EXPEDITION SAND & STONE
Bindibu: Tri Desert Adventure
Welcome to the land where time began and one of the world’s last great wilderness frontiers. EXPEDITION SAND & STONE is a tri-desert tag along tour. A once in a lifetime journey through some of the most remote and beautiful parts of outback Australia. Featuring the Great Sandy Desert, the Gibson Desert and the Tanami. This expedition is a 2600km traverse including some of Australia’s most iconic attractions.
2019 Expedition | May 21 – Jun 3
2020 Expedition | Jun 23 – Jul 8
2021 Expedition | Jun 22 – Jul 7
Track Class Medium
Group Size Medium5
“But it was in Australia that I gained my first impressions of the beauty of the world, and it was the Bush that taught me.”
– Tom Roberts, Artist
Come with us – to where few ever travel. A beautiful gorge on Alice Springs’ doorstep – rarely seen, rarely heard – there’s roads, there’s tracks and sometimes we have to make our own. Just south of the gorge lie the eastern climes of the Great Sandy Desert and the fabled attractions of Uluru and Kata Tjuta. Gently undulating and sparsely vegetated, the Great Sandy is largely characterized by short ephemeral drainages, several lakes and wetlands, red sand dune fields, and remnant rocky outcrops.
We follow in the footsteps of the Len Beadell learning roading ways – why and how places like Sandy Blight and Schwerin Crescent got their names, before heading north and tracking through the Gibson Desert towards the magnificent Lake Mackay.
North towards Dwarf Well and Razor Bore the desert is very remote. This is not for the faint-hearted – sections of the track are narrow and wattle and acacia encroach left and right. The worst of it we’ve cleared but be prepared to get dusty and scrubbed.
After Balgo the expedition turns West through the Tanami Desert eventually joining the infamous “Corrugation Road” via Tanami Downs and following it back into Alice Springs.
Waypoint Expeditions supplies a support vehicle fully equipped with recovery equipment, satellite phone, GPS tracking equipment, emergency locator beacon and remote area first aid equipment.
Each Waypoint Expedition is a carefully thought out, planned, and researched route to provide you with a unique experience where you not just “tag along” but participate in culture of place. We hope, by the time you have finished your journey with us, you will have a new appreciation of the cultural and historical significance of the Simpson Desert as well as its importance as one of Australia’s great wilderness areas.
Travel with Waypoint – experts in outback adventuring for over 20 years.
ALTERNATE BOOKING OPTIONS:
If you don’t want to use the online booking system there is an offline form below and a downloadable PDF form in the FAQ section.
14 days of intermediate to advanced 4WDing
Invaluable tips and tricks to combat Australia’s desert regions
Local expert and touring guide
Knowledge about indigenous and European history of the area
Knowledge about flora and fauna native to the area
13 nights of million star camping
Parks & Wildlife NT permit
UluruKata Tjuta permit
- private landowner permit
Welcome (Alice Springs) and farewell (Alice Springs) dinners with complimentary drink.
Satellite comms & tracking
Remote Area Qualilfied and Outback 1st Aid Kit
TOUR DOES NOT INCLUDE.
- Travel insurance and other emergencies
- Liquors, beers and bottled beverages (pls be aware there are alcohol restrictions in place in some areas of Western Australia and Northern Territory.)
Rendezvous Alice Springs
1530 – 1630 Meet and greet at Uncles Tavern (Diplomat Motel).
1630 – 1700 Russell from the ASP 4×4 shares his tips and tricks for tackling the the tri-desert tour.
1800 – Welcome Dinner at the Uncles Tavern (Diplomat Motel).
Leave Alice Springs via Honeymoon Gap with visits to Simpsons Gap and Standley Chasm. Then onto Wallace Rockhole for a guided art tour, before heading onto Hermannsberg and the Finke River Gorge where we make camp.
