The Outback Way

Known as Australia's longest shortcut, The Outback Highway links the east coast with the west through Laverton in Western Australia's north eastern Goldfields to Alice Springs in the Northern Territory and Boulia in Western Queensland and on through to Winton. The total length of the highway is 2,800 km, however by cutting through the centre of the country the highway actually reduces the trip from WA to Queensland by 1,600km.

Best time to travel

April to October. Cooler and less chance of road closures due to rain.

Road conditions

Unsealed roads Laverton to Yulara and Gemtree to Boulia. Unsealed roads are mostly dual lane limestone, sandy or gravely surfaces with occasional corrugated, rutted and bulldust sections (some excellent, others can be rough). Road conditions can change due to local flooding, creek crossings and road maintenance, and travellers should enquire at roadhouses before proceeding. Driving at night is not recommended due to wildlife, stock and unsealed road surface conditions.

Vehicle requirements

Unsealed sections are traversable in 2WD vehicles at slow speeds or in small low-clearance 4WD's, however, the route is best travelled in higher-clearance AWD's. Suitable for off-road caravans and trailers but not recommended for low-clearance caravans and trailers especially during November to March. Repair services are very limited, often not available. Road conditions are improving continuously, however road closures in the wet are still occurring.

Meals, Food and Provisions

Roadhouses stock snacks, drinks and essential food items. Community-based stores at Warburton, Warakurna, Docker River and Atitjere stock fresh produce and frozen foods. Laverton, Boulia and Winton have general stores and/or supermarkets with a wide variety of groceries, fresh produce and essential foods. Yulara and Alice Springs have a wide selection of stores offering meals, provisions and food items.

Activities

Bird watching (i.e. at waterholes, wells, billabongs), nature walks (i.e. along/around ridges & breakaways, through mulga scrub / oak forest), wildlife spotting, geocaching (searching for hidden caches approximately 70-80km apart), viewing interpretive panels (located approximately 80-90km apart), viewing indigenous art galleries / workshops at select communities, 4WD side trips to known sites of interest, bush camping, picnic at roadside rest bays & river crossings, viewing panoramic landscapes from roadside crests and fossicking at gem fields.

Permits

Permits are required to travel from:
Laverton to WA Border from the Department of Indigenous Affairs (Ph. 08 9235 8000);
Yulara to WA Border from the Central Land Council (Ph. 08 8951 6320).
Special permit is required to venture off the Outback Way from Ngaanyatjarra Land Council (Ph. 08 8950 1711).

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