Great Central Road

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Great Central Road

Northern Territory
Great Central Road (blue and white)
Great Central Road is located in Western Australia
WSW end
WSW end
ENE end
ENE end
General information
Length1,126 km (700 mi)
Major junctions
WSW endLaverton
ENE endYulara
Permits2 required
Fuel supplyLaverton
(28°37′S 122°24′E / 28.617°S 122.400°E / -28.617; 122.400),
Cosmo Newberry,
Tjukayirla Roadhouse,
(26°13′S 126°39′E / 26.217°S 126.650°E / -26.217; 126.650),
Warakurna Roadhouse,
Docker River
and Yulara
(25°14′S 130°59′E / 25.233°S 130.983°E / -25.233; 130.983)

The Great Central Road is a mostly unsealed Australian outback highway that runs 1,126 km (700 mi) from Laverton, Western Australia to Yulara, Northern Territory (near Uluru / Ayers Rock).[1][2] It passes through a number of small communities on the way.


The Great Central Road has its origins in the early 1930s when Warburton was established as a missionary settlement, and supplies were delivered from Laverton via a rough bush track.[3][4]

By the mid 1950s, the track from Laverton had become graded dirt. In 1958 during survey for the Gunbarrel Highway as part of the Woomera rocket range project, Len Beadell visited Warburton and built a new road from Giles via the Rawlinson Range to Warburton. At Jackie Junction 69 km (43 mi) north of Warburton, the Gunbarrel Highway branched from this road towards Carnegie Station further west. Beadell returned to Giles via a different bush track which passed east through the Blackstone Range towards Docker River.[5]

In January 1978 funds were provided to Warburton council by the Western Australian Government to construct a more direct road from Warburton to Docker River which bypassed part of the twenty-year-old Gunbarrel Highway.[6] The Great Central Road and original Gunbarrel Highway are coincident for 45 km (28 mi) near Giles.[1]

Present conditions[edit]

Though still recommended only for four-wheel drive vehicles, the road is now graded to a standard suitable for two wheel drive vehicles and caravans. It is on the most direct route from Perth to Uluru / Ayers Rock, with approximately 10,000 vehicles travelling the route annually.[citation needed]

When heading from the Northern Territory to Laverton there is an Amnesty Bin for Quarantine WA 20 km (12 mi) outside of Laverton. All passenger vehicles are to stop and dispose of all quarantine risk material that is stated on the sign, including all fresh fruit, vegetables, honey, seed, potatoes, onions and other such plants. This area has a mobile inspector from time to time and there is risk of fines if travellers are stopped and offending material is found.

There are fuel supplies at the following locations along the route. The distances below are relative to Laverton.

  • Cosmo Newbery – 85 km (53 mi),
  • Tjukayirla Roadhouse – 300 km (190 mi),
  • Warburton – 560 km (350 mi),
  • Warakurna Roadhouse – 786 km (488 mi),
  • Docker River – 890 km (550 mi) and
  • Yulara – 1,126 km (700 mi).

It is recommended that communications equipment be carried while driving on this road. The route also passes directly into Aboriginal reserves and it is a legal requirement for travellers to hold a valid transit permit at the time of travel, even when staying on the Great Central Road.[7] Two permits are required and they are available from the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage of the Government of Western Australia and the Central Land Council in the Northern Territory.[7][8] The permits are free.


The Northern Australia Roads Program announced in 2016 included the following project for the Great Central Road (Tjukaruru Road).

Sealing and upgrades[edit]

The project to seal and upgrade an unsealed section of the road is expected to be complete in late 2022 at a total cost of $10 million.[9]



The two most notable attractions on this road are Kata Tjuta / The Olgas and Uluru / Ayers Rock, both within the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park in the Northern Territory.

On the Western Australian side of the border, other attractions include Tjukayirla Roadhouse,[10] whose name derives from the Tjukayirla rockholes, which are located at the southwest end of the campground.[11] Wildlife can be seen around the roadhouse, including dingoes, emus, kangaroos, camels and many species of birds.[10]

Empress Springs, or Reti, is a significant cultural site for Ngalia people, and is situated on land subject to a native title claim. The site is depicted in a mural on Kalgoorlie Police Station, created by Deeva and Kado Muir in 2018.[12] The springs are inside a cave, located around 60 km (37 mi) north along the David Carnegie Rd, the junction of which is along the Great Central Rd 15 km (9 mi) west of the roadhouse. Access is via a chain ladder.[11]

Nearby attractions include the marker erected by surveyors Harry L. Paine and Hugh C. Barclay in 1931 on their expedition to the Warburton Ranges, known as the Paine & Barclay Survey Marker. The closest rockhole to the marker is the Winduldarra Rockhole.[13]

Additional attractions include Lasseter's Cave, the Petermann Ranges, Giles Weather Station, the ochre bluff of Giles Breakaway, Lake Throssell, Lake Yeo Nature Reserve, and Peegull Waterhole and Caves.


Western AustraliaLavertonLaverton00.0
Cosmo Newbery8553
NgaanyatjarrakuTjukayirla Roadhouse307191
Warburton554344Great Central Road is sometimes considered concurrent with Gunbarrel Highway between Warburton and Warakurna
Warakurna781485Old Gunbarrel HighwayAlso Giles Weather Station, Giles Airport
Warakurna807501Gunbarrel HighwayPipalyatjara, South Australia
Giles854531Sandy Blight Junction RoadKintore, Northern Territory
Northern TerritoryMacDonnell RegionKaltukatjara870540(Formerly Docker River) Great Central Road in Western Australia; Tjukaruru Road in Northern Territory
unincorporated areaYulara1,110690Lasseter HighwayAlice Springs, Darwin
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi

See also[edit]

icon Australian Roads portal


  1. ^ a b Hema, Maps (2005). Australia's Great Desert Tracks SW Sheet (Map). Eight Mile Plains Queensland: Hema Maps. ISBN 978-1-86500-161-6.
  2. ^ Hema, Maps (2005). Australia's Great Desert Tracks SC Sheet (Map). Eight Mile Plains Queensland: Hema Maps. ISBN 978-1-86500-164-7.
  3. ^ Walker, Greg (2012), Great Central Road : The Outback Travellers Track Guide, Design Interaction, ISBN 978-0-9874125-2-2
  4. ^ Royal Automobile Club of W.A.; Royal Automobile Club of W.A. Mapping Section (1996), Perth - Alice Springs via "Gunbarrel Highway" or Great Central Road (9th ed.), RACWA, retrieved 10 July 2015
  5. ^ Beadell, Len (1965). Too Long in the Bush. New Holland Publishers (Australia). ISBN 1864367199.
  6. ^ "Roads General References Re Development". State Records Office of WA. 15 January 1980. Series S243 - Files - General [1], Item 76/1232. Retrieved 4 June 2018.
  7. ^ a b "Entry permits for access to Aboriginal Lands". Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage. Government of Western Australia. 2019. Retrieved 6 April 2019.
  8. ^ "Transit Permit Application". Central Land Council. 2019. Retrieved 6 April 2019.
  9. ^ "Tjukaruru Road Upgrade". Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications. 18 June 2021. Retrieved 30 March 2022.
  10. ^ a b "Home". Tjukayirla Roadhouse. Retrieved 22 July 2022.
  11. ^ a b "Local attractions". Tjukayirla Roadhouse. Retrieved 23 July 2022.
  12. ^ "Kado & Deeva Muir". Artgold. Retrieved 22 July 2022.
  13. ^ "Paine & Barclay Survey Marker (1931) - Great Central Road WA". ExplorOz. Retrieved 23 July 2022.
  14. ^ Google (20 January 2017). "Great Central Road" (Map). Google Maps. Google. Retrieved 20 January 2017.

External links[edit]