The Outback Way
extends across three states for over 2,750kms; from Laverton in Western Australia
, through Alice Springs in the Northern Territory
, to Winton in Queensland
. Seven interconnecting roads and highways make up the Outback Way
route including the: Great Central Road
, Tjukaruru Road, Lasseter Highway, Stuart Highway, Plenty Highway
, Donohue Highway and Min Min Byway.
The trip itself is home to an impressive collection of sites and places
of interest for travellers. These include iconic scenery such as Ayers Rock, the Olga’s, Peterman and MacDonnell Ranges. Travellers can also indulge in a range of activities like bird and wildlife watching in the numerous waterholes, nature walks through mulga scrub and oak forests, viewing indigenous art galleries at selected communities, gem fossicking, and geo-caching - a fun world-wide GPS activity, which involves finding hidden caches (34 in total, around 80kms apart) along the route.
There are many places
where you can top-up on fuel or provisions, or even stay overnight. Yulara and Alice Springs have a variety of accommodation facilities; Winton, Boulia and Laverton have motel, hotel and caravan park facilities, whilst most roadhouses en-route provide campgrounds suitable for caravans and camper trailers. To travel the entire Outback Way
requires no less than 3 to 4 days of daytime travel (travelling at night is not recommended), although typically 6 to 7 days of daytime travel is required to stop and enjoy a majority of the highlights of central Australia
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:-
- Ideal solution - download the ExplorOz Traveller App from Google Play or the App Store. The app enables you to carry the ExplorOz Places, Treks, & Maps data offline in your mobile device ready for your adventures. It is a complete mapping, navigation and tracking app. For more details, read our ExplorOz Traveller page.
- 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.
The interesting thing about the Outback Way
is that the route passes through ten uniquely identified bioregions. Each of these regions are characterised with a unique combination of flora, fauna, geology and landscape characteristics. The ten bioregions are: Great Victoria
Desert, Gibson Desert, Central Ranges, Great Sandy Desert, Finke, MacDonnell Ranges, Burt Plain, Simpson Strzelecki Dunefields, Channel Country, and Mitchell Grass Downs.
Laverton to the WA Border has been fully upgraded and is now a well formed, graded, gravel road. The WA Border to Kata Tjuta is unsealed with sections of rock-sand limestone or red desert sand with some occasionally rough corrugations, ruts and soft sections on dune rises. Some of the river and creek crossings have dry, soft surfaces that are susceptible to seasonal flooding, so exercise caution after rains or during the wet season.
The roads joining Kata Tjuta to Yulara, Yulara to Alice Springs, and the Alice to Gemtree are all sealed bitumen, dual lane, main road or highway standard. There are intermittent rest bays and 24hr overnight stops. Gemtree to Ongeva River is sealed, however further eastward to Boulia consists of unsealed road, varying from sandy, limestone, gravely-rock with sections of corrugations, occasional rutted-lanes and unformed surfaces. Again, some of the river and creek crossings have dry, soft surfaces that are susceptible to seasonal flooding, so exercise caution after rains or during the flooding season - November to March. The section of road approximately 100kms before and after the NT/QLD border can sometimes be badly corrugated as a result of truck traffic, the rocky substrate and dry conditions. Boulia to Winton is sealed bitumen, single lane, susceptible to flooding at major river crossings especially within the channel country. This section should not be driven at dusk, dawn or night due to the presence of wildlife.
The Outback Way
was coined by five local Shire Councils, who in 1997 formed the Outback Highway Development Council (OHDC) to promote the development of a third strategic link across Australia
. The main aim was to establish the Outback Way
as a transcontinental route, whilst promoting social, economic and cultural interests. The roads within the WA section between Laverton and the WA/NT border (known as the Great Central Road
) has now been significantly upgraded and is a fast gravel road suitable for caravans with no corrugations however the NT section is still significantly rough for caravans with heavy corrugations.