Anne Beadell Highway is a challenging dirt track located in Australia, with a length of 1,340 km (833 mi). This outback unsealed track links Coober Pedy (in South Australia) with Laverton (Western Australia). The road was built by Len Beadell, who named the road after his wife.
The road was constructed by Len Beadell over a period of about 9 years. Construction was completed in five stages, spanning nine years from 1953 to 1962. Len was also responsible for building the Gunbarrel Highway and others, and named this track after his wife, Anne. Several of the roads and tracks that his team built were named after family members. The track passes through remote arid deserts and scrub territory of South Australia and Western Australia, which often have summer temperatures as high as 50°C. Sand dunes predominate for most of the track. Be prepared with jackets, water, and emergency kit in your car.
The track is suitable for only well provisioned and experienced four wheel drivers. There are no settlements between Coober Pedy and Laverton. The longest stretch without fuel is about 750 km (466 miles) and is best travelled from May through to September. The Anne Beadell Highway is an awe-inspiring route that passes through extremely remote desert areas. Stretching 1,350 kilometres from Laverton in the Northern Goldfields region, through to Coober Pedy in South Australia, the scenery is breathtaking as the terrain slowly changes from clay pans and salt lakes to red sand dunes. Four wheel drive enthusiasts will appreciate the vastness of the landscape on this route, as well as the dense scrub and challenges of the sandy track. Be sure to stop by and experience the old Yeo Homestead, Yamarna Station and Djinkagara along the way.
This trail passes through remote areas, so you need to be prepared. The road was constructed to provide access for a series of surveys adding to the overall geodetic survey of unexplored parts of Australia. The information was required for rocket range projects at Woomera. The track runs from Coober Pedy to Laverton venturing through conservation parks and Aboriginal Land. Part of this area is the British Atomic Test site during the 1950's at Emu where two atomic bombs were exploded. The area is still barren. There are numerous small dunes to cross, interesting history and sites at Anne's Corner, Volkes Hill Corner, Serpentine Lakes and the border. Ilkurlka roadhouse is a welcome rest point offering a hot shower, supplies and fuel, with an aircraft wreck not far away, followed by Neales Junction. Len's markers and signs offer intriguing points of interest and a guiding path along the track. Because the track is remote and not signposted, GPS is advisable and HF radio or satellite phone are recommended. In good conditions, it may take 5 days to complete the journey. However, hazards such as flat tyres, breakdowns, and the occasional flash floods must be taken into account.
Pic: By Marian Deschain (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons