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Exploring The Tanami Track-Part2

By: Oze Parrot

The road surface from Yuendumu to the Western Australia border, although corrugated, is very good and driving this section of the Tanami Track is fairly easy. One must still keep alert for washaways and patches of bulldust, either one of which can cause you grief if you run into them unexpectedly.

The Tanami and Granites gold mines are situated just off the track and are two of the largest gold producing mines in Australia. Unfortunately, neither of these sites are open for inspection by the public although some remnants of the old Granites gold mine can be viewed from the roadside.

It has always been known that gold deposits are plentiful in the area and although mining was not intensive during the past century, a number of major mining companies control the area at present and it is generally regarded as one of Australia’s last unexplored mineral provinces. The mining companies depend on the Tanami Track as a service road, which is why this section of the road is so well maintained, fuel depots and emergency services exist and most tourist facilities are available.

About 600 Kilometres out from The Alice you will come upon the most isolated, licensed fuel station in Australia, Rabbit Flat. This service station, situated just off the track, is truly an oasis in the wilderness where you can get fuel, have a drink and limited supplies, when they are open. Trading hours are from 7am till 9pm Friday till Monday only, camping facilities are also provided during opening hours.

Heading north west from Rabbit Flat the road conditions are still good, we pass the Tanami mine not far from the big bend which takes us almost due west towards the border of Western Australia. Once across the border road conditions deteriorate rapidly and within twenty kilometres the track is reduced to one lane, heavily corrugated and not very well maintained. There is also an increase in traffic as we proceed towards The Great Northern Highway and driving becomes a test of concentration.

There are turn offs to a couple of Aboriginal Settlements that we pass, and like Yuendumu, you are allowed to call in for fuel and supplies or to browse the displayed collection of native art without a permit. On this occasion, we decide to pass by as our next intended stop will be at the Wolfe Creek meteorite crater.

The Wolfe Creek crater is Australia's largest meteorite crater and the second largest in the world, it was formed when a huge meteorite struck the Earth at a speed of about 54,000 kilometres an hour some 300,000 years ago. Today the scene is quite picturesque with the crater formation some 60 metres deep and 880 metres wide. The view from the rim of the crater is inspiring and there are tracks down to the floor of the crater, which is fairly well vegetated.

Getting back onto the Tanami Track we find ourselves about a 130 kilometres out from Halls Creek, the administrative centre of the region and the largest settlement between Derby and Wyndham. Halls Creek is a good place to lay up for a couple of days as it has all the facilities that one would expect in a city.

This is the place to get any repairs done, rest up and relax.

Oze Parrot

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