Australia's Longest Shortcut

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August 28th 2013
Published: September 2nd 2013
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This is the Great Central RoadThis is the Great Central RoadThis is the Great Central Road

about 1200 K's of this, it was fantastic, no, It was awesome, the beauty of the Outback.
Australia’s Longest Shortcut

Wednesday 28 August

I was already up by the time Caroline woke up this morning, it was a cool morning but the sun would soon be up over the dune and it would be getting warm quite quickly. As soon as I realised Caroline was stirring I thrust a morning cuppa in to in her hands.

We wanted to get a good jump on the day, our Uluru parks pass had expired yesterday and today we were leaving Uluru heading to the Western Australian border.

Sitting outside we ate toast and jam for breakfast, and then got onto the packing up, it was quick and easy this morning, before 9am it was already getting warm the temperature expecting to get to 33 degrees today.

I have to say Uluru (Aryes Rock) was nothing short of spectacular and every photo, painting or description just does not do it justice, its colour is mesmerising as it changes throughout the day and when the sun crowns the day, the rock just seems to blush.

Its size is impressive, its texture is impressive and
Go This wayGo This wayGo This way

The start of the Great Central Road
its colour is absolutely stunning, we feel very privileged to have seen it.

Am I disappointed that I did not climb it? Well yes I am, did a need to climb it to feel like I conquered it? Did I even need to feel that I conquered it? Apart from it being a pretty difficult climb that has claimed the lives of 35 people, there was something else, I appreciate that the traditional owners don’t want you to climb it (s it is a sacred site) and the Parks and Wild life people put all this BS forwards about health and safety and how the traditional owners feel responsible for your welfare, which I believe is utter cr*p, but looking at it, it’s like looking in to the soul of the earth and to step on it would somewhat feel like you have sullied its perfection, so I will be satisfied that Caroline and I had the most fantastic 10.6k walk around it and enjoyed every bit of it

With our final checks done we were on our way out of the Ayres Rock Resort and heading toward Uluru and Kata Tjuta National Park. This is the only road through to the WA border here and you have to drive through the national park to get there, so you do have to go through the checkpoint, even though we had our park entry tickets, they would have expired last night so we had to show our travel permits.

Because we will be travelling through indigenous land, a permit is required to drive on their roads, a couple of weeks ago while we were in Alice Springs I applied for our permits, we needed two, one to get from Uluru to the WA border and then another permit to cover the Great Central Road from the border to Laverton in WA.

I hand our permits over to the lady in the kiosk, she stamps them both and hands them back advising us that she will pass our registration number onto the park rangers, if they find you driving into the park areas they are entitled to stop you and hand out a fine. Caroline told me that it would not be wise to get caught in the Kata Tjuta's, it could be painful!

Caroline had one question on her mind which needed to be answered and this was partially for safety reasons, "who was entitled to stop you and check your permits?" The lady in the kiosk tells us that if it is in the National Park area then it is either the Park Rangers or the Police, outside of National Park areas it would be the Police.

We head off, looking at Uluru in the distance rising from the ground like a loaf of bread in the oven. Eventually we turn toward Kata Tjuta and the WA border, and then we watch the Kata Tjuta (The Olgas’s) get bigger as we drive toward them.

Turning off just before we get to the Kata Tjuta parking area more road signs tell us not to park on the road, they really don't want people to stop and take photos here, technically it is still National Park, we see another vehicle stopped and pull in behind, chatting to them we find out that the Park Ranger in the kiosk told her to put the camera away that she had on her lap as that would indicate they were touring the area and they would have to charge the entry fee.

After a chat and dare I say it a few photos it was time to move on we are sure we will bump into this couple again whilst we cross this track.

Our journey today and possibly for the next four days will be on the Great Central Road, this track links Yulara to Laverton in Western Australia and is some 1136k’s in length and is a very important road link, across the centre of Australia.

