Although the Tanami Track traverses one of Australia
's great deserts - The Tanami Desert
, it is in fact a relatively easy route for travellers with 4WD and a comparatively safe introduction to remote, arid area travel.
Gold has always been known to be in abundance in the region and although mining was sporadic over the last century, a number of major mines dominate the area, now widely regarded as one of Australia
's last under-explored mineral provinces. The companies that own and operate these mines have gained access to large areas of land through negotiating agreements with the Arunta people - the traditional Aboriginal owners.
The Tanami and Granites Mines found just off the track are amongst the largest gold producing mines in Australia
. It is believed that they will remain operational for many years yet. The infrastructure
of these fly in fly out mines are temporary, yet immense. The use of the Tanami Track as their major service route will continue to benefit tourists by ensuring that it is well graded, that sufficiently large fuel stops are nearby and that emergency help and facilities are close at hand.
There are few highlights along the route to make this a specific destination - it really is just a "shortcut" from the Red Centre
to the Kimberley
. (The alternative route is to take the Stuart Highway up to Dunmarra then strike north-west along the Buchanan and Duncan Highways). However, the aboriginal dot paintings are probably the best specimens in Australia
. The local communities are encouraged to paint and their work is regularly collected from the surrounding communities and put in the gallery at Tilmouth Well for tourists to view and/or purchase. These are originals, with each artists name scrawled on the back of the canvas.
With the large number of "grey" and even "blonde" nomads roaming the outback these days, it is worth finding as many alternative routes as you can. So give the Tanami some thought - however take note that although it is popular and not so notorious, this is still remote desert country and certain precautions need to be observed.
None if sticking to the track. Permits are required for visiting aboriginal communities for any reason other than purchasing fuel or supplies.