Travelling from Perth to Adelaide is one of the most epic road trips you undertake in Australia, but it’s also one of the longest. Covering a vast distance ranging from a minimum of 2700 kilometres if you take the quickest route, through to an even longer 3500 kilometres if you take the route I’ve laid out below.
From Perth, you can explore the unparalleled beauty of the south-west coast, as you pass through the wine country of Margaret River, and then along the southern shores to Albany and Esperance. From Perth to Adelaide, you have the daunting prospect of the Nullarbor to cross, a stretch of road which includes one of the longest pieces of straight tarmac in the world, and you pass through nothingness, before emerging again onto the pleasant climes of the SA’s coastline.
Of course, if road-tripping from Perth to Adelaide isn’t for you, then you can take the easy way out and fly, or you can endure a marathon cross-continent train ride! It’s all detailed below, and to inspire your journey from Western Australia to South Australia, here’s my guide to travelling from Perth to Adelaide, including my road trip itinerary!
The Best Time of Year To Travel From Perth to Adelaide
The south coast of Australia, between Adelaide and Perth, has a much less extreme climate than many other areas of the country – particularly in comparison to places along the north-west coast that you might encounter on a journey north from Perth to Broome. While summers are hot, winter is a much milder affair, as soon as you begin heading south of Perth.
This does mean that you can travel from Perth to Adelaide almost any time of the year, and still enjoy the journey, but of course, you’ll want to consider travelling when the weather is at its best.
Summer, between November and February, is when temperatures soar across the south coast. Adelaide and Perth can see highs reaching well toward the 40-degree mark. This is also peak season – particularly December, and the Christmas holidays – and if you’re not used to the heat, it can be slightly unbearable. Crowds can be large, especially in the cities, while airfares, car rentals and accommodation go up in price.
Winter, between June and August, is much colder, but you can expect lots of rain. Storms along the south coast can be fierce – flooding washed away a bridge close to Esperance in 2017 just before I made the journey by car – so always check weather conditions and forecasts before setting out. You might want to consider making the journey in either spring or autumn when crowds will be thinner, and the weather will still – for the most part at least – be hot and sunny.
Perth to Adelaide Flights
Of course, the easiest and quickest way to get from Perth to Adelaide is to fly, and if you’re short on time or just don’t fancy driving for a week straight, then you can easily hop on a flight between these two state capitals.
A brief perusal of Skyscanner shows that there are several direct flights each day from Perth to Adelaide, and vice versa from Adelaide to Perth. Three carriers operate the route, these being Qantas, Virgin Australia and JetStar. Journey time is just under three hours.
Both city’s airports are well connected to their respective centres by public transport. You can also pick up hire cars in both locations, and you could even consider a one-way rental from Perth to Adelaide, to allow you to experience the road trip, and then fly back.
Train Travel From Perth to Adelaide
As is almost always the case in Australia, public transport options between Adelaide and Perh are unfortunately limited. The distance is vast, and it’s always going to be much more cost-effective to fly – a state of affairs which has killed off most demand for overland passenger services between Perth and Adelaide.
There isn’t even a Greyhound bus linking the two cities, so if you do want to take a coach, you’ll have to join an organised cross country tour. While rail services are limited, they do still exist, but again, the train route is more of a tourist excursion than a public train line, and costs are much higher than flying, or even renting a car for the trip.
The Indian Pacific Train is the only service connecting the east and west coasts of Australia. It actually links Perth with Sydney, but you can ride from Perth to Adelaide or Adelaide to Perth. This is by all accounts more of a luxury train journey because this is a rail service that’s more about the voyage than it is about getting from Point A to Point B.
The train generally departs once or twice a week from Perth, and takes around 2 days to reach Adelaide.
Road Trip Itinerary From Perth to Adelaide
A road trip from Perth to Adelaide isn’t to be undertaken lightly, because frankly, it’s a huge distance. The quickest route covers a distance of 2700 kilometres, and the longer road trip itinerary below covers a much longer distance of 3500 kilometres. You can make it longer too if you really want.
The quickest route takes you from Perth to Kalgoorlie, then across the Nullarbor Plain, and straight into Adelaide. The longer route goes via the south-west coast, and then across the Nullarbor into South Australia. The short route you could cover in 3 days, at a push, but the long route, you’ll need a least 8 days to really appreciate the journey. In fact, the longer you have the more enjoyable a road trip it will be.
Long Distance Driving Tips in Australia
Don’t underestimate the distance involved, and if you’re not used to driving long distances in Australia then you’ll need to take into account a few peculiarities while on the road!
An Aussie road trip isn’t quite like any other road trip, and from Perth to Adelaide, while there are plenty of stops close to the cities themselves, the vast Nullarbor Plain that connects South Australia and Western Australia is almost empty. It’s a huge distance of nothingness, connected by roadhouses and service stations at intermittent points.
