Is this the longest shortcut in the world?

It seems a bit of a stretch to call a route running well over 1,500 miles a ‘shortcut’, but the Outback Way is exactly that, cutting through the heart of the magnificent Australian Outback, and potentially saving weeks of travel in the process.

outback way world's longest shortcut
(Getty Images)

Running from Laverton, Western Australia, all the way to Winton, Queensland this near-1,700 mile journey (2,700 km) is well worn by now. Stretches are still largely untouched, yet it is one of, if not the definitive Australian road trip, traversing the remarkable climate, including passing through the Northern Territory’s Red Centre. 

Laverton is, itself, already fairly remote. You’re over 10 hours from Perth, Western Australia’s biggest city, and at the frontier of the sweeping plane of Outback that fills the center of the continent.

outback way world's longest shortcut
(Getty Images)

Work began on the road in the 1950s, under the guidance of Len Beadell. Beadell is credited with constructing over 3,700 mi (6,000km) of Outback road during his lifetime, opening up hundreds of thousands of square miles of previously inaccessible desert.

To this day, so much of the landscape the Outback Way covers is remote. Passing other cars, let alone settlements, is rare, and the road is oftentimes a track, or a dirt path, rather than a tarmac road.

It’s not clear how long it will remain like this, with efforts well underway for the road to be entirely sealed by 2027 or 2028. 

outback way world's longest shortcut
(Getty Images)

The idea to solidify the road dates back to the late 1990s, and approximately 1,500km has already been permanently paved. It comes at great cost, however, with $1.2 billion raised since 1997, and more needed to finish the project that “will add significant infrastructure to Australia and benefit many Australians.”

Read More: Overseas Highway | The road extending over 100 miles into the ocean

One of the biggest improvements would be cheaper supplies to locals living off the Outback Way. It would also encourage tourism into the center of the island, as well as along its famous coasts.

Enjoyed the Outback Way? Check out five more Great Big Stories on the fascinating country of Australia below!

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