OLD ANDADO TRACK, NT

For a re­mote ad­ven­ture that show­cases the di­ver­sity of the desert, take a run down the Old Andado Track.

4 x 4 Australia - - Contents - MUELLER WORDS EL­IZ­A­BETH MUELLER PHO­TOS HEL­MUT

STA­TIS­TICS tell us the Simp­son Desert is the largest par­al­lel sand dune desert in the world. Some of its dunes are the longest in the world, run­ning con­tin­u­ously for al­most 200km.

De­spite its rep­u­ta­tion as a Mecca for am­bi­tious 4WD trav­ellers, the Simp­son is mul­ti­fac­eted. Rated as our fourth-largest desert, it touches on two states and one ter­ri­tory with a range of fea­tures that go far be­yond eter­nal sand dunes. On its fringes is a sur­pris­ing ar­ray of en­vi­rons, and in its north­west cor­ner the Old Andado Track slices through some of the best land­scapes.

Con­nect­ing Al­ice Springs (in the North­ern Ter­ri­tory) with Mount Dare (just over the bor­der in South Aus­tralia), the Old Andado Track is a re­mote ad­ven­ture and trav­ellers should be suit­ably pre­pared. The 430km track is di­verse and the south­ern sec­tion is rec­om­mended for high-clear­ance 4WDS only. The Old Andado Track is part of a larger tourist route known as the Binns Track, and though sig­nage for the Binns helps with nav­i­ga­tion, trav­ellers should also be equipped with the right maps.

Al­ice Springs is the de­par­ture point for south­bound trav­ellers and the last place for fi­nal checks and sup­plies. Ac­cess to the Old Andado Track is south of Al­ice, past the air­port and to­ward the Santa Teresa com­mu­nity.

For the most part it’s an un­sealed track; the 80km to Santa Teresa can be cor­ru­gated and rather dusty. Closer to Al­ice the ter­rain ap­pears quite des­o­late, more so when cov­ered with a patina of drift­ing dust from pass­ing ve­hi­cles. But the gen­tly rolling plains grad­u­ally de­velop into more in­ter­est­ing coun­try­side, while rocky out­crops be­come dom­i­nant. The resid­ual ridges from an­cient moun­tain ranges slowly but surely ap­pear, just as spec­tac­u­lar as any Cen­tral Aus­tralian icon.

Santa Teresa can be seen from quite a dis­tance, backed by the colours of beau­ti­ful ranges. There aren’t any spe­cific tourist fa­cil­i­ties here, though the Ker­ingke Arts Cen­tre is open at set times or by ap­point­ment – con­tact the art cen­tre before ar­riv­ing to visit the gallery.

There’s quite a net­work of tracks near Santa Teresa, but the main route south isn’t hard to fol­low. It’s well de­fined and car­ries a bit of traf­fic – mostly sta­tion work­ers and the oc­ca­sional road train. More old ranges can be seen in the

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