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  #1  
Old 27 Apr 2003
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Oz travels- Advice sought

We are planning a trip to Australia for three months sometime between December 2003 and May 2004, prefererably January to March. Our starting point will be Fremantle and we will finish in Brisbane. Other than that we are free to go where we please and would welcome some suggestions. Our initial thoughts were to go along the Gumbarrel highway to Uluru, take in the Flinders ranges and then take it gently to Sydney and Brisbane, leaving a couple of weeks to rest up and look around there. We will be travelling in a very well equipped Landrover 101 which we took across the Sahara last year and into West Africa so we are no strangers to desert travel and high temperatures. We love remote areas, have no interest in cities and dislike tarmac. Our idea of heaven is running water, deep enough to swim in, in good scenery with nobody around for at least 100 miles, after a hard days drive through the desert.
As you may have gathered the intention is to import the vehicle for the trip from the uk. We are aware that this may not be the cheapest option but that way we get a vehicle we know, which we have fitted out and which we have proved. Any information on the pitfalls and paperwork of doing this would be gratefully received.
Lastly, the vehicle runs on petrol and LPG some idea of the maximum range required for any suggested route and type of terrain traversed would be helpful.

Looking forward to your replies.

Malcolm & Su
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  #2  
Old 28 Apr 2003
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The Gunbarrel is 1065KM's long from Wiluna to Warakurna Roadhouse, and then becomes the Great Central Road for an additional 236 KMs to Yulara (Uluru / Ayres Rock). Longest distance without fuel is 720Kms from Warakurna Roadhouse (PH: +61 8 8956 7344) to Jackie Junction and onto Carnegie Homestead (PH: +61 8 9981 2991). No unleaded fuel is available between these two points.

You need a permit from the Ngaanyaatjarra Land Council (PH: +61 8 8950 1711) to traverse parts of the Gunbarrel and a permit from the Aboriginal Land Trust, Perth WA (PH: +61 8 9235 8000), and a permit from the Central Land Council for the WA border to Uluru (PH: +61 8 8951 6320).

Estimated travel time is 3 to 4 days. It is highly recommended not to travel in summer, and highly recommended to have two vehicles, HF radio or sat phone.

For more info contact the WA Tourism Commission (PH: + 61 8 1300 361 351) or www.westernaustralia.net

Regards
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  #3  
Old 30 Apr 2003
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Thanks for the info. How much of the 720 km is soft sand? Are there many good camping places along the way i.e. pleasant places to stop, not campsites?
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  #4  
Old 30 Apr 2003
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Im afraid I haven't got that far to tell you.

Someone else on here may know.

Regards
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  #5  
Old 30 Apr 2003
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Alternate way to get accross is to head up WA coast Monkey Mia (swim with the dolphins) Broome (90 mile beach and sensational) Then take the Tanami Track to North of Alice Springs and down to Ayers Rock (Uluru) Kings Canyon etc. Much longer route than Gunbarrel.

It may be too wet up on the North coast WA when you are travelling, remember from December it is Wet (Cyclone) season in the north.

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  #6  
Old 30 Apr 2003
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In part depends on how much driving you want to do. I've been looking at taking my Defender back out there(I used to live in Sydney and travelled quite a lot in it) and do a grand tour. Starting in Perth, loop the south west corner then head inland and pick up the canning stock route going north. Go up the full length, head west to Broome and cable beach then across to the Kimberies and up to Darwin. Check out the parks up there then head south to Katherine and then east to pick up the track along the Gulf of Carpentaria, through to Normington. From there head up Cape York to them top then back down to Cooktown, Daintree, Port Douglas, Cairns, Townsville. Then head South West across to Alice - there is a track going across forget then name. From Alice loop out round Kings Canyon, Uluru and then back south East to Dalhousie Springs and Chambers pillar. Take the French's track across to Birdsville, down to Innaminka, then Tipoorburra before heading south to Broken Hill and Silverton. Then planned to head to Adelaide, Great Ocean road, Melboure, Tasmania, Melbourne, Kosioskio and the high country and then Sydney. However if you want the desert travel then could finish at Broken Hill and head to Sydney. Would be lots of driving in 3 months, would work better with 4+ months but long way to ship a vehicle not to make the most of it. Lots of awesome desert travel. If it takes about 4 days to go from Perth to Uluru, another 10 days or so to go to Kings Canyon, slowly up to Alice, then head down across the Simpson desert an on towards Sydney then you still have a lot of time. Your either going to be really taking your time or doing loops round lots of places. Maybe some ideas. Have fun.

