Victoria's Big Desert.

Submitted: Sunday, Apr 21, 2013 at 07:41
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I am doing a trip to the Big Desert next weekend as a shakedown for a SA Desert trip later in the year which will take in Googs amongst other tracks. Part of the agenda is to trial my friends new camper in sand dunes etc.

We will take in the Border track and I understand Milmed Rock track and Chinamans Well track would be good tests for dunes and softer sand. We also want to camp at some nice, more isolated spots.

Can anyone give me advice on where they would advise we go for challenging tracks, and for nice camp spots / drives. We have 4 days.

Also is it worth a)checking out the SA side and should we bring firewood?


Thanks
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Reply By: Bushranger1 - Sunday, Apr 21, 2013 at 08:37

Sunday, Apr 21, 2013 at 08:37
G'day Boobook,
Got a property out that way so know the area well.

Milmed track has only one sandhill that I would consider is a challenge & only if your towing & travelling from East to West. Main reason is that there is a sharp right turn near the bottom & you can't get a run up. Apart from that it's an easy run.

Chinamans well track is also pretty easy too.

If it rains the claypans in between the sand on both tracks will have you sliding all over the place! Heaps of greats spot to pull off & camp but have a look at the ground levels as if you get lots of rain overnight you could see yourself bogged by morning if the area is soft. Trust me rain makes a BIG difference to some of the soils out that way.

Heading out to Little Desert myself at the weekend & the weather is looking real good so enjoy yourself & take your time. The Victorian Wimmera & Mallee are a real special part of the state that my wife & I love to travel in. I guess thats why we decided to buy a bit of it!

Cheers
Stu
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Follow Up By: Bushranger1 - Sunday, Apr 21, 2013 at 08:39

Sunday, Apr 21, 2013 at 08:39
Forgot to mention there is plenty of firewood by the side of the tracks.
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Reply By: Echucan Bob - Sunday, Apr 21, 2013 at 08:37

Sunday, Apr 21, 2013 at 08:37
Boobook

I was on Googs Track last October, and the Border Track last January. I reckon you'd do Googs as a shakedown for the Border Track. The border track to the north of the Western Hwy has some very high dunes. The sand is white, deep and soft.
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Follow Up By: Bushranger1 - Sunday, Apr 21, 2013 at 08:45

Sunday, Apr 21, 2013 at 08:45
Have not done Googs track but I agree there is some soft sand on the Border Track. The sand is very soft & dry at the moment out there.

My friend was stuck in the sand for some hrs over Easter & she has travelled the track many times previously without issue. Been pretty dry out there for a while.
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Follow Up By: Member - mechpete - Sunday, Apr 21, 2013 at 10:14

Sunday, Apr 21, 2013 at 10:14
If your,e gunna do Googs , any dunes for that matter!!
the secret is tyre pressures .
we were out there last yr an 3 vehicles towing camper trailers ahead of us an on the UHF all we heard was I,m stuck have to reverse down .when we got to them they had tyre pressure way too high ,
I said let ya tyres down to 10psi an a bit more out of the vehicle tyres also, they didn,t believe me but did it anyway and all we heard over the UHF after that was I,m over , an they sounded a lot happier
mechpete .
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Follow Up By: Member - Boobook - Monday, Apr 22, 2013 at 07:17

Monday, Apr 22, 2013 at 07:17
With the right pressures, would it be sensible to take trailers on the border track.
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Follow Up By: Bushranger1 - Monday, Apr 22, 2013 at 17:21

Monday, Apr 22, 2013 at 17:21
I have towed a trailer on all my trips to the area. Tyre pressure is only one aspect of a succesfull trip.

There are many variables that affect whether you get through or not. If you go when the sand is cool & damp it increases your chances of getting through ok. If you pick a time when the sand is moist but the claypans are not too wet you should be fine if you let your tyres down. I would not attempt it late afternoon on a hot day.
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Reply By: Robin Miller - Sunday, Apr 21, 2013 at 08:47

Sunday, Apr 21, 2013 at 08:47
Will be there, hopefully with the new super patrol, if it doesn't blow up on the Dyno this afternoon (real risk).

Some really good stuff out there and the best is in Vic- go out of your way to get the Victorias Deserts touring guide.
The map shows Coburn pines - a good quiet spot a little overgrown and nearby Thompsons Peak which is a must.

Will be camped 30km south of Murrayville at Big Billy with signs saying

B.G.
MX
CLUB

(taking bikes)

- if you send me an email I can send you a GPX file.
Robin Miller

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Follow Up By: Robin Miller - Sunday, Apr 21, 2013 at 09:43

Sunday, Apr 21, 2013 at 09:43
I meant to add that while the Border track is a great drive you need to go down it out of hours.

Last year going at peak hour saturday morning we encountered a 50 car traffic jam spread over approximately 2km.

This occurs these days because some critcal bypass tracks have been closed and with border track now closed over summer there
are less opportunites to drive it when its worth driving.

No issue with bikes though.
Robin Miller

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Follow Up By: Member - Boobook - Sunday, Apr 21, 2013 at 10:12

Sunday, Apr 21, 2013 at 10:12
Thanks Robin, I was hoping you wopuld reply, good advice as always.
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Follow Up By: Member - Blaze - Sunday, Apr 21, 2013 at 13:38

Sunday, Apr 21, 2013 at 13:38
I remember that traffic jam Robin. Grrrrrrrr Stupid A/holes with way to much pressure. I also agree about Thomson's Peak, don't believe you will get the camper to the top of their though Boobook :-) Coburn Pines is a great little campspot.

