The journey from Perth to Adelaide is one of the greatest road trips in Australia. The long trip takes you from the fertile Adelaide hills in South Australia across the semi-arid Nullarbor Plain and spectacular Great Australian Bight all the way to Perth on the coast of Western Australia. It’s often considered a once in a lifetime adventure, including remote roads, iconic roadhouses and so many of Australia’s greatest sights.
However, being a journey of over 2500km, it requires a lot of planning and preparation. If you’re considering tackling the epic trip from Perth to Adelaide by road, this article will outline the best routes, including coastal options and the must-see places on the way.
Best time to travel from Perth to Adelaide
With the entire trip from Perth to Adelaide being in the southern half of Australia, the seasons across the trip remain relatively similar. Both the lower half of Western and Southern Australia, have very warm and dry summers, cool winters and a more moderate spring and autumn. This means that if you’re looking to enjoy the beaches, summer is definitely the most popular time to travel from Perth to Adelaide. However, the very warm days can make long drives uncomfortable.
On the other hand, winters are cooler but much quieter. You also get the chance to enjoy sightings of the migratory Southern Right Whales, which can only be found off the coast of the Great Australian Bight from May until September. If you’re looking for a combination of both nice weather and fewer crowds, then spring or autumn would be most ideal.
How to get from Perth to Adelaide
Both Perth and Adelaide are state capitals making them extremely easy to reach by both air and road. You’ll find an international and domestic airport in both cities. However, it’s the long journey by road that offers the most freedom and ability to see all the sights along the way between these two incredibly stunning states.
The distance from Perth to Adelaide is 2695km if you take the most direct route. However, there are plenty of alternative coastal routes and side trips which are worth adding onto your journey. While it’s possible to drive straight across in a few days, the long road trip really requires a couple of weeks or more to really get the most out of it. With more time, you can opt to take scenic routes around the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia and along the southwest coast of Western Australia.
Things to know about travelling from Perth to Adelaide
If you’re thinking about heading off on your trip from Perth to Adelaide by road, then there are some important things to know about the roads and safety before you leave.
The Eyre Highway is one of the main roads used for a large part of the journey between Perth and Adelaide. The highway is part of the National Highway A1 network and is the most direct route to get from Adelaide to Norseman, across the border in Western Australia. It travels for 1365km from Port Augusta to Norseman, passing through Ceduna and crossing the Nullarbor Plain. Originally built in 1941, the now-sealed road is considered one of the greatest road trips in Australia.
The road is one of the most remote highways in the country with roadhouses being some of the only sources of supplies along the way. Coming from Perth, you can jump on the Eyre Highway at Norseman after either coming from Kalgoorlie or Esperance.
Considering the long journey between Perth and Adelaide being quite remote at times there are some serious road safety tips to consider. The first tip is to avoid driving at night. Animals regularly cross the roads from dusk until dawn and this makes it very dangerous for both you and the wildlife. Secondly, it’s important to carry basic emergency supplies with you, including a first aid kit, jumper leads, car repair kits and spare tyres as well as purchase roadside assistance so you’ll be prepared to help yourself on these remote roads.
The long drive from Perth to Adelaide is also best broken up into shorter driving days. There are plenty of towns and roadhouses along the way where you can stop to rest and resupply for the following day. In fact, taking your time makes the trip even better as it allows you to enjoy some of the scenery and attractions between these two cities.
Popular towns and things to do on the way from Perth to Adelaide
If you’re planning your trip from Perth to Adelaide, then here are some of the must-see places and popular towns on the way.
Many people’s trips to Western Australia start in Perth. The capital city of Western Australia is a laidback urban centre with plenty of fun and interesting things to do. There’s plenty of beaches to explore, with Cottesloe being considered the most well-known, with great surf breaks and space to lay your towel down to relax in the sun. Kings Park is one of the biggest urban parks and a perfect place to stretch your legs. Otherwise, you can easily spend a day or two wandering between the various museums, restaurants and trendy suburbs like Fremantle.
From Perth, you have different road options to get down to the southern coast or straight across to Kalgoorlie and the outback region.
If you’re wanting to take the shorter route from Perth to Adelaide then you will miss many of the following amazing places but you may be able to squeeze in these places.
