Hay River

StartClick to Reverse the Dynamic Map and Driving NotesBirdsville
DifficultyDifficulty 4/5
Suitable for4WD Bike 
Distance928.66 km
Minimum Days9
Average Speed40.54 km/hr
Driving Time22 hrs 54 mins
Article By: Member - Stephen L (SA)
Page Updated: 11 Oct 2016


All travellers to this area, both now and in the future, owe their thanks to the persistence of Jol Fleming from Alice Springs to have this area opened up for outback travel. Jol, like many other people, had read the book, “Crossing the Dead Heart” by Cecil Madigan, with a view of one day seeing first hand the country that Madigan had described, during his 1939 scientific expedition of the Simpson Desert.

During the mid 1990’s, Jol met Lindsay Bookie on one of his four wheel driver training courses. Lindsay told Jol he was from out that way, but Jol thought no more of it until 1998 when he was approached by the Ford Motor Company to do a Sales Incentive trip from Alice Springs to Birdsville. Jol contacted the Central Land Council regarding getting a permit to travel the Hay River Area, who in turn put Jol in contact with Lindsay Bookie. Lindsay was not keen at first to let anyone travel through his lands, but with further discussions, Jol was given the OK. In May 1998 Jol and Lindsay went to scout for a track down the Hay River. The going was so tough, that they only managed to get as far south as the Lake Caroline turn off. They then back tracked and an alternative road was found for the Ford venture.

In 1999, Jol and Lindsay headed off again with a waypoint for Madigan’s camp 15. They were able to retrace their tracks from the previous year to as far as the Lake Caroline turn off, then continued on to Madigan’s Camp 15 and 16 and then out through Beachcomber Oil Well. After the trip, Lindsay approached Jol about using Batton Hill as a base to do Bush Tucker Tours of the surrounding area, which were advertised and the first Bush Tucker Trip was carried out in August 2000.

Seeing the potential of the area as a tourist draw card, the Rural Enterprise of the Central Lands Council put a business plan together for Lindsay for funding to equip the bore and to erect shower/toilet blocks at Batton Hill. The grants were approved in early 2003 and in time for the 2003 tourist season, 2 Shower/Toilet Blocks with donkey boilers, a bush kitchen and 2 bow sheds were erected by April 2003. Water for the site was from a solar powered bore that pumped water to and overhead tank and a reserve tank of 10,000 litres.

This area is now open to visitors by prior arrangement only. Lindsay passed away in August 2014 and Jol continues to manage the permit system to ensure that visitor numbers remain sustainable for such an isolated place. Visitor activity will be highly scrutinised so it is imperative that all who come view their access as a privileged and show great respect for the tracks and facilities. We cannot stress, how improper it would be for anyone to use these trek notes without first arranging a permit from Jol. In fact, certain details have been omitted from this trek but this information will be provided with your permit.

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.

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The Hay River area could be called an "environmental paradise" because it has been almost untouched by white man. You will be hard pushed to find a feral animal (eg. camel), and the land has been subject to only light grazing. Weather patterns and seasons will change the environment dramatically but currently, you'll see the effects of a series of good seasons producing abundant shrubs and plants and the stands of river gums in the Hay River are simply breathtaking.


The Hay River area of the Northern Territory has been the home for the Eastern Arrernte Aboriginal perople for many thousands of years before white man arrived in Australia.

The first white person to successfully travel through this area was the South Australian Surveyor, Charles Winnecke in mid 1883. Whilst on this trip Winnecke named many land forms including Hay River after Mr Adam Hay, Esq of Palparara Station, Qld; Mt Tietkens after Mr W.H. Tietkens, a well known Western Australian explorer and Goyder's Pillars, after G.W. Goyder, Exq, the Surveyor-General of South Australia.

Unlike other areas of the Simpson Desert, there was no oil exploration seismic work carried out in this area, so this area has not been touched in anyway by white man and is still a true remote wilderness area.


This trip is best done as a group or on a tour. You must not travel alone and your group should be prepared for anything! Permits may take many weeks to formalise so these should be arranged well in advance. All fuel consumption, food and water needs to be carried for the majority of this trek. There is no fuel or supplies available between Birdsville and Jervois Station. Experienced remote desert travellers should already have all the necessary communications equipment that are necessary for a trip of this nature. The minimum requirements would be to carry good communications and navigation equipment (along with being proficient with it's usage).

We advise that you refer to the latest information and advice about outback communications in the Communications Topic. All drivers should set their UHF radios to scan all stations, but take note that Channel 10 is the official channel for the Simspon Desert. Anywhere in the Diamantina Shire (comprising the towns of Birdsville, Betoota and Bedourie) you must not used UHF Ch 8 and 38 as these are to be reserved for emergency calls only - these channels are monitored by the Clinics, Police and station operators and must remain clear.

