There are fears travellers may get stranded on a popular four-wheel drive tourist track in Western Australia’s Kimberley, after the closure of the only service station for hundreds of kilometres.

The Imintji store is located on Gibb River Road, a renowned 660 kilometre stretch of red dirt that attracts 20,000 travellers a year.

The local Aboriginal community has been locked in conflict with those contracted to run the shop over lease conditions.

On Friday, community chairperson Edna Dale padlocked its doors and closed the shop indefinitely.

She said there was now nowhere to buy supplies for much of the route.

“If they’re coming up the Gibb River Road, make sure, have lot of food and fuel ready, because Imintji store is closed,” she said.

She said the decision was taken after discussion with the Imintji community, who will be hit hard by the store’s shutdown.

“When we did close the store down I knew it was going to affect us in the community, not only us, the elders too,” Ms Dale said.

“But I made sure that I spoke to everybody in the community, and we talked about stocking up on food, fuel and stuff like that, mainly stuff for the people in the community, mainly the elders.”

Imintji is one of only two roadhouses on Gibb River Road, and supplied tourists, local tour operators and the community with diesel fuel.

Don’t get caught short, emergency services warn

The closure of the roadhouse has concerned the Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES).

District Officer Glenn Hall said people could be caught short if they were relying on the Imintji roadhouse for fuel.

“If you’re driving from Derby, the next petrol supply [is] at Mt Barnett, so we’re looking at over 300km,” he said.

“So if people aren’t prepared that will be a concern for us.”

Mr Hall said DFES would like to see it reopen.

‘Unique’ store will be missed

Local tour operator and school bus contractor Don Dunbar said as long as people planned ahead and stocked up at Mt Barnett Roadhouse they should be OK.

“It depends on what sort of vehicle they are driving and what sort of range they get out of their vehicle,” he said.

“Most four-wheel drives will only need one top-up.”

But he raised concerns that overseas tourists may not think to stock up for the trek.

He said the store would be missed, but he expected it would re-open.

“I think it’s just a lovely spot to stop,” he said.

“The tourists enjoy it, it’s a unique type of environment and a unique store.”

The Imintji community is hoping another company will re-open the store.

In the meantime, Easter travellers are being urged to stock up before setting off.

Extracted in full from ABC.