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Winding along Thunderbolt’s WayRich rewards of Rudall River

Rudall River is Australia’s second-largest national park after Kakadu. Although seen by few due to its isolation in the Pilbara, WA, it is rich in historical, scenic and cultural rewards.

Story and photos Storry Walton

Rudall River National Park – Karlamilyi, as it was originally known – is remote, rarely visited, and tough. Its tracks are not maintained, and some are not where they are shown on maps. It has few signs, no reliable water, and no facilities. Yet it is Australia’s second largest national park after Kakadu, and one of the most beautiful, pristine and fascinating desert places in Australia.

Rudall River lies far out of sight and out of mind in West Australia's Pilbara, protected from view by the formidable barrier of the Great Sandy Desert on its northern edge and the pristine wilderness of the Little Sandy Desert on its south. Seventy kilometres beyond its eastern boundary, four-wheel-drive travellers on the Canning Stock Route usually pass it by, their minds set purposefully on the distant goals of Wiluna or Halls Creek. To the west, the nearest settlement is Newman, 250km away on the inland Northern Highway. Rudall River is pretty well unknown country.

No surprise then that although the region was explored in the late 19th century and the park was proclaimed in 1977, few people have visited it. If you plan to be one only consider a visit if you are well equipped for survival and safety, have an appropriate and well-prepared vehicle, are mechanically savvy, and have good bush and navigation skills. Tick all these requirements and a visit to Rudall River could be a highlight of all your Australian travel experiences.Story end

Full story OUTBACK Issue 37 October/November 2004

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