can also be explored by the water too. From fishing charters to whale watching tours, there are plenty of tour operators who can organise water-based adventures on your trip to the Far West Coast. The main towns such as Ceduna, are the most popular places to organise these day trips from.
What is the Far West Coast known for?
The Far West Coast and the Nullarbor Plain are often considered synonymous together. The coastal region is where the semi-arid limestone plain meets with the Southern Ocean, creating the spectacular sea cliffs that characterise the coast.
The unique landscape also has some exceptional wildlife, some of which are endangered species, such as the Southern Right Whale which only come to the warm waters in winter. It’s often these special encounters with the wildlife that draws so many people to this remote coast.
Aside from tourism, the coastal area is also known for its salt mines, agriculture, fishing and aquaculture, which make up a huge part of the region’s economy. In particular, the coast is known for its seafood, with some of the country’s highest quality fish such as tuna, salmon, snapper, King George Whiting, squid, oysters and tommy ruff coming from the waters there. It’s no surprise then that many travellers also come to the region for fishing.
Life on the Far West Coast
Many of the towns on the Far West Coast are incredibly small. However, the people who live there are very community-minded with most locals tending to holiday close to home, rather than somewhere further away.
The local people of the Far West Coast are also passionate about their home region, particularly when it comes to protecting the environment and maintaining its pristine nature. After all, they are the same people who have deterred the big oil companies from drilling for oil off the coast for many years.
However, the small outback and coastal communities in this part of South Australia are also slowly shrinking. Towns and businesses in the area are in decline, with most places having no operating businesses outside of the bare essentials and services for tourists.
History of the Far West Coast
The area around the Far West Coast and the Nullarbor was inhabited by Aboriginal people for around 40, 000 years. Some of the towns in the area such as Yalata still have significant Aboriginal communities who have remained for many generations.
The coastline was first explored by Europeans in 1672 when the Dutch navigator, Francois Thijssen, sailed nearby. However, it wasn’t until 1802 when Matthews Flinders chartered the entire shoreline of the Great Australian Bight on his circumnavigation of the continent. The Nullarbor Plain was explored a few decades later by Edward John Eyre who was the first European to cross the arid plain with his Aboriginal companion, Wylie.
Some of the remote towns out on the plain have also been known for their role in historical events. For example, the town of Ceduna became the site of a major satellite overseas telecommunications facility which was built in 1969. At its peak, almost half of Australia’s international telecommunication traffic passed through Ceduna’s earth station.
The Eyre Highway, which is the coast’s major link to Adelaide, was constructed from 1941 onwards. The rough track was the only east to west connection across the Nullarbor and wasn’t completed until 1976. It’s since become a major sealed road used by trucks and travellers alike, with the road trip along the highway being considered one of the must-do drives in Australia.
Things to see and do on the Far West Coast
For visitors to the Far West Coast, there are plenty of things to see and do. While the unique landscape and wildlife are the main highlights, you can find something to explore for everyone.
The Nullarbor is the flat, semi-arid limestone bedrock that stretches for 200, 000 square kilometres across South Australia to the Western Australia border. The Far West Coast encompasses the coastline where the Nullarbor meets the Great Australian Bight, and they share an incredibly secluded and pristine natural environment.
It’s one of the most unique landscapes to see in the whole country with the treeless plain being most commonly explored by driving along the Eyre Highway. A road trip across the plain, enables travellers to stop on the way and enjoy some of the sights and towns of the Far West Coast. While you can technically cross the Nullarbor in a day or two, it’s best to take a few days or even longer to really enjoy the region.
The plain is dotted with roadhouses, which act as accommodation, pubs, petrol stations and food shops all at once. They are often the main form of settlements found along the Eyre Highway as you head further west and an essential service for the Far West Coast.
The Bunda Cliffs are one of the defining features of the Far West Coast. They are the longest uninterrupted sea cliffs in the world and are where the Nullarbor Plain dramatically meets the Southern Ocean. The limestone cliffs reach up to 100 metres high and run for nearly 100km along the Great Australian Bight.
There are a few viewpoints off the Eyre Highway from where you can stop to enjoy the incredible sight. It certainly feels as though you’re standing at the edge of the world, looking towards the great expanse of the ocean.
