A local’s guide – Great Central Rd

Great Central Rd

My Wife and I live with our 2 year old on the Great Central Rd in an Indigenous community called Docker River. We see many tourists end up in these parts with half-truths and many questions on their mind. Below are some of the most common concerns and questions travellers have when getting on the Great Central Rd.


Fuel is not an issue to any car out here, unless you are running LPG or towing a big van. There are fuel stops no more than 305km apart. Obviously Yulara and Laverton have the cheapest fuel. You can expect to pay more for fuel as you get further away from these locations.
Your fuel consumption will increase but not majorly. My Prado uses around 2.5-3L per hundred more on the Great Central Rd when I am not towing. Towing can be a huge drain on the fuel I have used 21L Per 100km towing our Tvan out here. It depends on the road conditions however the biggest impact comes from the Auto Torque lock up. As our Prado is not extremely powerful when the conditions are bad it will not lock up our torque converter meaning the car revs around 500rpm more. If your car has the power to lock the Torque convertor you will see a lot better results.

Fuel Locations

Docker River Store:

Location: 230km West of Ayres Rock Resort, 100km East of Warakurna Roadhouse
Opening Hours: Monday -Friday 9:00-17:00
Saturday- Sunday 9:00-12:00 (see takeaway shop when store is closed)
Phone: 08 89567373
Facilities: Free Camping (5km west of Docker River), No phone reception, pay phone, and no public toilets.

Notes: To get to the Docker River Store you must enter the community, there is plenty of signage around so you wont get it wrong. We get a food truck once a fortnight so the variety of food available is dependant upon when you arrive. There are some Docker River Souvenirs available form the shop such as sticker, water bottles and the local Football team’s Jumper

Warakurna Roadhouse:

Location: 100km West of Docker River, 230km East of Warburton Roadhouse
Opening Hours: Monday-Friday 8:30-17:00
Saturday- Sunday 9:00-12:00
Phone: 08 89567344
Facilities: Paid Camping, Accommodation, Mobile Coverage, and Art Gallery.
Website: www.warakurnaroadhouse.com.au

Notes: Warkaurna operates on NT time not WA Time. Fuel can be purchased outside of these hours for an additional fee

Warburton Roadhouse:
Location: 230km west of Warakurna, 230km East of Tjukayirla Roadhouse
Opening Hours: Monday-Friday 9:00-17:00
Saturday- Sunday 9:00-15:00
Phone: 08 89567656
Facilities: Mobile coverage, Paid Camping, Accommodation, Visitors centre located at Shire of Ngaanyatjarraku office
Website: www.warburtonroadhouse.com.au

Tjukayirla Roadhouse:
Location: 230km west of Warburton Roadhouse, 305km East of Laverton
Opening Hours: Monday-Friday 9:00-17:00
Saturday- Sunday 9:00-14:00
Phone: 08 90371108
Facilities: Paid Camping, Accommodation, No Mobile Coverage
Website: www.tjukayirlaroadhouse.com.au

Notes: The Roadhouse monitors UHF Channel 40. I don’t get this far west often however whenever I get over here I grab a Hamburger. Tjukayirla has the best takeaway food in the region!

The websites listed above claim to have current fuel prices. I am unsure of how accurate these are though.

Is my car capable?

Any kind of car can drive this road. Most of the local Indigenous people own Falcons or Commodores and I have even seen a few small hatches get around. These cars never last long but they do their job.

What are the road conditions like?

The NT section of the road in general is the worst. WA has spent a lot of money building roads and maintains them regularly. The NT side is generally a track graded straight into the ground. Some sections have been built however it leaves a lot to be desired. During our version of the wet season you will often hear people say “WA build roads, NT builds swimming pools” They are referring to the road get’s so far below the ground level these parts often turn into swimming pools.

How long will I be waiting if I breakdown?

There are so many other cars on the road so if you break down or run into trouble stay with your car! someone will come through eventually. During the winter months you will pass car’s travelling the opposite direction frequently. During summer you may not pass another car for 200km but they are still around. Christmas to New years is the quietest time on the road.

Should I drink the water?

You should carry all the water you need on the trip. The drinking water is not great out here and finding somewhere to top up can be a problem. Most roadhouses and stores carry 10L casks of drinking water if you need but do not rely on them.

What permits do I need?

You need two permits for the Great Central Rd. One permit for the NT side which can be obtained from CLC (Central Land Council) which can be found at forms.clc.org.au/OnlinePermits/Transit.aspx The other permit is obviously for the WA side which can be obtained at www.daa.wa.gov.au/en/Entry-Permits/EP_Y_PermitForm/

Do you have more questions?

My wife and I live at Docker River with our 2 year old Layla, we have created a website to help people get the most out of their next adventure. For more information or if you have specific questions head over to our website at www.yourtripright.com
One of our more popular articles is on driving corrugated roads. We measured the vibration inside the car on the same patch of corrugations just outside of Docker River to find out what is the best tyre pressure and speed to handle corrugated roads. The results can be found here. Happy Travels! www.yourtripright.com/driving-corrugated-roads.html

Brett Toll



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