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The Kingsford Smith Mail Run: an outback escape

Mount Augustus National Park © Tourism Western Australia
Mount Augustus National Park © Tourism Western Australia
  • Days: at least three

Embarking on the Kingsford Smith Mail Run gives you the bragging right to say you have now followed in the wheel ruts of legendary outback explorer, Charles Kingsford Smith.

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While you drive from a beautiful coastline to pastoral lands and into the heart of the outback, you’ll learn of Smith’s larrikin antics along with the region’s history. This route is a mix of both sealed and unsealed tracks and a high clearance four-wheel drive may be required depending on the time of year.

Leg 1: Carnarvon to Mount Augustus

Mount Augustus National Park © Tourism Western Australia
Mount Augustus National Park © Tourism Western Australia
  • Distance: 451 kilometres
  • Highlight: Mount Augustus at sunset

The first leg journeys 451 kilometres from Carnarvon to Mount Augustus as you head east through pastoral lands. Make sure to stop at Gascoyne Junction on the banks of the Gascoyne River where you can base yourself to explore the region. If you decide to push through to Mount Augustus in one day, you will want to arrive before sunset.

Mount Augustus is twice the size of the Northern Territory’s Uluru so you can’t miss it! Much like Uluru, it’s best enjoyed when the sun starts to go down and the sunset lights up the 1,750-million-year old rock with yellow, orange and even purple hues.

Where to stay: The Junction Pub & Tourist Park or Mount Augustus Tourist Park.

Leg 2: Mount Augustus to Mount Gould

Aboriginal rock art (petroglyphs) at Mount Augustus National Park © Tourism Western Australia
Aboriginal rock art (petroglyphs) at Mount Augustus National Park © Tourism Western Australia
  • Distance: 227 kilometres
  • Highlight: The night sky (with no light pollution, the stars don’t get much better)

Before you leave Mount Augustus, make sure to explore the rock formations, caves and Aboriginal artwork surrounding the rock. If you’re feeling up to it, explore Mount Augustus on a 12-kilometre return hike.

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Follow the current mail route through to Mount Gould and the Mount Gould Lock Up, which was built in 1888 and still stands today. There are no towns nearby so this might be the brightest night sky you’ve ever seen.

Where to stay: The flat open area at the Mount Gould Lock Up makes for a top camping spot. There are no facilities so you will need to be completely self-sufficient and leave no trace.

Leg 3: Mount Gould to Meekatharra

Peace Gorge, Meekatharra © Tourism Western Australia
Peace Gorge, Meekatharra © Tourism Western Australia
  • Distance: 160 kilometres
  • Highlight: Sunset at the granites

The last leg of this route stretches 160 kilometres from Mount Gould to Meekatharra through the vast outback surrounds. Meekatharra was originally a gold prospecting town settled in 1896 so as you can expect, there is a fascinating history here. Pack a picnic and head out to Peace Gorge to watch the sun go down at The Granites.

Where to stay: Karalundi Caravan Park offers various pet-friendly accommodation from camping sites to units. Another option is the Meekatharra Accommodation Centre and Caravan Park which offers grassy areas for campers and caravans. Motel quality van rooms with en-suite and air-conditioning are also available. Top tip: don’t miss the onsite roadhouse’s famous Golden Fried Chicken.

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