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Australian 4x4 Tag Along Tours - Gunbarrel Highway

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Map of Gunbarrel Highway as shown in Gunbarrel Outback Travellers Guide

Route of the Gunvarrel Highway as shown in the excellent Gunbarrel Highway Outback Travellers Track Guide as sold in our Online Map Shop

Gunbarrel Highway - Australia

The Gunbarrel Highway runs from the Warakurna Roadhouse to Wiluna, both in Western Australia. It covers a distance of a little over 1000 kilometers and the longest distance without fuel is from Jackie Junction and the Warakurna Roadhouse, a distance of over 700 km, assuming you are including the 'Abandoned' section on your trip, as described a little further on.

You will need permits and, for some parts of the trip permits are only issued for two or more vehicles with adequate communications equipment.

You will travel through very, very remote desert country and well prepared vehicles and equipment are an absolute must.

The Gunbarrel Highway is one of the more famous achievements of Len Beadell, who constructed many roads in the area in the twenty or so years after World War II, as he was given the task of surveying sites for Britain's planned atomic bomb sites.

The Gunbarrel Highway has important historical significance, as it was the first road across Central Australia to the west and was completed in 1958.

Part of the highway is now known as the 'Abandoned Section' and this iswhere The Gunbarrel Highway starts or ends, at Warakurna Roadhouse on the eastern end, fairly close to the Giles Meteorological Station.

The abandoned section runs almost to Warburton, approximately 350 kilometers south west, where it meets the junction from the Heather Highway. The alternative is that you start or end your trip at Warburton. The more popular route nowadays from Warakurna Roadhouse to Warburton is now along the Great Central Road.

This abandoned section now carries a travel at your own risk warning and before setting out you must write to the Ngaanyatjarra Land Council stating that you are doing so at your own risk and will hold no one else liable.

To travel this section your letter must also state that you are traveling in convoy with at least one other vehicle but the convoy will consist of no more than five vehicles, that you will be carrying the requisite communications equipment of a HF Radio or satellite phone and so on.

The abandoned route will be very hard going, particularly in the Rawlinson Range area, and doesn't start to ease off until you reach the half way mark or so when the track becomes sandier. Having headed west, the track runs almost due south as it reaches Jackie Corner, about 270km from Warakurna Roadhouse, where it changes direction and runs almost due west.

After swinging west, it is about 85km, after passing through the Todd Range, that the track meets the junction with the Heather Highway and the rest of the Gunbarrel Highway.

From the Warakurna Roadhouse using the Great Central Road via Warburton will see you joining the Heather Highway, which is not in good condition and very rough and slow going in places, a little short of 40km south west of Warburton and traveling on it for around 120km before meeting, and continuing, the journey westwards on the Gunbarrel.

You will find the track corrugated and rough and about 10km past the Heather Highway junction is a good spot to rest a while under the gums. You will see a plaque here that was put up in the late 1950's that commemorates Len Beadell. Brew a cuppa and take some photos.

Plus minus 65km from Heather Highway is Camp Beadell with the Sutherland Range to the south of it. If you are thinking of making camp for the night, this is probably where you should head for.

From here it is another 5 or so kilometers to Mt Beadell and a monument to Len and his team, and a couple of kilometers to the entrance of the Gibson Desert Nature Reserve.

As you passthrough the Brown Range, in the Gibson Desert Nature Reserve, and with Mt Gordon to the north of you and Mt Everard to the south the track swings from its current north westerly direction almost due west for the last few kilometers to Everard Junction, which is the junction with the Gary Highway, which runs north to the Canning Stock Route.

Some 30km west of Everard Junction is the junction of the Gunbarrel Highway and the Hunt Oil Road which runs south and south east until it meets the Great Central Road. It is little used and not in good condition.

It is at this junction, though, that the Geraldton Bore, sunk by the Geraldton Historical Society, is situated and it is also not a bad camp site.

From here the Gunbarrel Highway heads south west towards the Mangkili Claypan Nature Reserve about 50 km away and the Mangkili Claypan itself. The track goes through the claypan and it is not advisable to attempt using this section of the track if there are signs of water around.

In the event that water is present there are other tracks that lead around the perimeter of the claypan. Your extra effort in taking this deviation should be rewarded though, with the displays of fauna and flora. This is also a popular and pleasant camping spot.

Having passed through the claypan there is a junction with the Eagle Highway to the north and the David Carnegie Road to the south. Whilst the Eagle Highway eventually joins up with the Gary Highway and the David Carnegie with the Great Central Road, both are in a state of advanced disrepair and attempt to use either is not recommended.

The Gunbarrel Highway's condition has gradually improved over the journey westward and from this junction on, gets better still, as it approaches the Carnegie Homestead, and the official end of The Gunbarrel. This is one of the better camping areas of the whole trip, with shower facilities, a supply of fuel, provisions and emergency repairs.

Approximately 30km west of the Carnegie Homestead is a junction with a track running north west for about 150km to Well 9 on the Canning Stock Route via Glen Ayle, situated a little over half way. The track is normally in reasonable condition and is often used as a short cut for those wanting to join up with The Canning rather that continue on to Wiluna.

Continuing westwards for another 50 or so kilometers and the track starts swing from its westerly direction almost due south, a little passed the Harry Johnson Waterhole camping site, as it goes around the northern and western perimeters of the vast Lake Carnegie salt lake.

Once passed Wongawol and through the Princess and Wellington Ranges it again heads westward on the home run onto bitumen and Wiluna.


The information provided on this web page is for use as a guide only. If you are planning to undertake this trip you must seek out other authorative advice and information. Desert and Outback travel can be very hazardous and should only be undertaken after lengthy and careful planning. The owners of this website shall not be held responsible for any damage or injury that you may experience during any conventional vehicle or four wheel drive trip, desert or otherwise. Distances between places mentioned on this page are as a guide only. You must verify these details yourself using professional maps and/or mapping equipment before you set out on a the trip. Do not attempt to access desert or other remote regions in an ill-prepared vehicle and without adequate communications equipment. Do not under estimate the
limited supply of fuel, water and provisions in these areas as well as the possibility of encountering extremely harsh elements and conditions.

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