Toolinna Cove

StartClick to Reverse the Dynamic Map and Driving NotesBalladonia Roadhouse
FinishToolinna Cove
DifficultyDifficulty 2.5/5
Suitable for4WD 
Distance158.12 km
Minimum Days2
Average Speed44.79 km/hr
Driving Time3 hrs 31 mins
Page Updated: 2 May 2013

Description

The views of Toolinna Cove from the spectacular 75 metre high Baxter Cliffs on the Great Australian Bight make this trek a must do. Toolinna Cove must be one of the most remote coves on the southern coast of WA and it’s one of the few breaks in the vast cliffs of the Great Australian Bight. Nature lovers will find a wide variety of bird life, concentrated in the woodland forest that extends in a narrow belt along the vast cliff system.

On this trek you will also visit;
  • a 1906 well used by cameleers and other travellers coming via SA to the WA gold rushes,

  • the vast open plains of the Nullarbor,

  • then the dense woodland forest of the Nuytsland Nature Reserve,

  • a number of sink holes; which depending on the weather will be sucking in or blowing out vast volumes of air,

  • the ruins of a 1877 east west telegraph linesman’s camp,

  • and Toolinna rockhole/tank; a stone lined well with a metal lid.

How to Use this Trek Note

Click the "Map" tab below to see the route we've provided. Icons on the map are the POIs you'll need for navigation purposes. Be sure to check the list of Nearby Places on each POI page.

If you'd like to save this information there are a couple of ways to go about it, depending on what you're actually after:-
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  • You can print a paper copy of the text using the print icon button shown above, near the social media buttons. For the best output it is advised to open each tab/section to load all images and artwork. You will still need to click open each Place page (listed in Where to Stay, What to See) to print off all available information.
  • If you have a Hema Navigator or use Mapping Software such as OziExplorer, or TrackRanger AND you are an ExplorOz Member, then you can click the Download Trek button at the top of this page to obtain the raw data files (eg. GPX) for this Trek.
  • If you're not a Member, or you'd like to batch download the entire Treks database you can obtain this by buying a product called EOTreks Route Files from our online shop.

Environment

On the first half of this trek you will travel over the vast plains of the Nullarbor, which has only isolated pockets of trees and limestone outcrops to break up the monotony. Once you reach the tree belt closer to the cliffs, the soil changes and tends to be sandy in patches, again with limestone outcrops. Numerous sink holes are dotted along the track; travellers will easily spot them as they drive by. Take note, once you enter the tree belt, the track becomes windy and overgrown with long stretches of scratchy bushes along this section. Scratches on your vehicle are inevitable.

The cliffs themselves stretch out to the east and west as far as the eye can see, and the passage of time during the day changes the colours and the moods of what you see. Toolinna Cove is undoubtedly the most spectacular scenery of the whole trek; it’s the only break in the cliffs between Eyre and the beach to Israelite Bay. Toolinna Cove beach is now inaccessible, because the old steel ladder and rope system has been removed for safety reasons.

History

Edward John Eyre first crossed from SA to WA in 1841; his epic journey still remains as one of Australia’s most arduous yet successful feats of exploration. Others to follow included John and Alexander Forrest in 1870 on their journey of exploration from west to east and the surveyors and builders of the east-west telegraph line which opened in 1877.

The Western Australian gold rushes of the late 1880s, attracted hordes of prospectors many of whom had little or no money, they could not afford the fare by ship to WA; so they walked, cycled or came by horse via the Nullarbor. Cameleers, carting equipment and materials to the WA goldfields, also used this route for their journey.

The water at Five Ways Tank was critical to the safe passage of all of these travellers or ‘’overlanders as they were known. Few people are aware that during WWII Toolinna Cove had a lookout tower, manned by some six Australian soldiers. They were on the lookout for enemy activity on the south coast.