One of the attractions along the inland journey is the fascinating Wave Rock. This unique rock formation is located 350km north of Albany in a small farming town known as Hyden. The granite cliff has been shaped over millions of years into the form of a wave. It stands 15m high and stretches for 110m long. While a long way from many of the main towns on this route, it’s one of the most famous photo ops in the whole state.
Another option before heading off across the Nullarbor from Norseman, is to take a detour up to Kalgoorlie. Just 189km to the north, Kalgoorlie is referred to as the largest outback city in Australia. It’s famous for being a mining hub, with one of the world’s largest open cut mines located just outside of town, called the Super Pit. The gold mining there still extracts up to 900, 000 ounces each year. You can also admire much of the original colonial architecture found in the streets, dating back to the gold rush of the 1880s.
For those who are short on time, Kalgoorlie can also be reached directly from Perth on the Great Eastern Highway. The journey of 593km can be done in a day and enables you to skip the entire southwestern coastline to head straight for the outback.
From Kalgoorlie, you can skip forward and rejoin the article at Norseman.
If you’re wanting to take really experience the most scenic route from Perth to Adelaide then following the coast is definitely the way to go, and you can include the inland attractions also by making a couple of detours along the way.
If you decide to take the coastal route, then just 269km south of Perth on the Forrest Highway is Margaret River. This is one of Western Australia’s most popular destinations. The coastal town is the main base from which to explore the southwest corner of the state. There are so many things to do in and around the relaxed town that you can easily spend a few days exploring.
There are over 100 wineries in the Margaret River wine region to head for a tasting or dining experience. If you prefer to hit the beach, then you can explore the coastline which has some of the most consistent surf breaks you can find anywhere else in the world. On top of that, there are whales to spot in the winter, caves to explore in the nearby Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park and a long distance walking trail to tackle in the Cape to Cape.
After Margaret River, you can head along the southern coastline of Western Australia. Just 341km away to the southeast you’ll reach Albany, the main town at the southern tip of the state. The small town has a lot of history, being where the first European settlers set foot, so there are a few museums and some colonial architecture to admire in town. With an extra day or two, you can also explore the surrounding area, including stunning white sand beaches or to nearby national parks such as Torndirrup to see rugged rock formations along the coast.
While travelling from Albany to Esperance, you can make a detour inland at Ravensthorpe up to Wave Rock near Hyden before returning to Ravensthorpe and continuing on to Esperance, but this will add at about 2 hours of driving time each way.
Heading back to the coast, Esperance is 382km southeast of Wave Rock or 492km east of Albany. It’s one of the most popular tourist destinations on the coast of Western Australia and is the last beach stop before you hit the outback and Nullarbor Plain heading to Adelaide. The town has plenty to see and do, including watching kangaroos lounging on the sand at the beautiful Lucky Bay, catching surf breaks at West Beach or admiring fur seals and sea lions on the Recherche Archipelago islands.
Norseman is a small town in the Goldfields-Esperance Region, 726km east of Perth. It’s the official starting point of the Eyre Highway and it sees many travellers passing through on their way across the Nullarbor to Ceduna. You can find plenty of supplies and accommodation if you want to rest up before the long drive. Otherwise there’s some interesting history to discover at Phoenix Park or head out to Beacon Hill for a panoramic view over the town.
From here you can add a return trip up to see the Super Pit at Kalgoorlie and back to Norseman if that’s something you don’t want to miss.
Eucla is a tiny town on the Eyre Highway, just 10 minutes away from the South Australian border. The area around the settlement is part of the Eucla National Park which is characterised by sand dunes, beaches and the historic telegraph station. It’s a popular place for people to stop before they head across the Nullarbor Plain, as the next major town you come to isn’t until Ceduna on the Eyre Peninsula. You can find all the essentials like accommodation, fuel, food and basic supplies in town.
Once you head east of Eucla, you’ll be driving across the epic Nullarbor Plain. For many Australians, this is one of the top must-do experiences in their lifetime. The flat, semi-arid plain is the largest exposed limestone bedrock in the world stretching for 200, 000 square kilometres. It’s a remote and harsh landscape, with very few settlements but one of the most spectacular coastlines in the country. At the edge of the Nullarbor, you’ll find the dramatic meeting of the limestone bedrock with the Southern Ocean of the Great Australian Bight. The Bunda Cliffs here are the longest continuous sea cliffs in the world and are worth stopping off the Eyre Highway to view.