We are really excited about this journey it’s a big one and we feel ready to do it, though both of us are silently a little apprehensive, it is remote and we needed to make sure that we were prepared. We have checked and double checked our equipment and resources. We have plenty of water and food on board and the truck and trailer are prepared for our departure, with fuel etc.

I asked Caroline how many vehicles she thought she would see before we got to the W/.A boarder and she tells me ten (10), I guess thirty three (33) as this is quite an important road in the grand scheme of things.

One thing I am very excited about is that we will be going past Giles Wether Station, which is sited just over the border in a small township of Warakurna, (An Aboriginal Community) and the weather station was originally required to be put there, by the British 50 years ago as part of the Woomera Rocket Range and the Atomic bomb testing grounds for Emu Flats and Maralinga, the site is named after the explorer Ernest Giles.

But apart from the historical thing what I am really excited about is being part of a weather Balloon launch. Now our new life in Australia is all about new things and as neither of us has had anything to do with weather Balloons, this is a must do for us.

The other thing I am excited about is the Great Central Road, was cut out by Len Beadell and his Gunbarrel Road Construction Party, some 60 years ago and we are now lucky enough to retrace his foots steps and enjoy his legacy, before this, no road was in existence and this part of Australia had rarely been seen by a white man.

We cross the WA border at 1.28pm, we are now in our 7th state/territory since starting this trip, the only one we have not done is Tasmania, now there's a thought.

The actual road is magnificent, though only a track, it is 4 vehicles in width with deep gully’s each side and is graded to a very high standard, sometimes in places it gets a bit soft and sandy so you do still need to keep your wits about you.

We do see the odd vehicle coming in the opposite direction but only couple and not as many as I would have thought on an important road like this one.

One thing that we have both commented on during this trip are the wild flowers that adorn the side of the roads and tracks, such awesome colours that contrast against the redness of the track and also we are amazed just how green outback Australia is at the moment it is simply stunning.

The drive is good, we go through some pretty spectacular mountain ranges of the
Gunbarrel Road Construction PartyGunbarrel Road Construction PartyGunbarrel Road Construction Party

The Great Central Road, was carved out by the GRSP (Len Beadell) in the1960's, it really is an important road and is called Australia's Longest Shortcut
Petermann, Kathleen, Hope, and Bloods ranges, one thing that has changed on this trip compared to our last major trip nearly 5 years ago, is how Caroline does our mapping and how she produces the blogs, let’s say that the blogs area little more real time than they were last time, as with her iPad/keyboard set up, she virtually has fingers on keys as soon as we are mobile, and she swaps between blogs and mapping applications, virtually in seconds as I need information on places, details distance etc, sadly we are not super human and can only publish blogs when we get internet access which has not been plentiful on this trip.

We see the signs for Lasseter’s Cave, Lasseter was an explorer who claimed to have found a seam of gold and when he went back to recover it, but could not find it, unfortunately his camels had bolted so he hid out in a cave for a month. Lasseter then set out to walk 110k’s to meet his relief party, with only 1.7 Litres of water and thus leaving his notes and books within the cave.

Around lunch time we pull
Stopping at The Ghost GunStopping at The Ghost GunStopping at The Ghost Gun

To pay homage to Len Beadell
in to the Aboriginal community of Docker River, we were in need of a break and wanted to make a sandwich and possibly top the tanks up. You know our rule we never go past a fuel station without topping the tanks up to full, irrespective of price, you just cannot afford to do that.

Now removing my political correctness chip for a moment, Docker River is a dump, with litter everywhere it’s an absolute disgrace, we drive in find the fuel station is closed and drive out, this was ok because Warakurna is the next community and it is not that far away and we still had a tank and a half, so I know we would be okay.

Just out of town we find an area where we can make a sandwich and a cup of tea we on our way, which we do with our usual speed and grace.

