Skull Springs Road; an awesome Pilbara 4WD adventure

The Pilbara is jam packed with more amazing places, 4WD tracks and camp sites than you can poke a stick at, and not too long ago we decided to spent a lot more time looking around. Having done a small part of Skull Springs road in the past to get from the amazing Carawine Gorge to Running waters, we were keen to do the rest of it, and made it a decent chunk of our 3 week Pilbara Trip.

To put it bluntly, the road blew us away on so many levels; its magic country, and if you have a sense of adventure and a vehicle suitable, you should absolutely consider doing it.

Skull Springs Road
Skull Springs Road is completely worth a trip

Where is Skull Springs Road?

You’ll find the start of this road in Nullagine, a small town just south of Marble Bar, in the Pilbara. It heads East, and eventually pops out onto bitumen which will take you north to Carawine Gorge, past Veterans Retreat and eventually back into Marble Bar.

The start of Skull Springs Road is roughly 90 km from Marble Bar, and 197 kilometres from Newman.

Skull Springs Road
It’s in the middle of the beautiful Pilbara region

Skull Springs Road condition

I was very curious to see what the actual road condition would be like of Skull Spring Road. I had in my mind it was a decent 4WD track, but the start of the road on Nullagines’ end had me questioning that thought.

Airing down before Skull Springs Road
Letting some air out near Nullagine

You can do the track in either way, and we’d done a small section from the East to Running waters, but nothing else.

Heading from Nullagine, you’ll find the road starts off as really good quality gravel haul road, with it being wide enough for two vehicles to pass, and decent crossings. The further you go though, the more it deteriorates, until you get near to the end where it opens up and gets good again.

Skull Springs Road condition
Some parts are great, and some were average

You need to watch for the river crossings, and where the level goes down and back up again in a hurry, as many of them are seriously sharp and if you hit them at speed you could be in a world of pain.

We did the road about a week after 60mm of rain fell in Marble Bar, and there were some pretty shocking crevices and wash outs that appeared with very little time to react. We hit one or two faster than I’d have liked, but those that swallowed half of our tyres were seen early enough.

Big washout on Skull Springs Road
Hit that at speed and you’d know about it!

After about 60km, the road starts to get much narrower, and you’ll see a sign that says nothing over 4 tonnes beyond this point. Of course, this refers purely to the GVM, and not your towing weight as well.

The track eventually turns into a single lane 4WD track that goes over lots of river beds, and a huge amount of rock. I actually flicked it into low range for a period as we were constantly stopping and taking off again and the automatic transmission temperatures were sitting around 100 degrees.

Skull springs rocks
It gets really rocky in sections

Take the time to stop and look around too, as the area is magic and you’ll see some pretty amazing sites if you are prepared to look around.

About 40km away from Skull Springs lies Running Waters, also signed by a very makeshift post in the ground. There’s two access points, with the one closest to Nullagine being the best (apparently).

From here on, Skull Springs Road is wide, and pretty decent asides from the usual corrugations. You will get to a couple of river crossings near the bitumen, which have a reasonable solid base, but it pays to have a look before you charge through.

4WD Safety
There’s a couple of water crossings at the end of Skull Springs Road

What is worth looking at?

The two most common sites are Skull Springs, and Running Waters. Both are nothing short of amazing and well worth a night or two if you can stay there, or even just a few hours looking around and soaking it up.

Skull Springs camp
Camped at Skull Springs itself
Skull springs hills
The hills nearby are stunning
Camped at Running Waters
Our camp site, metres from Running Waters

There’s an old mine, a few lookouts and other bits and pieces that are probably worth a stop too, but we didn’t bother.

Asides from this, the entire Skull Springs Road is beautiful, with some truly incredible spots along the way, and the scenery changes significantly, and often making for a very enjoyable drive.

4WD necessary
The scenery on Skull Springs Road is great, and changes a lot

Where can you get fuel?

Fuel is available at Newman, Nullagine and Marble Bar. If you do the loop (Newman, Nullagine, Skull Springs Road and back around to Marble Bar, its about 500km from Newman to Marble Bar, but if you fill up at Nullagine, its only just over 300km.

The cheaper fuel is at Auski Roadhouse, but its worth paying extra to get to see these amazing places.

Auski Roadhouse
Auski Roadhouse is much cheaper, but get fuel where you need it

Is Skull Springs Road worth it?

Honestly, we had a ball on Skull Springs Road, and would go back in a heartbeat. Skull Springs, Running Waters and then Carawine Gorge are all completely worth a night or two, and they are all 100% free, stunning and lots of fun. If you are looking for a magic adventure in the Pilbara, put Skull Springs Road on your list!

Coming out of Running Waters
We had a ball with our Dmax and Reconn R2

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  1. Hey Rob,

    Yep, you should be OK as long as its not been overly wet. We saw a few vans out there, and some of the road was really good. I would just be limiting my speed as we came across some seriously nasty holes and ruts that would do an immense amount of damage if you hit them at speed.

    Of course, this is subject to the road maintenance, but when we went it was after a fair bit of rain (things were mostly drying up, with just a few bits of mud around), and it would have still been OK with an off road van.

    All the best

  2. Rob Grayson says:

    Great Info as usual. I am wondering if I could tow my 20′ OffRoad caravan through the Skull Springs road? We’ve done the Gibb. Mitchell Plateau and Tanami track out to Wolf Creek with same van.