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A great journey.

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by Stu M, Nov 6, 2017.

  1. Stu M

    Stu M New Member

    G'day, I'm Stuart.
    You may be interested in a great trip I did recently in my RA Holden Rodeo turbo diesel 4wd.
    If I had a motto it would be that bitumen is boring, gravel roads and tracks are fun.
    From Windorah to Birdsville. Undulating, open country, mostly good formed gravel road. Then onto the Birdsville Track where at about the hundred kilomtre mark most of the Dips were full of muddy water, otherwise pretty good. Then to Mungerannie, Marree, the Oodnadatta Track, in very good condition, to William Creek, across to Coober Pedy along a mostly windey but fairly good road.
    From Coober Pedy onto the Anne Beadell Highway, with a deviation to Vokes Hill, many camping spots in the scrub up to the SA-WA border, some great facilities installed by the Spinifex mob up to and after Ilkurlka then on to Neale Junction where there are more facilities. Next was the old Emu Station not far from where I turn north on Port Sunday road for the short run to the Great Central Highway (GCH).
    Both ends of the ABH were quite rutted and rough particularly where there was any shade to hold moisture. Lots of corrugations although most was of the fine "washboard" kind with short sections of very deep, sharp corrugations notably in places of dark grey gravel; some very rough rocky outcrops, tight sandy bends at the top of dunes; spinifex, mulga, scrub, grass, emus, camels which run along the track in front of you (quite amusing to watch), a few roos. Everything you could wish for and expect for a great experience. The WA side is generally much better than the SA.
    The most suitable vehicles would have excellent shock absorbers, long travel suspension, and tall tyres of good quality as well as other attributes for a long rough trip.
    Port Sunday Road is a reasonably good track through to the GCH which itself is a marked contrast being wide, straight and very smooth when I went along up to the Tjukayrla Roadhouse which has great facilities.
    Back down the GCH for a short distance to head north along the David Carnegie Road and Eagle Highway. Empress Springs was very interesting and someone has done a great job of installing a chain and bar ladder into the hole in the ground, one you would not know was there from only a few metres away. You should have a spinifex blanket in front of the radiator for this track. I spent half an hour removing spinifex from under the car when I reached the Gunbarrel Highway. The DCR is just a two groove track which may have seen a grader a millenia ago; it is smooth in parts, very rough in others with many hidden potholes and some large washouts where the track has been a creek, some of which are bypassed but others not so with some short sections of deep soft sand. Track is worst for about the last sixty kilometres heading north. The country is mostly open spinifex interspersed with scrub, mulga and some very pretty wildflowers; mostly flat but with some low rocky ranges and outcrops.
    Now turned west along the Gunbarrel Highway which had some very deep sharp gutters across in the dips but otherwise quite smooth with few corrugations to Carnegie Station which has fuel but no food apart from some cold drinks and light snacks. About fifty Ks west of the DCR junction found a track leading north up a short, very steep, rocky incline to the top of a little plateau with enough space for small camps and by standing on top of the ute had a good view over the scrub for miles around.
    From Carnegie I was lucky enough to meet a couple of graders which left me with a pretty good run all the way to Wiluna. There is a good caravan and camping ground off to the northside about twelve Ks east of Wiluna. Good meals, good facilities and the proprietor has an endless knowledge of the area.
    North from Wiluna along a fairly good gravel road via New Springs to the Great Northern Highway and boring bitumen to Newman where the guided tour of the opencut mine is well worth the time.
    From Newman to the wonderful Karijini National Park, first at the Echo Lodge camp ground, Oxer Gorge and Weona Gorge.
    Kalamina Gorge which sits pretty much on its own between Echo and Dales is by far my favourite although the road access is quite rough and corrugated and there does not appear to be any camping. Dales camp ground next for a look at Fortesque Gorge.
    Then back to the GNH northbound with an detour to Munjina East Lookout which looks over the cutting through the range for the highway.
    Bypassed Port Hedland for Pardoo Roadhouse and a side trip to Eighty Mile Beach, wow, then Sandfire Roadhouse. Next a crowded Roebuck Plains Roadhouse and Park and quick visit to Broome to restock.
    More boring bitumen to Derby and on to the Gibb River Road, Barnett Roadhouse, then north to Drysdale Station after which the road was very corrugated to the turn-off for Mitchell Falls. This track of about seventy Ks is very badly corrugated and has so many twists and turns that it is almost impossible to rise above them. The walk to the Falls is a few Ks along a narrow walking track, mostly easy going but with a few climbs. When at the Falls it is necessary to wade knee deep across a rocky river which needs some care, to get a good view of the Falls themselves. While the Falls are great, the canyon they have dug out is quite spectacular. Back to Drysdale and then the GRR for Kununurra.
    Next the Bungle Bungles and the Spring Creek Caravan Park. The track from there is a bit rough with some corrugations and many twists and turns up and down to the Ranger Station to obtain a Pass and maps. From the Ranger station the road improves and I took a right at the tee junction for Piccaninny, Cathedral Gorge and The Domes, all excellent although is probably best near the middle of the day to get light into the depth of the gorge.
    From here around to the northern end at Echidna, travelling along the western side of the range in the late afternoon showed it to great effect.
    Next to Halls Creek for refuel of body and car before heading to the Tanami Road where I made the mistake of not making a note of the list of camp sites listed on the board at the junction. The first forty to fifty Ks of the Tanami were quite rough and corrugated but the remainder was in pretty good shape. Found a little place to camp just off the track within sight of the lights of what turned out to be a mine site.
    Continued to Tilmouth Roadhouse then to a right turn west on to the Gary Junction Road to Papunya then Kintore to prepare for the Sandy Blight Junction Road. From the Tanami Road to Kintore, the road varies from rough and badly corrugated (the majority) to quite good.
    For me the Sandy Blight Junction Road is one of my favourites, spinifex, open tree land, snd hills hidden under vegetation and the surface is mostly quite good as it twists and turns amongst the sandhills until, all too soon, you go onto the graded local access road leading to the Great Central Road for the Warakurna Roadhouse near the Giles Weather Station.
    Here my travles were interrupted until September.

