“Are the gravel roads to Wooleen Station safe?”
It’s a regular question around here. In fact, I’d say we field it at least once a day on the telephone and perhaps every third email during the season.
The short answer is, yes. They are very safe. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t follow some basic outback driving advice.
Over the years we’ve seen all sorts of vehicles arrive at Wooleen. There was the lady who drove her Mazda sports car, the chamberlain G9 tractor club, every camper trailer, caravan and tent known to mankind, trucks, push bikes, airplanes, and helicopters are just to name a few. The most popular choice is a nice sturdy AWD but we get equal amounts of 2WD sedans and 4WD vehicles as well.
The roads to Wooleen Station are of equal mix sealed bitumen and unsealed gravel. The Shire of Murchison is responsible for maintaining the roads right to Wooleen’s doorstep, then we take-over the maintenance of our private roads past the homestead. The Shire of Murchison has a formidable team when it comes to road construction and maintenance. If I could have a $1 everytime someone arrived at the door exclaiming ‘Wow, aren’t the roads just fantastic!” I’d be a wealthy woman. Travellers regularly comment on their ability to travel at 80 – 100kph with the roads far exceeding their imagination and expectation.
But of course, there is always an exception to the rule. Large amounts of rain can cause roads to flood, wash away and become either impassable or tricky to negotiate. The shire works crew has hundreds and hundreds of roads to maintain and therefore it can take them weeks to get around to repair or put through an insurance claim for flood damage. Given the semi-arid nature of the outback this is a reasonably rare occurrence, but one you should be prepared to deal with. Overall, driving to Wooleen Station should be a very pleasant experience. Remember to travel at a speed comfortable for you and your passengers. Just because the person ahead of you is traveling faster, doesn’t mean you should too.
Whilst sportscars have made the trip before, and 2WD sedans turn up weekly, we recommend you aim to arrive in an AWD. It will give you more comfort as you travel along and more options once you reach Wooleen. Off the major shire maintained gazetted roads, Wooleen Station has a series of tracks around the property. We try our hardest to get around to them all, grading and clearing scrub, but having a better vehicle will ensure you get the chance to visit everything on offer as some roads are just not suited to 2WD.
Things you might like to consider and remember when driving on a gravel road:
- Wildlife and Stock – Roadways are not fenced and therefore kangaroos, emus, cows, sheep and other wildlife are free to roam and cross the roads at will. Slow down and give animals right of way if you see them up ahead.
- Dust and Visibility – Visibility can be an issue due to the dust clouds kicked up by your vehicle or by those traveling ahead. If necessary, slow down and remain vigilant.
- Weather Conditions and Mud – Rain can make the roads muddy and impassable, watch the weather closer to departing and remember to check the shire road condition report or call the homestead for an update (08) 9963 7973. Alternatively, extremely hot weather will necessitate you travel with extra food and water supplies on board in case you break down (and remember to ALWAYS stay with your vehicle).
- Google Maps – Google Maps is an unreliable source to calculate your driving distance and times to Wooleen Station. Please check with us at the homestead if you are uncertain of distance and timing. You can also pop through to our Driving Conditions page to see KM calculations from other popular destinations to the station.
If you’re still concerned about the drive, you are welcome to call us when you leave Mullewa and let us know your intended route of travel. That way we can estimate your arrival time and potentially come looking for you if you don’t arrive by sundown (NB: In 10 years we’ve only ever had to go looking for someone once and it was only because they stopped at the Murchison River for an extra long picnic!).
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