World Solar Challenge: The Route

The route for the World Solar Challenge – roughly 3,000 km or 1,900 miles of it – runs through the places listed below. The graph below shows very approximate altitudes from coast to coast (estimated using straight-line interpolation between towns). The highest point on the route (about 730 m) is 20 km north of Alice Springs, although the steepest hill (Hayes Creek Hill, summit 203 m) is about 170 km from Darwin. The icons below are clickable links to Google Maps.

Darwin – Start


Solar Team Eindhoven’s Stella starts the race in 2013 (photo: WSC)

The city of Darwin marks the start of the race.

Katherine – 322 km – Control Stop 1


En route to Katherine in 2011 (photo: UC Berkeley Solar Vehicle Team)

The town of Katherine (on the Katherine River) is a gateway to Nitmiluk National Park. It also serves the nearby Royal Australian Air Force base. The average maximum October temperature is 37.7°C.

Dunmarra – 633 km – Control Stop 2


University of Toronto’s Blue Sky Solar team leaves the Dunmarra control stop in 2013 (photo: Blue Sky Solar)

Dunmarra once served the Overland Telegraph Line. Today it is little more than a roadhouse, motel, and caravan park.

Tennant Creek – 988 km – Control Stop 3


Tennant Creek (photo: Tourism NT)

Tennant Creek (population about 3,500) is a small town serving nearby mines, cattle stations, and tourist attractions.

Karlu Karlu / Devils Marbles Conservation Reserve


Nuon Solar Team’s Nuna7 drives by the Devils Marbles in 2013 (photo: Jorrit Lousberg)

The 1,802 hectare Karlu Karlu / Devils Marbles Conservation Reserve lies along both sides of the Stuart Highway about 100 km south of Tennant Creek. It is home to a variety of reptiles and birds, including the fairy martin (Petrochelidon ariel) and the sand goanna (Varanus gouldii). Race participants, of course, don’t have time to look (unless, by chance, this is where they stop for the night).

Barrow Creek – 1,211 km – Control Stop 4


Barrow Creek Roadhouse and surrounds (photo: Adrian Kitchingman)

Barrow Creek once served the Overland Telegraph Line and nearby graziers, but is now nothing but a roadhouse. The Telegraph Station is preserved as a historical site.

Ti Tree – 1,300 km


Nuon Solar Team’s Nuna6 drives by a fire between Tennant Creek and Alice Springs in 2011 (photo: Hans Peter van Velthoven)

Ti Tree is a small settlement north of Alice Springs. Much of the local area is owned by the Anmatyerre people. In previous races, this was a control stop.

Alice Springs – 1,496 km – Control Stop 5


Alice Springs (photo: Ben Tillman)

Alice Springs marks the end of the first stage for cars in the Cruiser class and Adventure class.

Kulgera – 1,766 km – Control Stop 6


Sunset near Kulgera (photo: “dannebrog”)

Kulgera is a tiny settlement 20 km from the NT / SA Border. The “pub” is Kulgera’s main feature.

NT / SA Border – 1,786 km


Entering South Australia (photo: Phil Whitehouse)

The sign at the Northern Territory / South Australia border shows Sturt’s Desert Pea (Swainsona formosa), the floral emblem of the state of South Australia.

Coober Pedy – 2,178 km – Control Stop 7


Coober Pedy (photo: “Lodo27”)

The town of Coober Pedy is a major centre for opal mining. Because of the intense desert heat, many residents live underground.

Glendambo – 2,432 km – Control Stop 8


The Belgian team’s Indupol One leaves Glendambo control stop in 2013 (photo: Punch Powertrain Solar Team / Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

Glendambo is another small outback settlement.

Port Augusta – 2,719 km – Control Stop 9


Port Augusta (photo: “Deborah & Kevin”)

At Port Augusta, the highway reaches the Spencer Gulf. From this point, traffic becomes much heavier, which makes life more difficult for the drivers in the race.

Adelaide – Finish


Adelaide makes quite a contrast to that lengthy stretch of desert (photo: “Orderinchaos”)

Adelaide, the “City of Churches,” is the end of the race. The official finish line marks 3,022 km from Darwin (timing appears to stop at 3,020 km, rather than on the outskirts of Adelaide as in previous years, but the route notes are a little unclear on this).


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3 thoughts on “World Solar Challenge: The Route

  1. Pingback: World Solar Challenge: the lists | Scientific Gems

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