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Darwin to Camden ( avoiding the bitumin )

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by greysrigging, Dec 15, 2015.

  1. greysrigging

    greysrigging Well-Known Member

    I've recently completed a trip to Camden NSW from Darwin. Tried where possible to avoid the tarmac....I have driven Darwin - Sydney many times ....usually a dash down to Mt Isa ( about 1650klm ) then another 1200klm to Cunnamulla and a further 1200klm into my Mum's place at Camden. I can do it in 3 days fairly comfortably and more importantly, without driving at night on the kangaroo infested roads in Western Queensland and NSW.
    But this time I have a bit of time up my sleeve courtesy of being made redundant ( I work in heavy project construction so I'm used to it ) so I took a bit of extra time to travel parts of Australia I haven't seen before
    Filled the tanks in Darwin and then topped up ( tank and tummy in Katherine ) I have two long range tanks, one is a replacement for the original ( its 140L ) also a tray mounted auxiliary that is just gravity feed to the main ( 120L ) and just one 20L jerrycan. So 280 litres all up. The downside is of course the extra weight so with the 50litres of water as well, and all the camping and recovery gear, you start to get up there...put myself on the weighbridge before leaving and I was at 3050kgs ! Bit of a worry....
    I planned to avoid the bitumen where possible so turned left just south of Mataranka for the 180klm run out to Roper Bar Store. Tarmac runs out 40klm from the Roper River Crossing
    Canopy powder coated before leaving and a canvas cover fitted[​IMG][​IMG]
    Camped the night on the Roper River near the site of the old Roper Bar Police Station[​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
    370 klm of bone shaking teeth rattling corrugations to Borrolloola[​IMG]
  2. greysrigging

    greysrigging Well-Known Member

    Continuing on ( as usual my internet keeps dropping out so I have to post up in shortish bursts otherwise I lose what I try to put up )
    Its late October in the Top End, so this is our hottest time of the year, the 'build up' before the monsoons of late December. And yes indeed, the temps are pushing 40c, its as hot as buggery outside. Good thing though is that only mad dogs and Territorians travel out her at this time of the year, so the road is pretty well deserted. Think I passed only 2 other vehicles on this section.
    I worked out here building a small bridge over the Hodgeson River ( in 1993/4 ). Its my first trip back to see how its stood the test of time. Yep, still standing[​IMG][​IMG]
    Native gum in flower[​IMG]
    Wandered around the 'Lost City' rock formation, not for too long though....too hot ![​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
    Topped up the main tank in Borrolloola ( only $1.61 which I thought was OK for a bush town 1000klm from Darwin ) and then headed south east for the QLD border and Hells Gate Roadhouse[​IMG][​IMG]
    Ahh Queensland....change the watch and the decade...[​IMG]
    Camped the night here at Hells Gate....some other bloke had parked his bloody great 'Cruiser and camper trailer on the only piece of green grass so I'm relegated to the gravel...never mind....oh and there is no firewood here so collect your own.[​IMG]
    Only a short run today as I'm calling in at Adel's Grove and Lawn Hill Park[​IMG][​IMG]
    Man needs a gate bitch out here....[​IMG]
    Dry as buggery and very hot over 40c[​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
    This alternative Savannah Way route can get a little confusing amongst the Station tracks and the signage is almost non existant[​IMG]
    Pleasure to pull into the tropical oasis that is Adel's Grove[​IMG]
  3. greysrigging

    greysrigging Well-Known Member

    I have a cousin who works at Adel's, but as it turned out, I missed her by 4 days. Only staying one night as I intend to return here for a few days next month. Adel's stays open all year round, although it can be isolated for some time during the 'Wet'. There are some rather deep creek and river crossings to navigate in and out of this area and visits by road during the rainy season would be a bit iffy I reckon. They have an airstrip and more importantly a bar ! So a wet season visit wouldn't be out of the question....
    Great cool shady oasis[​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
    Best way to see the gorges at Lawn Hill[​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
    Gregory River crossing[​IMG]
    Yikes ! Bitumin ! ![​IMG]
    Willy willy on the road to Urandangie from Camooweal[​IMG]
    This is a good drive ( did it last year )[​IMG]
    Bonus ! green grass on the banks of the Burke river at Boulia[​IMG]
    Boulia is your dead set dinky di genuine hillbilly Queensland Outback town....and those comments are not meant to be derogatory, to me its a badge of honor ! Where else do horses live in your front yard ![​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
    Ruins on the road to Birdsville[​IMG][​IMG]
    Pub at Bedourie[​IMG][​IMG]
    Different countryside to where I'm from ! Still hot as hell, 41c[​IMG][​IMG]
    ian.c, Michael Baker and bugsy like this.
  4. greysrigging