Head of Bight
Another highlight of the coast is the Head of Bight. It’s the northernmost extent of the Great Australian Bight, right in the middle of the Nullarbor Plain. It’s quite a remote place to reach but the detour off the Eyre Highway is worth it. The viewing platform there is one of the most spectacular coastal views you can see in all of South Australia.
You can see the Bunda Cliffs stretching into the distance and even spot some whales in the water if you visit from May until October. It’s known as one of the best land-based whale watching spots in the country.
The Old Telegraph Station near Eucla
In the small town of Eucla, on the very western edge of the Nullarbor, an old Telegraph Station was once a vital communication link between Western and South Australia. It was originally built in 1877 but is now almost completely swallowed up by sand dunes.
If you want to learn more about it, there is a small museum at the roadhouse in Eucla that provides more information.
Surfing is a popular pastime on the Far West Coast. The coast draws surfers of all abilities and experiences to some of the well-known spots.
The most famous of these breaks is Cactus Beach at Point Sinclair. It’s a world-class surf beach that has two left-hand breaks and a right-hand break, which together makes it one of the most sought-after surfing destinations in the country.
If you’re more of a novice surfer, then you might want to head further along to Fowlers Bay or Venus Bay, which are much more gentle.
With the abundant waters off the coast, it’s no surprise that fishing is one of the top activities in the region. The Far West Coast is considered one of the premier seafood frontiers in the country with Mulloway, King George Whiting, Tommy Ruff, Garfish, amongst other species, in abundance.
There’s a number of different ways go fishing off the coast, from boating, jetty fishing to rock and beach fishing. Ceduna, Denial Bay, Fowlers Bay and Smoky Bay are particularly popular places for fishing, but you can just about throw a line in anywhere.
You can enjoy a fishing charter from one of these towns if you want to head to deeper water. They’re an extremely popular excursion on the Far West Coast, providing a good opportunity for a catch.
Visit a working aquaculture farm
The Far West Coast is also known for its many aquaculture establishments. Smoky Bay and Streaky Bay, in particular, are both popular places where working farms can be visited on a tour.
One of the best spots is SA Premium Oysters in Smoky Bay, where you can have an incredible experience learning about the oyster farming industry and tasting some of the freshest oysters you’ll ever have.
The Great Australian Bight is an important haven for the Southern Right Whales who come to the warm waters from Antarctica every winter to mate. This makes the Far West Coast a great place to go whale watching in winter with both land-based viewpoints and boat tours available. Ceduna, Fowlers Bay and Baird Bay are the most popular towns for whale watching tours to depart.
Penong Windmill Museum
The windmill museum at Penong has become one of the top tourist attractions on the Far West Coast and is a must-stop on the Eyre Highway. The outdoor display shows 20 restored windmills and explains the evolution of outback agriculture in the area.
Ceduna is the largest town on the Far West Coast of South Australia and a gateway to the Nullarbor and Eyre Peninsula. The coastal settlement is the main pitstop for travellers who come to explore the surrounding region, with nearly a quarter of a million vehicles passing through on the Eyre Highway each year.
The town is often referred to as the Oyster Capital of Australia with fantastic seafood and a booming foodie scene. There are plenty of things to do in town, otherwise many of the best fishing and surfing spots on the Far West Coast are just a short drive away.
Ceduna also has all the essential amenities and accommodation options, making it a popular base for travellers.
On the Far West Coast, you can find the longest golf course in the world. The Nullarbor Link Course spans 1365km and is an 18-hole par 72 course that begins in Ceduna and has one hole for each roadhouse along the Eyre Highway.
For a completely unique experience of the region, a few days completing the course is perfect for all golfing enthusiasts.
The stunning Eyre Peninsula is the triangular-shaped coastal area in the middle of South Australia’s coastline. It marks the eastern edge of the Nullarbor Plain and the Far West Coast region and is the more easily accessible part of the region.
The peninsula is known for its beautiful beaches, delicious seafood and unique wildlife encounters, with a number of major towns catering for travellers. On the western edge of the peninsula, you can find Ceduna, towards the southern tip, Port Lincoln is the main town, and Whyalla marks the eastern edge near Port Augusta.
While you’re crossing The Nullarbor Plain
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