[This message has been edited by Toby2 (edited 09 May 2003).]
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  #7  
Old 1 May 2003
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Toby,

Sounds like a good route. I was going to suggest some of the places that you mentioned - like the Kimberlies, Dalhousie Springs (but including the Oodnadatta track), but I think you have it covered.

I can't wait to go back, but unfortunately in a year or more...

I have some information from some of these places at my site. Use the 'search' function to find them.

Search Rob's Travels

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[This message has been edited by rob_mader (edited 01 May 2003).]
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  #8  
Old 2 May 2003
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I'd like to add to the fairly compehensive advice above:
- if you're in the area don't miss the Flinders Ranges
- you won't be able to swim in most waterholes, rivers or in the ocean from Derby right across to Cape York (due to crocs)
- many dirt tracks in the north are near impassible Jan-March (including Gibb River Rd and Cape Yorke)
- don't overlook south-west WA - there's plenty of good off-roading down there
- the Coorong (on coast between Melbounre/Adelaide) is fantastic
- if heading north/south Alice/Darwin, take the time to seek out and visit the old WWII depots
- if near Katherine camp at Edith Falls (you can swim here as the crocs are small freshwater ones, just wait for someone else to get in first!)
- Talbingo in NSW is a great little country town surrounded by national forest
- I hear Fraser Island is worth it, but never been
- I went through the outback SA/NT on Oodnadatta track in Jan/Mar on a bike, it's not too hot to do but the wet will cause you problems in the north.

If you don't like cities then I'd give most of the eastern seaboard a miss. A lot if it is built-up. There's plenty to see and drive just inland along the Great Dividing Range, which stretches from near Melbourne all the way up to Brisbane (AKA Blue Mountains in NSW, Snowy Mountains in Victoria). If driving Melb/Sydney take the cross-country route over the high country. Avoid the Hume Highway at all costs.

Have to preface my next comments with the admission that I'm from Melbourne. Syndey is nice to look at but it's a thin veneer, there's sh*t (literally) on the beaches and pollution in the air. Think central London with beaches and sunshine (think hard!). Go for a visit and stay at one of the many hostels on Bondi (just don't go for a swim when the tide brings raw sewage in from the heads), but it's not really a place to 'chill out'. Melbourne is more chilled but from the sounds of things you'd be happier up the coast or in the mountains. Talk to other travellers when you get there.

I've lived in Sydney too so almost felt justified in saying it's full of w*nkers, but didn't want to start a war.

Peace out.

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  #9  
Old 3 May 2003
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Thanks for the advice so far. Most useful. Beginning to be persuaded that I should spend more time in WA than I first thought. Though Toby's route seems rather more driving than we had in mind for this trip. Please keep the advice coming
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  #10  
Old 3 May 2003
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Malcolm,

Ignore everything Barry Johnson said about Sydney. the water ISN'T polluted, we have some of the best beaches in the world, the city is magnificant. You have to bear in mind that there is a big Sydney V Melbourne rivallry. It's congested, but not to London standards, and is fast paced, so isn't a place to chill out. Melbourne is also great, well worth a visit. Don't be put off by some small minded tosser.
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  #11  
Old 9 May 2003
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So much to see so little time - ive been here 45 years and havnt gone close to seeing enough - Forget the Gunbarrel the time of year you are thinking of, well if you do make sure your last will and testiment is up to date - very dangerous area in the heat.