    greysrigging Well-Known Member

    Made it into Birdsville....paid an outrageous $30.00 just for a campsite devoid of shade, vegetation and shared with 30 million flies. The chick at the counter asked me if I had tent pegs....I replied in the affirmative....don't bother she says.... the ground is too hard to drive them in. so I stuffed two before pulling out the trusty battery powered hammer drill and voila ! tent peg problem solved !. The tourist center was a welcome escape from the heat and flies as was the pub of course....[​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
    Big Red sunset[​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
    And most excellently, the Birdsville Pub sells Crown Lager in cans ! Brewed especially for the Races[​IMG]
    Simpson Desert sunset[​IMG]
    Do not break down out in the Simpson, or you will have to re mortgage you house to get this bloke to come and rescue you.[​IMG]
    Birdsville ruins....former Royal Hotel[​IMG][​IMG]
    Not a blade of grass....[​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
    ian.c, Michael Baker and bugsy like this.
  5. greysrigging

    greysrigging Well-Known Member

    Ruins at Cadelga on the Cordillo Downs-Innamincka Road[​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
    Cordillo Downs....ruins of the largest shearing shed in Australia. They run cattle nowadays[​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
    Remember your Outback Etiquette....leave the gates how you find them.[​IMG]
    ian.c and Michael Baker like this.
  6. greysrigging

    greysrigging Well-Known Member

    The modern homestead complex at Cordillo Downs[​IMG]
    Heading back into Queensland so I can visit the Burke and Wills 'Dig Tree' on the Coopers Creek at Nappa Merrie[​IMG][​IMG]
    The 'Dig Tree'[​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
    Setting up camp on the of the advantages travelling during the hot months is that you have these spots all to yourself. I only passed one bloke on a motorbike the whole day. The campgrounds at the dig tree is on private property ( Nappa Merrie Station ) so make sure you take your rubbish out when you leave. And bring your own firewood as there is none around here for miles. At the entrance to the grounds there is a bark hut full of interpretive signs re the Burke and Wills expedition. There is also a tap with running water and a long drop dunny. was very disappointing to see rubbish and toilet paper along the banks of the Coopers....totally un-necessary ![​IMG]
    Yabby pots in, fishing for yellowbelly, a few Crownie cans left over from Birdsville, not a another soul in sight...bloody heaven ![​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
    Hard to imagine the Coopers 9m above the causeway.....[​IMG][​IMG]
    Old Strezlecki Track[​IMG][​IMG]
    Yes indeed, you see some strange sights out here[​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
    ian.c, bugsy and Michael Baker like this.
  7. Toddyh

    Toddyh Well-Known Member

    Awesome so far. Can't wait to see the rest. I reckon you have just about inspired me to visit Gulf country via the outback.
    Have a look @Gavo @Wang
  8. red99td5

    red99td5 Active Member

    Absolutely loving it, keep it coming. Sure beats driving down the bitumen.
  9. greysrigging

    greysrigging Well-Known Member

    Turned off the old Strezlecki Track and headed due East through the dune country towards the Corner Country and Tibourburra. This particular stretch of road is a rippa....up and down the dunes that are less than 100m apart in places. Its like riding on a roller coaster. As a driver I don't suffer car sickness but as a passenger on this road I reckon I would struggle as I do suffer extreme sea sickness[​IMG]
    Not the sorta sign you want to see....all good but, as it was just the SA Roads bloke testing the circuits.He had driven all the way up from Port Augusta to do this job.[​IMG]
    Cameron's Corner SA-QLD-NSW[​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
    Pioneers Museum at Tibourburra[​IMG]
    Replica of the boat Sturt carried whilst searching for the Inland Sea[​IMG][​IMG]
    And most excellently, Tibourburra has TWO pubs ![​IMG][​IMG]
    Big run today....heading East and South towards Cobar[​IMG]
    And its still harsh dry remote country[​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
    Civilization.....Louth on the East bank of the Darling. Other side of the river is the beginning of the Outback, beyond the Black Stump and Woop Woop extends all the way to the WA coast[​IMG]
    Bridge over the Darling[​IMG][​IMG]
    The unofficial border between the Outback and the settled districts....Bridge over the Darling at Louth[​IMG]
    Mine pit at Cobar[​IMG]
    Yep, the Outback part of the trip officially over....bitumen 40klm west of Nyngan[​IMG]
    Don't we all dread it ? Traffic, roundabouts, traffic lights cars and people ! Camden NSW.[​IMG]
    abw, ian.c, bugsy and 1 other person like this.
  10. greysrigging

