Q24 What are the distances between fuel stations on the Stuart Highway between Port Augusta to Darwin?
A. My best advice is to ask others who have just been there for an up to date report on the state of the road when you get to Broome, if you plan to stay in Broome. Are you equipped to take a tent and camp all the way to and including at Kooljaman? You can only take a caravan as far as Middle Lagoon, but whether you would get in to Kooljaman with your Eagle under the camper trailer banner I do not know. You need to make booking for Middle Lagoon and most stay several days to enjoy to beauty and do day trips to places such as Beagle Bay, Cape Leveque, Lombadina and One Arm Point (Ardyaloon). The worst part of the road is getting that far, and the road is known for 150 sandy kilometres of bone rattling corrugations, with a thirty kilometre rough track to get into the campground as well. Much of the road further north is sealed but tracks still need to be traversed to get to most localities.
If you do decide to take your Eagle, lower tyre pressures and travel slowly. The biggest risk in these distant areas is cost of recovery if the camper needs recovery should it suffer something like suspension damage. I don’t know if you have travelled many corrugated roads, but every corrugation is doing your rig damage (and your car as well). Even if it doesn’t show at the time; the damage is cumulative. Check everything that can come unscrewed inside and outside on the camper. Things at risk internally may be cupboard attachments and cupboard doors, fridge tray supports and internal freezer if a small single door fridge.
You may like to consider alternatives to taking your own vehicle and/or camper. We have friends with a real off road caravan who choose the adventure tracks that few dare to travel even without a caravan. Rather than risk damaging their rig, they chose to take a two day adventure tour of the Dampier Peninsula, so this is another option.
Others have chosen to protect their rig and hired a Landcruiser camper from Broome to go the whole way and get into the different places such as Bully’s Camp (Djoodoon), Quandong Beach and Chile Beach (vans are permitted at Chile). Whalesong Café (Munget) is another lesser known site with campground.
Another thing to remember in these campgrounds is that no matter how inviting the water looks, there is a chance of crocodiles and other much smaller nasties in the water. As much as I love a swim, I choose not to take the risk.
Q23 We are planning to travel from Melbourne to the gulf and then up to Cape York during July to September. We have a Land Cruiser and Off Road Camper and have had reasonable 4wd experience. You hear so many stories of what permits are needed; where can I go to get clarification?
A. Aboriginal lands permit: For Cape York the only permit required to access the tip of Cape York is from the Injinoo people.
This is included in the ferry crossing ticket at the Jardine River, including the return trip. It includes camping and fishing
permits in their land area and a small information booklet and currently costs $ 99 per vehicle plus $30 per trailer. It
is purchased at the ferry, I think cash only. There are no other transit permits required in the Gulf. See below for updated
For Cape York the only permit required to access the tip of Cape York is from the Injinoo people. This is included in the ferry crossing ticket at the Jardine River, including the return trip. It includes camping and fishing permits in their land area and a small information booklet and currently costs $
99 per vehicle plus $30 per trailer. It is purchased at the ferry, I think cash only. There are no other transit permits required in the Gulf. See below for updated price list.
If you wish to specifically visit an Aboriginal community that is not part of the normal tourism route, you need to make contact with the Elders first and gain permission, giving your reason as per Visiting Communities. Most Aboriginal lands in Queensland do not require permits to transit.
Camping: Due to pressure of the QParks campgrounds, a book system now applies, although this is difficult to manage as no-one knows their timeframes. Other locally run campgrounds may require payment for a “camping permit” but this is no different to campgrounds anywhere else, and is paid at the location.
For those wanting commercial caravan park options see Tourism Cape York. In addition to this list there is Merluna Station, who have just a few powered sites avaialbe in addition to a roomy unpowered camping area. Cape York Sustainable Futures covers a wider geographical areas than those afore.
Alcohol: Be aware you cannot carry any alcoholic drinks when transiting some of the communities, and strict limits apply in others. See Alcohol Restrictions for Travellers for what and where. Click on Injinoo for the specific requirements of the Peninsula.
The biggest risk is from travellers coming the other way on short time frames, travelling too fast and without due care and attention. Rollovers and collisions are not uncommon in peak tourism season.
Main Roads rest areas for South Australia can be obtained from an RAA App. Not all will be suitable for overnight stays and those that are may fill early in the afternoon.
Main Roads rest areas are shown here for the Stuart Highway within the Northern Territory
Port Augusta to Pimba (intersection with turnoff to Woomera) 173 kilometres (LPG)
From Pimba, Woomera is only eight kilometres to the north and a worthwhile detour to see outdoor and indoor displays of the history of the Woomera Rocket Range. Caravan park at Woomera.
At the road junction, Spud's Roadhouse is a popular overnight stopping place, with all roadhouse services, as well as unpowered sites available for a gold coin donation. Coins showers (2 x $1 coins) and toilets.
Lake Hart has an unserviced rest area with information boards where some self contained travellers stay overnight.
Pimba to Glendambo 113 kilometres (LPG)
Coober Pedy is the service centre for the largest opal mining area in the world. In such a hot area, many of the homes are “dug-outs”.
32 kilometres to the north you can access The Breakaways, colourful eroded hills which are at their best in the early morning light or at sunset.
Desert Oaks 24 hour roadside rest area is large enough to get away from the highway and has toilet, picnic shelters, barbecues and a small tank for water. One of the better Stuart Highway rest areas.
There is a popular but small 24 hour roadside rest area by the Finke River Bridge 74 kilometres north of Erldunda which toilet, picnic shelters, barbecues and a small tank for water.
Stuarts Well Roadhouse offers all levels of accommodation, including free for self contained campers.
Rainbow Valley turnoff is 14 kilometres north of the roadhouse with 23 kilometres of unsealed road to reach Rainbow Valley.
There is a National Parks camping area suitable for small rigs.
Rainbow Valley turnoff is 14 kilometres north of the roadhouse with 23 kilometres of unsealed road to reach Rainbow Valley. There is a National Parks camping area suitable for small rigs.
Alice Springs is a very well provisioned large town, with plenty to see and do. See our travelogues of Alice Springs and surrounds
Attack Creek is a good 24 hour rest area with toilets 47 kilometres north of Three Ways. Although close to the Highway it is popular for overnight stays.
Daly Waters Airfield was the first international airfield in Australia and the Daly Waters Pub boasts the longest held hotel licence in the Northern Territory. (Daly Waters is five kilometres from the Stuart Highway)
The Daly Waters access road is approximately three kilometres north of the Carpentaria Highway turn-off, where the Hi-Way Inn Roadhouse offers a full range of services including fuel, Autogas (LPG), caravan park, cabin and motel accommodation, a licensed restaurant and bar, plus takeaway food.
36 kilometres south of Mataranka, Warlock roadside rest area has toilets, picnic shelter, barbecues and tank water. This is one of the better rest areas for overnight but it fill by then end of the afternoon.
47 kilometres south of Katherine, King River rest area has toilets, picnic shelter, barbecues and tank water. This is one of the better rest areas for overnight