The Tanami Track is one of Australia’s longest shortcuts – stretching 1050km from Alice Springs to Halls Creek. It is the most direct route to get from Central Australia across to the WA Coastline and the Kimberley region. Traversing the Tanami Desert, it is also one of the most remote and rugged roads, so it is essential that you are well prepared. You must carry enough water, food and supplies in the case that something goes wrong. There are only limited fuel outlets along the 1050km track, so it is also really important that you are familiar with your vehicle, and it’s fuel consumption, so that you don’t run short!!!
Day 1 – Alice Springs to Tilmouth Well Roadhouse
Whilst in Alice Springs, we used the morning to top up on all of our supplies of food and water. We would also be celebrating a birthday whilst on the Track, so we had to grab a couple of little things to make it special for our 3yr old princess!!! We were hoping to get away as early as possible, but being in Alice, we were slightly restricted. One of our essential supplies was a carton of beer, and Alice has very strict liquor licensing laws, meaning that you can only purchase take away alcohol between the hours of 2pm and 9pm. (It’s very interesting to see the line-up of locals outside BWS and the drive-thru, waiting for 2pm to come around!)
After organising everything, we were ready to hit the road. Our first designated stop would be Tilmouth Well Roadhouse. It is a short 180km from Alice, and still on bitumen. It has great amenities, and was a really peaceful camp ground to get a good rest before the long solid drive the following day. Staring up at the stars, and sitting with my little family close by, it was one of the first nights that I felt truly relaxed!
Day 2 – Tilmouth Well to Wolfe Creek
Waking early, the cool, crisp air was filled with anticipation for our journey ahead. Still dark at 6.30am, we knew we were edging closer to WA!! After a couple of coffees, and the kids new-found favourite brekkie (Mi-Goreng 2min noodles – minus the chilli!!!), we did a quick pack-up and were on the road by 8am. We had about 55km of bitumen, then hit the red dust for a roadwork detour. The NT Govt is currently working on upgrading the road, to create a safer drive for the local communities. Whilst we were on the track, we could see the newly built highway just to our left that was not quite ready for use yet! Following the 20km or so of detour track, we were back to the bitumen for another 10km, before we hit the ‘real’ track. We let the tyres down to 24 PSI (front) and 28 PSI (rear and CUB), sat on roughly 80-90km/hr, and had a reasonably comfortable ride!
Surprising both of us, the road was in very good condition. There were patches that were a little rough, but for the most part, it was no worse than any other country gravel road. Mind you, we did pass the grader along the way – so we may have just caught it at a good time!!! As we were making such good time, we pushed through the day, and in the end completed the majority of the track – 720km to be precise. Chrissy was an absolute star, and loved the drive – must be the Truckie in his blood!!! The kids were troopers aswell, a couple of Adam Sandler movies in the back, and they were good as gold!!!
Our stopover for the night was the free campground at the Wolfe Creek Meteorite Crater, with a fair amount of trepidation from me! Given that we crossed the WA border earlier in the day, we gained an hour and a half, so it was 4pm local time when we arrived. After a quick hike up to the top of the crater – a massive 850m wide, and 50m deep – we settled in at the campground. I must say that I was more than relieved to see a few other campers there!!! The campground was actually quite picturesque with beautiful gums and a cracker of a sunset.
As with any long day of driving, we had a good check over Ned (the kids name for our Prado) and our CUBby. Both handled the drive exceptionally well, with no issues to report, thank goodness!
Day 3 – Wolfe Creek to Fitzroy Crossing
Being reasonably close to the border crossing, yet still on WA time, the sun rose early, and we were all up, fed, packed and ready to hit the road by 7.30am. We had 150km left of the Tanami, before hitting the Great Northern Highway and heading toward Fitzroy Crossing.
As with the day before, the road and landscape changed often. The road was a combination of soft sand, gravel, rocks, and LOTS of red dust. The landscape altered between vast plains, gums, granite boulders and LOTS of termite mounds.
This end of the track was definitely a lot tougher and rougher than the NT side, with lots of dips, and harsh rocky gravel. We eventually made it though… By 9.30am we were off the track, and back on bitumen!!!! We were stoked to have conquered the Tanami unscathed, albeit rather dirty and dusty 😊 We were all super keen for a shower, to wash away the layers and layers of red dust ingrained in our hands and faces, and decided on a great little farmstay about 120km towards Fitzroy Crossing.
Lawarra Station is a working farmstay, with a lovely host and basic amenities. It was ideal for an overnighter, and a great little spot for us to celebrate Miss Madi’s 3rd birthday. We set up a little party area with balloons and music, and had the kids from another travelling family come over to join us in singing Happy Birthday and share her birthday cake. It was certainly a far cry from the birthday parties that we had back at home, but she still had a smile from ear to ear. It really made me realise that there is a lot to be said for living simply and getting back to basics. All of the time, effort and stress that we put on ourselves to create the ultimate birthday party for our kids is largely lost on them… A couple of balloons and some cake is really all they need!!