We discovered some cracking remote bush camps on a recent deserts adventure and suggest you add them to your bucket list when exploring the red tracks less travelled

WORDS & IMAGES GLENN MARSHALL

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Ilkurlka Roadhouse, WA

The Ilkurlka Roadhouse is situated 771km west of Coober Pedy and 550km east of Laverton and is reached via the Anne Beadell Highway. Permits are required to traverse sections of the highway and need to be arranged well in advance. It’s best to contact the roadhouse prior to arrival for up to date road conditions, booking your camping and ensuring there will be sufficient fuel for your vehicle. 

The roadhouse supplies diesel and Opal fuel, a limited range of groceries and soft drinks (no fresh produce). It offers the only facilities along the entire Anne Beadell Highway so ensure you’ve enough fuel, water and supplies to cover the distance. 

The condition of the Anne Beadell changes and is generally not maintained so prepare for severe corrugations, soft sand dunes and close growth along the track.

The well-spaced campground has a donkey shower, clean pit toilet and covered barbecue
area. The bore water is good for drinking and you can refill your tanks if you ask permission.
Firewood is provided for the barbecue,
donkey shower and campfires.

COST: $10 per person per night (U15 free)

ADDRESS: Anne Beadell Highway, Ilkurlka WA

GPS: 28° 21’ 02” S 127° 31’ 05” E

TOILETS: Drop

SHOWERS: Yes

CAMP FIRES: Yes

ROAD ACCESS: Via Anne Beadell Highway 

WATER: Yes

NUMBER OF SITES: Large Area

POWER AVAILABLE: No, and no generators

DOG FRIENDLY: Yes

BIG RIGS: No

 

Chambers Pillar Historical Reserve, NT

Towering 50 metres above the plain, Chambers Pillar dominates its surroundings. The Chambers Pillar Historical Reserve is situated 160km south of Alice Springs via the Old South Road. The turn-off is to the west of Maryvale Station, which is a good place to stop for a spot of lunch or an ice-cream. 

The unsealed road has had some money spent on it in recent years. There are still a few bulldust patches, but most of the corrugations have been graded out and the once formidable sand dunes have been capped. 4X4 is recommended and if you’re towing, an off-road RV is required.

There are two designated campgrounds, one has free gas barbecues and both have fire places and pit toilets. There are walking tracks to explore the Reserve and Chambers Pillar puts on a show at sunrise and sunset.

COST: $3.30 per person per night

ADDRESS: Chambers Pillar Road, Chambers Pillar, NT

GPS: 24° 52’ 29” S 133° 42’ 30” E

TOILETS: Yes

SHOWERS: No

CAMP FIRES: Yes

ROAD ACCESS: Unsealed, 4X4 recommended

WATER: No

NUMBER OF SITES: Two campgrounds

POWER AVAILABLE: No

DOG FRIENDLY: No

BIG RIGS: Not recommended

 

Old Andando Station, NT

Sitting on the edge of the Simpson Desert and once home to Molly Clark, Old Andando Station is now a memorial to her life and open to everyone (for a gold coin donation). The campground is spacious, with a rustic bush camp kitchen in the middle. A caretaker is on site to collect your camping fees, have a chat and show you around the property. When water is available, there are flushing toilets and a donkey shower, which is a wonderful comfort way out here. Shielded fire pits are scattered about and a this is a great place to settle for the night and chat to fellow campers. 

Access from Alice Springs is via Binns Track
(Old Andando Track) or The Old Ghan Track and Finke. The Binns Track extends down to Mount Dare in the south. It is 4WD country and you will need to be well prepared due to the remoteness and lack
of communications.

COST: $10 per adult

ADDRESS: Old Andando Road, Old Andando, NT

GPS: 25° 22’ 45” S 135° 26’ 26” E

TOILETS: Yes

SHOWERS: Yes

CAMP FIRES: Yes

ROAD ACCESS: Unsealed road, 4X4 only

WATER: Yes (scarce)

NUMBER OF SITES: Plenty

POWER AVAILABLE: No

DOG FRIENDLY: Yes

BIG RIGS: Not recommended

 

Eringa Waterhole, SA

Sitting just outside the Witjira National Park and only 40km south of the NT border, the permanent Eringa Waterhole sits on Lindsay Creek beside the old Eringa ruins. This is a great place to camp if you are heading to Finke, Oodnadatta or preparing to cross the Simpson. Mount Dare is just over 70km away. There are campsites up and down the waterhole, some bigger than others although the northern side is rocky. 

There are no facilities and it is expected that you take out what you bring in and don’t cut down any of the trees as they are home to birds and reptiles. It is best to collect firewood on your way to the waterhole while gas stoves are preferred. 

The waterhole is a great place to cool down or throw in a line, you never know what you might catch. It is easy to sit back and enjoy the sunset and sunrise as the birds sing and the colours explode in the sky. 

COST: Free

ADDRESS: Finke – Oodnadatta Road, Eringa SA

GPS: 26° 17’ 7” S 134° 43’ 26” E

TOILETS: No

SHOWERS: No

CAMP FIRES: Yes

ROAD ACCESS: Unsealed road 4X4 recommended

WATER: Waterhole

NUMBER OF SITES: Numerous

POWER AVAILABLE: No

DOG FRIENDLY: Yes

BIG RIGS: Not recommended

 

Palm Valley, NT

Only 138km from Alice Springs means you could do a long day trip and rush around Palm Valley. I don’t recommend this; Palm Valley should be explored slowly. Turn off Larapinta Drive just west of Hermannsburg and head past the “Severe 4WD Route” sign. The campground is only 18km away, but allow at least an hour in good conditions. The 4WD track crosses the Finke River several times, with soft river sand in between. There are a limited number of designated campsites spread around the ablutions block. I suggest getting there before lunch to snag a spot.

The ablutions block has flushing toilets and solar heated showers. Around the back is a sink for washing your dishes. In front are free gas hot plates and stovetops that make it easy to prepare and cook a meal. Fire pits are communal and you must bring your own wood from outside the park.  

COST: $6.60 per night

ADDRESS: Palm Valley, NT

GPS: 24° 3’ 26” S 132° 44’ 44” E

TOILETS: Yes

SHOWERS: Yes

CAMPFIRES: Yes, communal, BYO firewood.

ROAD ACCESS: 4WD Only

WATER: Limited tank

NUMBER OF SITES: Limited

POWER AVAILABLE: No

DOG FRIENDLY: No

BIG RIGS: No

 

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