Highway - Australia
The Gunbarrel Highway runs from the Warakurna Roadhouse to Wiluna, both
Western Australia. It covers a distance of a little over 1000
kilometers and the longest distance without fuel is from Jackie
Junction and the Warakurna
Roadhouse, a distance of over 700 km, assuming you are including the
'Abandoned' section on your trip, as described a little further on.
You will need permits and, for some parts of the trip permits are only
two or more vehicles with adequate communications equipment.
|You will travel through very, very remote desert
country and well
prepared vehicles and equipment are an absolute must.
The Gunbarrel Highway is one of the
more famous achievements of Len Beadell, who constructed many roads in
the area in the twenty or so years after World War II, as he was given
the task of surveying sites for Britain's planned atomic
The Gunbarrel Highway has important historical
significance, as it was the first road across Central Australia to the
west and was completed in 1958.
Part of the highway is now known as the 'Abandoned Section' and this is
where The Gunbarrel Highway starts or ends, at Warakurna Roadhouse on
the eastern end, fairly close to the Giles Meteorological Station.
The abandoned section runs almost to Warburton, approximately 350
kilometers south west, where it meets the junction from the Heather
alternative is that you start or end your trip at Warburton. The more
popular route nowadays from Warakurna
Roadhouse to Warburton is now along the Great Central Road.
This abandoned section now carries a 'travel at your own risk' warning
and before setting out you must write to the Ngaanyatjarra Land Council
stating that you are doing so at your own risk and will hold no one
To travel this section your letter must also state that you
traveling in convoy with at least one other vehicle but the convoy will
consist of no more than five vehicles, that you will be carrying the
requisite communications equipment of a HF Radio or satellite phone and
The abandoned route will be very hard going, particularly in the
Rawlinson Range area, and doesn't start to ease off until you reach the
half way mark or so when the track becomes sandier. Having headed west,
the track runs
almost due south as it reaches Jackie Corner, about 270km
Roadhouse, where it changes direction and runs almost due west.
After swinging west, it is about 85km, after passing through the Todd
Range, that the track meets the junction with the Heather
and the rest of the Gunbarrel Highway.
From the Warakurna
Roadhouse using the Great Central Road via Warburton will see you
joining the Heather Highway, which is not in good condition
very rough and slow going in places, a little short of 40km south west
of Warburton and traveling on it for around 120km before
and continuing, the journey westwards on the Gunbarrel.
You will find the track corrugated and rough and about 10km past the
junction is a good spot to rest a while under the gums. You will see a
plaque here that was put up in the late 1950's that commemorates Len
Beadell. Brew a cuppa and take some photos.
Plus minus 65km from Heather Highway is Camp Beadell with the
Sutherland Range to the south of it. If you are thinking of making camp
for the night, this is probably where you should head for.
From here it is another 5 or so kilometers to Mt Beadell and a monument
to Len and his team, and a couple of kilometers to the entrance of the
Gibson Desert Nature Reserve.
As you pass through the Brown Range, in the Gibson Desert Nature
Reserve, and with Mt Gordon to the north of you and Mt Everard to the
south the track swings from its current north westerly direction almost
due west for the last few kilometers to Everard Junction, which is the
junction with the Gary Highway, which runs north to the Canning Stock
Some 30km west of Everard Junction is the junction of the Gunbarrel
Highway and the Hunt Oil Road which runs south and south east until it
meets the Great Central Road. It is little used and not in good
It is at this junction, though, that the Geraldton Bore, sunk
the Geraldton Historical Society, is situated and it is also not a bad
From here the Gunbarrel Highway heads south west towards the Mangkili
Claypan Nature Reserve about 50 km away and the Mangkili Claypan
itself. The track goes through the claypan and it is not advisable to
attempt using this section of the track if there are signs of water
In the event that water is present there are other tracks that lead
around the perimeter of the claypan. Your extra effort in taking this
deviation should be rewarded though, with the displays of fauna and
flora. This is also a popular and pleasant camping spot.
Having passed through the claypan there is a junction with the Eagle
Highway to the north and the David Carnegie Road to the south. Whilst
the Eagle Highway eventually joins up with the Gary Highway and the
David Carnegie with the Great Central Road, both are in a state of
advanced disrepair and attempt to use either is not recommended.
The Gunbarrel Highway's condition has gradually improved over the
journey westward and from this junction on, gets better still, as it
approaches the Carnegie Homestead, and the official end of The
Gunbarrel. This is one of the better camping areas of the whole trip,
facilities, a supply of
fuel, provisions and emergency repairs.
Approximately 30km west of the Carnegie Homestead is a junction with a
track running north west for about 150km to Well 9 on the
Stock Route via Glen Ayle, situated a little over half way. The track
is normally in reasonable condition and is often used as a short cut
for those wanting to join up with The Canning rather that continue on
Continuing westwards for another 50 or so kilometers and the track
starts swing from its westerly direction almost due south, a little
passed the Harry Johnson Waterhole camping site, as it goes around the
northern and western perimeters of the vast Lake Carnegie
Once passed Wongawol and through the Princess and Wellington Ranges it
again heads westward on the home run onto bitumen and Wiluna .
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