Outback Way

StartClick to Reverse the Dynamic Map and Driving NotesLaverton
FinishWinton
DifficultyDifficulty 3/5
Suitable for4WD AWD Camper Bike 
Distance2772.43 km
Minimum Days3
Average Speed66.83 km/hr
Driving Time1 day 17 hrs 29 mins
Page Updated: 15 Jun 2015

Description

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.

Environment

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.

History

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.

Preparation

It is paramount that your vehicle is in good working order before departing since the corrugations along unsealed roads can increase the wear and tear, thus contributing to breakdowns. Vehicle repair services are quite limited along the Outback Way and should not be relied upon.

Predominantly, there are towns and roadhouses every 250 to 350kms along the Outback Way that provide fuel supplies, with the exception of Jervois and Boulia, which is around 460kms. It is therefore precautionary to monitor your fuel usage, and/or carry enough fuel in reserve, such as in a long range fuel tank.

OPAL Fuel

OPAL unleaded fuel is now available at Warburton, Warakurna (Giles), and Docker River. This replaces AvGas (which many travellers didn't like to use) as the only fuel available for petrol vehicles to combat petrol sniffing in Aboriginal communities. Opal ULP has similar properties to AvGas to discourage sniffing and is a new product from BP.

Most of the roadhouses and community-owned fuel stops stock a range of frozen meat products, fresh produce and general groceries. Ensure you carry enough water supplies, especially since the days can get rather hot.

The variation in temperatures along the Outback Way can require clothing for ‘all seasons’. These can include; sun protection gear like hats; light loose clothing for the day, and warm clothing such as thermal underwear for the cold nights.

It is essential that traveller’s have good maps of the Outback Way and the surrounding region to safely travel the route. A sound idea is to plan ahead, consider the attractions you would like to visit, and where you would like to stay overnight.

Permits

Part III of the AAPA Act, stipulates that transit permits are legally required for any person visiting or passing through an Aboriginal reserve unless they are of Aboriginal descent; a member of either House of Parliament of the State or of the Commonwealth; or is a person lawfully exercising a function under the AAPA Act or otherwise acting in pursuance of a duty imposed by law.

Transit permits are required when travelling on roads over Aboriginal lands such as the Great Central Road, Tjukaruru Road and most of the roads-tracks leading off the Outback Way between Laverton and Yulara. The Great Central Road actually requires 2 sets of Transit Permits because there are Aboriginal Communities on both sides of the border (NT/WA) and each state has its own Aboriginal Lands office and issues its own permits.

Ngaanyatjarra Council

For people travelling through Aboriginal Land in the Central Reserves of Western Australia to, or from the NT border to Laverton, please contact Ngaanyatjarra Council, Alice Springs on: (08) 8950 1711 or Aboriginal Lands Trust, Perth on: (08) 9235 8000
Website: Ngaanyatjarra Council (Aboriginal Corporation)

Central Land Council (CLC)

For people travelling through Aboriginal Land in the Northern Territory to, or from the WA border to Yulara, please contact Central Land Council (CLC) in Alice Springs on: (08) 8951 6320
Website: Central Land Council - Permits

Permit Application Process

Permits are free, however you must complete a written application form and wait for it to be stamped and returned to you with an approval stamp. It is a legal requirement that each vehicle carries the permit during travel on Aboriginal Land.

The application forms will require the names of all persons entering the land, with a nominated principal applicant who must also give their address and phone contact details. You will also be required to provide vehicle make, model, rego number and state. Note, one permit per vehicle. You will also need to describe the specific route to be taken whilst on Aboriginal land (ie. Great Central Road) and give an estimate of dates (maximum 21 days). Finally you must provide a reason for requesting access to Aboriginal Land, eg. "holiday transit en-route from Alice Springs to Perth".

Generally, the ALT can process applications in 24 to 48 hrs and it is the experience of the ExplorOz Team that they can be processed on the same day if travel is on the Great Central Road with no deviations.

Fuel Supplies & Usage

Fuel SymbolTjukayirla Roadhouse, Warburton Roadhouse, Warakurna Roadhouse, Mount Ebenezer Roadhouse, Stuarts Well Roadhouse.
DieselULPLPG
4cyl 389 litres4cyl 449 litres4cyl 554 litres
6cyl 425 litres6cyl 502 litres6cyl 488 litres
8cyl 425 litres8cyl 460 litres
Usage is averaged from recorded data (* specific to this trek) and calculated based on trek distance.

Best Time To Visit

The Outback Way is best travelled during the cooler months from April to October. Warm, dry, sunny days are common during these months, although nights can be cold.

Closest Climatic Station

Kulgera
Distance from Trek Mid Point 31.16km E
 JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Mean Max. °C36.935.532.127.922.618.918.922.026.930.233.235.0
Mean Min. °C22.021.518.113.88.95.34.96.711.214.918.220.3
Mean Rain mm28.836.831.513.412.316.212.48.915.922.125.032.8
    Best time to travel      Ok time to travel      Travel NOT recommended

Services & Supplies

The following locations have various services And supplies:Tjukayirla Roadhouse, Stuarts Well Roadhouse, Harts Range Police Station

