Telfer Road

StartClick to Reverse the Dynamic Map and Driving NotesTelfer Road Turn Off
FinishKunawarritji Roadhouse
DifficultyDifficulty 1/5
Suitable For4WD Motorbike 
Distance422.78 km
Minimum Days1
Average Speed70 km/hr
Travel Time6 hrs 2 mins
Page Updated: 10 Mar 2023

Description

This route, together with the Gary Junction Road, enables travel across a vast area of desert connecting Alice Springs to Port Headland on the NW WA Coast.

Whilst this route passes through the most remote parts of Australia, these roads have been constructed to handle heavy machinery, supply trucks and mine haul trucks. There are no sand dunes to cross however the track is only suitable for true 4WD vehicles due to challenging conditions and road damage. Only true heavy-duty offroad vans or camper trailers can be taken across this route.

The western end of this route starts 150km east of Marble Bar, which can be reached via all bitumen highway. The eastern end of this route is the Kunawarritji aboriginal community with a store and roadhouse and nearby camp at CSR Well 33. At this junction you can continue in any direction however all roads from here require permits and none other than the Gary Junction Road are suitable for towing offroad caravans.

Note that the Telfer Mine itself offers no public access, so no tourism facilities or tours are offered as well as no fuel, supplies or accommodation. Access through the manned and signed gates is permitted for those travelling south of the Telfer Mine into the Karlamilyi National Park.

How to Use this Trek Note

  • To download this information and the route file for offline use on a phone, tablet, headunit or laptop, go to the app store and purchase ExplorOz Traveller. This app enables offline navigation and mapping and will show where you are as you travel along the route. For more info see the ExplorOz Traveller webpage and the EOTopo webpage.

TIP

ExplorOz Traveller now features the NEW EOTopo 2023 mapset!

Environment

The Great Sandy Desert is Australia's second largest desert, and this route lies completely within that region between the Kimberley and Pilbara regions in the north of Western Australia. This desert is a vast and arid expanse of salt marshes, red sand plains and sand hills interlaced with scattered rocky outcrops. In this part of the desert, the vegetation is mainly open hummock grasslands of spinifex with an overstorey of scattered desert oak, native walnut and bloodwoods. This part of the region features an arid, tropical climate with the influence of the monsoon. As with all Australian deserts, rainfall is highly variable and unpredictable.

Introduced predators such as red foxes and feral cats have been a primary cause of the extinction of small to medium-sized mammals and along with wild dogs they continue to pose significant threats to mammals, reptiles and ground-dwelling birds.

Introduced herbivores such as camels, donkeys, horses and rabbits cause significant damage to desert ecosystems through overgrazing, particularly around water sources where they tend to congregate in dry times. Camels foul waterholes and have significant impacts upon fragile salt lake and freshwater ecosystems.

Buffel grass poses the greatest threat to Australia's desert ecosystems as it can quickly come to dominate the ground layer of vegetation changing the intensity and spread of ground fires.

The Telfer Mine is located on the land of the Martu people. The Martu were granted native title to much of their country in 2002. It was geographically the largest claim in Australia to that time.

A key environmental issue at Telfer is the management of cyanide which is used as part of the process for recovering gold in the processing plant.

History

The Punmu Community was established in 1981 and has developed into a friendly and hospitable place for the Martu people and for visiting tourists. For Martu people, their traditional lands are a large tract in the Great Sandy Desert, within the Pilbara region of Western Australia, including Jigalong, Telfer (Irramindi), the Warla (Percival Lakes), Karlamilyi (Rudall River) and Kumpupintil Lake areas. Today, most Martu reside in communities at Punmu, Kunawaritji, and Parnngurr, although they still maintain access to their traditional lands.Many Martu live in the town of Wiluna and surrounds.

Telfer was built in 1976 by Newmont Mining, the town named after Mr. A.H. Telfer who was an undersecretary for mining in Western Australia. By 1982 the town had a population of 380 and by 1990 the town population peaked at 1000. In 1996 a decision was made to change the work force at the mine from residential to a fly in fly out workforce. Existing housing was to be used for accommodation for the workforce and commercial services were withdrawn transitioning Telfer from a town to a mine site. Today, the Telfer mine continues to produce gold, copper and silver and Newcrest Mining is the greatest gold producer listed on the Australian Securities Exchange.

TrekID: 27875

Preparation

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.

TIP

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.
You should be adequately prepared for long distance, offroad outback driving conditions and carry sufficient water, food, fuel, communication, medical supplies and mechanical equipment. Do not tow standard trailers or caravans. Offroad trailers and caravans are fine. You should also be confident and capable of navigation and driving in remote locations.

