Big, Wild & Free: Detour To The Gascoyne Murchison For a Spectacular Outback Adventure
If you’re one of those wanderers looking for your next adventure, or just prefer to search for roads less travelled, then it’s high time to acquaint yourself with the spectacular Gascoyne Murchison Region of northern WA.
Next time you’re headed north in WA, why not skip the coastal route and take a detour through a rugged region filled with rich cultural history, set against a backdrop of stunning natural beauty, featuring:
AWE-INSPIRING NATURAL WONDERS
The Gascoyne Murchison is filled with otherworldly landscapes unlike anywhere else in the world. An ancient land awaits filled with stark beauty awaits, including:
Mount Augustus is twice the size of Uluru, making it the world’s largest monocline, dominating the skyline and making for some incredible vistas around golden hour at sunrise and sunset. Known as “Burringurrah” by the Wajarri Aboriginal people, it’s a place of incredible spiritual importance with breathtaking ancient rock art, wildflowers and more.
Towards the beginning of your Murchison Gascoyne journey you’ll find Sandstone, a town and shire that’s filled with an array of natural rock formations, with the most spectacular being London Bridge. It’s believed to be over 350 million years old, and makes for the perfect picnic or stargazing spot:
This part of WA is internationally renowned for its wildflowers, with a peak season that generally runs from July to August depending on seasonal rains. Mount Augustus National Park, the Murchison Settlement, Wooleen Station and Mellenbye Station are some of the many spots you’re likely to find coveted species like the Mulla Mulla, colourful Everlastings and Wreath flowers.
Kennedy Range National Park
Sitting proudly alongside Mount Augustus in terms of breathtaking rock formations is the Kennedy Range National Park, dominated by a 75km-long sandstone plateau. The best way to explore the range’s dramatic landscapes and bustling birdlife is by foot, with several trails to choose from. Wildflower fans should head there during peak season, or if you prefer to look up the Temple Gorge Campground is a beautiful camping spot for stargazers.
AUTHENTIC PUBS, PEOPLE & PLACES TO STAY
As much as we ’re fond of road trips, we gotta say the ice cold pint of beer at the end of a long day’s adventuring is just as sweet, and if we’re doing it within the warm surrounds of an authentic outback pub…Eureka! The Gascoyne Murchison is dotted with plenty of character-filled spots to grab a drink and a bite to eat, along with places to rest your weary head after a long day on the road…
Plenty of the country towns you’ll pass through have hotels and motels with rooms available to book along with a downstairs pub to pull a pint or two. Places like Cue (pictured below), Mount Magnet and Meekatharra are great spots to bend the elbow alongside bending the ear of a local or two to find out a little more about the towns of the Gascoyne Murchison region.
Gascoyne Junction Pub & Tourist Park
This tavern, roadhouse and accommodation has all you could ask for while trekking around the region, including a new pool to cool off in as the sun goes down, and make sure you grab a bite to eat (12pm-2pm or 6pm-8pm) from beloved local Chef Omo!
Mount Augustus Tourist Park
If you’re planning on putting some serious time into the surroundings of Mount Augustus National Park, the Tourist Park is a great place to set up camp with shady trees and great amenities on offer.
Murchison Oasis Roadhouse
Another top quality caravan park option with motel-style accommodation, the Murchison Oasis Roadhouse is perfect for a quick stopover, and their outback hamburgers are the stuff of legend.
Queen of the Murchison Guest House & Outback Cafe
If you like a teaspoon of history with morning coffee, this guest house on the main street of Cue is a great option. The restored, 1930s-era hotel is a beaut little bed and breakfast, featuring home-cooked meals and a veranda that’s just begging for a quiet drink staring out at the starry night sky.
Wooleen, Mellenbye, Nallan and Melangata Station Stays
If you’re after a truly authentic outback experience, pulling up at one of the great station stays in the region is an absolute must-do, with each offering something a little different to your journey. Home-cooking and stories by the campfire are standard for all, while some offer eco-tours along with tours of their working farms, and Wooleen is even home to a formal dining room and wine cellar – fancy!
Given the region’s (literally) rich gold mining past, you won’t be surprised to find there are a smattering of museums offering plenty for history buffs and casual travelers alike. Places like the Mount Magnet Mining And Pastoral Museum, the Murchison Museum and the Gascoyne Junction Historical Museum are absolutely worth a pop in to learn more about the gold rush years along with the pastoral history of some areas.
REWARDING ROAD TRIPS
It’s no secret we love a good road trip around WA, and this part of WA offers a range of rugged red roads knifing through wide open spaces, vast plains and endless blue skies. The best way to conquer the experience we’ve listed above is by jumping on one of these four road trips:
Road To The Rock
This self-driving adventure cuts to the heart of WA and the Mount Augustus National Park with a spectacular final destination, Mt Augustus. Along the way you’ll find charming outback towns like Cue, Meekatharra and Mount Magnet, wildflowers in the right season and the iconic Wooleen Station.
Kingsford Smith Mail Run
Australian aviation pioneer Charles Kingsford Smith is absolutely legendary in this part of the world, and this shorter three-day trip follows his exact route from Carnarvan to Meekathara. Along the way you’ll learn plenty about WA’s early communication and transport history, while also enjoying the sights of pristine pastoral lands, Mt Augustus and more.
Wool Wagon Pathway
If you love the characters you meet along the way on a road trip, set coordinates for the Wool Wagon Pathway and enjoy searing sunsets, starry night skies and salt-of-the-earth country legends who are always up for a yarn. Traverse some of this country’s legendary sheep and wool country including Gascoyne Junction, Pindar and Murchison Settlement.
The Miners Pathway can be tackled in a 2WD (make sure to check conditions ahead of your trip), and explores Western Australia’s storied gold rush era. Comb your way through heritage buildings, graveyards, decades-old machinery and the incredible stories of those who lived it.
Murchison GeoRegion Trail
Connect with the ancient land you’re standing (and driving!) on by checking out the Murchison GeoRegion Trail, which highlights the incredible history of the region and of the world’s oldest living culture. Discover otherworldly meteorite craters and vast monoliths, stunning rock art that has survived through millenia, and unique flora and fauna.
Now that we’ve given you the keys to unlocking the wonders of the Murchison Gascoyne Region, head to the Australia’s Golden Outback Website to go a little deeper and start planning your own off-the-beaten-track adventure.
Image Credits: Tourism WA, @cjmaddock