Great Australian Road Trips
 
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OUTBACK TRACKS
 
Birdsville Hotel

Birdsville Track: First established during the 1880s as a stock route between Marree in South Australia and Birdsville in Queensland, the Birdsville Track has become one of Australia’s most legendary outback tracks. Back then, it would take about a month to complete; nowadays, the track is passable to conventional vehicles for most of the year. Highlights include white salt lakes, homestead ruins, crossing the dog fence and visiting the gushing hot water bores beside the track, the Natterannie sand hills where the Tirari and Strzelecki deserts meet, and of course, the famous Birdsville Hotel.

How long? around 520 km
More: www.exploroz.com

Crossing the Pentecost River

Gibb River Road: A road trip for those that want a true outback adventure.  It’s four-wheel-drive only; remote, rugged and you’ll need to be pretty much self-sufficient, carry spares, tools and extra fuel and be willing to camp most nights, but it is one of the most beautiful outback drives in the country. The track starts in Kununurra, and cuts through the heart of the Kimberleys to meet the sea at Derby.  Highlights are forests of boab trees, spectacular gorges, crocodiles, cool billabongs and waterfalls.  Roads are impassable November to April.

How long? around 700 km
More: www.gibbriverroad.net

 

Watch the video: The Munja Track: off road adventures on one of the Kimberley's toughest 4WD tracks.

Silverton

Corner Country: This drive takes you up the Silver City Highway to Tibooburra and Cameron Corner; the place where three states – New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia ‑ meet. The mostly unsealed road spears north from Broken Hill, through endless red dust plains studded with salt bush and mulga, emus, mobs of kangaroos and cackling galahs. Highlights include the ghost town of Milparinka; Depot Glen where explorer Charles Sturt was forced to wait out the summer heat in 1845; Sturt National Park, with its startling jump ups; and the red dunes of the Strezlecki Desert and vast gibber plains.

How long? around 480 km
More:
www.outbacknsw.com.au

The Dog Fence

Oodnadatta Track: This track traverses some of South Australia’s most remote outback, following in the footsteps of explorer John McDouall Stuart, who crossed the continent from Adelaide to Darwin in 1862. The Overland Telegraph Line was built along his route just 10 years later, which was followed by the now abandoned first Ghan railway line, opened in 1929.  Explore old train carriages in Marree, have a beer at William Creek (population 7), visit the white salt vastness of Lake Eyre, bubbling mound springs, old Telegraph Station and homestead ruins and the outpost of Oodnadatta.

How long? around 620 km
More: www.southaustralia.com

KIngs Canyon from the air

Pioneers’ Path: All the icons of the Australian outback in one three-day trip: Alice Springs, Kings Canyon and Uluru.  From the Alice, head west through the ancient purple West Macdonnell Ranges to Hermannsburg, home of Albert Namatjira, then on to The Mereenie Loop Road.  This dirt road will take you to Kings Canyon, where you can hook up with the bitumen road to Uluru. Highlights along the way include Glen Helen Gorge, the Gardner Range, Finke Gorge, Mount Connor and Palm Valley. Four-wheel drive is recommended on the Meerenie, although conventional cars have been known to survive the trip.

How long? around 630 km
More: en.travelnt.com

 

Watch the video: East of Alice: the East Macs

Watch the video: Finke Gorge & Palm Valley

Simpson desert dunes. Phot courtesy Bill McKinnon

The Simpson Crossing: One of the last frontiers of the outback.  It was the last of the Australian deserts to be explored by Europeans, the first to cross its expanse of red dunes was Ted Colson, on camel, in 1936; the first vehicle in 1962.  Now, it’s top of the list for serious four-wheel drivers, and while thousands of people cross the Simpson each year, it is still not a trip to be taken lightly.  You’ll need to be self sufficient, carry good maps, make sure your vehicle is in tip-top condition, carry enough water for several days and basic spares.  Crossing east to west is the easiest way, from Birdsville to Dalhousie hot springs, and allow three days.

How long? around 645 km
More: www.mynrma.com.au

Head of Bight

Across the Nullarbor: The trip across the Nullarbor is an iconic journey through the Australian outback. The longest, straightest, flattest piece of road in Australia stretches from just east of the historic gold mining town of Kalgoorlie in Western Australia to the fishing port of Ceduna on the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia. Highlights include semi-arid desertscape, the flat Nullarbor Plain where you feel as if you can see forever, towering cliffs along the Great Australian Bight, Eucla Telegraph Station ruins, whale watching at Head of Bight and seafood in Ceduna.

How long? around 2500 km
More: www.nullarbornet.com.au

 

Watch the video: Crossing the Nullarbor

The Savannah Way: The Savannah Way, stretching across the top of the country from Cairns to Broome, is one of the world’s best trans-continental journeys. Most of the trip is sealed, apart from the stretch between Normanton and Borroloola in the Gulf of Carpentaria, and it’s a dry season road only with some of the sections impassable November to April. You’ll need to be willing to camp most nights, but it is one of the most beautiful outback drives in the country. Highlights are forests of boab trees, remote gorges, outback cattle stations, crocodiles, waterfalls and the spectacular Bungle Bungles.

How long? 3500 km
More: www.savannahway.com.au

 

Watch the video: Beachside camping on the Dampier Peninsula

Watch the video: Lorella Springs, a million-acre wilderness park on the edge of the Gulf of Carpentaria

Bourke railway station, now defunct

Kidman Way: The fully-sealed Kidman Way runs almost 800km through outback New South Wales, and is a great introduction to the wide open expanse of western New South Wales, particularly for those who prefer to stay on the bitumen.  Along the way you can visit the scene of some of bushranger Ned Kelly’s more notorious raids at Jerilderie, enjoy the wineries and restaurants of cosmopolitan Griffith and the surrounding Riverina region, learn about the true story behind the legend of the ‘black stump’, discover a rich local history at the copper mining town of Cobar and explore the town that has become synonymous with the bush and the outback — Bourke.

How long? around 800 km
More: www.kidmanway.org.au

Elder Range

Flinders Ranges: The weathered crags of the Flinders Ranges in central South Australia is an ancient landscape, full of almost primeval colours: rich purples and deep blues, cut through with red rock gorges.  Main roads are accessible to conventional sedans, but most side tracks are 4WD only.  Highlights include the Wadlata Outback Centre in Port Augusta, Pichi Richi steam railway at Quorn, Brachina and Mount Chambers gorges with their galleries of Aboriginal rock art, Wilpena Pound (best seen on a scenic flight) and Arkaroola’s stunning ridge-top tour.

How long? around 650 km
More: flinders-ranges-outback.aspx

 

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