Owen Springs Reserve

StartClick to Reverse the Dynamic Map and Driving NotesLarapinta Drive & Owen Springs Rd
FinishStuart Highway & Owen Springs Access Tk
DifficultyDifficulty 1/5
Suitable ForAWD 
Distance55.48 km
Minimum Days1
Average Speed28.41 km/hr
Travel Time1 hr 57 mins
Page Updated: 21 Oct 2021


Travelling around 66kms south west on the Stuart Highway from Alice Springs takes you to the starting point of the trek. It can be done in a minimum of half a day, although a full day is recommended to take in all the sights. The track runs a total of 55 and a half kilometres along a single-dirt track, which is mostly an easy run on a hard surface except on a couple of places of patches of very soft sand where it drops into the Hugh Riverbed. Camper Trailers and Off-Road caravans could be towed along this track. The Owen Springs track ends at the junction of the Larapinta Drive, which is bitumen all the way for the final 50km return to Alice Springs.

There are 2 great areas for bush camping (no facilities), namely at Redbank Waterhole on the Hugh River (a 2km side track), and also within Lawrence Gorge. Redbank Waterhole offers a peaceful rest area amongst the River Red Gums although they only offer limited shade. There is often enough water in the hole during the peak travel season to cool off in and the hole shows signs of having more water after good rains. Further along the track interesting stops are at Haunted Tree Bore and Old Owen Springs Homestead ruins. You could expect to see Red kangaroos and numerous birds including Port Lincoln Parrots and Honeyeaters and flowering corkwood trees.

North of Larapinta Drive there are more camping opportunities at Birthday Gap Waterhole and Reedy Waterhole, which are accessed from the Namatjira Drive. The turnoff however is a hundred metres or so before the Hugh River causeway and is unmarked. Both these places are accessible without fees or permits. For more information on this area in general, see our West MacDonnell Ranges Trek Note.

How to Use this Trek Note

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This trek takes you over plains and through a gorge. The main flora feature is mulga scrub, which is interspersed with corkwood and ironwood trees. Along the river fringes elegant River Red Gums provide shady retreats for wildlife, which include a variety of birds and kangaroos.


The first white men to travel through this country were the explorers, John McDouall Stuart, William Kekwick and Benjamin Head. On 11 April 1860, whilst travelling north along the Hugh River they discovered a large water hole. Stuart named this waterhole Owen Springs. One of the results of this discovery led to the Overland Telegraph Line following the Hugh River through Lawrence Gorge in the Waterhouse Range in 1872. In the same year William Gilbert established a cattle run on Owen Springs and built the first station homestead in the Northern Territory. After the death of the last lessee of the Pastoral Lease, the Northern Territory Government acquired the property in the year 2000 and opened it in a limited capacity for free public recreation in 2003.

TrekID: 86


MUST READ: You are strongly encouraged to read the following articles prepared by the knowledge experts at ExplorOz for your safety and preparation before undertaking any published ExplorOz Trek - Outback Safety, Outback Driving Tips, Outback Communications, and Vehicle Setup for the Outback.


Please refer to Road Reports published by the local shire and/or main roads for the area you intend to visit. Road/Track conditions can change significantly after weather events. Travellers must be responsible for their own research on current conditions and track suitability.
A full tank of fuel is required plus at least 40 litres of water if camping more than one day. There are no facilities at either of the camping areas. Please bury all human waste more than 50 metres from any river bed and burn all paper used. The normal safety and comfort rules apply in this harsh climate and please remember to take your rubbish away with you, keep to designated tracks, all cultural items and wildlife are protected. Open fires are allowed in the designated camping areas but please extinguish them before you leave your camp site so as to minimise the risk of bushfires.

You will only find these tracks detailed on 250K mapsheets, and not on smaller scale map sheets. It is also not currently shown on the Hema GDT NC map, or any other paper maps we hold in stock. We used the SG5301 Henbury map from the Natmap 250K Raster Mapsheets on CD.


