Hay River

StartClick to Reverse the Dynamic Map and Driving NotesBirdsville
DifficultyDifficulty 4/5
Suitable For4WD Bike 
Distance929.43 km
Minimum Days9
Average Speed42.32 km/hr
Travel Time21 hrs 57 mins
Page Updated: 14 Jun 2021


All travellers to this area, both now and in the future, owe their thanks to the persistence of Jol Fleming from Alice Springs to have this area opened up for outback travel. Jol, like many other people, had read the book, “Crossing the Dead Heart” by Cecil Madigan, with a view of one day seeing first hand the country that Madigan had described, during his 1939 scientific expedition of the Simpson Desert.

During the mid 1990’s, Jol met Lindsay Bookie on one of his four wheel driver training courses. Lindsay told Jol he was from out that way, but Jol thought no more of it until 1998 when he was approached by the Ford Motor Company to do a Sales Incentive trip from Alice Springs to Birdsville. Jol contacted the Central Land Council regarding getting a permit to travel the Hay River Area, who in turn put Jol in contact with Lindsay Bookie. Lindsay was not keen at first to let anyone travel through his lands, but with further discussions, Jol was given the OK. In May 1998 Jol and Lindsay went to scout for a track down the Hay River. The going was so tough, that they only managed to get as far south as the Lake Caroline turn off. They then back tracked and an alternative road was found for the Ford venture.

In 1999, Jol and Lindsay headed off again with a waypoint for Madigan’s camp 15. They were able to retrace their tracks from the previous year to as far as the Lake Caroline turn off, then continued on to Madigan’s Camp 15 and 16 and then out through Beachcomber Oil Well. After the trip, Lindsay approached Jol about using Batton Hill as a base to do Bush Tucker Tours of the surrounding area, which were advertised and the first Bush Tucker Trip was carried out in August 2000.

Seeing the potential of the area as a tourist draw card, the Rural Enterprise of the Central Lands Council put a business plan together for Lindsay for funding to equip the bore and to erect shower/toilet blocks at Batton Hill. The grants were approved in early 2003 and in time for the 2003 tourist season, 2 Shower/Toilet Blocks with donkey boilers, a bush kitchen and 2 bow sheds were erected by April 2003. Water for the site was from a solar powered bore that pumped water to and overhead tank and a reserve tank of 10,000 litres.

This area is now open to visitors by prior arrangement only. Lindsay passed away in August 2014 and Jol continues to manage the permit system to ensure that visitor numbers remain sustainable for such an isolated place. Visitor activity will be highly scrutinised so it is imperative that all who come view their access as a privileged and show great respect for the tracks and facilities. We cannot stress, how improper it would be for anyone to use these trek notes without first arranging a permit from Jol. In fact, certain details have been omitted from this trek but this information will be provided with your permit.

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The Hay River area could be called an "environmental paradise" because it has been almost untouched by white man. You will be hard pushed to find a feral animal (eg. camel), and the land has been subject to only light grazing. Weather patterns and seasons will change the environment dramatically but currently, you'll see the effects of a series of good seasons producing abundant shrubs and plants and the stands of river gums in the Hay River are simply breathtaking.


The Hay River area of the Northern Territory has been the home for the Eastern Arrernte Aboriginal perople for many thousands of years before white man arrived in Australia.

The first white person to successfully travel through this area was the South Australian Surveyor, Charles Winnecke in mid 1883. Whilst on this trip Winnecke named many land forms including Hay River after Mr Adam Hay, Esq of Palparara Station, Qld; Mt Tietkens after Mr W.H. Tietkens, a well known Western Australian explorer and Goyder's Pillars, after G.W. Goyder, Exq, the Surveyor-General of South Australia.

Unlike other areas of the Simpson Desert, there was no oil exploration seismic work carried out in this area, so this area has not been touched in anyway by white man and is still a true remote wilderness area.

TrekID: 114


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.
This trip is best done as a group or on a tour. You must not travel alone and your group should be prepared for anything! Permits may take many weeks to formalise so these should be arranged well in advance. All fuel consumption, food and water needs to be carried for the majority of this trek. There is no fuel or supplies available between Birdsville and Jervois Station. Experienced remote desert travellers should already have all the necessary communications equipment that are necessary for a trip of this nature. The minimum requirements would be to carry good communications and navigation equipment (along with being proficient with it's usage).

We advise that you refer to the latest information and advice about outback communications in the Communications Topic. All drivers should set their UHF radios to scan all stations, but take note that Channel 10 is the official channel for the Simspon Desert. Anywhere in the Diamantina Shire (comprising the towns of Birdsville, Betoota and Bedourie) you must not used UHF Ch 8 and 38 as these are to be reserved for emergency calls only - these channels are monitored by the Clinics, Police and station operators and must remain clear.

Your vehicle will need to be extensively prepared for remote area travel, with all fuel, water, food and vehicle repair equipment and spare parts. All travellers should read the 4WDriving Topic for related articles and checklists for vehicle setup and driver awareness.

For any dune driving you should fly a dune flag from the front of your vehicle to avoid head on collisions on dune tops. Additionally, the lead vehicle in any direction should periodically make calls on Channel 10 from the top of large dunes on the UHF radio to advise oncoming traffic of your position.


Central Land council Transit Permit (Atnetye Aboriginal Land) - contact Jol Flemming: 08 8952 3359 or 0408 485 641

For access into the SA section of the Desert you will also need the Desert Parks Pass (Witjara National Park). If you do not intend to enter the SA section of the Desert and wish to camp in the QLD section then you will need a Qld NPWS camping permit (Munga-Thirri National Park).

