Driving from Melbourne to Perth in 8 days – with a dog!

Posted by Joey C on

Firstly, I want to start this by saying that if you have the time, the means and the money, I absolutely recommend completing the drive from Melbourne to Perth at least once in your life (or the other way around).

I did this trip as my husband was required to relocate to Perth with his work, but we preferred not to fly the dog over.

Why is that? Well, our dog Reyka is a greyhound and she was quite sick in January this year. Due to the illness, I didn’t want to risk her health or cause her any further distress. So, what better way to transport her, than a 3,600km + road trip from one side of the country to the other!

Now, I understand the route we chose may not suit everyone, and there are many alternatives. No problem, take what you need from this and use it as you see fit. However, just know that this was what worked best for us based on the time available, having the dog, and to also do some sight-seeing along the way.

Please note, the information provided is from my experience and my own planning. If you see any mistakes, or you have any questions then please let me know. I’ve tried to keep this as simple as my mind allows, but I’m also happy to edit and provide further details if that’s what you want.

Now, let’s go on a road trip!




Map overview link: Melbourne to Joondalup


Day 1

Start point: South-eastern suburbs, VIC

Finish point: Gawler, SA

KMs travelled: roughly 787km, 9hrs plus stops

Map link: Melbourne to Gawler



The ‘Burbs to Melbourne Airport (had to drop the hubby off, he beat me to Perth funnily enough)

Melbourne Airport to Rockbank BP Truckstop – Breakfast stop

Rockbank Truckstop to Ararat

Ararat to Pink Lake, Dimboola

Pink Lake to Keith – Lunch stop at the local bakery

Keith to Murray Bridge

Murray Bridge to Gawler


Accom: Grace of Gawler Airbnb



Giant Koala, Dadswells Bridge, VIC (between Stawell and Horsham)

Silo Art, Kaniva, VIC

Sheep Art Trail, Kaniva, VIC

Silo Art, Coonalpyn, VIC

Pink Lake, Dimboola, VIC

Land rover on a pole, Keith, SA



Ararat: $58.13, 30.61L @ $1.89L

Keith: $52.65, 28.63L @ $1.83L

Gawler: $41.88, 24.08L @ $1.73L


Tips, tricks and things you could do differently:

  • Time is everything, and if you’ve got it by the bucket load, then I would 100% recommend going via the Great Ocean Road from Melbourne through to the SA border. I have spent a lot of time trekking along the coast and never ever tire of it.
  • We bypassed Kaniva and Coonalpyn as I was unaware of the silo art and sheep trail when researching. I would definitely stop next time.
  • The Pink Lake at Dimboola was very sadly not pink at the time of our visit.
  • If you’re not keeping an eye on maps, there is a chance you will blink and miss the crossover point of Vic to SA. Bordertown is actually already over the border, so if you’re big on the border crossings, you’ll need to mark it down.
  • Stop at Tailem Bend if travelling through to Adelaide, instead of Murray Bridge
    • Murray Bridge requires exiting the main road, whereas Tailem Bend is along it. For convenience it would be an easier stop and go.
    • If you’re heading towards the Barossa Valley or Gawler like we were, then I’d see no issue in stopping at Murray Bridge and cutting across.
  • You don’t need to skip Adelaide CBD like I did. I’ve spent a bit of time in Adelaide previously, so I was more than happy to bypass for time with friends.


Reyka enjoying the "Pink" Lake in Dimboola



Lunch time at the local bakery in Keith



Day 2

Start point: Gawler, SA

Finish point: Gawler, SA

KMs travelled: roughly 10km

Day 2 was a rest and recovery day for us.

With the long drive the day before and wanting to catch up with friends around Gawler, we opted for the two-night stay.


