The small city of Port Augusta is an important road junction in South Australia. Many travellers find themselves passing through Port Augusta on their way to other parts of the state. The journey from Ceduna to Port Augusta takes you from the Great Australian Bight coast, across the top of the Eyre Peninsula to the bustling hub of Port Augusta. This road trip is 470km on the Eyre Highway and is often just a section of a longer road trip that encompasses the Nullarbor Plain, Eyre Peninsula and often, the stretch from Ceduna to Adelaide.
Although you can easily cover this distance in a day, there are also plenty of things to see and do along the way. This article will cover all the towns that are worth checking out on your journey from Ceduna to Port Augusta to give you a good idea of what there is to see on this great road trip.
Best time to travel from Ceduna to Port Augusta
This part of South Australia has a great climate all-year-round, and you can enjoy a trip to Port Augusta at any time. However, summers can get pretty warm with an average temperature in the mid-30s. This might be great for the beaches around Ceduna, but it can get a little uncomfortable after long days of driving to Port Augusta.
Winters can be relatively mild with an average temperature in the low 20s. However, it does rain more often in winter than other seasons, so you may not enjoy the driving and stops along the way as much. In general, the best time of year to travel from Ceduna to Port Augusta is in the shoulder seasons of spring and autumn. This is when temperatures are most moderate, and rainfall is more limited and predictable.
How to get from Ceduna to Port Augusta
Port Augusta is a major road and railway junction in South Australia, so it’s easily reached from a number of places.
The drive from Ceduna to Port Augusta is 470km on the Eyre Highway, which is part of the National Highway A1. It can be driven in around five hours if you drive direct without stopping. However, the landscape and small towns along the way are best enjoyed at a much slower pace. No matter how much time you have, you can stop to take in a number of sights and activities to break up your trip. There are also plenty of places to stay the night if you have the time, this way you can enjoy the local hospitality in the rural towns on the way.
If you have plenty of time and want to take the longer, alternative route, you can also detour off the Eyre Highway from Ceduna and travel around the Eyre Peninsula before heading to Port Augusta. This option would require a few days at least to take in seaside towns including Smoky Bay, Elliston, Venus Bay, Port Lincoln and Whyalla.
If you don’t have your own vehicle and prefer to take public transport, there is also a weekly Stateliner bus which travels from Ceduna to Port Augusta, on its way to Adelaide. The journey time on the bus is around six and a half hours and it stops in a few towns on the highway, including Smoky Bay, Streaky Bay, Poochera, Wudinna, Kimba and Iron Knob.
Things to know about travelling from Ceduna to Port Augusta
If you’re planning a trip from Ceduna to Port Augusta, here are some important things to know before you go.
The Eyre Highway
The main way people travel from Ceduna to Port Augusta is by car on the Eyre Highway. This main road is part of the National Highway A1 network and is the direct route which connects the two places. The Eyre Highway is considered one of the greatest road trips in Australia, as it links South Australia with Western Australia across the Nullarbor Plain.
The Eyre Highway begins in Norseman in Western Australia and runs across the semi-arid landscape through Ceduna to Port Augusta. It’s just one of the major highways that connects Port Augusta with other destinations. This particular section of the highway runs across the top of the Eyre Peninsula through a rural part of the state that runs south of the Gawler Ranges National Park.
The highway was named after Edward John Eyre, who was the first European to cross the Nullarbor Plain in 1841 with his Aboriginal companion, Wylie. The highway was officially constructed from 1941 onwards but wasn’t fully sealed and completed until 1976. Today, the road is used by hundreds of thousands of vehicles every year. For many Australians, it’s a once in a lifetime road trip.
The Eyre Highway is a well-maintained, sealed road all the way from Port Augusta across to Western Australia. However, there are still some safety tips you should consider while planning your trip. You should certainly avoid driving at night from Ceduna to Port Augusta. The more rural areas between major towns are particularly prone to animal crossings and this can be dangerous for both you and the animals of the area.
