Stuart highway camping

Submitted: Sunday, Mar 08, 2015 at 19:38
ThreadID: 116991 Views:3026 Replies:8 FollowUps:3
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Driving from Melbourne to Darwin, can anyone reccomend any good spots to camp the night along the way, preferably off the road a bit
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Reply By: Member - PhilD_NT - Sunday, Mar 08, 2015 at 20:17

Sunday, Mar 08, 2015 at 20:17
There's a great many spots, both official roadside rest areas and suitable other spots, that are free. There's also some places that are quite cheap at a few Roadhouse's. If you have access to Wikicamps or have a copy of the Camps series of books then all the official places and the Caravan Park's are in there, with pictures for many and details of what is available and the fee's as well. To make a better recommendation though it would help people on the Forum if you stated what you mean by "camp" and what if any facilities you have or require. The word "camp" can mean anything from a swag to a caravan to different people. Many of the places you might want to stay are also available on this Site under the "Places" heading. Would also help if you said what vehicle you have, the sort of distance per day you would like to do and when you would be doing the trip. During the height of the tourist season many roadside places can take on the looks of a mini caravan park in themselves.
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Reply By: Athol W1 - Sunday, Mar 08, 2015 at 20:18

Sunday, Mar 08, 2015 at 20:18
Get yourself a copy of Camps Australia Wide as there are plenty of good free camps along the way, and they are generally around the 1 to 1.5 hours apart.
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Reply By: Member Andys Adventures - Sunday, Mar 08, 2015 at 21:25

Sunday, Mar 08, 2015 at 21:25
The Pebbles (Kunjarra) about 11k's out of Tennant Creek. It is a free camp with drop toilets, about 4 k's off the road.

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Reply By: Bob Y. - Qld - Monday, Mar 09, 2015 at 11:36

Monday, Mar 09, 2015 at 11:36

We spent a night at Renner Springs, some years back, on way home from Darwin.

Put the tent up on some grass down the back, near a bit of a waterhole they've got there.

At Tropic of Capricorn, there's a parking bay there that seemed pretty popular. Also you might get a spot at Plenty H'way turnoff?

Plenty of other old quarries along there too, if you know where to look. Another spot might be along the old highway, past Churchills Head, be pretty quiet with little traffic noise.Attack Creek is pretty popular with 'vanners, and you might be able to squeeze in there somewhere. Just be very noisy at night, with trucks rolling past, over the bridge. Go a km or two down the road to Brunchilly Station might give you a quieter site?

Wouldn't camp near Elliott. Banks Banka looks pretty good, and is popular during the season.

Gowrie Airfield near Larrimah might be the go too, for a night camp? Can't remember anyone on this site suggesting a camp there.

Check out Wikicamps, or Camps 7, 8 or whatever. :-)


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Follow Up By: Member - PhilD_NT - Monday, Mar 09, 2015 at 14:44

Monday, Mar 09, 2015 at 14:44
Bob, unless something has changed I wouldn't rule out camping at Longreach Waterhole just near Elliott. Was just looking at the Places part of this Forum and was surprised it isn't noted. We hope to be there for a couple of nights in 2 months time while headed South. Just to the North of town there's a cattle grid and you turn immediately West just after it (may or may not be a sign) and follow your nose for about 11km. It takes you to the edge of the feeder creek in to Lake Woods. Depending on the level of water there is more than ample room for a lot of campers. There are toilets near the entry point together with a tank and a Stainless Steel gas BBQ but when we were last there, there was no water or gas. There can be a lot of Pelicans there from pictures I've seen on Wikicamps.

The only problem is the track in and that's why I earlier asked about the OP's vehicle. It can be quite sandy and corrugated.

As to other places, we have a few favourites and some not so favourite:
Lake Hart a bit further on from Pimba. No toilets but generally quiet as both road and rail line are just far enough away that you can see but not hear them. Walks through the Sandhill's and down to edge of Lake. Very scenic when there is water in the Lake.
A couple of roadside rest areas North of Glendambo for the sunrise's and sunset's at times. No toilets at many official rest stops.
Border Rest area is one we wouldn't bother with again with as can be quite crowded and very close together.
Desert Oaks rest area a bit to the North of Erldunda. Red Sandhill's, some tree shading and toilets.
Stuarts Well Roadhouse about halfway from Erldunda to Alice. Has a free camping area to one side and can pay a small amount to use toilets & showers plus have a meal.

