Overview for Travellers
The Anne Beadell Highway runs 1320 km from Laverton in WA to Coober Pedy in South Australia. It was originally built by Len Beadell for the Woomera Rocket range and the British nuclear tests post WWII.
Today it is considered a challenging but rewarding alternative to the Nullabor crossing, consisting of red sand dunes, stunning vegetation and magnificent starlight nights, all offering a memorable experience within the Great Victoria Desert.
As the eastern section of the road has not been graded for 50 odd years, it is advisable that a minimum of five days be planned to travel from Coober Pedy to Ilkurlka, a convenient half way point where a welcome hot shower is available as well as fuel, goods and camping facilities. There is also contact with the outside world through WiFi and telephone.
For more detailed road conditions during your time of travel, we recommend that you contact us by phone on 08 9037 1147.
We recommend using HEMA maps - one is published for the Anne Beadell Highway and can be ordered here
To give an idea of distances involved:
379 km Laverton to Neale Junction
171 km Neale Junction to Ilkurlka
550 km Laverton to Ilkurlka
166 km Ilkurlka to WA/SA border
605 km SA/WA border to Coober Pedy
771 km Ilkurlka to Coober Pedy
1321 km Laverton to Coober Pedy
The Anne Beadell Highway travels through some of the most remote areas in Australia. In places the road conditions are good but in many places they are very rough.
Weather conditions vary widely – in winter the nights are cold but generally the days are pleasant. In summer, the temperatures frequently exceed 40°c but the nights are pleasant. Although you will be travelling through the desert we do sometimes get heavy rain which will make all travel impossible. You may not see much traffic so you need to be self-sufficient in the event of any problems happening – any rescuers will be travelling in from a long way.
Before you travel, you need to make sure that your vehicle is in first class condition. Needless to say, you will need a 4WD and we recommend that if you do tow anything that it is a very solid off-road camper trailer. Caravans are not a good idea in this sort of country – the roads are rough, narrow in places and there are sand dunes to cross. You will need at least two spare tyres, tyre repair gear, spare parts such as fan belts and filters, oil and other engine fluids, a good tool kit, a first aid kit, torch and batteries, plenty of fuel, water and food.
A Satellite phone is a good idea (they can be hired) or possibly an HF radio. You should maintain contact with the outside world on a regular basis so that people know that you are safe. A map and GPS should also be carried - we recommend HEMA maps which we have found to be excellent in their detail (click here to visit their website).
If you are using UHF (CB) radio, we recommend using channel 40 to warn other vehicles when you are crossing dunes or are in country with limited visibility. This can prevent head-on collisions. Just bear in mind that UHF radios only have a limited range - probably 10km at most. You can also use channel 40 to let Ilkurlka know of your arrival once you get close to us.
Don’t let this put you off. This is a unique part of the world and a rewarding place to visit. In all likelihood your trip will be uneventful but if something does go wrong then you must be able to plan for that.
A vehicle accident or breakdown is serious – it may be some time before anyone arrives to help. The golden rule is to stay with the vehicle and use either a satphone, HF radio or EPIRB to summon help. If travelling in summer, it is very easy to become dehydrated. Keep drinking water even if you don't feel thirsty. Dehydration in the desert can creep up on you.
Driver fatigue can be an issue. You will be travelling a long way over difficult terrain. Change drivers, pull up frequently for rest breaks and take your time. There is plenty to see and enjoy.
Floods and fires are an occasional feature of the Great Victoria Desert - the chances are that you will not be impacted by these but be aware of the possibility. Keep in regular contact with the outside world and you can be kept updated on weather and fire conditions by your contact.
Finally, if you are walking around at night use a torch. We have plenty of snakes and other nasties around. Easy to see by day, not so easy at night!