The Birdsville Track is arguably the most iconic dirt road in Australia. Whereas once, its reputation as a heavily corrugated rig-wrecker deterred all but the hardiest grey nomad, the track is now far more accessible. Today the Birdsville Track is a good dirt road (when dry) and is a famous Outback Track. Some even choose to take their caravans along the 517km route, which runs from the tiny South Australian town of Marree to Birdsville in Queensland.
But it is a long trip and should not be taken too easy. The Track goes through very dry and remote areas and vast empty spaces. It’s true that the road is considered a ‘highway’ by some Four-wheel Drivers, but this is still remote, desolate country … and should be treated with respect. The surface is generally extremely dry on a sandy base covered with large pebbles (very large) called “gibbers”. Travelling speeds vary depending on conditions and your load. The track will take its toll on tyres and travellers in 4WD vehicles are in a much better position to handle the terrain and minimise breakdowns and tyre punctures
Some of the unexpected dangers include straying stock (cattle) and crazy emus and kangaroos that will dart out of nowhere. Other less obvious hazards are the cattle grids with mound rises and narrow openings that because of the dusty haze and low contrast surroundings can appear unexpectedly.
Without a field guidebook the trip could be easily done in a full day but you’d just be blasting along the dirt and missing all the history and sights. Little is marked or signed and you really need to know what you’re looking for to get the most out of your trip.
It can be exhausting, when driving all the day. It’s better to plan at least 2 or more days to cover the track and to explore the area. Road conditions should always be checked before setting off. Anyone taking it on should also ensure their vehicle is in good condition and that they carry adequate supplies of water, food, fuel and spare parts. On the half way between Marree and Birdsville Mungerannie Roadhouse is the only supply point along the track. A visit at the bar for a cold drink is a must!