The Great Central Road
is the most accessible route linking the Red Centre
to Western Australia
and is well travelled by tourists throughout most of the year.
The area however, is remote and the road weaves through extremely remote desert scrub country with very limited facilities and attractions for travellers. This is predominantly land occupied by aboriginal communities. It is advisable to travel in a 4WD vehicle, although a 2WD vehicle will make the trip. The track section in WA has been dramatically upgraded right through to the border and is now good gravel with no sand or bulldust. However, the NT section is considerably worse and although generally ok for trailers including caravans the corrugations are unpleasant.
The route also passes directly into Aboriginal communities in the Central Reserves
and it is a legal requirement for travellers to hold a valid Transit Permit at the time of travel. See preparation section for further details.
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.
Driving the Great Central Road section of the Outback Way traversing the middle of the Shire is a great eco-tourism experience passing through the Rawlinson Range, Walter James Ranges, and Gill Pinnacle. Other sites along the way are Beadell's Tree and Giles Meteorological Station. Tjulyuru Cultural & Civic Centre displays some of the finest Aboriginal art in Australia.
The Warburton Mission ran from 1933 to 1973, run by William Wade and his wife. In 1961 the Dormitories closed, but the school continued to run. In 1968, due to the large population
from the clearing of the Woomera rocket range, Docker River was opened. In 1975, 4 more homeland communities were developed. Tjirrkarli and Tjukurla, although smaller communities opened in the late 1980's.
Len Beadell worked as a surveyor in the Australian Army (Army Survey Corps). In 1947, Len was asked by the government to build a road across the interior of Australia
as part of the search for a suitable site for weapons testing. The main reason was to establish the weapons testing facility at Woomera, and also the place where the British atomic bomb was tested - Maralinga, which is aboriginal for ‘thunder’. These sites were surveyed and selected by Len, and during the 1940s and 1950s, was responsible for opening up the last remaining isolated desert areas of some 2.5 million square kilometers of central Australia
. The Great Central Road
is part of a network of desert highways
built under the leadership of the famous surveyor, to service Woomera and the Giles meteorological station. There are a number of waypoints dedicated to Len Beadell, who is often regarded as the last true Australian explorer. These include: Giles Meterological Station where Len’s original grader stands in a large cage, Len Beadell Plaques - which were setup by the Gunbarrel Crew, and Mount Beadell where a memorial has been raised on top of the hill. In recent times, the newer Great Central Road
has superseded some of Len's original tracks, by taking a more direct route. However, all of Len's original roads still exist such as Anne Beadell Highway
, Gunbarrel Highway
, Connie Sue Hwy
and Sandy Blight Junction Road
. These roads are increasingly popular with 4WDrivers and adventurers alike. Many sections are difficult going and almost all of them lie in aboriginal lands and require travel permits, as well as a great deal of preparation.