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Buntine Highway, WA/NT

The 407km to next services sign at the start may be a little daunting on the outskirts of Halls Creek but generally great riding on a little used unsealed highway with shady camping sites at the waterholes. If you need company you had better take your own. And it’s rather unlikely to meet any other cyclists out here.

where – Buntine Highway

Halls Creek, Western Australia to Kalkarindji, Northern Territory

distance – Buntine Highway

407km Halls Creek to Kalkarindji, all unsealed, (2010), except for the eastern 10km at Kalkarindji.

tour maps – Buntine Highway

The essential Hema Great Desert Tracks of Australia North Central sheet is reasonably detailed. The Hema Kimberley map is an alternative.

time – Buntine Highway

allow 5 days for “relaxed” riding with an extra day off at Marella Hole.

when – Buntine Highway

April to October. It’s way too hot in summer.


Buntine Highway map

Route along Buchanan Road and the Buntine Highway in orange. Permanent water points shown.

road – Buntine Highway

The Duncan Road is the old, pre 1986, unsealed round Australia highway that was rerouted to the western side of Purnululu when it was upgraded. Originally well constructed it’s now not well maintained but that might not matter. You won’t see much traffic. From Halls Creek there’s some undulating rocky sections to just beyond Sawpit Creek. The middle section, once you get onto the Buntine Highway, is the best with long stretches of fantastically good clay tennis court type riding but there are softer sections as well. As you head east the road gradually deteriorates getting more undulating and considerably softer. Generally long flattish uphill sections with soft corrugated down hills but you can, usually, avoid the worst of the ankle deep pea gravel. Harder work making progress then.

water – Buntine Highway

Town supply in Halls Creek and Kalkarindji. Permanent water holes at Caroline Pool, Palm Springs, Sawpit Creek and Marella Hole. The turnoff to Marella hole is marked by a small white diamond shaped poison sign on a sweeping right hand bend. If you hit Calico Creek you have gone about 1km too far. The camping area and pool is a little hard to find but if you turn mostly right, through one gate, and then head west across an exposed rock surface you will eventually find a short steep 4WD track down to a large pool with a few adjacent camping spots. There is a rest area water tank at Kirkimbie which is located just west of the Kirkimbie Station turnoff not at the WA/NT border as vaguely shown on the Hema map. There are many signs for bores along the road with a number adjacent to the road. But there are fewer bores as you move east so stock up at Bunda Bore. LR Bore, just off the road is the last about 90km before Kalkarindji.

  • 47km Halls Creek to Palm Springs

  • 111km Palm Springs to Marella Hole

  • ~50km Marella Hole to Kirkimbie tank

  • ~20km Kirkimbie tank to Bunda bore

  • ~90km Bunda bore to LR bore

  • ~90km LR bore to Kalkarindji

food – Buntine Highway

Two IGA style supermarkets open 7 days until 7pm in Halls Creek to service the 4000 population. Another has recently burnt down. A reasonably well stocked community store at Kalkarindji. Check the sporadic opening hours.

camping – Buntine Highway

Paid camping at the caravan park in Halls Creek, ($12pp), with the usual facilities for the Grey Nomads on their round Australia (sealed road) adventure. Supposedly the same at Kalkarindji next to the local shop, about $10pp, but it’s a bit more primitive. There are flushing toilets, hot showers and a decent picnic table under shade for the campers. Share the grass with the local horses at night. Munch, munch close to the tent, otherwise you may well be on your own. Bush camping for the nights out in between at the waterholes or close to the bores. Marella Hole is off the road: look for a small white diamond 1080 sign at a well worn track on the left at a slow right, downhill bend if you are heading east. It’s about a kilometre west of Calico Creek. Keep going down the 4WD track taking the right hand fork each time until you reach a large deep body of water. There’s a steep drop to the camping spot at the water edge. Sheltered and shady it’s a great camping spot that takes a little finding.

other sights – Buntine Highway

The waterholes are attractive and give opportunities to view the wildlife. Roos, birds and frogs. Once you get to Kalkarindji enjoy an evening with a beer or two, and a home cooked meal, at the Warnkurr Social and Sports Club and meet the locals. All of them. It’s a friendly night out. Just follow the locals as the sun goes down.

warnings – Buntine Highway

Not much traffic, after all the road goes from Halls Creek to just about nowhere. Expect 2 or 3 4WDs a day and they will all stop for a chat. There may be an occasional road train loaded with cattle to occupy the entire road.

blogs – Buntine Highway

Ain’t so many who have written about this particular route but my blog from my own travels starts here: at Caroline Pool bushcamp: 407km minus 17, ie, just 390km to go.

“I’m now back to being a solitary traveller with only 4 cars going past today and tonight camping out in the middle of not much. Yay!”

download 24 more images – Buntine Highway

These 24 images give a general impression of the road conditions you are likely to encounter out there. And just a few pretty pictures too.

file: Duncan Road + Buntine Highway | 24 more images
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