Map

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What to See

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Where to Stay

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Directions

LocationsDistanceDirection Time
Laverton to Euro Rockhole222.87 kmNE59° 2 hr 26 min
Euro Rockhole to Great Central Road & David Carnegie Rd78.38 kmNE34° 50 min
Great Central Road & David Carnegie Rd to Tjukayirla Roadhouse15.58 kmNE59° 13 min
Tjukayirla Roadhouse to Terhan Rockhole26.81 kmNE60° 19 min
Terhan Rockhole to Babul Rockholes22.67 kmE84° 17 min
Babul Rockholes to Wahlgu Rockholes22.32 kmE103° 20 min
Wahlgu Rockholes to Muggun Rockholes15.91 kmE68° 11 min
Muggun Rockholes to Great Central Road & Hunt Oil Road Intersection39.02 kmNE60° 26 min
Great Central Road & Hunt Oil Road Intersection to Great Central Rd & Heather Hwy89.9 kmNE42° 59 min
Great Central Rd & Heather Hwy to Blacks Lookout33.38 kmNE67° 21 min
Blacks Lookout to Warburton Roadhouse2.9 kmNE53° 4 min
Warburton Roadhouse to Palytjikata114.1 kmNE50° 1 hr 14 min
Palytjikata to Warakurna Roadhouse113.72 kmNE61° 1 hr 15 min
Warakurna Roadhouse to Giles Weather Station0.66 kmN351° 1 min
Giles Weather Station to Great Central Rd - Gunbarrel Hwy & Giles Mulga Park Rd25.98 kmSE121° 18 min
Great Central Rd - Gunbarrel Hwy & Giles Mulga Park Rd to Schwerin Mural Crescent Sign36.29 kmNE44° 25 min
Schwerin Mural Crescent Sign to Len Beadell Blaze Tree3.53 kmNE55° 3 min
Len Beadell Blaze Tree to Great Central Rd & Sandy Blight Junction Rd9.21 kmNE44° 7 min
Great Central Rd & Sandy Blight Junction Rd to Docker River (Kaltukatjara) Access23.01 kmE93° 18 min
Docker River (Kaltukatjara) Access to Docker River - Campground1.93 kmE111° 2 min
Docker River - Campground to Docker River (Kaltukatjara)0.53 kmSE141° 2 min
Docker River (Kaltukatjara) to Lasseters Cave40.45 kmSE117° 29 min
Lasseters Cave to Tjunti0.75 kmNE67° 2 min
Tjunti to Puta Puta25.46 kmE104° 18 min
Puta Puta to Tjukaruru Rd & Kata Tjuta Rd116.24 kmE104° 1 hr 30 min
Tjukaruru Rd & Kata Tjuta Rd to Lasseter Hwy/Uluru Rd & Kata Tjuta Rd39.67 kmE89° 29 min
Lasseter Hwy/Uluru Rd & Kata Tjuta Rd to Uluru-Kata Tjuta Cultural Centre7.86 kmS164° 5 min
Uluru-Kata Tjuta Cultural Centre to Mala Carpark (Uluru)1 kmE79°
Mala Carpark (Uluru) to Uluru-Kata Tjuta Cultural Centre1 kmW259°
Uluru-Kata Tjuta Cultural Centre to Lasseter Hwy/Uluru Rd & Kata Tjuta Rd7.86 kmN344° 5 min
Lasseter Hwy/Uluru Rd & Kata Tjuta Rd to Yulara8.06 kmN344° 6 min
Yulara to Curtin Springs83.6 kmE96° 48 min
Curtin Springs to Lasseter Hwy & Mulga Park Rd11.44 kmE112° 6 min
Lasseter Hwy & Mulga Park Rd to Mt Connor Lookout10.08 kmNE56° 5 hr 47 min
Mt Connor Lookout to Curtin Springs East Rest Area5.76 kmNE41° 3 hr 18 min
Curtin Springs East Rest Area to Mount Ebenezer Roadhouse76.6 kmE82° 1 day 20 hr 1 min
Mount Ebenezer Roadhouse to Mount Ebenezer0.46 kmN348° 15 min
Mount Ebenezer to Desert Oaks Resort56.64 kmE92° 1 day 8 hr 33 min
Desert Oaks Resort to Stuart Hwy & Ernest Giles Rd32.41 kmN359° 30 min
Stuart Hwy & Ernest Giles Rd to Finke River Rest Area36.64 kmN18 min
Finke River Rest Area to Stuarts Well Roadhouse5.28 kmN17° 2 min
Stuarts Well Roadhouse to Stuart Highway & Owen Springs Access Tk33.55 kmNE43° 16 min
Stuart Highway & Owen Springs Access Tk to Mt Polhill Rest Area25.07 kmN15° 15 min
Mt Polhill Rest Area to Alice Springs6.89 kmNE42° 3 min
Alice Springs to Tanami Rd & Stuart Hwy65.16 kmNE36° 43 min
Tanami Rd & Stuart Hwy to Stuart Hwy & Plenty Hwy20.69 kmN354° 14 min
Stuart Hwy & Plenty Hwy to Gemtree48.44 kmN340° 1 hr 29 min
Gemtree to Harts Range Police Station69.57 kmE72° 2 hr 8 min
Harts Range Police Station to Atitjere74.43 kmE91° 2 hr 42 min
Atitjere to Jervois Station1.8 kmSE115° 1 min
Jervois Station to Injerrabonna Waterhole132.12 kmE88° 3 hr 23 min
Injerrabonna Waterhole to Tobermorey154.64 kmNE66° N/A
Tobermorey to Plenty Highway, NT-QLD Border63.4 kmE72° N/A
Plenty Highway, NT-QLD Border to Boulia2.49 kmSE127° N/A
Boulia to Hamilton Hotel Ruins245.76 kmE109° N/A
Hamilton Hotel Ruins to Lillyvale Hills 77.29 kmE78° 1 hr 45 min
Lillyvale Hills to Woodstock60.59 kmE77° 1 hr 1 min
Woodstock to Winton Jundah Rd & Landsborough Hwy104.51 kmNE62° 1 hr 45 min
Winton Jundah Rd & Landsborough Hwy to Winton119.03 kmE98° 2 hr 3 min
Laverton to Winton2772.43 km  1 day 17 hr 29 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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