The Eyre Highway is the only sealed road that crosses the Nullarbor and is the best way to explore this landscape. The drive from Eucla to Ceduna covers 491km with only a couple of roadhouses to stop at along the way for supplies.
Once you cross the Nullarbor, you’ll finally reach Ceduna, the first major town in South Australia. It’s famous for being the Oyster Capital of Australia, so you’ll have to go in search of some delicious seafood when you arrive. The town is at a strategic location on the Far West Coast and is a great base from which to explore the Eyre Peninsula. The highway passes right through town and continues east of Ceduna to Port Augusta, this takes you inland and is your most direct route to Adelaide, or you can take the coastal route south from Ceduna to Port Lincoln and explore more of the Eyre Peninsula.
There are a variety of accommodation options, food shops, restaurants and services available in Ceduna, if you want to restock before continuing your journey from Ceduna to Adelaide.
Continuing your travel along the Eyre Highway is the most direct route for this next section of your trip, if you have time you can find many gems on this inland trek. Find more detail on this section in our Ceduna to Port Augusta article.
Gawler Ranges National Park
If you’re heading directly from Ceduna to Port Augusta along the Eyre Highway but have some time, a look through the Gawler Ranges is a must.
The Gawler Ranges National Park is a rocky wilderness area characterised by a stunning red outback landscape. It’s best explored either on foot on one of the many walking trails or on a guided 4WD tour. It was a sacred area for the region’s Aboriginal people and is a great place to stop on your way to Adelaide to discover more about the long history of the area. There are also campgrounds located in the park, if you want to stay overnight amid the rocky gorges for some incredible stargazing.
Port Augusta is one of the largest towns in South Australia and a major transport junction in the state. It’s located 322km north of Adelaide at the tip of the Spencer Gulf. You can basically travel to anywhere from Port Augusta with all the major highways meeting in town, including the Eyre Highway, Augusta Highway, Stuart Highway and Flinders Ranges Way. This makes it a great place to stop overnight on your way from Perth to Adelaide, with plenty of accommodation options to cater for all the passing traffic and visitors. It also has all the major supermarkets and services, if you need to pick anything up or get anything done before you continue.
If you’re looking for fresh Great Australian Bight seafood, marine life, laidback coastal living, sunsets, sunrises and have the time to soak it in, the Eyre Peninsula is definately the way forward for you from Ceduna. This will add an extra day of travel but zipping by will not provide the same experience as taking the time to stop, stay and participate in the many great spots along the way. Allow at least 5 days on the Eyre Peninsula if you can. Find more details on this section of your trip in our Ceduna to Port Lincoln article.
The Eyre Peninsula is the large triangular shaped peninsula off the coast of South Australia. Ceduna sits in its far northwest corner and is the perfect jumping off point for exploring more of this incredible peninsula. It’s known for its beautiful coastal landscapes, unique wildlife, and delicious seafood. It attracts a large number of visitors in summer, but there’s plenty of activities and things to see and do for everyone.
If you have the time, you can take the Flinders Highway south of Ceduna for a longer but scenic way to Port Augusta. This will take you past small coastal towns such as Smoky Bay, Venus Bay and Elliston to Coffin Bay National Park. From there, you can head to Port Lincoln and the Lincoln National Park, before driving up the Lincoln Highway to Whyalla and then onto Port Augusta. This costal route is perfect for those looking for a beach holiday or for any keen surfers, fishermen, or general lifestyle or seafood lovers.
While you can technically reach Adelaide within a day from Port Augusta, it’s worth breaking the journey up to explore the Adelaide hills. The Clare Valley is one of the oldest wine-producing areas in Australia, with its fertile lands known for world-class wines, as well as a range of local produce. The valley is north of Adelaide and an easy side trip from the highway between Port Augusta and the city. If you have extra time, it’s a nice place to drive through and stop for a picnic amongst the vines. There are also plenty of boutique B&Bs and campgrounds if you want to stop for the night in one of the small towns around the valley.
Adelaide is the capital of South Australia and often the beginning or end point of some long road trips. A trip to South Australia is never complete without some time spent in the capital city, which is right on the coast and within reach to some beautiful places. Adelaide is a laidback, charming city with a mixture of high-rise buildings, heritage listed structures and green park spaces. You can also explore stunning beaches within an hour of the city down at the Fleurieu Peninsula or enjoy some hiking in the national parks close to the centre such as Onkaparinga River.