 Accom: Grace of Gawler Airbnb



Exploring the town of Gawler in between thunderstorms


Day 3

Start point: Gawler, SA

Finish point: Kimba, SA

KMs travelled: roughly 495km, 5hrs 40min plus stops

Map link: Gawler to Kimba



Gawler to Bute Silo Art

Bute Silo Art to Wirrabara Silo Art

Lunch @ Julia’s Kitchen: The Old Bakery Wirrabara

Wirrabara to Port Augusta Water Tower Lookout

Port Augusta to Kimba

Kimba Silo Art, Big Galah and hallway across Australia sign


Accom: Chrissie’s Dongara



Silo Art, Bute, SA

Giant Cockroach (Dublin Sculptures), Lower Light, SA

Big Galah, Kimba, SA

Halfway Across Australia Signage, Kimba, SA

Silo Art, Kimba, SA



Port Augusta: $55.86, 30.05L @ $1.85L

Kimba: $36.38, 18.86L @ $1.92L


Tips, tricks and things you could do differently:

  • We didn’t stop; however, we spotted a Pink Lake south of Port Wakefield along the Princes Highway which might be worth a pit stop in the right conditions. Please don’t trespass and please follow CASA rules if using a drone though.
  • The Old Bakery in Wirrabara has toilets within it, so no need to hunt for the public toilets.
  • The IGA in Kimba closed at 6pm, so make that one of your first stops if you’re looking to save on food costs. Alternatively, the Roadhouse is open and there is also a Pub.



Bute Sile Art



Made it halfway across Australia!


Day 4

Start point: Kimba, SA

Finish point: Nullarbor Roadhouse, SA (pet-friendly rooms with fee)

KMs travelled: roughly 672km, 7hrs 30min plus stops

Map link: Kimba to Nullarbor Roadhouse



Kimba to Tcharkuldu Hill, Minnipa

Tcharkuldu Hill to Dinosaur Ant, Poochera

Dinosaur Ant to Ceduna – take away lunch from town and ate at Ceduna Swimming Beach

Ceduna to Lake Macdonnell, Penong

Lake Macdonnell to Scotdesco Aboriginal Community and the Big Wombat

Scotdesco Big Wombat to Nundroo Hotel Motel

Nundroo to Head of the Bight Lookout

Head of the Bight to Nullarbor Roadhouse

The Big Whale @ Nullarbor Roadhouse


Accom: Nullarbor Roadhouse



Australian Farmer Granite Sculpture, Wudinna, SA

Tcharkuldu Rock Recreation Reserve, Minnipa, SA

Dinosaur Ant, Poochera, SA

Big Oyster, Ceduna, SA

The Big Wombat, Scotdesco Aboriginal Community, SA

Head of the Bight Lookout, Yalata, SA

Big Whale, Nullarbor Roadhouse, SA



Ceduna: $58.53, 31.15L @ $1.87L

Nundroo: $34.13, 18.36L @ $1.85L

Nullarbor: $42.01, 15.56L @ $2.70L


Tips, tricks and things you could do differently:

  • Tcharkuldu Hill is a super cool place. Stretch your legs, find the goat track and walk to the top where the marker is.
  • The Dinosaur Ant in Poochera has toilets next to it, which are maintained by the locals. We learned that the town population in Poochera also recently increased from 30 to 40 people.
  • Ceduna is home to the Quarantine checkpoint if you’re travelling from Perth to Melbourne.
  • The Big Oyster in Ceduna was under renovation as we travelled through so it is not currently in place. I am unsure when it will return.
  • We visited Lake Macdonnell. It’s a famous pink lake where you can drive through the middle with magical contrast of colours between the pink and others. Unfortunately, the lake was not pink when we were there.
  • The Scotdesco Aboriginal Community and thus the Big Wombat were closed to protect the community from covid-19. It is unknown when it will reopen to the public.
  • Yalata Community was also closed due to covid-19.
  • When we visited, the Head of the Bight centre closed at 4pm, with last access at 3:30pm. This meant we sadly missed out on seeing it. Timing is everything, don’t make our mistake.
  • At the Nullarbor Roadhouse you are able to get take away dinner from their on-site pub, which was super handy to keep the dog inside the room and not unattended (or left in the sun).
  • The pub is also home to two very cool art murals. One is a tribute to some of the great musical artists of Australia. The other mural is dedicated to vehicles of the past.
  • Keep animals inside at night, dingoes roam around the area.



Lunch by the beach in Ceduna



No Big Wombat for us, community safety first!



