If you’re hoping to catch a glimpse of the Southern Right Whales off the coast of the Great Australian Bight, you can head to the Head of Bight Whale Watching Centre on a long but rewarding day trip from Ceduna, or Penong. The drive is around 2.5 hours covering the 212 km from Penong to the Head of Bight, but there’s plenty to stop and see on the way.
You’ll need to leave early and be prepared for plenty of driving, but a self-drive tour from Penong to the Head of Bight west along the Eyre Highway is worth the effort and will shorten your return-trip travel day by a couple of hours when launching from Penong instead of Ceduna accommodation, depending on what will work best for you. Wherever you’re starting from, here are some of the best things to see on the way that you can customise to suit your own itinerary, depending on how much time you have.
NOTE: This itinerary is designed to be used along with our map of Ceduna where you can view all locations and roads and informational cards and videos to assist and enhance your adventure.
Itinerary for Ceduna to Head of Bight self-drive tour
Stop 1: Penong Windmill Museum
Before you leave Penong, it’s worth stopping at the Penong Windmill Museum. Located right in the middle of town, this open-air museum is one of the most popular attractions on the Far West Coast. The museum showcases 20 restored windmills from around the country demonstrating the importance of these inventions for the agricultural industry in the area.
It’s also home to the largest windmill in Australia named Bruce. It attracts travellers from all around the country, making it one of the most popular attractions for the whole family to enjoy in Penong.
Stop 2: Lake MacDonnell
Another spot that has recently emerged as one of the most popular attractions around Penong is Lake MacDonnell. You can turn left down Point Sinclair Road at the western end of town, and you’ll come across this spectacular pink lake. The former salt mine on the largest gypsum deposit in Australia attracts hundreds of travellers and photographers who come to take photos of the fluorescent pink lake which is created by the unique algae and bacteria in the water.
However, the lake is at its brightest when it’s dry, so try to avoid times of recent rainfall if you’re hoping to see the pink colour. You should also be aware of other vehicles when stopping to take photos, as it is along a public road that leads to Point Sinclair.
In these remote areas along the Nullarbor, you can feel like the only people on earth – until a car comes hurtling towards you from out of nowhere. This road leads to the world-famous Cactus Beach so don’t get caught in a position where you cannot get off the road instantly.
Stop 3: Big Wombat at Scotdesco
Once you’re ready to leave Penong, try to make time to stop at the Scotdesco Aboriginal Community just 30 km west of town. The 25, 000 acre property and community is open to the public and offers accommodation, conference facilities, cultural experiences and a photo op of the Big Wombat. The Big Wombat was built by local artists and has become a popular tourist stop on the drive heading across the Nullarbor.
Stop 4: The Dingo Fence
The Dingo Fence is a famous long barrier that is also referred to as the Dog Fence. It runs for an incredible 5600 km and was built as a pest management device during the 1880s to keep the dingoes away from the southeast of the country. It’s not only the longest fence in the world but also one of the longest manmade structures in the world and is something that many Australians want to see with their own eyes at least once in their lifetime.
The fence runs from the Darling Downs in Queensland and finishes at the edge of the Great Australian Bight. You can see the fence 45 km from Nundroo and 5.5 km from the road going into Yalata along the Eyre Highway. Alternately it’s 98.9 km from the Nullarbor Roadhouse heading toward Ceduna, or 197 km from Ceduna and 124 km from Penong.
You won’t miss it!
The fence in broken by the Eyre Highway and replaced with a stock grate that is embedded into the highway as a deterrent to animals looking to cross the highway to avoid the fence – when you go over this you’re there! If you stop to get a photo please remember you’re on a remote highway and stay safe. If you take a look around you’ll notice it’s a bit of a graveyard for lost hubcaps and other loose vehicle debris, so please take care!
Stop 5: Bunda Cliffs
A defining feature of the Nullarbor Plain and Great Australian Bight, the Bunda Cliffs are the longest continuous stretch of sea cliffs in the world. The cliffs stretch for 100 kilometres along the coast and can be up to 90 metres high.
There are five lookouts along the dramatic cliff edge off the highway where you can enjoy the view and take some photos. You will see signposts for each of the lookouts, although if you’re heading to the Head of Bight, you’ll be able to see the cliffs stretching into the distance from there as well.
Stop 6: Head of Bight Whale Watching Centre
After a few hours of travelling west of Penong, you’ll reach the Head of Bight Whale Watching Centre. It’s just 12 km off the Eyre Highway on a well-maintained road to the interpretive centre and boardwalk viewing platforms.
The Head of Bight is the northernmost extent of the Great Australian Bight offering an elevated spot to see the ocean and coastline. The whale watching centre and picnic area has toilets, parking, a covered picnic area, two viewing platforms and informational boards giving you information about the Southern Right Whales and other marine life.
It’s known as the best land-based whale watching spot in the country. From May until October each year, Southern Right Whales make their way up to the warmer waters of the Bight to breed. At the height of the season, you can spot up to 100 whales and their calves at any one time from the east and west viewing platforms at the Head of Bight. The boardwalk is accessible for everyone, including wheelchairs with a slight sloping ramp.
Even if it’s not whale season, it’s still a great spot to enjoy the dramatic views of the Bunda Cliffs and active sand dunes along the coast. You can take a break from the drive and enjoy the picnic area, before jumping back in the car for the long journey back to your accommodation.
Return to Ceduna
You can return back to Ceduna (or Penong) the same way. The 212 km journey to Penong should take around 2.5 hours, although you can always stop somewhere else on the way to have a break, and Ceduna a further 73 km or 50 minutes travel.