    greysrigging Well-Known Member

    Need a new set of BFG's rooted after only 25,000klm. Simply don't handle hot rocky stony gravel of the Pilbara, Kimberley, Central Australia or Top End. Prone to chipping, losing whole chunks and just don't cut it out bush. They reckon 80,000 / 100,000klm on the blacktop, but this is the second set munted at 25,000 / 30,000klm for me. Wont buy 'em again.[​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
    Very disappointing, not to mention expensive ![​IMG][​IMG]
    Anyway, enough winging about tyres, here I am parked up for 2 weeks at Mum's place....had to duck home to Darwin for 10 days ( by air ). So that's part 1 of the Trip done and dusted......[​IMG]
    ian.c likes this.
  11. ian.c

    ian.c Well-Known Member

    Awesome pictures mate, thanks for sharing your input will be very welcome here.
  12. 80lover96gxl

    80lover96gxl Moderator

    Yep great write up and photo's mate, enjoyed the read.
    Have taken notes for future reference.
  13. Aaron Schubert

    Aaron Schubert Moderator

    Thanks a lot for taking the time to write this trip report, and upload all the photos. Looks like you stayed at some great spots.

    Very interesting about the tyres; I've never heard of people having issues with them. Out of curiosity, what pressures were you running on the roads up there?

    I've got the BFG KM2's and did a few thousand kays up in the Kimberley earlier this year. They wore a bit and had a few chips, but no where near as bad as that.

  14. greysrigging

    greysrigging Well-Known Member

    To be fair and objective, my first set I most likely buggered up by running incorrect air pressures in the Pilbara.....too high on the rocky gravel inland from Roebourne in the Chichester Ranges and Karijini. But the replacements I meticulously aired down at every opportunity, usually 25 to 28 psi loaded to the max on the gravel and 40 psi on the bitumen. The general consensus amongst those of us on the NewHilux forums who live in the Pilbara, Kimberley and Top End is that the original BFG AT's ( not the KM2's ) simply don't handle the heat and the rocky, shaley type gravel roads. I keep hearing tales from down South of 80,000 and even 100,000klm lifespans ! Of course me and some mates in Kununurra simply cant believe it ! Haha.....
    The Gibb River Road , the Tanami Road, the Great Central Road and the North West Queensland gravel really stuffed mine. I run at about 3 tonnes fully loaded and they are 265/65/17's. Sidewalls not that strong either ( I staked one on the beach at Cleaverville and the replacement cost $400.00 in Karratha ! ) And the staked one was only 3,000klm old. Sad to see a grown man weeping....
    Anyway I have released the moths from the wallet and put a set of Toyo Open Country AT's for the trip home, $245.00 a pop fitted so 100 bucks a tyre cheaper than the BFG's and they couldn't possibly perform worse....could they ? ?
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2015
    Albynsw and itlldoo like this.
  15. CruiserAd

    CruiserAd Active Member

    What a great write up and pics, very inspiring.
  16. Terror

    Terror Member

    This was a really good read, I wish I had the time to take a trip like this, maybe one day.
  17. Paulk

    Paulk New Member

    good read and pics. well done.
  18. smitty_r51

    smitty_r51 Well-Known Member

    Living the dream!
  19. Waza

    Waza Member

    Great trip
    I was in the Pilbara 4 weeks ago and did the Savannah way to Maningrida 2yrs ago
    Awesome country
    The Louth Pub does a good feed too.
    Thanks for posting
    greysrigging likes this.

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