Shrouded in red dirt and straddling the West Australian and South Australian border, Ilkurlka Roadhouse is one of the most remote roadhouses in Australia.

And after more than two years closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, it has finally reopened to the public.

Ilkurlka Roadhouse was initially built in 2003 as an initiative by the Spinifex people.¬†Owned and operated by the Spinifex people, it’s main purpose is to serve the surrounding communities.

While the roadhouse had been open to the community, this is the first time in two years it’s been opened to tourists.

Roadhouse manager Philip Merry said there was no build-up of tourists, but rather a take off.

“There’s been a lot of pent-up demand, we’ve had a lot of people asking when are you going to open,” he said.

“Once people got the date, bang it started. It’s excellent news.”

Ilkurlka Roadhouse has not previously been open to the public because of fears COVID-19 would spread through the community.

“The issue about allowing non-community people here at Ilkurlka, is that you have to be very careful about tourists not bringing Corona virus in and have Ilkurlka be the place that it spreads,” Merry said.

Image: Liam Byrne

“The roadhouse is community-owned and it’s absolutely vital that all the communities surrounding are protected as well.”

Merry said closing the roadhouse led to huge financial hardship.

“It was very very quite, a lot of care and maintenance got done in the quiet period but nonetheless pretty damaging financially,” he said.

“Some of the impacts for example we have a well known arts project which sells paintings by significant Indigenous painters and sales have been massively down which isn’t very good for the artists.

“Thankfully there was some support from the state government in terms of tourism grants and that got us through pretty well.”

Since they’ve been back in business, Merry said they are planning on expanding in the form of maintenance on their airstrip.

“Now we know that tourism is looking significant, we’re looking at making the airstrip operational 24 hours for emergency use,” he said.

“We hope we don’t need to but in case we do, it’d be to fly the RFSS at night if we had to.

Ilkurlka Roadhouse is located on Anne Beadell Highway and is now open to tourists.