Outback Way – The Longest Shortcut in Australia
The Outback Way, or Outback Highway, provides an awesome opportunity to explore remote areas of Australia. It’s a 2,800 km stretch of track that winds through the middle of Australia from Laverton, Western Australia to Winton, Queensland.
The track is a total of 2,800 km (1,740 mi) long. It consists of seven separate stretches of road and highway: the Great Central Road, the Gunbarrel Highway, the Lasseter Highway, the Stuart Highway, the Plenty Highway, the Donohue Highway, and the Kennedy Development Road.
Travellers along the entire Outback Highway pass through three separate states, Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia.
Which places does the Outback Way pass through?
There are some incredible sights to see along this famous stretch of track including Uluru (Ayers Rock), the Olga’s, Peterman, and MacDonnell Ranges. There are also several interesting towns and campsites to visit while traveling through the heart of Australia.
Laverton is in Western Australia, at one end of the Outback Way. It’s a town famous for its association with gold mining and is home to The Great Beyond Explorers Hall of Fame. Visitors to the town can check out the historic buildings and spend time exploring the Heritage Trail.
Moving on from Laverton, the Outback Way takes travellers on to Tjukayirla Roadhouse where they can spend time camping and pick up some fuel before heading off to Warburton with its historic cross and cultural centre.
Art lovers are likely to make a stop at the next place along the highway, Dock River, where there is an art gallery as well as the Desert Oaks Campground.
Travelling on further, visitors can take a walking tour at Curtin Springs, visit a kangaroo farm at Erldunda Roadhouse and take a camel ride at Stuart’s Well.
The next stop, Alice Springs, is a must see. Attractions in the town include the Pioneer Women’s Hall of Fame, Indigenous Art Galleries, and the Reptile Centre. It’s a fun and vibrant destination. Leaving Alice Springs, and continuing down the Outback Way, there are camp sites and fuel stops at Jervois Station and Tobermorey.
Further on along the highway, it’s a good idea to stop off at Boulia for a visit to Ann Britton’s Photography Gallery, the Bourke River, and the Corroboree Tree. Then, on to the final destination, Winton, the home of ‘Waltzing Matilda’. Visitors can discover the origin of the unofficial national anthem at the Waltzing Matilda Centre.
How long does it take to travel the Outback Way?
The highway includes around 1,750 km of unsealed road so it’s often not the easiest to drive along. A 4-wheel drive is definitely needed, and the entire track takes at least three to four days to complete as driving at night is not recommended.
Ideally, anyone taking a road trip along the Outback Way should give themselves six to seven days to complete the journey. This allows time for seeing the sights and visiting attractions along the way.
The good news is that there is never more than 300 km between stops where food, fuel and sleep is available. But travellers still need to make sure they are prepared in terms of supplies, repair kits, and communication devices in case of emergencies in remote areas along the outback road.
What is the best time of year to travel the Outback Way?
At any time of year, it’s a good idea to check weather conditions before driving along the Outback Way. The journey takes in different climates from tropical to desert conditions and the weather situation can be changeable.
Overall, it’s normally better to navigate the highway when the weather is cooler, from April to October. High levels of rainfall and high temperatures can make conditions uncomfortable and treacherous from November to March.
The future of the Outback Way
The investment infrastructure project put in place by the Australian government has funded the sealing of part of the Outback Way. However, there is still a long way to go. The next part of the sealing project is due to happen in early 2022. This will involve areas of road around Warbuton and Warakuna.
Works around the Cosmo Newberry Community, 84 km east of Laverton, are also in the planning stage.
The work involves collaboration with people from local Aboriginal communities who are being provided with on-the-job training in order to participate.
It remains to be seen if and when the work on the Outback Way will be completed. Businesses and local people are awaiting this time as it will make it easier to transport goods across the country and should also lead to an increase in tourism.