DESTINATIONS - TRAVEL DESTINATIONS
Len Beadell named this ‘highway’ after his baby daughter, who accompanied him and his wife, Anne, when he drove across country, planning this track that was later finished off by his Gunbarrel Road Construction Party.
In July 1962, Len, Anne and Connie Sue headed south across uncharted territory from Warburton, checking out the country for road construction. Some 300km south of Warburton they headed east, roughly along the alignment of what was later formed into a road known as the Anne Beadell Highway.
After meeting up with Len’s Gunbarrel Road Construction Party (GRCP), the group headed west once more, making the Anne Beadell as they went, as far as Neale Junction. From there the party headed north towards Warburton, making the northern section of the Connie Sue.
After replenishing their supplies the Beadells and the GRCP retraced the new Connie Sue to Neale Junction and headed south towards Rawlinna, making the southern section in the process. By the end of October the entire Connie Sue Highway was completed.
Our Outback Travel Australia trip left Warburton and went south to Neale Junction and then turned left, along the Anne Beadell, to Coober Pedy.
Today’s Connie Sue from Warburton to Neale Junction is a 320km, narrow gravel track across mainly flat country, with some rocky outcrops and many washaways in the southern sections. In many places the track runs through stands of scrub that threaten painted panels, mirrors and aerials.
Towing a camper wasn’t a problem, but a larger van would have copped a few scrapes.
There are plenty of bush campsites along the track, but there’s no surface water at all, even in good seasons. There is a well along the way, but you shouldn’t rely on it.
The track surface gets no maintenance, so it’s very corrugated for most of its length. We cruised at 15-40km/h and spent two full days on the track.
Some visitors have commented in the book at Neale Junction that they found it ‘boring’, but there was enough variety along the way to keep us interested. Also, visits to the shallow gorges en route breaks the journey.
The best detour is out to the Point Lilian Aboriginal art site, which is at the tip of a beautiful gorge that’s lined with caves. Some art remains and is in quite good condition and the caves show signs of visitation – probably during cultural ceremonies.
The northern section of the Connie Sue ends at Neale Junction, where there’s a Len Beadell marker, a visitors’ book and a campsite, complete with drop dunny.
We headed east from there, on the only well-maintained section of the Anne Beadell and refuelled at Ilkurlka, before tackling the rugged road to Coober Pedy.