Caroline advises me that we are looking out for a Len Beadell marker, in a ghost gum and I nearly wet my pants in excitement, we pull up to the marker and see the hand stamped plaque, detailing how the Gun Barrel Road Construction Party had come this way, forming this very road we were on.

The afternoon was hot and it was a pleasure getting back in to the air conditioned cab of Jack and set off, once the photo’s were taken.

We arrived in Warakurna at about 2.30, we have covered over 300 K’s so had had enough, we pull into the road house and up to the diesel pumps, which was occupied by one of the local constabulary, now out here, you have a pump attendant as the pumps are locked away in cages, I think it is to stop people driving off without paying and to prevent people sniffing the fuel, when the copper when in to put his fuel on the stations account, the attendant put the diesel nozzle in to jack and I said “can you fill her up” I also said “you can put it on his account”, but the attendant didn’t even raise a smile.

We bumped into the couple we met earlier at the start of the Great Central Road, they told us there were no tours today, they were disappointed, but instead of waiting they decided to head off further down the track for an overnight stop.

Once we filled we drove straight up to Giles weather station which was only about 1.5 k’s out of town, and there was a sign up saying “No tours today” still we were here so we looked around at what we could and the jewel for me was Len Beadells Caterpillar Grader, the original one, it was last used in 1963 and here was its final resting place, the Army Engineers have built it a protective cage to protect it from idiots like me sitting in it.

There was also a shoe from the film Priscilla Queen of the Desert, apparently this shoe, was on top of the bus in the film and I do not have a clue why it is here at Giles.

There is a small room at the weather station that is for the tourists, it full of interesting facts about weather and how they gather the data etc, it also had 3 fantastic cartoons drawn by my hero (Len Beadell) I would love to get my hands on an

from Priscilla Queen of the Desert.
original, he was a very talented man, great sense of humour.

Just as we are leaving, we bump in to a guy who works at the weathers station and he tells us the reason there was no tour today was that he had to take his partner to Uluru as she needed to fly home for a family emergency, but he would be a tour and a balloon launch tomorrow at 08.10, we nearly screamed with delight and promise this chap called Doug, we would be back and meet him the morning without fail.

We drive back to the roadhouse as this is where we can park Gypsy for the night, it’s now blowing an absolute hooley, we pull up to the servo and I follow an aboriginal car in, it’s a white 80 series Landcruiser and there is not a single window in existence(not one), just holes where they should be, even the wind screen is missing Caroline and I are laughing our heads off as no way is this vehicle legal.

Caroline goes in to the roadhouse and secures a place for Gypsy, we usually take a powered site
Jack and GypsyJack and GypsyJack and Gypsy

in front of the Kata Tjuta's and ready for the Great Central Road
as we like to charge the dual batteries on the trailer, and plug the freezer in, which is carries in the truck, and obviously has all our frozen stuff in.

We are given instruction that we can park it where we like so when we drive around to the back, we see some other campers, and we see the power pole so we park just by here so we can get all our electrical connection that we need.

The afternoon is really hot, despite the wind which was also hot, we couldn’t open the windows in Gypsy because the wind was whipping up the red dust.

After our showers, we needed to get some dinner ready and as there was a good camp kitchen we decided to do pork chops and a selection of veggies an the BBQ that was provided, and as it was being used by others they invited us to put our food on with theirs.

Our dinner was soon done, but during the time that our dinner was cooking we got talking to the other people and find out that, the lady (Louise) was

At last a herd of camels and what were the only camels we saw on the Great Central Road! 19 of them.
a Western Australian Senator and the fella, was an ex member of Parliament, his opening line to me was do you know what happens when you lose your electoral seat, “Nope” I said, he said “you’re out of a job looking for work.”

I have to say they were very interesting and we spent the rest of the evening having a crash course on Australian Politics.

As always, soon it was time for bed and as they say early to bed & early to rise and boy were we excited about tomorrow and being at Giles Weather Station for our balloon launch.


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