Found a Big Whale at the Nullarbor Roadhouse


Day 5

Start point: Nullarbor Roadhouse, SA

Finish point: Cocklebiddy Roadhouse, WA (pet-friendly rooms with fee)

KMs travelled: roughly 476km, 5hrs 10min plus stops

Map link: Nullarbor Roadhouse to Cocklebiddy Roadhouse 



Nullarbor Roadhouse to Great Australian Bight Lookout 2

Lookout 2 to Great Australian Bight Lookout 3

Lookout 3 to The Big Kangaroo – Take-away breakfast at Border Village Roadhouse

Checkpoint at Border Village – no fruit, vegetables, seeds etc allowed. Click here for the quarantine information website link.

Border Village Roadhouse to Eucla and Eucla Jetty

Eucla Jetty to Madura Shell Servo

Madura to Cocklebiddy Roadhouse


Accom: Cocklebiddy Roadhouse – Phone: (08) 9039 3462



Big Kangaroo, Border Village, SA

SA x WA signage, just past the quarantine checkpoint

Big Leeuwin Whale, Eucla, WA

Old Telegraph Station and Eucla Jetty, Eucla

Cocklebiddy Eagles



Madura: $40, 16.53L @ $2.41L

Eucla: $44.80, 17.99L @ $2.49L


Tips, tricks and things you could do differently:

  • Wake up for sunrise! There is something magical in the way the light touches the Nullarbor horizon.
  • We skipped lookout number 1, but realised afterward that each lookout was unique in its own way. I’ve added it to the map so you don’t skip it like we did. Let me know what it’s like!
  • There are plenty of off-road camping areas along this stretch and off-road lookout points. Don’t be afraid to make pit stops to soak it all in.
  • Time changes again when you reach Border Village. You will go from SA time to Central time.
    • If you’re Optus, the phone automatically updates to Central time.
    • If you’re Telstra, the phone automatically updates to WA time, which creates confusion because you've time travelled too far.
  • After crossing the quarantine checkpoint, make sure you stop at the SA – WA sign for a photo opportunity.
  • If you want to head out to the Eucla Jetty, the road is 4WD only. Some sections have quite dense sand so you’ll want to have the ability to work your way through it.
    • Alternatively, you can do what we did and park at the car park for the Old Telegraph Station and walk up. It’s around 1.5km each way.
  • We spotted an Emu and its babies as we approached Cocklebiddy. A reminder to always keep an eye out for wildlife.
  • At the Roadhouse they cater for the absolute confusion of the time zones. They served dinner from 4pm – 6:30pm central time.
  • They also have two Eagles at the Roadhouse that are worth a look. Samantha and Bruce. They were both victims of road trauma and were brought back to Cocklebiddy after receiving care so they could live as mates until their end of days. It is all above board and licence has been granted to care for them.
  • Support your local Roadhouses. They are living so remotely and unfortunately while we were there, two ‘people’ (I say people, because I can’t say what I want to) decided it would be okay to rob the Roadhouse of that days’ takings. They were already struggling as they had water issues at the time and had to turn people away from staying with them. So, get behind all the Roadhouses because their ‘normal’ life is so very different to the rest of us living in bigger cities.



Sunrise on the Nullarbor is super pretty



The Big Kangaroo



A little bit of SA and a little bit of WA



Samantha and Bruce at the Cocklebiddy Roadhouse


Day 6

Start point: Cocklebiddy Roadhouse, WA

Finish point: Esperance, WA

KMs travelled: roughly 648km, 6hrs 50min plus stops

Map link: Cocklebiddy Roadhouse to Esperance



Cocklebiddy Roadhouse to Caiguna and East end of 90-mile straight

East end of 90-mile straight to West end of 90-mile straight

West end to Balladonia – Take-away breakfast in Balladonia

Balladonia to Norseman Take-away lunch in Norseman

Norseman to Esperance

Esperance sightseeing


Accom: Lacabane Retreat Airbnb



90-mile straight

Rotary Lookout, Esperance

Blue Haven Beach, Esperance

Salmon Beach, Esperance

Twilight Beach, Esperance



Caiguna: $40.52, 16.47L @ $2.46L

Norseman: $82.04, 39.48L @ $2.07L

Esperance: $44.67, 23.04L @ $1.93L


Tips, tricks and things you could do differently:

