Adelaide 4WD and Adventure Show

One of Australia’s greatest Game Changers – Len Beadell

When you’re talking about Game Changers in Australia, it’s not just about companies, but about people too.

Most Aussies have at least heard of Len Beadell, a surveyor and road builder – and a proud bushman – who was responsible for constructing over 6000 km of roads and opening up isolated desert areas (some 2.5 million square kilometres) of central Australia from 1947 to 1963.

Beadell’s best known road is the Gunbarrel Highway, named because whenever possible he tried to make the road as straight as a gunbarrel – an impressive stretch of road that begun at Victory Downs homestead which is 316 km by road south of Alice Springs, then pushed west to the Rawlinson Ranges, skirting south of the Gibson Desert, via the mission at Warburton, to connect to an existing road at Carnegie Station.

Len Beadell, working alone most of the time, built this road by pushing through raw scrub in a Land Rover. Once Len’s line of the road had been decided, a bulldozer followed to cut a raw track, clearing away the spinifex and mulga scrub to form a basic level track. This was then graded using a standard road grader. The Gunbarrel Highway was significant as it opened up Australia to travellers.

Following the Gunbarrel Highway, Len built further roads by the same method, naming a few of them after his family. The Connie Sue Highway for his daughter, the Gary Highway and Gary Junction Road for his son, the Anne Beadell Highway for his wife and Jackie Junction for his youngest daughter.

The Legend of Len Beadell lives on today

The Legend of Len Beadell lives on today through his daughter Connie, who today runs Beadell Tours out of NSW along with her husband Mick Hutton.

Who better to take Aussie travellers along the same routes as the late Len Beadell? Armed with information from within the family, Connie Sue Beadell will give you the true picture of what Len and his road-making crew, the “Gunbarrel Road Construction Party” got up to in the 50’s & 60’s.

Beadell Tours travel on desert tracks and also run cross-country expeditions, the next step for those experienced in 4WD travel. For more information on Beadell Tours, visit