Hema’s Great Desert Tracks Atlas and Guide has been compulsory reading for pretty much anyone aspiring to get some red dust between the tread blocks and visit some of Australia’s stark interior. We take a copy on our own desert crossing, and see how it stacks up.
The big trip of 2013 for the Pat Callinan’s 4X4 Adventures crew was an epic expedition across the Anne Beadell and Gunbarrel Highways. Surveyed by 4X4 legend Len Beadell and cut into the earth by his ‘Gunbarrel Road Construction Party’, the journey took us across 2,150 kilometres of rough Outback country through deserts. Distances are pretty important out here; our first leg saw almost 800 kilometres without a chance to fuel up. We know remote travel like this can be dangerous, so precise planning is needed to mitigate any possible problems that can be incurred along the track.
During the planning stages, we found the Great Desert Tracks handbook to be a very handy guide for planning our trips. It was especially helpful for organising and measuring the distances we were planning to travel, including the handful of short excursions from the main tracks that we had planned on. These can accumulate into a sizeable portion of kilometres, so it’s important to include them. The short detours to places like Totem 1 and Totem 2 on the Anne Beadell Highway are accounted for, making it much easier to measure complete distances.
A sample from Great Desert Tracks’ Simpson Desert map.
We found the distances quoted in the book to be very accurate according to the distances we had covered, which meant our fuel usage and amounts were pretty much spot on. The maps of the areas have plenty of detail included, like particular species of flora and fauna to look out for, geological formations of interest and any historical points to look out for. They are accompanied by handy information about what you might come across on your travels, and any permits/contact information you would need.
This 3rd edition includes 6th edition maps that Hema strive to keep up to date, which is an important factor to keep in mind when buying your maps. Whether they are paper, book or GPS, it’s much better if the information is up to date!
Along with the Anne Beadell and Gunbarrel Highways, Great Desert Tracks also cover another 23 of Australia’s best Outback journeys. There is also a fairly complete section on trip planning, information and desert environment and history. With a copy of this at hand, you will never be lacking in inspiration or information.
For more information, go to http://www.hemamaps.com.au/