Track - Australia
The Birdsville Track
is just one of several desert tracks that start in the north east end
of South Australia.
It runs from Marree in South Australia, same as the Oodnadatta Track,
Birdsville in Quensland covering a distance a little over 520 km. There
is a long stretch without fuel of about 315km and you are best to do it
in the winter months, as with all Desert Trips, from say April to
The Birdsville Track is not considered to be a
very hard trip but it is one that is very popular amongst 4wdrivers. It
is a good dirt track these days and mainly travels through the vast,
dry northern regions of South Australia.
The road surface is rated good in 4wd terms and the trip fairly easy
going but don't read this as being able to be complacent.
It is still
an absolute requirement that your vehicle be in tip top
and that you make ample provision of fuel, water and supplies. The
desert can be a very in-hospitable place when you are in trouble.
The first explorer to enter this region was Edward Eyre in 1840 who
travelled as Lake Eyre. It wasn't until a search party went searching
for Burke and Wills, who had in fact died at Cooper Creek, in the early
1860's that the region first started opening up. In 1880 Burt travelled
the route that is now known as the Birdsville Track. It was around this
time that cattlemen used the track to move their stock from Queensland
to Adelaide in the anticipation of getting higher prices for the cattle.
The Afghan Traders used the route as well to plough their trade between
the remote settlements in the area. In the 1930's vehicles started
using the Birdsville Track and one of the more famous travelers at the
times was Tom Kruse, the legendary postman who worked for Harry Ding.
Many lost their lives along the track and in the region in those days,
mainly from getting lost in the dunes. Tom Kruse used to have
corrugated iron sheets stored along the way to help him get his truck
through the very soft sand dunes. At times it would take a day or more
to travel just 10 to 15 kilometers.
The journey starts at Marree which was once a major rail junction and a
thriving town. It lost its significance when the rail tracks were
closed down in the early 1980's due to the new Ghan line being built
200km to its west.
There is plenty of accommodation and supplies in town as well as
adequate camping areas.
Head out of town towards Lake Harry which is 30km north of the town.
Here you will find the remains of the Lake Harry Homestead. There are
some good vantage points in the area from which to get a good view of
the surrounding countryside.
About 15km north again the track passes through the dog fence, which is
the longest fence in the world, stretching from near Western Australia
through South Australia, along the South Australia / New South Wales
border, then along the New South Wales / Queensland border before
veering north and ending up in central Queensland.
It is generally regarded that the areas to the north of the fence are
cattle and wild dog country, whilst south of it is sheep country.
About 10km further on is Clayton Creek and the Clayton Creek Homestead
and about 30km further again you come across the Dulkaninna Homestead.
Not much further is the Cannuwaukaninna Bore. This bore supplies many
tanks on the property and bird life is normally fairly plentiful in the
About 10 or so kilometers from the bore stands the Etadunna Homestead
where a cross has been placed at the roadside in memory of the Moravian
Missionaries who worked in the area with the Aboriginal people from the
1860's until around 1917.
On occasions the Cooper Creek, north of Etadunna Homestead, floods and
makes the Birdsville Track impassable. When this happens the track
diverts of to the Cooper Creek ferry to the east from a track near the
Etadunna Homestead. It is on these occasions that the additional water
in the area attracts all manner additional of bird life to the area.
You would be considered fortunate to have been through here in a flood
as it is ironical that you are traveling through one of the driest
regions on earth, and here is a flood accompanied by teams of birdlime.
Quite an amazing experience.
North of the creek you will see the remains of the MV Tom Brennan which
was a barge used to ferry stock across the creek. The stretch north of
the Cooper floodplain sees the countryside change as you travel through
the Natterannie Sandhills towards the Ooroowilanie Ruins.
Some 45km north of the Etadunna Homestead is the remains of the Mulka
Homestead and general store which was abandoned around the early 1950's.
From here you are entering the outer regions of the Sturt Stony Desert
and gibber country. The Birdsville Track runs northwards through the
Sturt Stony Desert the Tirari Desert and Lake Eyre to its west, and to
the east the Strzelecki Desert. To the north west of here is the
The next point to head for is the Mungeranie Roadhouse and Homestead.
Here you can get a meal, fuel, minor repairs and accommodation. There
also a good camp ground in the area and a pleasant spot to stop for a
There is not much to see once passed the Mungeranie Roadhouse until you
reach the Mirra Mitta Bore so 30 plus kilometers north. In the old days
until the early 1930's Mirra Mitta was home to a small store that
supplied fresh veg and supplies to travelers passing through.
North of here, near the Mt Gasson Bore and Mt Gasson Homestead, Mt
Gasson is visible. It was named after the first policeman in the area,
A little further north you will notice a small fenced off area around
some trees, the Mt Gasson wattle, unique only to this area and one
other at Old Andado Station on the other side of the Simpson Desert.
About 30km north of Mt Gasson , a little before the Clifton Hills
Homestead, the Yelpawaralina and Warburton Tracks head of to the west,
crossing Warburton Creek at Warburton Crossing and into the Simpson
Desert Regional Reserve. About 85 kilometers north west of
crossing is the junction with the Rig Road, used extensively on Simpson
About 12 kilometers north of the Warburton Track turnoff is the turnoff
to Clifton Homestead. This is the largest cattle station that you will
pass through on the entire Birdsville Track. It covers 12,500 square
kilometers. No that is not a typing error - 12,500 square kilometers.
Enormous, but not that large in comparison with some other outback
cattle properties in Australia.
About 15 kilometers north of Clifton Homestead you will have two
options for your run into Birdsville, the Birdsville Inside Track or
the Birdsville Track, known also as the Birdsville Outside
The Birdsville Inside Track is the original track that was used by the
drovers in the old days. It winds up through Diamantina River flood
plains and becomes impassable after rains. In the 1960's the
Outside Track was built to the east of the Diamantina River to keep the
route open when the floods occurred.
The Birdsville Outside Track is by far a better track to travel on,
however the more adventurous travelers like the Inside Track due to its
more interesting scenery and bird life. The route takes you via
New Alton Downs for about 140km to Birdsville.
The Birdsville Outside Track sweeps to the east around the Goyder
Lagoon before starting to head north again near the turnoff to the east
of Walkers Track, that leads to Innamincka via Walkers Crossing.
The Birdsville Outside Track and the Walkers Track combine to
make it the shortest route from Birdsville to Innamincka
Innamincka is the setting off points for several outback
adventures. The Adventure Way, the Strzelecki Track, the Old Stzelecki
Track, which is treacherous after rain, and the tracks Cameron Corner.
Not far north of the Walkers Track turnoff is the Page Family Grave at
Koonchera Dune. The Page family of five died in 1963 after their
vehicle broke down. Having left their vehicle, probably in search of
water, they all perished in the desert heat and were buried at this
Around 90km north of Walkers Track is the turnoff to Pandie
Homestead and the Queensland border. From here about 30km further
Thanks for visiting,
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