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Great Central Road

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September 45 minute read

We tiptoed onto the dirt and toward camp. Eager to escape our city lives in Perth quickly we’d made an early start, and as day became night the excitement of a few weeks on the road kicked in.

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Connecting the magic of Central Australia, and Uluru, with our stunning South-West, is the shortcut known as the Great Central Road. At 1,126 kilometres it’s not so short, but in comparison to its bitumenised colleagues, it’s a clear winner.

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While the Great Central Road is far from a technical drive it is absolutely remote country. The Gibson Desert lies to the north, the Great Victoria Desert the south. 

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The side of the road is littered by hundreds of wrecks, both classics and modern. A combination of bingles and breakdowns in a place where the cost for recovery and removal is often too expensive. A push with the grader gets them clear of the road and then it’s over to nature to attempt the slow job of breaking them down.

While some still navigate the Great Central Road in a 2WD, for us without LT construction tyres, 4WD spec shocks to absorb the corrugations, and a get out of gaol easy satellite phone – no thank you (soft I know!).

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Wiki Camps and HEMA guided us to some secluded camping spots along the way. Surrounded by stars and firewood – the desert camping out here is a solid pass! 

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The Hoffman Range is a great place to stop and explore some of the early histories of the landscape.

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For the growth of tourism and the improvement of freight, plans are well underway to bituminise the Great Central Road. Some sections have already been completed, so if you’re after a more adventurous trip on this classic road, you may wish to grab a permit from the Ngaanyatjarra Council and go, sooner rather than later.

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Approaching the Northern Territory the Petermann Ranges jutted out of a landscape that for more than 1,000 kilometres had been flat, a sign of things to come.

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Crossing from Western Australia into the Northern Territory our trip up the Great Central Road finished at sunset at Kata Tjuta, it couldn’t have been a better finish to a great road trip!

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Mike Collister has spent his life outdoors. He has represented Australia as a slalom kayaker, guided whitewater expeditions in Nepal, and taught outdoor education and wilderness medicine. He’s paddled the Kimberley’s Fitzroy River in the wet season and across the Bass Strait and is an avid photographer, overlander and camper.


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