The Outback Way - Australia's Longest Shortcut

Road Conditions

Many roads in Australia's Outback are unsealed and most are dirt, sand or gravel. Many of the unsealed roads along the Outback Way have sections of corrugations, loose rocks, pot-holes, creeks / wash-outs, floodways, stone build-ups, bulldust holes and graded mounds from road works. Each of these surface types need to be carefully negotiated at a safe speed.

As a general guide the road surfaces along the Outback Way are as follows:

Laverton to the WA Border is unsealed road with some sections well formed, graded, relatively smooth surfaces and other sections corrugated, sandy and rutted with occasional bulldust holes. There is minimal road signage and limited forewarning of sites, features, bends or crests.

WA Border to Kata Tjuta is unsealed road with sections of rock-sand limestone or red desert sand with some occasionally rough corrugations, ruts and soft, boggy sections on dune rises. Some of the creek-river crossings have dry, soft surfaces that are susceptible to seasonal flooding January-March. There is minimal road signage and limited forewarning of sites, features, bends or crests. This section of road is often the most vulnerable to damage, as a result of the sandy (desert) substrate, and can sometimes be badly corrugated.

Kata Tjuta to Yulara to Alice Springs to Gemtree is sealed bitumen, dual lane, main road or highway standard, with intermittent rest bays and 24hr overnight stops. The route is well signposted with approach signs for sites, features, bends crests, etc.

Gemtree to Ongeva River is sealed then eastwards to Boulia is unsealed road of varying form including sandy, limestone, gravely-rock with sections of corrugations, occasional rutted-lanes and unformed surfaces. Intermittent creek-river crossings have dry, soft surfaces that are susceptible to seasonal flooding November-March. There is basic road signage with occasional forewarning of bends, crests and river crossings with limited signage of sites and features. The section of road from the NT / QLD border to a point 60-100km east and/or west of the border can sometimes be badly corrugated as a result of truck traffic, the rocky substrate and dry conditions.

Boulia to Winton is sealed bitumen, single lane, susceptible to flooding at major river crossings especially within the channel country. Road verges can be soft, muddy and sloped causing potential loss of steerage or traction when pulling onto the verge (e.g. when trucks or car-caravans approach head on). The route is fairly well signposted with approach signs to sites, features, crests, bends, river crossings etc. This section should not be driven at dusk, dawn or night due to the presence of wildlife.