The Outback Way

Total Distance: 2700 KILOMETRES

About This Drive

Duration: 7 days+
Route: Winton - Boulia - Jervois Station - Alice Springs - Yulara (Uluru) - Warburton - Laverton

An epic Road Trip, on Australia’s Longest Shortcut – connecting the Reef, The Rock and the West. The Outback Way takes you from Winton, Queensland to Laverton, Western Australia, 2700 kilometres (1300 kilometres of dirt road). There are fuel, food & sleep stops within 300 kilometres across the entire Outback Way. Be captivated by ancient landscapes, dig for fossils, sing Waltzing Matilda. Look for the mysterious Min Min lights, fossick for your own dazzling gems, relish the majestic red centre, events, iconic places, heritage and the rich indigenous cultural artwork. Immerse yourself in the wildlife, enjoy the wildflowers in natures playground, celebrate courageous explorers, connect to famous four wheel drive tracks. and do the world’s longest geocache trail ... and find your own treasures!
The best time to travel the Outback Way is during the cooler months: March to November. Travellers journeying along the Outback Way can enjoy some of Australia’s most remote, interesting and picturesque desert areas. The route is home to quirky events, artisans, welcoming communities, mine sites and pastoral stations. It also features some of Australia’s most iconic places, including Winton (home of Waltzing Matilda), Uluru (Ayers Rock), Kata Tjuta (The Olgas), and the Petermann and MacDonnell Ranges.

Day 1: Winton to Boulia (332km)

Highlight: Australian Age of Dinosaurs will allow you to step back to a prehistoric age of Australia

The landscape between Boulia and Winton is the heart of the Mitchell Grass Downs Bio-region. The scenery here is characterised by vast expanses of grasslands, low Acacia woodlands and undulating topography with occasional ranges, peaks and mesas that become focal points. Views in this landscape are generally extensive, particularly from the summits of the high points. This is pasture country and much of the land is grazed. On this route you see waterways, which are iconic Channel Country. These channels are often dry, low creek beds which can become vast flood plains. A number of creeks in this area including the Middleton, Mackunda, Ada, Boolbie, Opal and Cadell flow south into the Diamantina River and beyond into the Channel Country. In contrast to the channels the river basins are often broad with braided channels and deep holes that retain water long after the flow stops. Water birds and other wildlife thrive in this landscape when water is present. Make sure to stop the Middleton Hotel and Cawnpore Lookout between Winton and Boulia. The road is sealed between Boulia to Winton.

Day 2: Boulia to Jervois Station (410km)

Highlight: Jervois Station provides a wonderful friendly refuge

Jervois Station provides a wonderful friendly refuge in the pastoral country. Visitor facilities are open from 7.30am to 6pm, seven days a week. Jervois provides fuel, camping, toilets and a small shop (cash required as there is no ATM or EFTPOS facility). The campsite is in a nice shady riverside setting with large ghost gums as features. Boulia to the QLD/NT border is mostly one to two lane of sandy rocky, corrugated, rutted road-track, susceptible to seasonal flooding at major rivers.

Day 3: Jervois Station to Alice Springs (490km)

Highlight: Visit Alice Springs Desert Park and can see rare and endangered animals

An ideal base from which to explore the Red Centre is the relaxed and modern town of Alice Springs. This thriving town has come a long way from its humble beginnings as a telegraph station in 1871. There is so much to do: taste the local produce at the Northern Territory’s only winery, take a camel ride or try your luck at Lasseter’s Casino. To discover the town’s fascinating history take the self-guided heritage walk and visit Adelaide House, which was the region’s only medical centre until 1939. The Old Stuart Town Gaol, built in 1908, is the oldest building in the central town area. There’s also plenty of local history on display throughout the Alice Springs Cultural Precinct. Just ten minutes drive from town is the Alice Springs Desert Park where visitors can see rare and endangered animals and explore three strikingly different habitats. Take the pleasant 24km ride through typical woodland scenery from Alice Springs to Simpson’s Gap on the bicycle path. With its pale ghost gums, red cliffs and white river sands, Simpson’s Gap provides a spectacular introduction to the region. Alice Springs is a full service centre that caters expertly for travellers and residents alike.

Day 4: Alice Springs to Yulara (Uluru / Ayers Rock) (410km)

Highlight: Yulara is the service village and necessary base for exploring Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park

Yulara is a fully serviced community, catering to all types of visitors and budgets. All the facilities are well maintained but can get very busy during peak seasons. There is a wide range of built accommodation at Yulara – from budget to luxury – bookings are essential from May to September. The camping facilities are excellent and reasonably priced. The Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park entry station is located on the highway south of Yulara (Entry Fees Apply). Between Curtin Springs and Yulara there is a subtle change in the visual appearance of the landscape. This is the transition between the Finke bioregion to the east and the Great Sandy bioregion to the west. Both are hot and arid areas characterised by hummocky grasses, mulga/mallee and low woodlands. A significant difference is the presence of scrubby hungry iron-rich gravelly rises, a deeply weathered terrain in the Gibson Desert and extensive sand plains with dissected uplands, valleys and more desert oak groves in the Finke. The road from Alice Springs to Yulara is a sealed dual-lane.

Day 5: Yulara to Warburton (530km)

Highlight: Take some time to enjoy the Tjulyuru Regional Arts Gallery

The Tjulyuru Cultural Centre complex is a civic and cultural hub for visitors and locals based at the Warburton Community on the Great Central Road. Visitors to the area are encouraged to visit Tjulyuru to view Tjulyuru Regional Arts Gallery and check out the arts, crafts and publications for sale at the Warta Shop. Tjulyuru Regional Arts Gallery exhibitions draw from contemporary art practice in the region and the Warburton Art Collection – reputably the world’s largest collection of community-controlled Aboriginal art

Day 6: Warburton to Laverton (528km)

Highlight: Visit The Great Beyond Explorer's Hall of Fame and Visitor Centre

Laverton, with over 100 years of fascinating gold rush history, is the end of your Outback Way journey. It lies at the western edge of the Great Victoria Desert and is also the start point for the Anne Beadell Highway leading to Coober Pedy in South Australia. In the mid to late 19th century, several heroic explorers, including John Forrest and Ludwig Leichhardt, led expeditions through the areas in and around Laverton. Leichhardt’s expedition vanished and Forrest followed in search of the explorer’s remains and his large gold deposit. The fearless explorers and pioneers of the region are honoured in a splendid state-of-the-art exhibition, aptly named The Great Beyond – Explorers’ Hall of Fame. Here you can step back in time, listen to the explorers’ personal stories of hardship and discover what it was like for the early pioneers living and working on the Goldfields during the Australian gold rush. This innovative centre also houses the Laverton Visitor Centre.

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