Birdsville Track

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Birdsville Track
South Australia – Queensland
Australian Route 83.png   
Birdsville Track is located in South Australia
SW end
SW end
NE end
NE end
Coordinates 29°38′56.04″S 138°4′3.94″E / 29.6489000°S 138.0677611°E / -29.6489000; 138.0677611
General information
Type Track
Length 517 km (321 mi)
Major junctions
SW end Oodnadatta Track, Marree
NE end Australian Route 83.png Eyre Developmental Road,
Birdsville 25°53′54.08″S 139°21′5.92″E / 25.8983556°S 139.3516444°E / -25.8983556; 139.3516444
Region Strzelecki Desert, Tirari Desert, Sturt Stony Desert
Permits not required
Fuel supply Mungerannie (28°01′7.28″S 138°39′48.02″E / 28.0186889°S 138.6633389°E / -28.0186889; 138.6633389)
Facilities Mungerannie (28°01′7.28″S 138°39′48.02″E / 28.0186889°S 138.6633389°E / -28.0186889; 138.6633389)

The Birdsville Track is a notable outback road in Australia. The 517 km track runs from Marree, a small town in northern South Australia, north across the Tirari Desert and Sturt Stony Desert, ending in Birdsville in south western Queensland.

In former years the track was of a very poor quality and suitable only for high-clearance four-wheel drive vehicles, but it has been upgraded to a full-scale dirt road and is now a popular tourist route. It is also used by stock trucks carrying livestock.

The path traverses the driest part of the country with less than an average 100 mm of rainfall annually.[1] The area is extremely barren, dry and isolated, and anyone wishing to travel the track must carry fresh water, supplies, fuel, and spare parts for their vehicle with them in case of emergencies.


The track was opened in the 1860s to bring cattle from northern Queensland and Northern Territory to the nearest railheads Port Augusta and later Marree. The pioneering drover that is credited with establishing the track was Percy Burt.[1] Burt set up a store at Diamantina Crossing, today known as Birdsville, and used the path to bring cattle out of the Channel Country to the railhead at Maree that was completed in 1883. This stock route was more than 1000 km shorter than the alternative path to Brisbane.[1]

By 1916 enough bores had been sunk into the Great Artesian Basin along the route, that the movement of stock was much easier and safer than in earlier years.[1] Bores were drilled at 40 km intervals.

Over the years the Birdsville track became one of the country's most isolated and best-known stock routes as well as a mail route made famous by outback legend Tom Kruse. Tom Kruse and the Track were immortalised in the 1954 documentary film made by John Heyer, The Back of Beyond. Kruse's services ceased in 1963 to be replaced by an air service from Adelaide that started in 1970.[1]

In 2006, as part of the Year of the Outback, the Australian Governor-General, Michael Jeffery, traveled along the track in a 5-day event.[2]

The route was earmarked to be signed as part National Route 83 in the original plan of National Routes. It was to start in southern SA before travelling north through to far-north QLD. The route was never fully signed, the Birdsville Track being still largely unsealed.


Up until the 1930s only stock and camel trains would take the Birdsville track. Nowadays it has become a very popular track. As a result, the track is reasonably well maintained and generally fairly smooth. However like any outback track, its condition can change, especially after rain. Large stretches of the track can still be destroyed by flash flooding and drifting sand.[1]

Fuel, supplies and facilities, including a hotel, can be found on the track at the Mungeranie station (population: 3), 204 km from Marree and 313 km from Birdsville.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Reardon, Mitch (1995). The Australian Geographic Book of Corner Country. Terrey Hills, New South Wales: Australian Geographic. pp. 141—151. ISBN 1-86276-012-8. 
  2. ^ Annabelle Homer (11 March 2006). "Up the Birdsville Track with GG". ABC Rural. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 2009-10-25. 

External links[edit]