"Sydney to Birdsville

Submitted: Tuesday, May 07, 2013 at 21:08
ThreadID: 102082 Views:2712 Replies:8 FollowUps:18
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We are new at this, want to have as interesting trip as possible. Want to visit Lake Eyre.

We have been reading blogs and have idea of what to take. We have a 12yr old Pathfinder with new shocks.

Any advice would be gratefully received. We are intending camping

We are in the early 60 & 59 age group - male & female and want an adventure - we have 3 weeks - last 3 weeks of August is the intended traveling time.
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Reply By: Member - John and Val - Tuesday, May 07, 2013 at 22:01

Tuesday, May 07, 2013 at 22:01
Hi Judy,

Not sure whether you are asking a specific question? Remember that the desert can be pretty cold and sometimes quite windy in August although the days can be warm, so dressing in layers is a good way to go. With only 3 weeks you should get there and back OK with a bit of time for sightseeing here and there. Which way are you going? Provided your vehicle is well maintained you shouldnt have any problems. Our Troopy is 26 years young and still gets us out for an adventure each year.

Have a great trip,


J and V
"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted."
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AnswerID: 510546

Follow Up By: allein m - Wednesday, May 08, 2013 at 17:45

Wednesday, May 08, 2013 at 17:45
I agree I can say it is very cold at night here in Broken Hill
FollowupID: 788676

Follow Up By: Judy H2 - Wednesday, May 08, 2013 at 18:00

Wednesday, May 08, 2013 at 18:00
What I was really after was a bit of general information. My partner is going to take a 4wd course shortly. Our Pathfinder is in good nick & has all new suspension. We are trying to work out how to carry the extra petrol we will need, we have thought about water, food, clothes for hot, cold & wet - good boots. We are going to hire a Satellite phone and get a CB radio. We have a couple of LED lanterns, the wind up type. We have thought about something to for inflating the tyres etc. We have yet to buy a tent, blow up mattresses, bedding etc. We have a cooker, and some camping gear. Jack etc will be with the car. We have kinda thought 2 spare tyres, because we are not going for a long time we are trying to minimise by just taking the car and not a trailer as we thought it might be something extra to worry about, but
I'm not too sure about camping as opposed to camper trailer?

I do realise you can cover every eventuality, hence asking for a bit of advice
thanks a lot for replying Cheers Judy & Mick
FollowupID: 788680

Follow Up By: Judy H2 - Wednesday, May 08, 2013 at 18:05

Wednesday, May 08, 2013 at 18:05
Sorry meant cannot cover every eventuality
FollowupID: 788683

Follow Up By: Member - John and Val - Wednesday, May 08, 2013 at 18:22

Wednesday, May 08, 2013 at 18:22
Hi Judy,
Maybe our blog on how we have set up our Troopy might give you some ideas - have a look here. Also see our Profile for further info on what we take with us.

To respond to some specific points:
If you are going to see Lake Eyre you will be going on some quite corrugated tracks so you will need to lower your tyre pressure - so you will need to be able to reinflate your tyres when you get back onto bitumen, so you should carry a decent compressor (not one of the tiny cheapies which will take ages and burn out pretty quickly).

Blow up mattresses are cold. Suggest look at a foam mattress, maybe a self inflating mattress which I understand are warm and comfortable although I have never used one.

It would seem you are still in the process of setting up for your trip. Whatever you do, try to have at least one shakedown trip so you can sort out inevitable problems before you start on your trip. Its much easier to fix issues while you are at home than when you are out on a trip.

Oh, and make sure you get some 4WD training too - at the very least you will enjoy the experience of 4Wdriving if you understand what your vehicle can do. Apart from 4WDing being fun, you do need to consider how you would cope if you are off the beaten track and your partner has an accident and cant drive. So often we go to great lengths to have back ups for every bit of gear we take, but overlook having a back-up driver!

Good luck with it all, and Im sure many on here will be happy to answer your specific questions.



