The Gunbarrel Highway was built as part of Australia's role in the weapons research establishment called Woomera which included Emu Field and Maralinga, both atomic bomb testing sites. Construction began in 1955 and was finally completed on 15 November 1958 when the road reached Carnegie.
The highway was surveyed and constructed under the direction of legendary bushman Len Beadell, who was responsible for numerous other roads in Australia that opened up some of the most remote desert areas of the continent in the 1950s and 1960s. Its name comes from Beadell's Gunbarrel Road Construction Party so named as his intention was to build roads as straight as a gunbarrel. This was only sporadically achieved however, due to the nature and variety of terrain through which the roads passed.
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