Fuel Usage

There may also be fuel at Jervois Station (cash only).
4cyl 163 litres *4cyl 150 litres4cyl 186 litres
6cyl 163 litres *6cyl 251 litres *6cyl 164 litres
8cyl 143 litres8cyl 183 litres *
Usage is averaged from recorded data (* specific to this trek) and calculated based on trek distance.

Best Time To Visit

Closest Climatic Station

Distance from Trek Mid Point 178.93km N
Mean Max. °C38.536.934.530.525.322.021.925.029.733.235.937.7
Mean Min. °C22.722.
Mean Rain mm50.058.732.817.518.510.614.37.68.815.424.838.4
    Best time to travel      Ok time to travel      Travel NOT recommended


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Birdsville to Little Red
Driving: 34.41 km
Heading: 270°
Avg Speed: 29.34 km/hr
EST Time: 01:10:22
Little Red to Big Red
Driving: 4.14 km
Heading: 339°
Avg Speed: 13.13 km/hr
EST Time: 18:55
Big Red to Eyre Creek, QAA Line
Driving: 18.72 km
Heading: 264°
Avg Speed: 38.87 km/hr
EST Time: 28:53
Eyre Creek, QAA Line to Spinifex Dune, QAA Line
Driving: 18.33 km
Heading: 266°
Avg Speed: 30.5 km/hr
EST Time: 36:03
Spinifex Dune, QAA Line to Georgina Gidgee Interdunes, QAA Line
Driving: 17.69 km
Heading: 274°
Avg Speed: 39.92 km/hr
EST Time: 26:35
Georgina Gidgee Interdunes, QAA Line to Salt Bush Flats, QAA Line
Driving: 20.97 km
Heading: 275°
Avg Speed: 37.9 km/hr
EST Time: 33:11
Salt Bush Flats, QAA Line to Gypcrete Interdunes, QAA Line
Driving: 13.26 km
Heading: 275°
Avg Speed: 30.47 km/hr
EST Time: 26:06
Gypcrete Interdunes, QAA Line to QAA Line & K1 Line
Driving: 18.96 km
Heading: 276°
Avg Speed: 24.55 km/hr
EST Time: 46:20
QAA Line & K1 Line to Poeppel Corner
Driving: 20 km
Heading: 170°
Avg Speed: 15.75 km/hr
EST Time: 01:16:11
Poeppel Corner to QAA Line & French Line Access
Driving: 18.71 km
Heading: 340°
Avg Speed: 38.51 km/hr
EST Time: 29:09
QAA Line & French Line Access to Poeppel Corner No 1 Oil Well
Driving: 11.37 km
Heading: 11°
Avg Speed: 52.17 km/hr
EST Time: 13:04
Poeppel Corner No 1 Oil Well to Beachcomber Oil Well Site
Driving: 49.73 km
Heading: 342°
Avg Speed: 66.59 km/hr
EST Time: 44:48
Beachcomber Oil Well Site to Glimpse of Hay River
Driving: 58.69 km
Avg Speed: 34.83 km/hr
EST Time: 01:41:06
Glimpse of Hay River to Madigan Camp 16 Blaze Tree
Driving: 30.43 km
Heading: 328°
Avg Speed: 49.96 km/hr
EST Time: 36:32
Madigan Camp 16 Blaze Tree to Aboriginal Tool Remains
Driving: 30.08 km
Heading: 332°
Avg Speed: 39.01 km/hr
EST Time: 46:15
Aboriginal Tool Remains to Old fuel dump
Driving: 93.5 km
Heading: 336°
Avg Speed: 51.94 km/hr
EST Time: 01:48:00
Old fuel dump to Vantage Point
Driving: 13.98 km
Heading: 311°
Avg Speed: 32.8 km/hr
EST Time: 25:34
Vantage Point to Tropic of Capricorn Sign
Driving: 57.3 km
Heading: 345°
Avg Speed: 53.24 km/hr
EST Time: 01:04:34
Tropic of Capricorn Sign to Batton Hill Camp
Driving: 53.02 km
Heading: 333°
Avg Speed: 72.3 km/hr
EST Time: 44:00
Batton Hill Camp to Gate to Goyders Pillar
Driving: 4.86 km
Avg Speed: 49.74 km/hr
EST Time: 05:51
Gate to Goyders Pillar to Vantage Point
Driving: 8.27 km
Heading: 66°
Avg Speed: 60.71 km/hr
EST Time: 08:10
Vantage Point to Goyders Pillar
Driving: 0.69 km
Heading: 95°
Avg Speed: 24.5 km/hr
EST Time: 01:41
Goyders Pillar to Batton Hill Gate
Driving: 11.77 km
Heading: 250°
Avg Speed: 42.21 km/hr
EST Time: 16:43
Batton Hill Gate to Hay River, Station Track
Driving: 0.32 km
Heading: 262°
Avg Speed: 38.9 km/hr
EST Time: 00:29
Hay River, Station Track to Station Track (Gate)
Driving: 75.49 km
Heading: 272°
Avg Speed: 60.19 km/hr
EST Time: 01:15:15
Station Track (Gate) to Harts Range Police Station
Driving: 169.55 km
Heading: 271°
Avg Speed: 39.01 km/hr
EST Time: 04:20:46
Harts Range Police Station to Gemtree
Driving: 75.19 km
Heading: 271°
Avg Speed: 75.56 km/hr
EST Time: 59:42
  • Drive north. for: 0.28 km time: 01:38
  • Turn left at the end of the road, onto Plenty Highway for: 74.49 km time: 55:55
  • Turn left. for: 0.43 km time: 02:10
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

Batton Hill Camp, Bush Tucker Tour, Mt Teitkins, Mt Winnecke, Goyders Pillar, Lake Caroline (a claypan), the dry riverbed that is the Hay River.


Where to Stay

Services & Supplies


Nearby ExplorOz Treks

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