  • Start the day early so that you can enjoy your time in Esperance in the afternoon.
  • In Norseman the food options in town were fairly limited. There were lots of shops for lease and some just weren’t open. However, before heading to the Truckstop for food, definitely check town first in case there is a local business you can support.
  • The age-old rule of travel in Australia. Do your best to avoid dawn and dusk because of Kangaroos. We assisted a lady with a busted front-end after she had hit a Kangaroo. The car was only a month or so old and she was relocating to WA for work. It was not what she needed. We helped patch it up enough to get going again and she carried on her way.
  • Alternative routes of travel from Norseman are:
    • Norseman to Perth via Kalgoorlie
    • Norseman to Perth via the coast – Esperance, Albany, Margaret River, Bunbury etc.
  • Being November, there wasn’t a large amount of food options whilst in Esperance, so double check what is and isn’t open before you go. Being a tourist destination over the summer, I can only guess and say there would be more options at that time of year.



The east side of 90-mile straight



The west side of 90-mile straight


Day 7

Start point: Esperance, WA

Finish point: Esperance, WA

KMs travelled: roughly 136km, 2hrs plus stops

Map link: Esperance and Cape Le Grand


Accom: Lacabane Retreat Airbnb



Lucky Bay

Thistle Cove

Hellfire Bay and Little Hellfire Bay

Cape Le Grand Beach

Frenchman Peak



Esperance: $26.87, 13.93L @ $1.92L


Tips, tricks and things you could do differently:

  • Lucky Bay is not in Esperance itself and it will require you to drive out there. Please also note, it is a national park and dogs cannot enter!
  • Due to travelling with our beloved greyhound, we opted for half a day at Cape Le Grand. We didn’t want to leave her for too long in case she started to stress out. She’d been amazing the entire time with the randomness of the trip, but we didn’t want to push our luck.
    • If you’re travelling dog free, book a campsite early and enjoy as much time out there as you can. It is absolutely stunning beyond measure!
  • Phone signal at Lucky Bay itself is Optus only. It’s one of the few places where Telstra did not have signal.
  • The Pier Hotel is a great dinner option. We caught up with some friends from NSW there who had been travelling around WA doing some whale research.



On the trail between West Beach and Blue Haven in Esperance



Lucky Bay, Cape Le Grand National Park - no pets allowed


Day 8

Start point: Esperance, WA

Finish point: Joondalup, WA

KMs travelled: roughly 783km, 8hrs 40min plus stops

Map link: Esperance to Joondalup



Esperance to Ravensthorpe Silo Art

Ravensthorpe to Newdegate Silo Art

Newdegate to Wave Rock

Wave Rock to Corrigin BP – Lunch at the Roadhouse

Corrigin to Karragullen

Karragullen to Joondalup



Ravensthorpe Silo Art

Newdegate Silo Art

Wave Rock Hyden, WA

Corrigin Roadhouse – dog in a Ute

Corrigin Dog Cemetery



Ravensthorpe: $48, 23.41L @ 2.05L

Corrigin: $49.80, 26.17L @ $1.90L

Karragullen: $34.18, 19.43L @ $1.75L


Tips, tricks and things you could do differently:

  • We were smashed with a heavy storm driving from Esperance to Ravensthorpe. Make sure you check the BOM app for weather to ensure your safety. I knew what was coming and was confident driving to the conditions, but others may not be. Don’t be afraid to delay your departure if it means staying safe.
  • There are two road options from Newdegate to Hyden. The one on my map is predominantly dirt road, but well-sealed all things considered. It looked as the though the alternative option also contained dirt roads. Keep that in mind if using a hire car.
  • Wave Rock:
    • Has an entry fee of $12 per car
    • There are multiple walks in the area and a bike path from the town of Hyden.
    • They have a kiosk, café, military museum and a picnic area as well.
    • Time of day matters. The rock was half shadowed when we visited so plan accordingly based on the sun direction.
  • The Corrigin Roadhouse does an epic feed. It was the perfect lunch stop.
  • As you travel toward Perth out of Corrigin, make sure you stop at the Dog Cemetery. We avoided this for obvious reasons, but it is a great little spot to appreciate animals and what they mean to their owners.



Newdegate Silo Art



Wave Rock, Hyden



Petrol total: $790.45

Accommodation total: $1,190

Rough distance travelled: 3,997kms

Driving across the country with my dog: priceless



Happy in her new home



Car essentials:

In terms of car setup, everyone has their own unique way of doing things. What they do / don’t want. So, I will leave that up to you. However, here are some items I found to be helpful for the journey over and the links for them:

Portable power pack: The power source for the fridge when the car wasn’t running and also powered and charged the fan for Reyka. We wanted to minimise movement of the fridge in and out of the vehicle so this allowed us to do it.