Also if you want some real challenges go over the Murrayville track to the East and have a try at Big K, or White Springs but again these are tracks that are a huge handfull without campers so don't see you doing them while towing.

We did Milmed over Easter and it is chopped up the worse I have ever seen, as someone else said the hill on here is an easy climb. I had an exchange student who had never driven offroad before driving my Vehicle and cruised over it. I think the Border Track will be your main challenge with a camper and the lineups. You will get some help as its raining over here now :-)

Have Fun
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Reply By: Crackles - Sunday, Apr 21, 2013 at 10:26

Sunday, Apr 21, 2013 at 10:26
As said above Googs Tk is a walk in the park compared to the Big Desert.
White Springs is a great camp away from the crowds & central to a maze of tracks with Red, Blue & Yellow Gum camps all good launching spots to do the Border Tk.
If challenging sand hills are what you're after then see of you can climb the big 3. Thompans Peak, White Springs lookout & Big K Lookout. (I can guarentee you wont have your trailer on to get up)
Woods easy to get if you grab a bit just before camp particually important at Red Bluff. I wouldn't bother with SA as they charge $ for the same facilities you get for free on the other side of the fence plus have more restrictions.
Milmed Tk is pretty straight forward & a close match to what you'll find at Googs. It's a good option to cut across to the better driving.
Allow plenty of time for the Border track as any long weekend turns it into a car park. Over Easter despite heavy rain making it extremely easy to drive they were still managing to get stuck.
Cheers Craig.................
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Follow Up By: Member - Boobook - Sunday, Apr 21, 2013 at 11:31

Sunday, Apr 21, 2013 at 11:31
Cheers Craig, great advice. I love EO.
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Reply By: Dr Hook - Sunday, Apr 21, 2013 at 11:27

Sunday, Apr 21, 2013 at 11:27
Boobook;

If going to the Coorong to look at Chinaman's Well, stay clear of the beach section from Tea-Tree (near Salt Creek) to 42-mile X-ing: bad washouts and extremely soft shell-grit and steeply sloping sections of beach. (From 42-mile Xing south is all easy).
Cheers

Hook
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Follow Up By: Member - Boobook - Sunday, Apr 21, 2013 at 12:09

Sunday, Apr 21, 2013 at 12:09
Hi Hook, we do intend to go to Chinaman's Well but I can't find any reference to Salt Creek, Tea Tree or 42 mile crossing??

Can you give me a grid reference or a direction from Chinamans well.

Thanks
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Follow Up By: Crackles - Sunday, Apr 21, 2013 at 13:13

Sunday, Apr 21, 2013 at 13:13
Boo about 160 km south, south west there is another Chinaman's well down near the beach :-))
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Reply By: Member - Boobook - Monday, Apr 22, 2013 at 07:15

Monday, Apr 22, 2013 at 07:15
Given the above comments about traffic jams etc on Border track i will take the advice and try to do it off peak.

I am now wondering, is it sensible to take the campers on the border track?

Thanks
AnswerID: 509511

Follow Up By: TTTSA - Monday, Apr 22, 2013 at 08:04

Monday, Apr 22, 2013 at 08:04
Hi Boobook,
Personally I wouldn't take my camper along the Border Track, it can be very difficult at times and I have taken my camper along Googs. I would set up a "base camp" nearby and devote a day doing the track without the camper. A large dune on the Border Track could give you some grief with the camper and also some of the clay sections if there has been some rain.

Enjoy the area it is great.
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Reply By: Rob K (VIC) - Monday, Apr 22, 2013 at 11:39

Monday, Apr 22, 2013 at 11:39
Hi Boobook,

It's been several years since I did the Border Track and we're actually planning to go back the Queens Birthday weekend for another look. From what I can recall, you can make the trip as challenging as you like. On our last trip the SA side was closed for the seasonal closure (summer fire danger period) and we ended up going into Scorpion Springs CP and Ngarkat CP before coming back onto the the Border Track near the Big Desert NP. Camped at Red Bluff on Victorian side - good camping spot there. The Border Track from Murray Sunset NP to Scorpion would be OK for a trailer, the SA conservation parks are not too difficult either so you could avoid some of the more challenging dunes commented upon by others if you wanted, they're in the seasonal closure section of the track I think. Even taking the above route you do have to deal with some soft sand areas and dune country so would still be a good "shake down trip" if you wanted to use this route. As others have said, wet weather and clay pans would change the scenario greatly.

I did Googs Track in February last year with a camper trailer (south to north) and didn't have any problems - needed to adjust my tyre pressures a couple of times and have a second go at some of the dunes. The sand was packed down after some rain and that helped. Momentum and correct tyre pressures will see you get through with no problems. South side approaches to the dunes are (as often said) pretty chopped up and you might have to watch your speed with a trailer in tow - could get a bit bouncy going over the dunes with too much speed because of the deep corrugations created by other 4WDs using wrong tyre pressures.

Hope the above is helpful. Have a great trip.

Cheers

Rob K
AnswerID: 509525

Reply By: Member - Boobook - Tuesday, Apr 23, 2013 at 12:26

Tuesday, Apr 23, 2013 at 12:26
Thanks all, one new question, is there an accepted UHF channel for the area?
AnswerID: 509599

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