Following on from my route map above for the World Solar Challenge (click to zoom), here are some personal route notes (revised from 2015 and 2017). The WSC has confirmed that the control stops are as indicated.
The graph below (click to zoom) shows approximate altitudes (taken from the Stanford 2013 elevation profile for this version of the graph). 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.
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
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.
Daly Waters – 588 km – Control Stop 2
Daly Waters is a small town with a famous pub. The Eindhoven team left a shirt there in 2015.
Dunmarra – 633 km
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. In previous races, this was a control stop.
Tennant Creek – 987 km – Control Stop 3 / End of Cruiser Stage 1
Tennant Creek (population about 3,500) is a small town serving nearby mines, cattle stations, and tourist attractions. Shopping can be done at Tennant Creek IGA.
For 2019, Tennant Creek marks the end of Cruiser Stage 1. Cruisers must arrive between 14:00 and 17:00 on Monday (with penalties for arriving after 14:00). Cruiser teams will spend the night, and have the option of metered recharging between sunset and 23:00.
Karlu Karlu / Devils Marbles Conservation Reserve
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 – 1,210 km – Control Stop 4
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
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 – 1,493 km – Control Stop 5
Alice Springs is roughly the half-way point of the race.
Kulgera – 1,766 km – Control Stop 6
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
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.
Marla – 1,945 km
Marla (population 100) has a health centre, a roadhouse/motel/supermarket complex, a police station, and a small car repair workshop. The name of the town may be a reference to the mala (Lagorchestes hirsutus) or to an Aboriginal word for “kangaroo.”
Coober Pedy – 2,178 km – Control Stop 7 / End of Cruiser Stage 2
The town of Coober Pedy is a major centre for opal mining. Because of the intense desert heat, many residents live underground.
For 2019, Coober Pedy marks the end of Cruiser Stage 2. Cruisers must arrive between 16:30 and 17:00 on Wednesday (with penalties for arriving after 16:30). Cruiser teams will spend the night, and have the option of metered recharging between sunset and 23:00.
Glendambo – 2,432 km – Control Stop 8
Glendambo is another small outback settlement.
Port Augusta – 2,720 km – Control Stop 9
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, the “City of Churches,” is the end of the race. The official finish line marks 3,022 km from Darwin.
Cruisers must arrive between 11:30 and 14:00 on Friday (with penalties for arriving after 11:30).