We continuing travelling down the Finke River Gorge exiting onto the Ernest Giles Rd with a stop at Curtin Springs before heading onto Uluru where we will be stopping for the day and you may choose do a sunset tour or make your own way.
Today we spend the day in the National Park with the opportunity to make the amazing morning walk around Uluru and lunch, before heading on to the Valley of the Winds at Kata Tjuta before heading back into Yulara.
Leaving Uluru Kata Tjuta behind we out on the Tjukaruru Rd (Great Central Rd) towards the Petermann Ranges, Puta Puta and the fabled Lasseter’s Cave in the Curdie Ranges. We head onto to Katulkatjara (Docker River) to refuel and cross over into Western Australia. We visit the Schwerin Mural Crescent, Gill Pinnacle and Len Beadell Blaze tree before heading up the Sandy Blight Junction track to Pangkupirri Rockholes where we make camp.
Sandy Blight Junction
Leaving Pangkupirri we track north up the Sandy Blight Junction through some very pretty desert groves along a winding sandy track. We head up into the Sir Frederick Range for some amazing views over the surrounding landscapes. Descending get back on the track continue north crossing back into the NT. We make camp for the day.
The Desert Rd
We track the last section of the Sandy Blight passing Len Beadell’s 200-mile stone and the Tietkens Blaze Tree and then on the Great Desert Rd. We pull into Kintore to top with fuel and then westward down the Desert Rd towards Kiwirrkurra, crossing the border back into WA and passed the abandoned Muyin community. Kiwirrkurra is a refuel stop – We head into Nyirla Warlayirti and camp in the region of Elizabeth Hills.
We leave Elizabeth Hills and head north to Lake MacKay, the second largest salt lake in Australia which sits on the border of the Northern Territory and Western Australia. We explore the shoreline of the lake and take a stroll out across the salt floor. We make camp and enjoy a fiery desert sunset and the Milky Way like you’ve never seen it before…
The Great Sandy Desert
Travelling North. We stop for water at Dwarf Well. Great for a freshen up and quick wash. We push further into the heart of the Great Sandy Desert where breakaways and claypans puncture a rolling desert landscape, and beneath one of these breakaways we make camp underneath a canopy of stars.
We travel through and ever-changing Pintubi country. Past the ruined Bilbarrd outstation and cross Laka Claypan. We pass Mangkala outstation and visit an extraordinary Aboriginal stone quarry just south of Lamanbundah. Just north of here the country opens up to breakaways there was in the 60s digging of another kind. In 1965 Aquitaine Petroleum drilled to a depth of 2441m. At Point Moody we make camp.
Today we move into more hilly country, home to the Lizard Dreaming of the Western Desert. The caves and holes that pockmark the countryside signify where they were digging for snakes. We visit abandoned community of Yagga Yagga where social decay and suicide undid promising dreams of a better life. All that remains is the infrastructure of a previous life… we continue north and make camp somewhere…
We skirt Balgo Pound with its spectacular breakaways and amazing views, before coming into Balgo to refuel and visit the art centre of the Warlayirti Artists. After lunch we follow the Kerney Range south east, along what was once the original Tanami Rd towards McGuire Gap where we make camp.
We cross into the Northern Territory and onto the working cattle station of Tanami Downs. From the homestead it’s short drive to the Tanami Rd where we pass the Granites Mine, Quartz Ride, Renahan’s Bore and Chila Well to our camp at Mt Doreen.
West Mac NP
From Mt Doreen we head into the community of Yeundumu to refuel before turning south towards Mt Wedge. We cross over Central Mt Wedge and head down towards Pupunya before joining the Desert Rd, Haasts Bluff and back onto the blacktop of Namitjira Dve. We skirt the West Macs to Finke River we we camp.
Today we head into Alice Springs visiting the West Mac gorges including Glen Helen, Ormiston, Serpentine, before joining Larapinta Dve for the run into town where the will be a few hours to rest and relax before the final evening’s meal.