You should also carry drinking water, a basic first-aid kit, jumper leads and car repair kit so that if anything is to happen along the way you are well equipped. It’s also advised to purchase roadside assistance so that you can get help anywhere along the way.
It’s important to remember to take breaks while you’re driving. The 470km drive can feel long so it’s a good idea to plan at least a couple of stops along the way to stretch your legs. There are plenty of towns and roadside stops that are perfect places to have a break. This also means that you can appreciate the landscape and enjoy some of the rural towns in South Australia.
Popular towns and activities to do on the way
There are plenty of towns dotting the Eyre Highway between Ceduna and Port Augusta. These make great stops to rest on the long journey. Many of them also have notable attractions, photo ops and activities so you can make your journey stretch a little longer. Whether you’re limited on time or willing to stop and take in the sights, there’s plenty to see. From Ceduna to Port Augusta, here are the best towns and things to see on the way:
Ceduna is a major town on the northwest corner of the Eyre Peninsula. It’s also the last major town on the Eyre Highway heading west to Western Australia, or the first major town when coming from the west into South Australia. Ceduna is particularly known as being the Oyster Capital of Australia, with some of the freshest seafood in the country found in the waters around the town. Many people visit just to taste the oysters, but it’s also possible to tour a working oyster farm in nearby Smoky Bay, which is a real highlight of the area.
Ceduna is also a convenient place to base yourself for exploring more of the Far West Coast and the Great Australian Bight. It’s in a very unique spot within close proximity to both the Nullarbor Plain and the Eyre Peninsula. This means that you can enjoy surfing, fishing, 4×4 driving, swimming and walking all in and around Ceduna town.
There are a variety of accommodation options in Ceduna to suit all different types of travellers. From caravan parks to hotels, you can find something to suit your budget. You can also find all sorts of shops in town to pick up the supplies you’ll need for your road trip.
From Ceduna, the Eyre Highway heads directly to Port Augusta across the top of the Eyre Peninsula. If you have more time you can detour onto the peninsula to explore some of the beautiful white-sand beaches. Otherwise, as you head east to Port Augusta, there are other towns to stop and explore on the way, which are detailed below.
The first town you’ll come across as you head east from Ceduna is Wirrulla. This unique town has a jetty, despite being quite a distance from the coast. This dry jetty is the tee-off for the Wirrulla Golf Course. However, it was also the stage for showcasing the locals’ great sense of humour. Several years ago, a dead whale washed up onshore and was transported via the Eyre Highway passed Wirrulla by truck. The local radio station was called to inform the locals that there had been a whale sighting at the Wirrulla jetty! You’ll also find a caravan park and pub in town if you need somewhere to stay.
Poochera is a small town on the Eyre Highway and is considered the western gateway to the Gawler Ranges National Park. The town also has a caravan park, pub and public picnic area if you need a break.
For something a little quirky, a visit to the small museum is worth a stop. The rare dinosaur ants were discovered in Poochera in 1977, after being considered extinct and the museum has some interesting displays on the critters. The town also has a photo op at the now-closed roadhouse on the highway. You’ll find a big dinosaur ant statue there, to match the towns rare colonies.
The small town of Minnipa, just further down the Eyre Highway from Poochera is a delightful place to stop. The town is blessed with some incredible natural scenery and rock formations due to its proximity to the rugged Gawler Ranges National Park. It’s home to huge granite outcrops and an abundance of wildlife. You can easily explore these rocks from the town, with a caravan park and motel and general store for supplies available.
The most popular spot to see in Minnipa is Pildappa Rock, 15km north of town. This unique pink inselberg is shaped like a wave and was formed about 1500 million years ago as part of the much larger Gawler Craton. Geologists believe that the waveform was produced by water run-off that seeps into the soil and eats away at the rock face. The erosion at the top of the rock also forms small rock holes which were used by Aboriginals to catch and collect water from the rains.
This town is a popular place to stop as it’s almost at the halfway point on the journey from Ceduna to Port Augusta. It has plenty of amenities including accommodation, a fuel station, supermarket and pub. It also has a couple of major attractions that are worth checking out.
Right on the Eyre Highway you can’t miss the Australian Farmer statue. This huge farmer is carved out of local granite rock and is right next to the local information centre. It’s meant to symbolise the farming spirit in the region and is a great photo op.
However, the town’s most popular attraction is Mount Wudinna, which is one of the largest granite monoliths in the southern hemisphere. It’s located just 10km from town and has plenty of parking and picnic areas around it. You can also climb to the top for an incredible view of the surrounding area.
Gawler Ranges National Park
Just 38km north of Wudinna you can find the southern border of the Gawler Ranges National Park. This spectacular rocky wilderness area is characterised by its stunning red outback landscape. It also harbours some rare flora and fauna, including the Crimson Mallee and the Yellow-footed Rock-wallaby, along with native animals like emus and kangaroos. It was a sacred place for the region’s Aboriginal people and is a great introduction into the incredible outback landscape of South Australia.
If you have the time in your itinerary, it’s worth spending some time in the national park. It’s best explored by 4WD but can also be driven by 2WD or conventional vehicles in the dry season. Bushwalking and camping are popular activities in the park, where you can witness some of the most vivid night skies you could ever imagine.
Kimba is a rural service town on the Eyre Highway just east of the Gawler Ranges. It’s 154km away from Port Augusta and has a couple of accommodation and dining options in town. It’s famous for being the town that is halfway across Australia in terms of distance.
Kimba also has a few great photo ops for a quick stop. The first one is the Big Galah on the right side of the highway. Just a little further you’ll also find the Halfway Across Australia sign which is a must-stop. This sign is actually facing traffic coming from Port Augusta, so if you’re coming from Ceduna, you’ll have to look out for it just past the giant bird.
In between the two, you’ll also find the incredibly stunning silo art. The silos were painted by Cam Scale in 2017 and depict a girl amidst wheat fields at sunset. You definitely need to stop to appreciate this beautiful artwork.
This small town on the Eyre Highway, just 73km west of Port Augusta, is considered the birthplace of Australia’s steel industry. It was here that the first iron ore deposit was discovered in 1894. It’s an interesting place to stop and discover more about the history of mining. You can tour the local Mining Museum at the tourist centre in town or check out the huge Iron Monarch Mine on the right as you drive along the highway before town. There is also a caravan and camping area and pub in town for weary travellers.
Port Augusta is a small city in South Australia, just 322km north of Adelaide. It’s located at the tip of Spencer Gulf and at a number of important road junctions. You can practically get to anywhere from Port Augusta by road, with the Eyre Highway, Augusta Highway, Stuart Highway and Flinders Ranges Way all meeting in the city. It’s an ideal place to visit or stop en route to another destination. You’ll find plenty of accommodation, supermarkets, fuel stations and restaurants to cater for all your needs in Port Augusta.
Things to do in Port Augusta
Although some travellers simply pass through on their way to somewhere else, there’s plenty of things to do in Port Augusta to keep you busy for days.
Wadlata Outback Centre
This information centre is a great place to get an introduction to Australia’s vast outback and is considered the city’s must-visit stop. This information centre provides extensive information to travellers planning a trip into remote, outback Australia. It takes you through the history, as well as provides important practical information on safety and things to see on your trip.
Royal Flying Doctor Service
For another insight into rural South Australia, you can also tour the Royal Flying Doctor Service base in Port Augusta. There are tours of the base open to the public which takes you through how the doctor service works and the communication room which takes all the emergency calls from across the 840, 000 square kilometre area that they cover.
Matthew Flinders lookout and Red Cliff walk
If you want to stretch your legs and enjoy some incredible views, then this lookout and circuit is a good choice. The Matthew Flinders Lookout is just a short walk from the carpark and takes in a staggering view of the Spencer Gulf against the backdrop of the Flinders Ranges. If you’re after a longer walk, you can also enjoy the 4.5km red cliff circuit walk from the Arid Lands Botanic Gardens to the Matthew Flinders lookout which takes in even more scenery along the way.