Laverton, in Western Australia’s northern goldfields, sits on the edge of the Great Victoria Desert, and holds some of the most remote lands in Australia. The local Indigenous people knew how to thrive in this landscape, working with the seasons and their deep connection of the land. But for early European pioneers, this was a dangerous landscape. But explore they did, looking for opportunities to graze cattle and searching for minerals. Theirs are the stories of epic journeys, and today the names of these early pioneers are lines on maps, providing inspiration for modern-day adventurers.

Laverton is a gateway to adventure, with four-wheel-drive tracks leading out of it like bicycle spokes. Advice, guide books and permits can be arranged at the Great Beyond Visitors Centre in Laverton, and these are our top five four-wheel-drive journeys of the region.

1. The Outback Way

Known as Australia’s longest shortcut, this roughly diagonal route of 2,800 km stretches from Laverton, through the Red Centre, to Winton in Queensland. The route traverses seven separate outback roads and tracks, but from Laverton to the Northern Territory, it’s the Great Central Road. It’s mostly unsealed and of varying quality, depending on rainfall.

Highlights:

Don’t miss a stop at Warburton where the Regional Arts Gallery is said to be the largest collection of community-controlled art in the world. Admire or purchase the art of the Ngaanyatjarra people.

Vehicle requirements:

Four-wheel-drive or high-clearance all-wheel drive and off-road caravans.

Estimated days:

Three days to through to Yulara (Uluru) in the Northern Territory.

Special notes:

Maximum distance between fuel stops is around 300km. Permits are required for Aboriginal land.

2. Gunbarrel Highway

Although the Gunbarrel does not pass through Laverton, for many, it is an inclusion on a four-wheel-drive loop that includes other tracks nearby. The Gunbarrel Highway was built by surveyor Len Beadell to facilitate rocket testing at Woomera in the 1950s. It is one of the so-called ‘bomb roads’, and was intended to be as straight as the barrel of a gun. The 1,400 km Gunbarrel Highway connects Carnegie Station in WA to Yulara (Uluru).

Highlights:

At the Len Beadell tree, near Warburton, a replica plaque has been installed, replacing one that was affixed here by the surveyor himself. Likewise, rugged Mount Beadell has a memorial to the man on the summit.

Vehicle requirements:

Four-wheel-drive with high clearance only.

Estimated days:

Allow four days to Yulara (Uluru).

Special notes:

Maximum distance between fuel stops is 485 km. Permits are required.

3. Anne Beadell Highway

The Anne Beadell Highway, stretching from Laverton some 1,325 kilometres to Coober Pedy in South Australia, was also surveyed by Len Beadell, who named it after his wife. Constructed between 1953 and 1962, this is a track for experienced four-wheel drivers, and as there are few signposts. Maps and advance planning is needed.

Highlights:

The Ilkurlka Roadhouse is one of the most remote roadhouses in the country, and the only fuel stop on this route. You’ll pass through biodiverse Mamungari Conservation Park and also Emu Field, the site of former atomic testing.

Vehicle requirements:

High clearance four-wheel drives only.

Estimated days:

Allow seven days.

Special notes:

Maximum distance between fuel stops is 750km, and travellers should be self-sufficient for the entire journey. Permits are required.

4. Connie Sue Highway

The Connie Sue Highway is named after Beadell’s daughter, and this remote, north-south track starts in Warburton and finishes in Rawlinna on the Trans-Australian Railway. The track is 634 kms long and can also be accessed via the Anne Beadell Highway.

Highlights:

At Point Lilian, a short steep walk reveals a gully where Aboriginal art works can be found below an overhang. Further south, the Neale Breakways provides a dramatic landscape of colourful eroded gullies.

Vehicle requirements:

Four-wheel-drive only.

Estimated days:

Allow three to five days.

Special notes:

The entire track of 634 km has no fuel stops, travellers need to be self-sufficient. Permits are required.

5. Hann’s Track

This 1250-km four-wheel-drive loop follows the route of Frank Hann, a pastoralist and explorer who ventured through the Great Victoria Desert seeking minerals and the best stock routes, between 1895 and 1908. This rough route stretches northeast of Laverton, across the desert to Warburton and requires navigation skills. It joins other tracks at times.

Highlights:

Soak up these very remote desert vistas, as you may be the only people on this track. Keep an eye out for signs of Hann himself, like an H on a tree. Indigenous art can be found in caves.

Vehicle requirements:

Four-wheel-drive with high-clearance. Recommended to travel in convoy with another vehicle.

Estimated days:

Seek advice from the Great Beyond Visitors Centre in Laverton before attempting this track, and they will advise on days required.

Special notes:

Travellers must be self-sufficient for fuel, water and food between Laverton and Warburton. It is recommended to travel with a guide book for this route. Permits are required.