Many of the official Rest Stops are very close to the Highway but may have an area outside of the gravelled or bituminised main part where you can get a bit further away from the Highway.
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Follow Up By: Bob Y. - Qld - Monday, Mar 09, 2015 at 16:22

Monday, Mar 09, 2015 at 16:22
You're right, of course Phil! Totally forgot about this gem, in trying to think of all the other good spots.

Never been in there but my parents stayed there a number of times, and used to rave about it. That was back in the late '60's.

No doubt the OP will have more campsites than he can use. All good for future travels,


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Reply By: Motherhen - Monday, Mar 09, 2015 at 13:28

Monday, Mar 09, 2015 at 13:28
Hi Brendan, if you can contact me through my profile or blogs, I have a list of all the good spots.


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Reply By: MEMBER - Darian, SA - Monday, Mar 09, 2015 at 15:32

Monday, Mar 09, 2015 at 15:32
Places to camp on the Stuart ? Not an issue......practically, there is probably too many to mention; if you are self sufficient in camping, you won't have to pay a cent for accommodation until you get to Darwin. As mentioned above, if you tap into resources like the Camps AW book and WikiCamps (plus the info provided here by members), there will be plenty of options to choose from in your general locality each night. And you can expect to find plenty of others doing the same ! Iconic places (like the Devil's Marbles) will be crowded, but others like the wonderful Longreach Waterhole a few km's west of Elliott are vast.....there's room for thousands. Check for books that cover the Stuart - the more info the better, to enhance your holiday.
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Reply By: Lab on board - Thursday, Mar 12, 2015 at 12:46

Thursday, Mar 12, 2015 at 12:46
About 10k's north of Tennant Creek there is Maryanne Dam, we didnt camp here but they have beautiful hot FREE showers that are clean. Once place we loved to free camp at is about 20k's out of Elliot called Longreach Waterhole, road is a little rough but if you drive to conditions its well worth it. Its more of a lake then waterhole with lots of birdlife we stayed a week last year and heading back there this year.
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Follow Up By: Member - PhilD_NT - Thursday, Mar 12, 2015 at 18:26

Thursday, Mar 12, 2015 at 18:26
Longreach waterhole is actually part of Newcastle Waters/Creek that feeds in to Lake Woods just south of the camp site. I don't know how regularly the Creek flows or goes in to flood but I do know that it very well flooded back in early 1975. It has also been known for people to take a boat for some distance just to go to the Lake for some inland water skiing and maybe some fishing.

Further North up the Stuart Hwy there is a place called "George Redmond Crossing" which goes over the Newcastle Creek and was constructed after that flooding and to my knowledge hasn't since been tested by a similar flood. While traversing the Crossing you can see sections of the old Stuart Hwy below. I do know that during that flood the Hwy was cut at this point for some time and all traffic was diverted via the Carpentaria and Tablelands Hwy's with roadblocks at the Daly Waters Roadhouse and what is now the Barkly Homestead junction on the Barkly Hwy. For one day the traffic was allowed one way then closed for a day to allow traffic to clear then opened the other way for one day and then repeated. This was done because the Hwy's were so narrow and the sides so soft that they feared a pair of Road trains going in opposite directions would cause a major blockage. I believe that for a while there was some kind of barge/punt service across the flooded section at Newcastle Creek but only for light vehicles or pedestrians. We had some workers with us at Katherine that had to get to a place not far South of the flooded section and they had to drive all the way around the Carpentaria, Tablelands, Barkly and back up the Stuart Hwy to get to their work, just because of a few K's of the cut Stuart.
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Reply By: Les - PK Ranger - Thursday, Mar 12, 2015 at 18:42

Thursday, Mar 12, 2015 at 18:42
If you have a phone suitable, as many have mentioned, wikicamps app.

Rainbow Valley is a bit off the highway, but well worth an early camp, walkabout, and overnighter.
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