There is phone service available at Kunawarritji Roadhouse, as well as a well stocked store and fuel.

Permits

No permits are required.

Fuel Usage

Fuel is available at both Punmu community and Kunawarritji. Be aware of unusual opening times.
DieselULPLPG
4cyl 59 litres4cyl 68 litres4cyl 85 litres
6cyl 65 litres6cyl 77 litres6cyl 74 litres
8cyl 65 litres8cyl 70 litres
Usage is averaged from recorded data (* specific to this trek) and calculated based on trek distance.

Best Time To Visit

Closest Climatic Station

Telfer Aero
Distance from Trek Mid Point 72.19km W
 JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Mean Max. °C40.638.637.334.529.125.325.328.432.737.039.440.2
Mean Min. °C26.025.423.920.615.311.910.612.516.520.823.425.4
Mean Rain mm49.1102.777.320.018.914.313.25.42.52.916.546.9
    Best time to travel      Ok time to travel      Travel NOT recommended

Map

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Directions

Telfer Road Turn Off to Telfer Rd at Yownama Creek
Driving: 9.4 km
Heading: 46°
Avg Speed: 70 km/hr
EST Time: 08:03
  • Drive east on Telfer Road. for: 9.4 km time: 08:04
Telfer Rd at Yownama Creek to Keep Straight On (Pipeline Sidetracks)
Driving: 57.51 km
Heading: 104°
Avg Speed: 70 km/hr
EST Time: 49:17
  • Drive north on Telfer Road. for: 57.5 km time: 49:17
  • Turn left onto Pipeline Access Track. for: 0.01 km time: 00:01
Keep Straight On (Pipeline Sidetracks) to Telfer Mine Access & Punmu Road
Driving: 40.14 km
Heading: 114°
Avg Speed: 70 km/hr
EST Time: 34:24
  • Drive southwest on Pipeline Access Track. for: 0.01 km time: 00:00
  • Turn left onto Telfer Road. for: 40.06 km time: 34:23
  • Keep right to stay on Telfer Road. for: 0.07 km time: 00:01
Telfer Mine Access & Punmu Road to Wilkie Range Lookout
Driving: 53.48 km
Heading: 114°
Avg Speed: 70 km/hr
EST Time: 45:50
  • Drive northwest on Telfer Road. for: 0.07 km time: 00:02
  • Make a sharp right onto Punmu Access Road. for: 53.4 km time: 45:48
Wilkie Range Lookout to Lake Dora Views
Driving: 54.88 km
Heading: 115°
Avg Speed: 70 km/hr
EST Time: 47:02
  • Drive southeast on Punmu Access Road. for: 54.88 km time: 47:02
Lake Dora Views to Main Tk & Punmu Access Tk
Driving: 29.8 km
Heading: 116°
Avg Speed: 70 km/hr
EST Time: 25:32
  • Drive east on Punmu Access Road. for: 29.77 km time: 25:32
  • Bear right onto Punmu Road. for: 0.03 km time: 00:01
Main Tk & Punmu Access Tk to Punmu Rd & Wapet Rd
Driving: 71.35 km
Heading: 98°
Avg Speed: 70 km/hr
EST Time: 01:01:09
  • Drive northeast on Punmu Road. for: 0.03 km time: 00:01
  • Turn right onto Kunawarritji Access. for: 71.31 km time: 01:01:08
Punmu Rd & Wapet Rd to Wapet Rd & Track to Knoll
Driving: 8.4 km
Heading: 102°
Avg Speed: 70 km/hr
EST Time: 07:12
  • Drive east on Telfer - Kunawarritji Rd. for: 8.4 km time: 07:12
Wapet Rd & Track to Knoll to Kunawarritji Roadhouse
Driving: 97.82 km
Heading: 103°
Avg Speed: 70 km/hr
EST Time: 01:23:50
  • Drive southeast on Telfer - Kunawarritji Rd. for: 97.49 km time: 01:23:39
  • Bear left. for: 0.33 km time: 00:12
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

The purpose of this trek is to transit and no significant "things to do" other than enjoy the solitude of being in such a remote, desert environment. You'll see long flat plains and salt lakes so photographic opportunities are plentiful. Views over Lake Dora and Lake Auld are worth stopping to investigate as camels are more likely to spot in these areas. You also have the opportunity to visit 2 aboriginal communities - Punmu & Kunawarritji. Both are very friendly and hospitable but remote.

If you are visiting Karlamilyi National Park (formerly known as Ruddall River) you will need to use a portion of this Trek either to commence or end your journey via Telfer.

Facilities

Where to Stay

Services & Supplies

Check opening hours and plan your trip accordingly.

Wildflowers

Related Travel Journals

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