While there are plenty of places to fuel up, just remember that things are more expensive in more remote areas. The entire route is tarmac, but make sure you have adequate roadside assistance in case you get stuck or breakdown for whatever reason. RAC is the most comprehensive, but make sure your level of cover will get you help in the middle of nowhere!
You’ll also want to ensure you fill up on fuel whenever you see a roadhouse on the Nullarbor, as it can be a few hundred kilometres to the next service station. Roadhouses are another peculiarity you’ll soon be accustomed to. These remote service stations sell fuel, but also act as cafes, restaurants, shops and even, in some places, the local bar. Usually, they have accommodation on offer too, even if it’s just basic.
On route, you’ll be able to stay overnight in roadhouses on the road, or in accommodation when you are in the cities and towns. To save on costs though, you can also camp out. I’d recommend downloading Wiki Camps, an excellent App that lists all the best camping spots. Laws regarding wild camping vary from region to region, so check before you just pitch a tent anywhere, or you might end up with a hefty fine from the local Rangers.
Even on the Nullarbor, you’re never that far from another fuel and supply stop, but you might want to consider taking a spare jerry can full of petrol, and plenty of spare water in case you do run into trouble.
The biggest danger to drivers in Australia is the wildlife, and after dark, you’ll want to avoid driving in rural locations. As soon as the sun begins to set, kangaroos with a death wish begin bounding across the roads, and a collision will easily put you and your car out of business.
The Quickest Route Via Kalgoorlie
As already mentioned, the quickest from Perth to Adelaide is via Kalgoorlie. If you could drive it straight, it would take you at least 28 hours, but who can do that and survive?!
This route takes your from Perth to Kalgoorlie, and you’ll drive through the Wheatbelt and then into the Goldfields to get to Australia’s biggest Outback city. Out of Perth, you can make the first stop in York WA, the oldest inland town in Western Australia, before carrying onto Kalgoorlie. If you have time, you can even make a detour to Wave Rock.
The journey from Perth to Kalgoorlie is around 7 hours, and I’d recommend spending at least one night here, because there are a lot of fascinating things to do in Kalgoorlie, from seeing the enormous Super Pit to learning about the city’s raucous frontier history.
From Kalgoorlie, you head to Norseman, where you join up with the road that heads all the way across the Nullarbor to South Australia, and you can follow the itinerary below from this point onwards.
One bonus reason to travel via Kalgoorlie is that this is where the world’s longest golf course begins and ends. The Nullarbor Links is an eccentric, long-distance golf course whereby you play a hole at many locations along the Nullarbor, with the respective start/end points being in Kalgoorlie and Ceduna. It’s an intriguing way to liven up the road trip!
Distance from Perth to Adelaide Via Kalgoorlie: 2700 Kilometres
From Perth to Adelaide via South West Coast
If you’re not in a hurry, then you can take your time and travel from Perth to Adelaide via the South West coast of WA. You’ll need more time because you add on at least an extra 800 kilometres.
You can also skip out Margaret River and just head straight down from Perth to Albany if you are short on time.
From Albany to Esperance, you get to enjoy the wonderful coastline, while in Esperance itself you can find great beaches such as those at Cape Le Grand. From here, you head up to Norseman, join the Nullarbor and then drive all the way across to Adelaide!
Here’s a more detailed look at the Perth to Adelaide Via South West Coast road trip itinerary!
Distance from Perth to Adelaide Via South West Coast: Minimum 3500 Kilometres
You’ll start, or indeed end, your road trip in Perth. This is the biggest city you’ll be visiting until you reach Adelaide, so stock up on supplies and get any last-minute checks you might need to be carried out on your vehicle.
In Perth, you can enjoy the sights and attractions of the WA capital before heading off, and you’ll want to make sure that you spare a day for a trip over to Rottnest Island, and a day down at Fremantle. From Perth, the journey really begins.
Stop 1 – Margaret River
Your first stop from Perth is the countryside town of Margaret River. You can make the journey in 3 hours if you don’t stop, but on the way, you can also consider calling into Bunbury and Busselton.
Margaret River is a food and wine paradise and you can explore the local vineyards, visit chocolate factories and enjoy the delights of the farmers market if you’re here on the weekend.
There’s also some stunning coastline close to the town, and you can meet the local stingrays at Hamelin Bay, or dolphin and whale watch at Augusta.
Distance from Perth to Margaret River: 270 kilometres
Stop 2 – Albany
Albany is the oldest city in Western Australia, predating Perth by a good few years. This coastal city is found overlooking King George Sound, where you’ll frequently spot whales passing through.
In Albany, you can visit the National ANZAC Centre, to learn about the soldiers who set sail from the port here for the First World War – an event which would define Australia as a nation.
Close to Albany, you can enjoy the area’s spectacular scenery. Visit Torndirrup National Park, where you can marvel at the power of the stormy south-west seas, as waves crash into the dramatic shoreline. You can hike Bald Head for epic views all along the coast, or you can head to the Stirling Ranges to tackle the Bluff Knoll hike, the only place in WA that ever sees any snowfall.
