Binns Track - June/July 2022

Tuesday, Feb 28, 2023 at 11:52

Stephen L (Clare) SA


Over the years we have travelled various sections of Binns Track, but never done it in its entirety, so with no set time frame, Fiona and I decided to do the full drive and finally get the drive completed in one hit. Today the full Binns Track drive is over 2200 kilometres and is one of Australia’s longest continuous drives.

As usual and lots of research, I found that the best publication to use as our travelling guide was the 4WD Adventure Guide - Binns Track produced by Westprint Maps. The hard cover spiral guide is full of useful information and each section of the drive is divided into seperate easy to follow sections, with easy to follow maps. To further enhance the driving, I also purchased the Binns Track Digital map also produced by Westprint Maps.

We had started the trip almost two weeks prior, slowly making our way north through the Flinders Ranges, before heading along the Oodnadatta Track and from William Creek diverted over to Coober Pedy.


We topped up with diesel at Oodnadatta, where we were in for a shock to see the price of diesel at $2.99.9 per litre, which was only beaten by Mount Dare where it was $3.20 per litre. When we were at Mount Dare, the RFDS was called in to evacuate 2 injured motor bike riders, with one of riders in a serious way after coming off his bike in deep bull dust, which we were to encounter the following day.


Departing Mount Dare, our next stop was Old Andado Station, a place we have visited many times over the years, and on 2 occasions actually being there when the late Molly Clark was there. The large gibber section has not changed as we made our way to enter the Northern Territory. The going was quite good but then out of know where, we hit the large deep bull dust hole and this was the spot where the rider had come to grief.

Being early in the tourist season, the new caretakers had arrived a few day before we had arrived and were told shocking news, that some utter lowlife people had stolen the honesty box and they believe that by the Visitor Book, would have been over $4000. This is so un Australian in such a remote place like Old Andado. It is such a sad world to think these type of people lurk the Outback preying on an easy target like this.



Paying our respects to the great Molly at her grave near the old homestead we continued north and for the fourth time, made the short detour to the Mac Clark Reserve. The tracks were easy going with occasionally small sections of small water from the previous heavy rains that had penetrated Central Outback Australia. After days taking our time, we had now completed the first section of the Binns Track and stayed in Alice Springs for the next week before starting section two.


We were surprised to see the campground at Ross River quite full, where we enjoyed 2 days and doing a few more touristy things before our next intending stay at Ross River. The first section was quite corrugated out to Arltunga, but the moment we left there, the track was easy going and we made our way further north to the Plenty Highway and the great campgrounds at Gemtree.




Our three days went quick there, with one full day going out to the Gem fields. Luckily we found some Garnets and was able to have some gems cut and made into a pendant for Fiona. Heading further east along the Plenty Highway, we were very surprised to see it was all bitumen to well past the turnoff north, as our previous visits on the Plenty was all dirt. Again the track was very easy to follow, and our first main stop was to see the Boxhole Meteorite Crater. The area here was heavily vegetated and you could not see from the ground the actual size of the crater, so luckily the drone gave a far better view from the air.

Binns Track so far was in perfect condition until we overshot the main sign…..The maps showed that you go via Derry Downs Station, but for reasons that we found out later, the track around 5 kilometres before the homestead turns into a two wheel bush track, complete with dense vegetation and spinifex to the side of the track, completely detouring the homestead and making it totally impossible to get over if we encountered another vehicle if it came from the other way.



Once back on the main track, we were now into heavy sandy corrugations all the way to the turnoff to the Irultj Aboriginal Community and from there through to the Sandover Highway, still mildly corrugated. Another bush camp, this time at the junction near Ammaroo Station, where we refuelled the following morning. Here we saw the lady owner of the station mustering cattle with her helicopter. The track north again was quite good until it was time to detour again before Murray Downs.



The turnoff here was very well signposted, just like everywhere along the drive, but the track now was two wheel width for a long way. It was through this section that the drone helped us out again to get a better view from the air at the Hatches Creek Mine Ruins. The mine site now has a high chain mesh fence around the whole site for safety reasons.

Our next camp was at the Old Police Station Waterhole on the Frew River. What a sight so see so much unexpected water and the perfect place to unwind. One thing that National Parks should do here is erect signs to follow to the actual old Police Station ruins, as there was lots of rock hopping and unmarked tracks through the tall grass to the ruins.


Track conditions were still very good from here all the way through to the Stuart Highway, around 200 kilometres away. A two wheel track caught my attention in a small jump up area, and this was like waving a red rag to a bull….where did it go, and was not marked on our maps. Engaging Low Range 4WD just in case, we took the detour and what a surprise. It turned out that this was Cloughs Bluff Lookout and what a fabulous place it would have been to camp.


There was even a small bench where we sat, had a coffee break and admired the 360 degree views. If anyone is ever passing this way and looking for a top place to camp, you could not do any better than here. More great driving unit we arrived at the end of this section and hit the bitumen, around 90 kilometres south of Tennant Creek, where we stayed for 3 days catching up on shopping, washing and just taking it easy.

Back on the way north, it was usual good bitumen highway north over the next few hours until we refuelled at Dunmarra. From here it was going to be just over 200 kilometres to our next intended stop, Top Springs. Well we were in for a big surprise and the moment that we turned off the Stuart Highway, the severe corrugations started. These relentless corrugations went on for ever and with lowered tyre pressures it was a bone jarring drive for the 188 kilometres through to Top Springs and we arrived around 5.30pm. As with any stop, the first thing we did was refuel before booking into the campground for the night.

The pub meal was average but the cold showers really topped it off, so if we were ever hear again, we would bush camp. Next morning I almost had second thoughts about the next section, but surprisingly the track was far better than the previous days drive. We put this down to that this section of the Buchanan Highway was the main stock route taken by the cattle trucks to the east.



Ever changing scenery all the way and as we were heading further north, so was the temperature and as tempting as some of the larger waterholes were, we were now in crocodile country and only a fool would take a swim in these waters.




In just over 5 weeks since leaving home in South Australia, we arrived at the great stopover at Timber Creek, a place that we knew well. We spent three days here just taking it in and the fact that we had finally completed the full Binns Track drive and another legendary drive off of our bucket list.
Smile like a Crocodile
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