    At a later date I headed to a pleasant little Caravan Park at the Eulo Hotel. On to Thargomindah (all boring sealed)and the road to Cameron Corner via Bulloo Downs Station. The first section to Bulloo Downs was a graded gravel road in reasonably good condition having been recently graded apart one rough section of about ten Ks. The section from Bulloo Downs Station to the Corners varies from a narrow smooth track to graded, partially corrugated, partially rough gravel road. The country from Thargo gradually changes from open flat to dunes to gravel ridges then more dunes increasing as you travel west. The road from Cameron Corner to the Strezlecki track is quite badly corrugated and a need to watch for blind sharp turns over sandhills. The Strez, I thought, was in very good condition thanks to a couple of grader teams along the way to Lyndhurst. From Lynhurst it was up the generally good gravel Oodnadatta track to The Pink Roadhouse via Marree and William Creek.
    From Oodnadatta via varied gravel roads and tracks to Hamilton Station, where the track deteriorated to a rough, stoney two-wheel track to Eringa, Abinga and Charlotte Waters and on to New Crown where it joins a generally good formed gravel road from Mt Dare to Finke. There is an excellent waterhole somewhere near Charlotte Waters, I have yet to check exactly where but it would make an excellent camp site.
    Anyway, on to Kulgera on the Stuart Highway. Sealed being boring I decided to travel a section of the old Gunbarrel Highway to Mulga Park on a good gravel road, then north to the highway and Curtin Springs. On to Yulara campground and up very early next morning for a tramp around Kata Tjuta (The Olgas) which was certainly well worth the pain for some old muscles.
    The road west may be formed earth or gravel but is rough, corrugated with some very sandy section to catch the unwary although there are a number of large road crews doing their best to improve things. The last fifty Ks to Docker River is in pretty good condition. Then it returns to your average formed gravel country road to the WA border, where it becomes the Great Central Road, and on via Warakurna and Giles to Warburton. Warakurna has a very pleasant park cum campground with good facilities but the fuel is quite expensive even by outback standards, but it is a long way from anywhere.
    From Warburton I travelled a few Ks west on the GCR to the turn off onto the Connie Sue Highway also known as the Rawlinna to Warburton Road. I found the first hundred and twenty or so Ks of the CSH to be quite rough, some deep corrugations with many deviations and bypasses to watch for as they go around serious washouts. The compensation was in the form of a terrific show of wildflowers in large and small patches all the way. One of the advantages of travelling southwards after some good rain a couple of months earlier. After that first section, the track was quite good to Neale Junction from where it became a bit of a boring, good run along many long straight sections, down to the Water Tank at the junction with a local access road.
    A few Ks to the right down this is the turn south at a small rest area onto the continuation of the CSH which from here to Rawlinna I found to be a very rough, rocky and mostly treeless track (just as well as trees on the track could be bit of a problem). I really meant that the country is pretty treeless. Rawlinna appeared to be dead of life so after some photos I headed east to Haig. This was a questionable decision because I heard that the direct track south was over private land. The track from Haig south to the Eyre Highway was similarly rough and rocky to that prior to Rawlinna.
    From Cocklebiddy it was all eastbound via Madura, Kimba, Port Augusta and Peterborough. The rail museum in Peterborough being really excellent. Then to Broken Hill, down to Menindee, the along the largely good gravel road on the east side of the Darling River, bypassing Wilcannia to continue along the reasonable road south along the Darling to Tilpa, a great little country pub well worth the visit and the best lamb cutlets I've had for a long time. On to Bourke, Walgett, Mungindi, Talwood, and home along the Cunningham Highway.
    Fantastic!! Now for my next trip???
    Get out there and enjoy, the boring bits are well worth it.
    Cheers,
    Stuart.

    Postscript reference photos.
    While most, except the Mitchell Springs photos are headed and dated, unfortunately they are not in sequence due to some glitch in the processing which as yet I seem unable to fix.
    Also, my sincere apologies for mis-spelling Pu(r)nululu on the relevant photos.

    Question. I have some photos from this trip. How do I send or show them to you??
     
    Spooner likes this.
  2. cam04

    cam04 Well-Known Member

    That’s a run and a half mate, well done.
     
  3. Spooner

    Spooner Well-Known Member

    You just attach a photo and wait for it to upload. Easy done.
     
  4. Tink

    Tink Well-Known Member

    Great report Stu. Thanks for takimg the time to share.
    Tink
     

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