The Hay River Track links the northern and southern sections of the Simpson Desert, inviting adventurers to traverse the dunes along the Hay River.
|Grading||Low range and high ground clearance|
|Distance||620km, Birdsville to Jervois Station|
|Facilities||Birdsville, Jervois Station|
|Best time of year||May to October - avoid summer months|
|Warnings||Remote area travel - self-sufficiency is essential. The trip is only suitable for experienced four-wheel drivers and should not be undertaken alone. Carry at least seven litres of water per person per day and emergency food and water for another seven days. You should carry traction aids and a satellite phone.|
|Permits and fees||A Central Land Council transit permit is essential, contact Jo Fleming at Direct 4WD. The transit permit to travel through Atnetye Land is $180 and camping at Batton Hill Camp is $20 per person per night. Camping permits are required for Munga-Thirri (Simpson Desert) National Park|
|Camping||Bush camping, Batton Hill Camp|
Jo Fleming, Direct 4WD Ph (08) 8952 3359, 0408 485 641 www.direct4wd.com.au
Jervois Station Ph (08) 8956 6307
Wirrarri Visitor Information Centre, Birdsville Ph (07) 4656 3300, www.thediamantina.com.au
Birdsville Police (07) 4656 5677
Hay River Track Maps & Navigation
The track begins from Poeppel Corner and crosses over just south of the Plenty Highway. The distance from Birdsville to Gemtree is approximately 929km, which means that travellers will want to allocate at least 9 days for the trip.
The track was first blazed by Jol Flemming and Lindsay Bookie, an Aboriginal elder, and it has become an increasingly popular destination for 4WD enthusiasts looking for a different view of the Simpson Desert compared to the French and QAA lines.
One of the best times to visit the Hay River areas is right after the rains, since this brings to life the flora and fauna of the desert, allowing visitors a great view of the colourful desert blooms. The same flora can make passage along the track somewhat slow, which means visitors should allow for plenty of time to complete the journey. When passing through the wetlands, visitors should look out for fish, shrimp and water birds, as well as the Perentie, which is the largest goanna in Australia.
Preparing for the Trip
Anyone looking to undertake a 4WD trek of the Hay River will need to do their homework because this is definitely a track for the more experienced and prepared off-road travellers. Since the surroundings are remote, four-wheel drivers need to ensure they’re fully stocked for the journey, which can only take place between the months of March and November. During the hotter summer months, the desert is closed.
One of the reasons the Hay River Track is so exciting is the fact that it was only recently opened to the public, so many visitors consider it to be a new and exciting territory to explore. Travellers need to take note that permits are required to pass through the desert.
Camping on the Hay River Track
Bush camping is available along the track, while there are two designated camping areas: Batton Hill Camp and Gemtree. Visitors to the Batton Hill Camp will need to pay a camp fee and the site provides basic amenities, such as toilet facilities, showers and barbeques. The Gemtree campgrounds should be booked in advance and provide fuel facilities.
The My Country and Bush Tucker Tour
A tour of the local area is available to visitors of Batton Hill and these are run by none other than the Traditional Land Owners, so visitors get the chance to see the area from the eyes of those that know it best. Visitors are requested to allow for an additional day in order to participate in this tour.
The Hay River
One of the most popular sites along the Hay River Track is, of course, the Hay River itself, which can be difficult to traverse because of the soft sand. It’s interesting to note that it isn’t likely for water to be present due to the arid conditions of the surrounding area. It is advised that visitors visit the area be prepared with maps because the shifting sands, spurred by the wind, can quickly make directions difficult to follow.
Preparation is key when taking a journey such as the Hay River Track. The vibrant colours, narrow tracks, shifting sands and isolated surroundings make for a truly exciting venture into the desert.