Distance from Margaret River to Albany: 360 kilometres
Stop 3 – Esperance
From Albany to Esperance, it’s a distance of just under 500 kilometres, a drive that will take you 5 hours with no stops. If you have more days, then you can stop off overnight on the way, and have a chance to visit destinations such as Bremer Bay and the Fitzgerald River National Park.
If not, then save your time, because there are a lot of things to do in Esperance. Camp out at Lucky Bay or Cape Le Grand, where you can find perfectly white sand and friendly kangaroos. Drive the coastal road by Esperance, for excellent vistas, and spend your days lounging on beaches.
It’s a great holiday destination, and Esperance is easily one of the highlights of a journey from Perth to Adelaide.
Distance from Albany to Esperance: 493 kilometres
Stop 4 – Norseman
The next stop on your road trip from Perth to Adelaide is the outback town of Norseman, which is the last stop before the Nullarbor really begins.
Norseman WA is a strange little place. At first glance, it seems almost deserted, but Norseman was once one of the largest towns in the state. The town grew exponentially during the gold rush era, but its glory days were brief, and when more gold was discovered north at Kalgoorlie, Norseman fell into sharp decline.
There’s a fascinating history to Norseman, but you don’t need to spend too long here before carrying on east towards Adelaide. Just make sure you stock up on water and fuel before continuing.
Distance from Esperance to Norseman: 205 kilometres
Stop 5 – Nullarbor Plain
Not really a stop, and more of a continuous, overland journey, the next stage of your road trip takes you across the vast emptiness of the Nullarbor Plain. This is either the highlight of your drive from Perth to Adelaide, or it’s simply a necessary part of the journey that must be endured.
The Nullarbor Plain is 1200 kilometres long, stretching from Norseman to Ceduna and linking Western Australia to South Australia. There’s a long road going straight through the middle, and at one point, you’ll even be driving the 90 Mile Straight – the longest stretch of straight road in the world.
Along the way, you have empty landscapes to stare at, and small roadhouses and remote communities to call into. It’s a quirky and eccentric place, and crossing the Nullarbor is a real adventure.
Stop 6 – Ceduna
After crossing the Nullarbor Plain, then after driving for 1200 kilometres from Norseman you’ll eventually have reached Ceduna.
Ceduna is a small coastal town, and from here, you’re not actually too far now from Adelaide. This is South Australia, and when the empty plains of the Nullarbor end, the dramatic scenery of the south coast begins again. Celebrate reaching the sea again with some cold beers in the pub, and a plate of freshly caught seafood.
Distance from Norseman to Ceduna: 1200 kilometres
Stop 7 – Port Lincoln
In South Australia, your Perth to Adelaide road trip continues as you drive along the southern coastline. You’ll welcome the sea breezes and the expansive views after the journey you’ve just made across the Nullarbor, and you’ll find plenty of hidden beaches, bays and coves to stop off at as you travel from Ceduna to Port Lincoln.
Port Lincoln is located at the southern end of the Lower Eyre Peninsula, and claims to be the nation’s ‘Seafood Capital’. You can indulge in more freshly caught seafood here, while nearby, you have plenty of beautiful national parks to explore, including Coffin Bay National Park and Lincoln National Park.
Distance from Ceduna to Port Lincoln: 405 kilometres
Stop 8 – Port Augusta
The last stop on my Perth to Adelaide road trip itinerary is the small city of Port Augusta. Found at the top of the peninsula, this makes for a good last stopover before you roll into Adelaide the next day.
Port Augusta makes for a great base from which to explore the nearby Flinders Range, while you can also visit the Wadlata Outback Centre, to learn more about life in remote Australia.
Distance from Port Lincoln to Port Augusta: 344 kilometres
Final Stop – Adelaide
After days of driving and over 3000 kilometres of road, the last leg of the trip will bring you to Adelaide, which is just over 300 kilometres away from Port Augusta.
Adelaide is South Australia’s buzzing capital city, and while it’s more often than not overlooked by the more famous east coast cities such as Melbourne and Sydney, it’s very much a city that’s well worth spending time in.
Relax after your long journey, stroll through the botanical gardens, and enjoy the great food and cafe culture.
Distance from Port Augusta to Adelaide: 307 kilometres
Where to Next?
From here, it would be a long drive back from Adelaide to Perth, and not a journey you will want to be doing for a long time!
You can either fly back, if you’ve organised a one-way rental, or you can continue your road trip. From Adelaide, you aren’t too far from Melbourne, which is just an 8-hour drive away – nothing compared to driving the Nullarbor!
Sydney is a 14-hour drive across the Outback from Adelaide or another 9 hours from Melbourne. Once you’re on the east coast, you can carry on north, stopping at places like Fraser Island to explore the shipwrecks and beaches or carrying on even further, way up to Cairns!