Image via Instagram: On Telstra Hill about 300km south of Halls Creek, taken by @swagmanphotography who says it is the only place on the track you can get reception before Tilmouth Well Roadhouse in NT
Have you experienced Australia’s famous track, the Tanami Road? If you haven’t – time is running out, as planning is now underway for $235 million of Federal Government funds to upgrade and seal this iconic route.
Known as the ‘Tanami Track’, it is the most direct road, or the “short-cut” between Alice Springs in NT and Halls Creek, WA. Spanning over 1000 km, it best travelled April to November. Permits are required for some stops.
The project will deliver targeted upgrades to the Stuart Highway, Tanami Road, Browns Range Road, and surrounding roads with an aim to provide a “more reliable and safe road network, especially during the wet season, improve access for higher capacity vehicles, better connect regional communities and facilitate other economic opportunities”.
The road supports major industries including mining, agriculture and tourism. Of the grant, $160 million has been committed to the Northern Territory and $75 million to Western Australia.
The south end of Tanami Rd is bitumen, and the remainder is dirt and gravel. Although it is navigable by two-wheel drive vehicles, a four-wheel drive is highly recommended. Some parts of the road are prone to severe corrugations, making for an uncomfortable and slow drive at times.
Besides experiencing the “real outback” of the road, and a night or so in the Tanami Desert, the northernmost desert in our country, most owned by the Aboriginal Warlpiri people. Here are some other stops along the way….
Newhaven Wildlife Sanctuary – one of Australia’s largest non-government protected areas, covering 262,000 hectares with the world’s longest cat proof fence. NT site 87 in Camps 10, and it is not pet friendly! Take a self guided tour – the scenery is spectacular: dramatic quartzite mountains overlook sand dunes, salt lakes and clay pans. You’ll see mulga woodlands and spinifex sandplains. Threatened species include the Black-footed Rock-wallaby, the Brush-tailed Mulgara and the Great Desert Skink.
Balgo Tourist Road is due to open this year, a 140 km dirt road for 4WD enthusiasts through the Balgo Hills, savannah plain and rock formations.
Australia’s most remote art gallery could be the Warlayirti Artists Aboriginal Corporation of Balgo Aboriginal Community, representing about 300 indigenous artists.
Divert south on the Canning Stock Route to Lake Gregory and Lake Stretch for some incredible bird watching at this permanent wetland.
Stand on the crater rim – 880 m wide at Wolfe Creek Crater National Park! The second largest in the world, where meteorite fragments have been collected. You can stop overnight here at NT site 95 Wolfe Creek Camp. Access is about 20 km from the Tanami Road.
Being self sufficient is vital – fuel, water and food stops are few and far between, so please check what is open before you leave.
In the meantime – please make a note of a phone number change in your CAMPS 10 books, just before NT site 85:
This road is seasonal and more suitable to 4WD vehicles, camper trailers and off road caravans. Road conditions phone 1800 246 199 (NT) or 138 138 (WA).