Your vehicle will need to be extensively prepared for remote area travel, with all fuel, water, food and vehicle repair equipment and spare parts. All travellers should read the 4WDriving Topic for related articles and checklists for vehicle setup and driver awareness.

For any dune driving you should fly a dune flag from the front of your vehicle to avoid head on collisions on dune tops. Additionally, the lead vehicle in any direction should periodically make calls on Channel 10 from the top of large dunes on the UHF radio to advise oncoming traffic of your position.


Central Land council Transit Permit (Atnetye Aboriginal Land) - contact Jol Flemming: 08 8952 3359

For access into the SA section of the Desert you will also need the Desert Parks Pass (Witjara National Park). If you do not intend to enter the SA section of the Desert and wish to camp in the QLD section then you will need a Qld NPWS camping permit (Munga-Thirri National Park).

Fuel Supplies & Usage

Fuel Symbol There may also be fuel at Jervois Station (cash only).
4cyl 163 litres *4cyl 150 litres4cyl 186 litres
6cyl 163 litres *6cyl 251 litres *6cyl 163 litres
8cyl 142 litres8cyl 182 litres *
Usage is averaged from recorded data (* specific to this trek) and calculated based on trek distance.

Best Time To Visit

Closest Climatic Station

Distance from Trek Mid Point 178.88km N
Mean Max. °C38.536.934.530.525.322.021.925.029.733.235.937.7
Mean Min. °C22.722.
Mean Rain mm50.058.732.817.518.510.614.37.68.815.424.838.4
    Best time to travel      Ok time to travel      Travel NOT recommended

Services & Supplies

The following locations have various services And supplies:Harts Range Police Station


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What to See

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This list may not be complete for the entire region. Places listed here are directly located along the plot file associated with this Trek Note. You can locate other nearby Places by browsing the map or searching Places.
Batton Hill Camp, Bush Tucker Tour, Mt Teitkins, Mt Winnecke, Goyders Pillar, Lake Caroline (a claypan), the dry riverbed that is the Hay River.

Showing 17 Places

Where to Stay

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This list may not be complete for the entire region. Places listed here are directly located along the plot file associated with this Trek Note. You can locate other nearby Places by browsing the map or searching Places.

Showing 2 Places


LocationsDistanceDirection Time
Birdsville to Little Red34.41 kmW270° 1 hr 10 min
Little Red to Big Red4.14 kmN339° 18 min
Big Red to Eyre Creek, QAA Line18.72 kmW264° 28 min
Eyre Creek, QAA Line to Spinifex Dune, QAA Line18.33 kmW266° 36 min
Spinifex Dune, QAA Line to Georgina Gidgee Interdunes, QAA Line17.69 kmW274° 26 min
Georgina Gidgee Interdunes, QAA Line to Salt Bush Flats, QAA Line20.97 kmW275° 33 min
Salt Bush Flats, QAA Line to Gypcrete Interdunes, QAA Line13.26 kmW275° 26 min
Gypcrete Interdunes, QAA Line to QAA Line & K1 Line18.96 kmW276° 46 min
QAA Line & K1 Line to Poeppel Corner20 kmS170° 1 hr 16 min
Poeppel Corner to QAA Line & French Line Access18.71 kmN340° 29 min
QAA Line & French Line Access to Poeppel Corner No 1 Oil Well11.37 kmN11° 13 min
Poeppel Corner No 1 Oil Well to Beachcomber Oil Well Site49.73 kmN342° 44 min
Beachcomber Oil Well Site to Glimpse of Hay River58.69 kmN1 hr 41 min
Glimpse of Hay River to Madigan's Camp 16 Blaze Tree30.43 kmNW328° 36 min
Madigan's Camp 16 Blaze Tree to Aboriginal Tool Remains30.08 kmNW332° 46 min
Aboriginal Tool Remains to Old fuel dump93.5 kmNW336° 1 hr 48 min
Old fuel dump to Vantage Point13.98 kmNW311° 25 min
Vantage Point to Tropic of Capricorn Sign57.3 kmN345° 1 hr 4 min
Tropic of Capricorn Sign to Batton Hill Camp53.02 kmNW333° 44 min
Batton Hill Camp to Gate to Goyders Pillar4.86 kmN5 min
Gate to Goyders Pillar to Vantage Point8.27 kmNE66° 8 min
Vantage Point to Goyders Pillar0.69 kmE95° 1 min
Goyders Pillar to Batton Hill Gate11.77 kmW250° 16 min
Batton Hill Gate to Hay River, Station Track0.32 kmW262°
Hay River, Station Track to Station Track (Gate)75.49 kmW272° 1 hr 15 min
Station Track (Gate) to Harts Range Police Station169.55 kmW271° 4 hr 20 min
Harts Range Police Station to Gemtree74.43 kmW271° 2 hr 42 min
Birdsville to Gemtree928.66 km  22 hr 54 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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