J and V
"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted."
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FollowupID: 788685

Reply By: Ross M - Tuesday, May 07, 2013 at 22:12

Tuesday, May 07, 2013 at 22:12
Judy H2
It will be warm in the day time and sub temps at night. Have clothing for both situations and suitable sleeping gear too.
A LED light on a lead clipped to the battery will not flatten it but will provide ample light for the site. magnetic base is good.
Take a mouse trap/s and set/them at night in the vehicle. If mice get in they are hard to get out and will eat and open everything you have. Mouse smell from the heater is great to experience in the mornings.
Bag of heatbeads to assist with fires and give some heat where firewood is scarce.
Use a butane gas torch $15in Aldi to start the heat beads.

Tent poles and tarp to create a wind break to stop the COOOOOL wind going through you at the camp site.
If towing a trailer make a screen to protect the rear window. Seen lots with broken rears.
Spare tyre case as emergency back up.
Small 12v to 240v ac inverter to charge phones and cameras etc. You will ring sometimes and take pictures I presume.
Little 12v compressor for tyres.
Hard to know what you already have planned, hope this covers some things not allowed for.

Ross M
AnswerID: 510548

Follow Up By: Judy H2 - Wednesday, May 08, 2013 at 18:32

Wednesday, May 08, 2013 at 18:32
Hi, you have certainly mentioned a few things that will help us.

We have not got our route planned yet, we are in Sydney.

My better half is going to do a 4wd course, not that we plan on doing any outrageous, but would for example, all going well, love to visit Lake Eyre.

We have 3 weeks, but not tied to the absolute wire with time.

We have yet to but a tent - I haven't camped for years, but he has, however not for a while, and is quite an organised person.

We have a Pathfinder, good suspension, easy to drive. I'm a bit not sure about the camping part as opposed to a camper trailer, but the trailers is just one more thing to worry about.
Cheers Judy & Mick

FollowupID: 788686

Follow Up By: Member - eighty matey - Friday, May 10, 2013 at 21:50

Friday, May 10, 2013 at 21:50
Just a note about mice getting into the engine bay - when you park at the end of the day open your bonnet a bit.

This will cool it down and discourage the critters getting in there to keep warm and chewing on stuff while they're in there.

FollowupID: 788870

Reply By: Member - PJR (NSW) - Wednesday, May 08, 2013 at 08:08

Wednesday, May 08, 2013 at 08:08

I don't know your skills, preparedness or even camping experience. Personally I would suggest that you look into hiring a proper off road van for the short time you are away.

It would be easier for anyone to advise what to do if we know your driving, camping skills for a start. Is the car set up in any way for outback travel. The things that come to mind are compressor and spare tyres. I think they are the first things that you will need. Especially the compressor to change the tyre pressures for rough roads. And at least a uhf radio.

One solution is to hire a van. But not just any off road van. I suggest a hardened type such as a crossover or T-van. That covers most of the tenting, sleeping and food storage/preparation.

AnswerID: 510562

Follow Up By: Judy H2 - Wednesday, May 08, 2013 at 18:45

Wednesday, May 08, 2013 at 18:45
My camping experience in the last few years is nil, however my partner is done a bit of it - hence we are asking for advice. I have done a fair bit of travelling overseas and in Oz

We are driving a Pathfinder, with good suspension, it will be well serviced and prepared for the trip.

We have thought about the usual i.e. Spare tyres, Petrol, water and food, clothing. We intend hiring a Satellite phone and to get a CB radio.

My other half - Mick - is going to do a 4wd course and is quite a sensible organised type of guy - we have yet to buy the tent etc. We will be doing that at the end of this month and get some good maps to plan some sort of route. The car is going in for a big service etc beginning of June and then just another follow up one before we leave, which will be around 8 August.

The main objective is Birdsville - not for the races - would love to take in Lake Eyre and maybe the Oondatta Track, but its all pretty loose at the moment and we not want to take on anything we feel is completely beyond us.

Cheers Judy & Mick

FollowupID: 788689

Reply By: Hunjy100 - