Have you heard of Charles Kingsford Smith? Follow in the wheel ruts of the transport pioneer along the Kingsford Smith Mail Run to discover the history of ‘Smithy’ as he was known, and how he once pushed his way along this exact route on his mail run from Carnarvon east to Meekatharra, via the Gascoyne Murchison.
There is a lot to discover about Kingsford Smith along this 3-day journey, you’ll learn about some of his larrikin antics, as well as discovering history surrounding early communication and transport. The trail will take you from the stunning coastline, through beautiful pastoral land, past the ginormous Mount Augustus and finishing in the heart of the outback. So, pack up your camping gear and your 4WD and set off on this epic Aussie journey.
Embark on your Kingsford Smith Mail Run self-drive adventure, and to help plan your trip purchase the Gascoyne Murchison Outback Pathways Guidebook online or in a local visitor centre.
PLEASE NOTE: The Kingsford Smith Mail Run self-drive route covers both sealed and unsealed pathways. Depending on the time of the year and weather conditions, some parts of the track may only be suited to high clearance 4WDs. Please ensure to check the weather and road conditions before setting out on your journey. Also note, driving times and distances are intended as a guide only and may vary depending on exact route taken. The following itinerary includes unsealed pathways, so alter this trip to suit your circumstances and vehicle. You can see a full list of travel tips here. Also note this self-drive can be taken in either direction, but for the purpose of this itinerary the route is from Geraldton to Exmouth.
Perth to Carnarvon (897km)
This self-drive begins in Geraldton, meaning you’ll need to get yourself there first. This is a 9-hour drive from Perth, so depending on how fast you want to get there you can drive straight up in one day, breaking at a few rest stops, or split this day in 2. If you’re going to drive the 9 hour stretch in one day, we recommend heading off very early morning making sure you arrive before dark and find your accommodation. We’d suggest stopping into the coastal town of Geraldton after 4 hours to grab something for lunch, then finish off the last 5 hour stretch to Carnarvon, stopping for fuel and snacks on the way.
Once you get to Carnarvon, you’ll need a night of accommodation, take your pick with options ranging from campsites to backpackers to tourist parks and resorts. There are also plenty of places to head to for dinner and a cold drink around Carnarvon, like the Carnarvon Hotel and Sails Restaurant. Head back to your accommodation and settle in for a big day of exploring tomorrow!
Image credit: Australia's Coral Coast
Day 1 – Carnarvon to Mount Augustus (451km)
Today is a true outback adventure day, so wake up early, grab a coffee and something for breakfast, and jump in the car. Start your Kingsford Smith Mail Run adventure by heading east through pastoral land towards Gascoyne Junction, where huge sheep stations dot the incredible landscape surrounding you.
2 hours into your journey you’ll pass through Gascoyne Junction nestled on the banks of the Gascoyne River. This charming outback town is used as a great base to explore Mount Augustus, which is your next stop. If you want to know more about the town and the history of the area, park up and head to the Gascoyne Junction Museum which is housed in the original Roads Board Building – a tiny and quaint structure established in 1912. You’ll find a collection of historical artifacts like photos, signs, telephones, lanterns, saws and more. Don’t spend too long here, as you’ll want to arrive to Mount Augustus before sunset.
Head back on the road on your 4.5 hour journey to the incredible Mount Augustus. This massive, ancient monocline is twice the size of Uluru, so you’ve got no chance of missing this one as you see the size of this giant rock formation growing on your approach. You should arrive here in the afternoon, which is perfect timing as the sun starts to dip and the colours of the rock start to shine. Your accommodation for the night is at the Mount Augustus Tourist Park where you can choose from powered and unpowered campsites, as well as airconditioned rooms and units. You’ll have fantastic views of Mount Augustus from here, so crack a cold drink and watch the sun set as the 1,750-million-year-old rock boasts yellow, orange and even purple hues.