None required

Fuel Usage

Fuel is available at Alice Springs although this town is not represented in this trek note.
4cyl 8 litres4cyl 9 litres4cyl 11 litres
6cyl 9 litres6cyl 10 litres6cyl 10 litres
8cyl 9 litres8cyl 9 litres
Usage is averaged from recorded data (* specific to this trek) and calculated based on trek distance.

Best Time To Visit

Closest Climatic Station

Alice Springs Airport
Distance from Trek Mid Point 47.06km NE
Mean Max. °C36.435.132.628.223.019.819.722.627.230.933.635.4
Mean Min. °C21.520.717.512.
Mean Rain mm38.643.832.316.318.913.615.09.28.521.429.136.9
    Best time to travel      Ok time to travel      Travel NOT recommended


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Larapinta Drive & Owen Springs Rd to Hugh River Crossing
Driving: 3.57 km
Heading: 156°
Avg Speed: 40.38 km/hr
EST Time: 05:18
Hugh River Crossing to Owen Springs
Driving: 0.25 km
Heading: 107°
Avg Speed: 22.67 km/hr
EST Time: 00:39
Owen Springs to Owen Springs Ranger Station - Emergency Use Only
Driving: 0.72 km
Heading: 179°
Avg Speed: 22.28 km/hr
EST Time: 01:56
Owen Springs Ranger Station - Emergency Use Only to Owen Springs Access Tk & Whitepoint Bore Access
Driving: 12.16 km
Heading: 198°
Avg Speed: 34.55 km/hr
EST Time: 21:07
Owen Springs Access Tk & Whitepoint Bore Access to Owen Springs Access Tk & 5 Mile Bore Access
Driving: 0.44 km
Heading: 173°
Avg Speed: 22.92 km/hr
EST Time: 01:09
Owen Springs Access Tk & 5 Mile Bore Access to Owen Springs Homestead Ruins
Driving: 0.57 km
Heading: 152°
Avg Speed: 22.04 km/hr
EST Time: 01:33
Owen Springs Homestead Ruins to Lawrence Gorge
Driving: 1.71 km
Heading: 199°
Avg Speed: 17.72 km/hr
EST Time: 05:47
Lawrence Gorge to Haunted Tree Bore
Driving: 3.59 km
Heading: 234°
Avg Speed: 24.17 km/hr
EST Time: 08:54
Haunted Tree Bore to Victory Waterhole
Driving: 4.76 km
Heading: 191°
Avg Speed: 17.63 km/hr
EST Time: 16:11
Victory Waterhole to Owen Springs Access Tk & James Range Bore Access
Driving: 13.96 km
Heading: 142°
Avg Speed: 24.87 km/hr
EST Time: 33:40
Owen Springs Access Tk & James Range Bore Access to Owen Springs Access Tk & Redbank Waterhole Access
Driving: 2.47 km
Heading: 131°
Avg Speed: 29.35 km/hr
EST Time: 05:02
Owen Springs Access Tk & Redbank Waterhole Access to Redbank Waterhole
Driving: 3.63 km
Heading: 228°
Avg Speed: 41.85 km/hr
EST Time: 05:12
Redbank Waterhole to Owen Springs Access Tk & Redbank Waterhole Access
Driving: 3.63 km
Heading: 48°
Avg Speed: 41.85 km/hr
EST Time: 05:12
Owen Springs Access Tk & Redbank Waterhole Access to Stuart Highway & Owen Springs Access Tk
Driving: 4.02 km
Heading: 124°
Avg Speed: 35.45 km/hr
EST Time: 06:48
Distance is based on the travel mode shown (Driving, Straight, Cycling, Walking etc), Direction is straight line from start to end, Avg Speed & EST Time is calculated from GPS data.

What to See


Where to Stay

Services & Supplies

Supplies are available at Alice Springs although this town is not represented in this trek note.


Related Travel Journals

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