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Q32 Great Central Road west to east; where to camp and where to buy fuel.

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A.  The Great Central Road is 1,123 kilometres of mostly unsealed road between Laverton and Yulara and can be in variable condition. The wrecks that line the road and the broken parts on the road show the casualty rate.  Fifty kilometres of this span between Kata Tjuta and Yulara within the National Park is a very good sealed road.   See our Travelogue

 

Serviced and powered campsites, motel style and back packer accommodation is available at Tjukayirla Roadhouse, Warburton Roadhouse and Warakurna Roadhouse.   They also supply meals and some mechanical repairs.

 

Your transit permits do not permit you to leave the road and road reserve (being thirty metres either side of the road) other than to visit the roadhouses in the communities.  Camping is only permitted in authorised campgrounds whilst transiting Aboriginal land. 

 

The longest distance between fuel outlets is 254 kilometres between Tjukayirla Roadhouse and Warburton.  See distrances hereunder.

Rest areas and camping sites west to east are

 

       50 kilometres north east of Laverton; a small rest area on south east side of road overlooking Giles Breakaway. Coordinates from Google maps  -28.277664,122.698657

      120 kilometres north east of Laverton; rest area on south east side which has a track heading south from the back of the rest area, and about 600 metres along this track there are level cleared areas which appear to have been used as a roadworks camp.  This rest area is approximately thirty kilometres east of Cosmo Newbery.  Coordinates from Google maps -27.911913,123.071182

      195 kilometres north east of Laverton; medium sized rest area south east side.

       253 kilometres north east of Laverton or 53 kilometres west of Tjukayirla Roadhouse is a loop of old road which spans three or four kilometres.  Close to Lake Throssell. 

       310 kilometres north east of Laverton; Tjukayirla Roadhouse

      409 kilometres north east of Laverton or 155 kilometres west of Warburton; rest area on the north side, known as Paradise Camp. Coordinates from Google maps -26.892679,125.517151

       432 kilometres north east of Laverton or 132 kilometres west of Warburton, as rest area known as Desert Surf Central is two kilometres west of the hunt Oil Road Junction.  Tracks go around a Breakaway but I did not see it or know if it is easy to access.  Coordinates from Google maps -26.839073,125.655494 and -26.837685,125.658034 both as entrances.

       474 kilometres north east of Laverton or 90 kilometres west of Warburton on south east side, track runs off to the west side of a red breakaway with a sort of small cave.  There is a network of tracks to old gravel pits over the ridge, and a track which returns to the road 500 metres west from what was at the time an actively used gravel pit.  We had an enforced overnight stay there after losing a spring hanger on the caravan. Coordinates from Google maps -28.277664,122.698657

       791 kilometres north east of Laverton; Warburton Roadhouse

      653 kilometres north east of Laverton or 89 kilometres east of Warburton; Yarla Kutjarra Rest Stop and picnic area south side, over the dune with plenty of room in a large flat area.  

       791 kilometres north east of Laverton; Warakurna Roadhouse.  We stayed at this campground behind the roadhouse to be on site for the Giles weather station tour which was a real highlight.  Unfortunately staffing cuts mean the tours are no longer possible, but balloon releases can still be observed from the car park.  See times on Giles Weather Station

       891 kilometres east of Laverton or two kilometres west of the Docker River community turnoff and 5 kilometres east of the North Territory/West Australia Border; Kaltukatjara (Docker River) campground.  Kaltukatjara campground location amongst desert oaks against the backdrop of the hills is lovely, and it is just off the road a few kilometres away from the settlement so quiet.   As often happens, facilities had been trashed, water not working so toilets and cold showers in tin sheds at each campsite useless.  Honesty box was also smashed.  Fees were set at $5 per person per night.  We chose not to stay. 

In addition there are several other strips of old road as well as disused gravel pits should you need to stop. 

 

Distances are approximate and taken from my travel notes, Google maps and other mapping sources. 

Fuel – Diesel and Opal Petrol only with no gas available on the Great Central Road

 

Your permit allows you to enter the communities for the purpose of purchasing fuel or supplies.  We were travelling west and filled up at Yulara which was the cheapest in the area at that time (September 2008), and that got us through to Tjukayirla road house (just, as we had to back track to find a spring bracket).  Should you have only a short range for your vehicle, you can check fuel availability a few days ahead, and to check current fuel prices.  You may need cash to pay for fuel in some communities. 

 

Cosmo Newbery Roadhouse (08) 9037 5969 

Tjukayirla Roadhouse  (08) 9037 1108 

Warburton Roadhouse (08) 8956 7656

Warakurna Roadhouse (08) 8956 7344 

Docker River Store (08) 8956 7373 

 

Websites for Tjukayirla Roadhouse, Warburton Roadhouse and Warakurna Roadhouse show fuel prices and road conditions, but check date of last update as it can be spasmodic.   