When it comes to dinner time, the tourist park has a fully stocked shop selling hot food for you to enjoy. There is a real community feel about this tourist park, so get to know your fellow camp folk and share a few stories around the campfire!
Day 2 – Mount Augustus to Mt Gould (227km)
Wake up to a truly Australian outback setting at Mount Augustus, with gorgeous views and wide open spaces to start your day. If you’re feeling like a hike, explore the rock formation, caves, and aboriginal artwork surrounding the rock and throughout the area. If you’re doing this journey throughout wildflower season, you’ll be treated to carpets of Everlastings and other amazing wildflowers bringing the countryside to life with colour. You’ve only got 2.5 hours of driving today, so you can spend most of the morning here. If you are going to hike Mount Augustus, it’s recommend the 12km return hike is to be undertaken by fit and experienced bushwalkers and hikers, and you must be prepared with 3-4L of drinking water per person (more details here.)
After a morning of exploring, jump back in the car and make your way south to the Gascoyne River and Landor, famous for its races. If you’re embarking on this trip at the end of September, this is when the Landor Races are held, attracting around 1,000 people to the town creating a great atmosphere.
Pass through Gascoyne River and follow the current mail route onto Mount Gould and the Mount Gould Lock Up. The police station was built in 1888 and still stands today, which makes for an interesting building to check out while you’re in the area. When arriving here you’ll feel immersed in the true Australian outback here, as you set up camp for a night under the stars. You’ll be quite far from the nearest town meaning there is barely any light pollution, so you can expect a sky full of stars like you’ve never seen before! Make sure to bring food and drink with you here, as there are no facilities nearby.
Day 3 – Mount Gould to Meekatharra (160km)
Have a lazy morning around camp as you cook breakfast and enjoy a morning coffee. Today is your last day along the Kingsford Smith Mail Run, so take it slow and soak in your Aussie outback surroundings. Pack up the car and start your journey towards Meekatharra, which is a 2.5 hour stretch. The vast, timeless outback surrounds you on this stretch, as you arrive in the gold mining town of Meekatharra.
Originally a gold prospecting town settled in 1896, the town and surrounding areas feature a host of old mining pits and relics from the era. There are a range of exciting attractions and places to explore here, like the Meeka Town Heritage Walk or the Creek Trail to discover the history and heritage of the town and its people of the past. Follow the 3km Meeka Rangelands Discovery Trail for a fascinating insight into the Indigenous history, nature, and cultural heritage of the town. Visit the Meekatharra Museum to view over 100 photographs and interesting memorabilia of this outback town.
Depending on how much time you’ve got left in the day before the sun sets, you could pack up a picnic and head out to Peace Gorge at The Granites to explore the incredible rock formations just 5km from town – it’s an epic spot to watch the sun go down.
You’ll have a range of hotels and motels to choose from for your night’s stay in the heart of town, including Auski Inland Motel, Commercial Hotel and Royal Mail Hotel all with onsite restaurant to satisfy your dinner. If you are planning to camp, head to Karalundi Caravan Park, which is a 40 minute drive out of town so make sure you make dinner plans before you head there, or the Meekatharra Accommodation Centre in town with an onsite roadhouse.
Enjoy your last night out in the beautiful Gascoyne Murchison before continuing on your WA adventure.
Parts of the track are only suitable for high clearance four wheel drive vehicles and should only be attempted by confident drivers. Supplies and services are limited and road conditions can vary, so plan ahead, stock up on food, water and fuel and contact the local visitor centre for up-to-date track information.
Driving times and distances intended as a guide only and may vary depending on exact route taken. Accommodation options are indicative as to what is available in the area.
Above map not to scale and intended as a guide only. It is highly recommended before heading out on your journey, you purchase a detailed Western Australian road and track map available from the RAC, petrol stations or where good maps of Western Australia are sold.
Enjoyed this outback track on the Kingford Smith Mail Run road trip? Why not check out all of our Outback WA Road Trips.