While you’re driving across the Eyre Highway from South Australia to Western Australia, there are some quarantine restrictions that you need to consider. Each state has their own border-protection network at road entry points, and this means that there are some things you need to know about what you can and cannot carry with you across state borders.
Both Western Australia and South Australia have relatively strict controls and rules particularly regarding fruit, vegetables and plant products in order to keep the agricultural industry safe from pests. If you’re wondering about the quarantine restrictions and stations while driving across the Nullarbor, then this will outline what you need to know.
Why are there quarantine restrictions?
Both South Australia and Western Australia have strict restrictions about products that can and cannot cross state borders. This is intended to keep unwanted pests and diseases out of the state, with the fruit fly being one of the most notorious.
Fruit fly is one of the most destructive pests in Australia and is known to destroy commercial crops and gardens quickly when infested. South Australia is considered the only mainland state that is fruit fly free with some areas designated as pest-free areas. South Australia is also free of phylloxera, which is a tiny insect that destroys grapevines.
By making sure that you don’t bring across any unwanted pests in fruit, vegetables, plant products or soil, you can help protect the state’s agricultural industry. As you will discover as you drive across the state, agriculture contributes a large amount to the economy and employment and it’s important to keep this safe from potentially harmful pests.
As travellers, you can help maintain this pest-free status by knowing what the rules are before travelling across state borders and disposing (or eating!) fruit and vegetables that are restricted, as well as cleaning your vehicle or footwear if you’ve spent time in vineyards.
What kind of restrictions are there?
There are some fruit, vegetables and plant products that are illegal to carry across borders. These are items that are strictly prohibited because of their risk of carrying pests and diseases. On the other hand, there are items that are perfectly fine to have with you or in your vehicle and/or caravan while driving across state borders.
However, you will find that there are some items and products that have an ambiguous status. These are products that either need a permit or you may need to ask whether they are permitted. A perfect example is honey, some honey and pollen products are permitted in South Australia, while others may not be depending on their origin, packaging and type. You can either ask at quarantine stations or call through to the customs department to ask for advice.
If you’re on a long trip over multiple states, you may need to consider products and items that have transited through different states on your trip. For example, if you have previously been travelling in Victoria or the Northern Territory before South Australia and have plans to cross into Western Australia, this may impact what things are considered safe. There is more detailed information about products and items on the Interstate Quarantine website and whether they are permitted across different state borders.
You may also find that even within South Australia, there are various restrictions. For example, the Riverland of South Australia, as well as, Kangaroo Island have separate quarantine restrictions that exist for these regions. You will find signage about these restrictions while travelling around or you can find information online.
Where are the quarantine stations?
Quarantine roadblocks are situated at the Western Australia/South Australia Border Village at Eucla for travellers heading to the west, there is also a quarantine station at Ceduna, for travellers coming from the west and after crossing the Nullarbor Plain. They are both conveniently placed so that travellers can do the right thing and dispose of risky products or items that they may have on board.
You are required to stop and declare any fruit, vegetables or plant material at quarantine stations and roadblocks, if required. If manned by officials, they have the power to search your vehicle at the stations and issue you with a fine if you’re carrying illegal products. You may also find mobile quarantine roadblocks on some country roads away from the main highways.
You will find fruit disposal bins at these stations on the highway, where you can throw away any illegal or high-risk products before continuing your journey. These are available at all times, even if the roadblock or station is unmanned. If you’re in doubt, it’s best to either eat it or bin it before you cross over the border.
What type of things pose a risk?
Pests and diseases can spread easily across Australia in a number of different products and equipment. You need to consider the following things that can pose a risk:
Fruit and vegetables
Agricultural equipment or machinery
However, entry requirements and quarantine restrictions may change depending on the risk and recent outbreaks of pests or disease. You need to either look up the most current information or call the government hotline before crossing to make sure of any changes and confirm restrictions.
What you can and cannot take across the border
While fresh fruit and vegetables are the main risk that travellers need to be aware of, there are also a number of other things that you may need to consider. Depending on whether you’re crossing to or from South Australia across the Nullarbor, there are some slightly different restrictions for both states.
South Australia restrictions
If you’re entering South Australia from Western Australia across the Eyre Highway, here’s a common list of things that you need to know about restrictions:
• Most fresh fruit and vegetables are not permitted, except for mushrooms, pineapple, sweet potato, some green vegetables like spinach, beans and peas, beetroot, turnips, carrot and parsnips as long as soil and tops are removed, and they are clean.
• Processed, dried, preserved, cooked, frozen or canned fruit and vegetables are permitted.
• Dried fruit and vegetables are permitted if commercially packaged, instead of home dried varieties.
• Camping and dehydrated foods are permitted.
• Dairy products are allowed.
• Fresh or canned fish is allowed.
• Honey, honeycomb, beeswax and pollen is subject to strict controls, but may be permitted under some circumstances. You may need to call or ask authorities before bringing it across.
• Edible or sprouting seeds are allowed, including corn kernels for popcorn.
• Processed wood and timber without bark is permitted.
• Firewood is permitted but must be free from bark and soil. It may be inspected at a quarantine station.
Western Australia restrictions
If you’re driving west of Ceduna on the Eyre Highway across to Western Australia, here’s a list of common things that you should know about restrictions:
• Most fresh fruit and vegetables are not allowed, except for beetroot, carrot, coconut, corn, ginger, mushrooms, parsnip, pineapple, sweet potato, taro, and packaged leafy green, which must be completely clean and free of soil.
• All cooked food and tinned food are allowed.
• Fresh or frozen meat and most seafood is allowed.
• Prawns, crayfish, lobster and crab must be cooked. Fresh or frozen are generally not permitted.
• Commercially prepared coleslaw or vegetable packs are allowed if unopened but must not contain tomato, capsicum, cucumber, avocado, zucchini, or potato.
• Hard frozen fruit and vegetable is allowed except for grapes, mango with seeds, unpeeled onion, unpeeled potatoes and guava.
• Dried fruit and vegetables are permitted if commercially packaged, but not home dried.
• Dehydrated cooked meals and camping packaged meals are permitted.
• All nuts are allowed except raw walnuts.
• Honey and other pollen products are generally not allowed unless certified on a Health Certificate.
• Edible seeds such as lentils, pumpkin seeds and soup mixes are permitted.
• Dried herbs and spices are allowed, except lemon myrtle and cloves.
• Processed wood and timber without bark is permitted.
• Firewood is permitted but must be free from bark and soil.
• Household garden equipment must be clean and free of soil.
There are no major restrictions on cats and dogs crossing borders for either state. However, it’s asked that owners brush and clean their pets to remove soil and seeds as much as possible before driving across for extra safety.
There are restrictions for birds, reptiles and fish which you may need to obtain permits or licenses for before travelling. It’s best to contact the authorities ahead of your trip to ensure you have the right paperwork or permission.
If you want to find out more information
• You can look at the Interstate Quarantine website online which has a detailed map and official information, for current restrictions.
• Look for the up-to-date biosecurity and quarantine zones for each state and territory online.
• If you’re in doubt, it’s best to bin it or eat it before crossing any state borders.
• You can always call the fruit fly hotline in South Australia on 1300 666 010, if want to clarify any products that you would like to bring over.
• You can also visit the visitor information centre in Ceduna if you have any questions about quarantine bins.