Camping fridge: So many brands, so many options. This is just the one we have for our car. One piece of advice is to head to your local store and ask them to bring the demo out to your vehicle so that you can properly size up what fridge will / won’t fit. We used this to store some cold water, sports drinks, Reyka’s chicken (very important) and other items that required refrigeration to make the journey across.

Roof basket with two tarps: Our roof basket is the Aldi 4 x 4 special. We used some heavy-duty tarps from our local Bunnings to keep everything on the roof dry. The base layer was wrapped like a present from the bottom up, with a rope connecting all the loop holes and tied together tightly. The other tarp was used to completely cover the front and sides so it could be tied down and all held securely without leaks. We did modify the present wrap slightly along the way and put the rope into sections to minimise time for the load and unload.

Rope: We used this for the securing of the under tarp present wrap, but also to secure the over tarp with a pulley system to ease access to the belongings on the roof. It’s also handy for any problems you may encounter along the way that require tying.

Tie down straps x 4: These tie downs were used to secure the tarps and all the belongings in the roof basket. A little tricky on the release when it had been raining, but all in all, worked a treat.

Storage Tubs: This was used to store some of our personal belongings that couldn’t go in the removalist vehicle and also bulk water and drinks.

USB powered fan: I attached this to the rear headrests for constant air flow into the rear of the car where Reyka was. It worked the entire trip and after some initial hesitation, she grew to love it and would put her face in front of it to cool down. Well worth the investment.

2m micro-USB lead: This remained connected to the USB slot on the power pack to ensure the fan was fully charged and running for the entire trip. The 2m length allowed for ease of mind of the power pack placement in the vehicle.

Vehicle foot step: If you’re not the tallest of humans, or not overly confident to climb to the top of the roof, there is a step you can add to assist. This one did leave a bit of a dent on the inside of the door, but it was a handy tool to have for loading and unloading the roof basket.

Water Jug: A few days out from the trip I was at the shops to grab something else and the water jug caught my eye. What I liked about this was the tap release for the water. This meant that we could fill Reyka’s water bowl for each pit stop without having to grab the bigger bottles of water. We would also top up from the cold bottles stored in the fridge and re-stock the fridge with the bulk stash. It worked well.

Duct tape: You never know when you’ll need duct tape. One of the most universal fixers created. A must pack!

UHF Radio: Whether you choose handheld, or have one built into the car, it is highly recommended to have one for this drive. During our travels, we were alerted to truck breakdowns, incidents along the route and also used the radio to communicate with truck drivers for overtaking. I bought the twin pack as it always meant I had at least one fully charged radio at all times.

Bottled water: The environment lover in me hates to write this, but unless you have unlimited jerry cans that you can fill from home, you will need to purchase some bottled water for this trip. Water is limited along the Nullarbor, so I highly recommend stocking up before Ceduna and travelling with that water.



Download offline maps with Google for the areas of travel. Click here for the how to.

Save Google map links from the blog into a document on your phone for easy access and loading.

Be wary of 1080 bait along a large proportion of the drive – muzzle your dog or keep an extremely close eye on them at each pit stop you make. Also have your furry friend on a lead at all times.

Nullarbor Roadhouse and Cocklebiddy Roadhouse are the only Roadhouses with pet friendly rooms. 

Set up an epic road trip playlist. Quality music is key to any long drive.

Petrol Spy is your friend for petrol price updates. 

Telstra is the only service provider along the Nullarbor; it still has areas where it will cut out.

You will gain time travelling from Melbourne to Perth.

You will lose time travelling from Perth to Melbourne, so allow for that.

We travelled from late October to Early November. The weather can be extremely unpredictable so be prepared for anything and check forecasts regularly.

Whale season is from June to October along the Great Australian Bight so keep your eyes open along the lookouts.

Visit the Drive Melbourne to Perth website which contains a more in depth look at what you need to know.


I hope you find this helpful and resourceful. Feel free to leave any comments, feedback or ask any questions about the journey across this great country.


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    Denman Murphy on

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