In the 1980s and 1990s, people from stations to the north, came here for the annual salmon run. They installed ropes and a steel ladder so they could access the small beach below. Authorities have since considered the ropes and ladder dangerous and removed them. They also installed a pulley system, so they could lower their food and camping gear and retrieve fish from the bottom. Leaving their freezers and generators running at the top of the cliffs, they camped at the bottom of the cliffs in caves. An old bicycle frame (also removed) was concreted in place on top of the cliff; the front wheel was used as a pulley. The operator would pedal like fury and the basket of goods would rise up the cable to the top; most ingenious.

Preparation

This is a very remote area and few people, if any, will be seen on this trek. No supplies are available once you commence the trek so you will need to be totally self sufficient and prepared for every contingency, including food, fuel, supplies, vehicle preparedness and emergency equipment.

Fuel is available at the town of Norseman and at Balladonia and Caiguna Road Houses. It is a minimum of 165 kms one way from Balladonia to Toolinna Cove, plan your fuel needs carefully. Norseman is the main supply town in the area, for food, fuels, vehicle repairs and servicing. It is 188 kms west of Balladonia Road House along the bitumised Eyre Highway. Balladonia Road House sells fuel and some limited supplies. Caiguna Road house, 181 kms to the east of Balladonia Road House also sell fuel and limited supplies. Drinking water is not available at Balladonia or Caiguna Road Houses; collect your supplies in Norseman. Note Balladonia Road House is 27 kms west north west of Balladonia Homestead, there is a danger of the two being confused by travellers.

A high clearance vehicle, especially a 4WD is highly recommended at all times, because rain could fall and leave you stranded. Crossing the grasslands/clay areas on the first half of the journey from Balladonia after rain could be treacherous, so extreme care should be taken.

Consider reading the communications and navigation articles on ExplorOz, as well as topics like outback survival, first aid, itineraries & planning, food & water, recovery gear needs, spare parts and tools, and tyres.

Permits

Permits are not required to travel in this area.

Fuel Supplies & Usage

Fuel SymbolBalladonia Roadhouse.
DieselULPLPG
4cyl 22 litres4cyl 26 litres4cyl 32 litres
6cyl 24 litres6cyl 29 litres6cyl 28 litres
8cyl 24 litres8cyl 26 litres
Usage is averaged from recorded data (* specific to this trek) and calculated based on trek distance.

Best Time To Visit

The area can be visited all year round, however the cooler months April to October will make for more enjoyable travel.

Closest Climatic Station

Balladonia
Distance from Trek Mid Point 43.64km W
 JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Mean Max. °C31.430.628.125.020.918.017.619.222.325.027.930.2
Mean Min. °C14.714.813.610.98.05.94.85.36.88.811.313.3
Mean Rain mm18.719.228.219.626.826.020.421.220.022.922.418.4
    Best time to travel      Ok time to travel      Travel NOT recommended

Services & Supplies

Map

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What to See

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Where to Stay

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Directions

LocationsDistanceDirection Time
Balladonia Roadhouse to RFDS Emergency Landing Strip 17.25 kmSE122° 10 min
RFDS Emergency Landing Strip to Old Balladonia Telegraph Station9.44 kmE111° 5 min
Old Balladonia Telegraph Station to Eyre Highway & Toolinna Cove Access57.8 kmE82° 34 min
Eyre Highway & Toolinna Cove Access to Five Ways Tank9.76 kmSE132° 14 min
Five Ways Tank to Sinkhole19.73 kmE111° 30 min
Sinkhole to Gnamma Hole8.06 kmSE140° 13 min
Gnamma Hole to Sinkhole0.34 kmSE115°
Sinkhole to Sinkhole1.64 kmSE145° 4 min
Sinkhole to Linesman Hut Ruins27.77 kmSE139° 1 hr 27 min
Linesman Hut Ruins to Toolinna Rockholes and Tank0.29 kmSE115° 1 min
Toolinna Rockholes and Tank to Turn off to Toolinna Cove5.76 kmNE55° 17 min
Turn off to Toolinna Cove to Toolinna Cove0.28 kmS191° 1 min
Balladonia Roadhouse to Toolinna Cove158.12 km  3 hr 31 min
Distance is GPS recorded driving distance (not straight line), Direction is straight line from start to end, Time is calculated from actual GPS driving data.

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Travel Journals

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