 

Distances between fuel outlets are

 

Laverton to Cosmo Newbery (with a short drive in as now bypassed)          89         

Cosmo Newbery to Tjukayirla Roadhouse                                              221

Tjukayirla Roadhouse to Warburton (about one kilometre from road)          254

Warburton to Warakurna                                                                       227

Warakurna to Docker River (about one kilometre from road)                     102

Docker River to Yulara                                                                          230

Permits 

 

You will need two permits to transit the Great Central Road.  These are free if cost, easy to obtain and are for transit only.  If you intend to stay on Aboriginal land for any other purpose, you will need to apply for an entry permit which will take longer to obtain.  There is a good Telstra phone signal at Yulara if you need to apply on line. 

 

From the Department of Aboriginal Affairs on line instantly for the Western Australian side, or from the Alice Springs office of the Ngaanyatjarra Office in Alice Springs in person or by fax office hours only (eg from Yulara Visitor Centre or Tjukayirla Roadhouse).  Allow one working day for processing.  This permit only allows for three days of travel, so time frames need to be known and accurate, and three days is inadequate for extended sightseeing.  If more time is required, a special application will need to be submitted. 

 

From the Central Lands Council in Northern Territory (CLC), to travel the 185 kilometres you can select a travel window of up to three weeks. This is helpful if you obtain the permit at the CLC office in Alice Springs and tour west on an uncertain time frame. The permit can be obtained on line and is usually available within 24 hours in weekdays.  You may not camp other than at the authorised campground Kaltukatjara near the Western Australian border. 

 

You will also need a park pass to visit the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.  This costs $25 per person (aged 16 years) and is valid for three days.  Although you do not need to pass the toll gate when coming in from the west, it is still a requirement to purchase a pass unless you are travelling through without sightseeing.   When travelling though from east to west, show your transit permits at the toll booth and explain you are travelling not visiting. 

 

See more about Permits   

Giles weather station tour, outdoor display featuring the Len Beadell team grader and the remnants of the Blue Streak Rocket. In addition to room related displays there is a display dedicated to surveyor Len Beadell.  The Giles Weather Station is one kilometre north of Warakurna Roadhouse.  The weather station operates on South Australian time. 

 

Read about the weather station, and see the times of tours and daily weather balloon releases.  

 

What to see

 

Giles Breakaway fifty kilometres north east of Laverton, on the south east side of the road. 

 

There are numerous rock holes along the road.  These can be hard to spot unless you see birds flying out of the holes, as they are valuable but not reliable watering points. 

 

Empress Springs are 64 kilometres north of the Great Central Road along the David Carnegie Road (four wheel drive recommended), turning north 15 kilometres west of the Tjukayirla Roadhouse. The spring is inside a cave accessed by a chain ladder into a seven metre deep rock hole.    

 

Tjukayirla is a roadhouse with no town or community nearby, owned as an investment by the Blackstone Aboriginal Corporation.  Blackstone is a few hundred kilometres away heading towards Surveyor General's Corner.  This roadhouse is managed by a staff of three and that certainly is remote living. 

 

At Warburton visit the Tjulyuru Regional Arts Gallery.

 

Schwerin Mural Crescent.  This range has the unusual name of Schwerin Mural Crescent.   Discovered in 1875 by Ernest Giles the range was named after the Princess of Schwerin (a province which is now part of Germany).   

 

Lasseter’s Cave by the Hull River is forty kilometres east of Docker River, with a one kilometre drive to the parking area on the south side of the road.  Read the sad story of Lasseter’s last days 

 

Len Beadell placed a plaque with the names of his team members on 9 April 1960 on this lone ghost gum.  It is 65 kilometers east of Warakurna.  See more about Len Beadell 

 

 

Road conditions

 

See the websites for the roadhouses for up to date road conditions.  The Great Central Road may be closed following rain. This is a long, at present mainly unsealed route which can be very corrugated.  Sturdy off road caravans or trailers recommended. 

 

Parts of the Great Central Road are being progressively sealed.  See schedule on News

Quarantine

 

If travelling east to west, don’t forget the quarantine as you enter Western Australia.  There is a sign and bin which is mostly unmanned twenty kilometres north east of Laverton.  Note the advice re preparing fruit and vegetables.  Honey is not permitted into Western Australia, nor is soil or any type. Boxes which have carried fruit of vegetables will also need to be discarded.    

Communications

 

Telstra mobile phone service between Laverton and Yulara is confined to Warburton and Warakurna/Giles.  For remote travelling consider taking a satellite telephone, PLB or other communication devise.  See communications for options. 

 

June 2014 and

Updated May 2017

 

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