I would head north from perth - the Kimberlies will just about occupy 99.99% of your time here - absolutley magnificent, the whole of the top end is - if you come across the Nullabour , do the Flinders via Lake Frome and Eyre - Arkaroola and Wilpenna pound - lots of less travelled roads thru there - you may want to check a site out on the web - im thinking its called 'outback touring - but i have it logged at home on my favourites - drop me an email at - markspeedtriple@ozemail.com.au if you want it - and dont miss the Gulf Country - Savannah regions - Mud Crabs / Sharks and Huge Crocs - yep think I may load up the old bike now myself.

ps I agree with the comment about Sydney - it trly is one of the great cities of the world - never mind wannabee Melbourne - unless you come from The East end of London and are feeling homesick.
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  #12  
Old 9 May 2003
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So much to see so little time - ive been here 45 years and havnt gone close to seeing enough - Forget the Gunbarrel the time of year you are thinking of, well if you do make sure your last will and testiment is up to date - very dangerous area in the heat.

I would head north from perth - the Kimberlies will just about occupy 99.99% of your time here - absolutley magnificent, the whole of the top end is - if you come across the Nullabour , do the Flinders via Lake Frome and Eyre - Arkaroola and Wilpenna pound - lots of less travelled roads thru there - you may want to check a site out on the web - im thinking its called 'outback touring - but i have it logged at home on my favourites - drop me an email at - markspeedtriple@ozemail.com.au if you want it - and dont miss the Gulf Country - Savannah regions - Mud Crabs / Sharks and Huge Crocs - yep think I may load up the old bike now myself.

ps I agree with the comment about Sydney - it trly is one of the great cities of the world - never mind wannabee Melbourne - unless you come from The East end of London and are feeling homesick.
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  #13  
Old 10 May 2003
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Have to agree with the others that Jan-March is about the worst time to explore Outback Oz - esp up north which (like me) is what you prefer Malcolm.
It's inland heat + coastal cyclones from Exmouth east.
I cover WA and NT every other year for the R Guide and being me (and to make the donkey work less boring) I love to explore the dirt roads every chance I get, time, money and a scrounged vehicle permitting.
The Kimberley (GRR + Bungles) will be closed for sure Jan-March although sealed roads will be open between floods so I would say if you are serious about going bush go earlier or later - ideally 3 months either way.
The next RG Oz is out in October but I also highly recom the LP Outback.

One thing I must say - you will never get the true wilderness feel in Oz that you do in the Sahara - too much spinifex, too clear tracks and much closed land (esp in NT) - but there are some nice waterholes

Chris S, but

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  #14  
Old 11 May 2003
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Hi Chris
Latest we could go workwise would be March to May. Given that and our start and end points, what would be your suggested route?
Also how does the terrain on the tracks eg. Gunbarrel or Tanami compare say with the Atlantic route fuel wise? I am trying to get a handle on fuel requirements. In view of the greater distances between fuel, these could be critical for my 101 if there are long lengths of soft sand.
malcom
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  #15  
Old 19 May 2003
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I haven't driven the Gunbarrel Hwy proper, but I have done the Great Central Road, Leonora to Yulara via Giles.

The road when I experienced it was mostly hard-compacted rocky earth with some sand patches, nothing that would overly affect fuel consumption above and beyond your normal rough-road range. Providing it's dry and hasn't been damaged by recent cyclone rains, the Great Central is traversible by two-wheel-drive.

The Gunbarrel, no longer maintained and further north, will be much softer and offers a better experience, but I can't offer you much more than that.

Try contacting the Four Wheel Drive Club of Western Australia through www.4wdclubwa.com - they're a large, well-run club who maintain good route records of most popular and not-so-popular 4WD routes.

And if you don't have a HF radio or sat phone that will work in Oz, give the Royal Flying Doctor Service a buzz, who will rent/lend/hit you with an old but serviceable HF radio set and have an operator network through which you can make regular SARWatch reports and get weather/medical information if needed.
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