Off the Bitumen Track

Just west of Burketown, Highway 1 on the map turns into a dotted line that staggers all the way to Borroloola, across the Northern Territory border. On the ground, that translates to 480 corrugated kilometers of red dirt and gravel—a track that's bone-jarring at the best of times and, in the wet season, impassable. For the people who live along the road, keeping that dotted line from disappearing off the map is an unrelenting struggle.

"There's never a dull moment,'' says Burke Shire Mayor Annie Clarke, whose tiny council oversees the 225-km stretch from Burketown to the border....

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