- Download Itinerary Expedition Sand & Stone
The Expedition Sand & Stone traverses the tri-deserts of Gibson, Great Sandy and Tanami. The journey is very remote. It is a bush camping expeditionary experience.
- West MacDonnell Ranges
- Finke Gorge National Park
- Mt Connor
- Kata Tjuta
- Lasseter’s Cave
- Pangkupirri Rockholes
- Blaze Tree
- Sir Frederick Range
- 200 Mile Stone
- Gibson Desert
- Lake Mackay
- Dwarf Well
- Razor Bore
- Yagga Yagga
- McGuire Gap
- Tanami Downs
- Quartz Ridge
- Mt Doreen
- Tilmouth Well
Please make best efforts to minimise impact on the desert environment
- Keep to well-defined access routes across the desert to avoid damaging the vegetation and fragile landscape
- Rubbish comes out – place in strong plastic bags (do not bury, it will be dug up)
- Keep the camp clean and tidy
- Burn or bury toilet paper
- Keep dirty/soapy water away from natural water supplies
- Conserve firewood
- Use of firearms and chainsaws is not permitted
- Abide by fireban regulations
- Do not feed animals
- Every animal, plant and rock is protected
- Aboriginal and European artefacts/sites are protected
Expedition Sand & Stone tri-desert journey is 2698km
Alice Springs [389km] Curtin Springs
Curtin Springs [105km] Yulara
Yulara [232km] Docker River
Docker River [381km ] Kintore
Kintore [183km ] Kiwirrkurra
Kiwirrkurra [515km] Balgo
Balgo [561km] Yuendumu
Yuendumu [365km] Alice Springs
Yes – the longest distance between fuel stops is 561km through mostly 4WD terrain. Depending on the fuel capacity of your vehicle you may need to carry extra fuel. Recommend at least 1 x 20lt jerries of additional fuel for most vehicles.
This question is about preference and capacity but recommended you carry at least 80lt of drinking water and 80lt of general usage water. There may opportunity to refill general usage but the longest time between drinking water refills is 5 days.
Yes. However due the difficult nature of some of the tracks, the fragility of the environment and other considerations off-road caravans are not encouraged. But we can arrange for them to stored securely in Alice Springs.
4WDs that have medium to high clearance and a high/low transfer case, with a quality set of springs and shock absorbers as well as All Terrain / Mud Terrain tyres with at least 70% tread. UHF Radio either hand held or fitted is a must as well. These expeditions are not suitable for AWDs.
WayPoint will assist and guide you in the basic skills of 4WD driving and sustainable 4WD driving to suit the terrain in which we will travel however consider doing a 4WD course prior to the trip as some advanced off road techniques will be required.
No more than 200km per day. Most days are between 50-80km. We discuss the following day’s events around the campfire at night, or at our morning briefing sessions before departure. We are normally on the road at 9.30am each morning and stop for lunch between 12pm-1pm. We stop at all points of interest throughout the day and try to set up camp around 3.30-4pm each day.
We will do our best to get you going again but if we can’t, we will discuss the options of getting your vehicle recovered and to where it can be repaired. We strongly recommend you have cover with a nationwide motoring association and also take out travel insurance.
EXPEDITION SAND & STONE is available once a season. Bookings can be made online via the payment gateway or an offline booking form.
The most important thing to pack is a sense of adventure. Don’t worry if you have misplaced yours as you will soon find it on the tour! Once your place has been confirmed a briefing kit with all the information you will need will be sent to you. It will contain list of suggestions, spare parts, maps, camping requirements, etc.
If you become sick on the trip all efforts will be made to maintain your comfort and enjoyment. Our Expedition Leaders are first aid trained (Remote Area First Aid) and experienced in emergency management. In the event of an emergency the tour leader carries a Spot Tracker emergency beacon for emergency assistance and a Sat phone. Vehicles are also fitted with UHF radios for local radio contact and satellite tracking.