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
Travel Time3 hrs 31 mins
Page Updated: 2 May 2013


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

If you'd like to download this Trek there are two options:
  • Purchase our app ExplorOz Traveller. This Australian-made GPS & Navigation app will allow you to download all the ExplorOz Treks to your GPS enabled smartphone/tablet/iPad or laptop and enable active route guidance along the route as per the Directions shown on this page. The app enables offline navigation and mapping and will show where you are as you travel along the route. The app also allows you to edit/customise the route. Viewing the Trek in the Traveller app also includes all the words, images and POIs exactly as on the website (excludes Wildflowers). For more info see the ExplorOz Traveller webpage.

  • Alternatively, if you already have another raster mapping software program you can Download this route in GPX format using the button shown below the map on this page .


To purchase our maps for offline use, you will need to purchase the EOTopo 2021 map licence. To install the maps you will need the ExplorOz Traveller app.


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.


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.

TrekID: 199


MUST READ: You are strongly encouraged to read the following articles prepared by the knowledge experts at ExplorOz for your safety and preparation before undertaking any published ExplorOz Trek - Outback Safety, Outback Driving Tips, Outback Communications, and Vehicle Setup for the Outback.


Please refer to Road Reports published by the local shire and/or main roads for the area you intend to visit. Road/Track conditions can change significantly after weather events. Travellers must be responsible for their own research on current conditions and track suitability.
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 are not required to travel in this area.

Fuel Usage

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

Distance from Trek Mid Point 43.64km W
Mean Max. °C31.430.628.125.020.918.017.619.222.325.027.930.2
Mean Min. °C14.714.813.610.
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


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Balladonia Roadhouse to RFDS Emergency Landing Strip
Driving: 17.25 km
Heading: 122°
Avg Speed: 98.17 km/hr
EST Time: 10:32
RFDS Emergency Landing Strip to Old Balladonia Telegraph Station
Driving: 9.44 km
Heading: 111°
Avg Speed: 108.29 km/hr
EST Time: 05:13
Old Balladonia Telegraph Station to Eyre Highway & Toolinna Cove Access
Driving: 57.8 km
Heading: 82°
Avg Speed: 99.59 km/hr
EST Time: 34:49
Eyre Highway & Toolinna Cove Access to Five Ways Tank
Driving: 9.76 km
Heading: 132°
Avg Speed: 39.38 km/hr
EST Time: 14:52
Five Ways Tank to Sinkhole
Driving: 19.73 km
Heading: 111°
Avg Speed: 38.49 km/hr
EST Time: 30:45
Sinkhole to Gnamma Hole
Driving: 8.06 km
Heading: 140°
Avg Speed: 36.22 km/hr
EST Time: 13:21
Gnamma Hole to Sinkhole
Driving: 0.34 km
Heading: 115°
Avg Speed: 28.28 km/hr
EST Time: 00:43
Sinkhole to Sinkhole
Driving: 1.64 km
Heading: 145°
Avg Speed: 20.73 km/hr
EST Time: 04:44
Sinkhole to Linesman Hut Ruins
Driving: 27.77 km
Heading: 139°
Avg Speed: 19.11 km/hr
EST Time: 01:27:11
Linesman Hut Ruins to Toolinna Rockholes and Tank
Driving: 0.29 km
Heading: 115°
Avg Speed: 13.13 km/hr
EST Time: 01:19
Toolinna Rockholes and Tank to Toolinna Cove Junction
Driving: 5.76 km
Heading: 55°
Avg Speed: 19.27 km/hr
EST Time: 17:56
Toolinna Cove Junction to Toolinna Cove
Driving: 0.28 km
Heading: 191°
Avg Speed: 16.76 km/hr
EST Time: 01:00
Distance is based on the travel mode shown (Driving, Straight, Cycling, Walking etc), Direction is straight line from start to end, Avg Speed & EST Time is calculated from GPS data.

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