Majestic Mount Augustus – Australia’s BIGGEST rock
October 28, 2018 • Renee Nathan Helms
7 min read
Everyone knows about Uluru. It’s a fantastic destination, a beautiful spiritual place, and the symbol of Australia’s red centre. It’s also very popular, receiving over 250,000 visitors each year from Australia and around the world. Mt Augustus (or Burringurrah to the local Wajarri people) on the other hand receives just a fraction of those numbers, and most Aussies, let alone overseas visitors have never heard of it.
This is pretty surprising considering Mount Augustus is over twice the size of Uluru, making it by far the largest rock in the world. We could be technical and say one is a monolith and one is a monocline, but let's face it, they’re both bloody big rocks!
We only heard of this fabulous place ourselves recently, and as soon as we did, we knew we had to go see it for ourselves. And now we have, we get to share this awesome spot with you guys.
Where is it, and how can I get there?
Mt Augustus can be found a few hundred km from quite a lot of places. And regardless of where you’re coming from, you’re going to be driving over a lot of red dirt. It’s 460km from Carnarvon, 345km from Meekatharra, 520km from Exmouth, and 430km from Tom Price. We drove from Exmouth to Tom Price via Mt. Augustus, so around 950km all up, of which about 700km were dirt. We took our time and camped a night along the track both on the way in, and on the way out. But you could easily do each trip in a day if you’re pushed for time.
Now in the right conditions and with the right experience, you may be able to do this in a 2WD vehicle. But you’ll probably have a safer, more comfortable ride if you’ve got a 4x4. And be aware that in wet weather the road will be difficult, and will very likely close altogether. We had originally planned to visit Mt Augustus from Carnarvon, but when we were there it rained all day and the road was closed for a week, stranding all the people who were already in at Mt Augustus. So just keep that potential eventuality in mind when you’re planning your trip.
What’s there when I get there?
Well, the biggest rock in Australia will be there! But if that’s not enough, then there are a few other things to keep you entertained.
Hiking & exploring:
This is probably going to be your main form of entertainment. There are a bunch of different hikes all around the rock, of varying grades and distances, with information flyers available that detail them all. Now unlike its cousin in the NT, as far as we’re aware there is no controversy around the climbing of Mt. Augustus. Meaning most visitors want to hike to the top, if only to say they’ve climbed the biggest rock in the world (and you can even buy a bumper sticker that says exactly that to prove it!) But it’s not an easy walk – it’s a grade 4 & 5 track, and 12km return with some very steep sections. So with that in mind, as well as the fact we travel with a 4yo, we decided not to attempt it this time.
Instead, we did the 6km Edneys track which was fantastic. It gave us great views of the surrounding countryside, great views of the rock, and it was within the capabilities of our 4yo. We also did most of the shorter walks around the place and had a fantastic time exploring. We found a cave full of animal bones (and heard from fellow travellers that they spotted a dingo nearby), a HUGE snakeskin (but not the snake), and had lots of time exploring caves, climbing over rocks, and finding amazing ancient indigenous rock carvings. It really is a beautiful area.
Rest & relaxation:
This is such a peaceful place, you’ll want to spend a bit of time just chilling out and taking it all in. The only place to camp in the area, other than on the tracks in and out, is the Mt., Augustus Tourist Park. It’s on Mt. Augustus Station but run by a caretaker, and it’s a fabulously relaxed, and well-priced place to pull up for a few nights. It will set you back $11 per adult per night for an unpowered spot and kids under 11 are free.
Plus it’s got some gorgeous lush green lawns you can camp around, plenty of space and shade, lovely hot showers, and a small shop/kiosk. They also sell fuel (which you’re probably gonna need!) for $1.90/L which is not too bad considering the remote location. Fires and dogs are allowed. And it’s a good idea to make sure you take the time to watch the sunset over the rock, with a cold one and some nibbles – it’s a magical sight.
It can get pretty hot out there, and while the tourist park doesn’t have a pool there is a nice cool spot to go for a swim just down the road at a lovely creek called Cattle Pool. Or you can grab a Zooper Dooper from the kiosk, and take a run under one of the many sprinklers they have going on the lawn!
The important stuff
This is a remote area. You will be travelling long distances without seeing another car and with no phone reception. There will be no fuel until you reach Mt Augustus. Plan accordingly, carry spare fuel, make sure you have plenty of water, and carry some sort of communication device (we have a CB radio & a satellite phone). The only water available at Mt Augustus is bore water. So if that is not to your liking make sure you carry plenty in with you. Power is available at the tourist park. There are also bins and a dump point.
There is no Telstra reception at Mt Augustus, but there is Optus (a rare occurrence!) If you need your mobile phone fix you can grab an Optus SIM at the shop in the Tourist Park. It’ll set you back $10 and comes with call time and 5gb of data. Or pick one up before heading out to make sure.
Don’t forget the surrounding areas. All the roads leading to Mt Augustus come from someplace great - Meekatharra, Carnarvon, The Kennedy Ranges, Exmouth, Tom Price, and Karijini National Park are all fantastic places in their own right, so make a trip of it and see a little more of remote Western Australia while you’re up here. You won’t regret it!
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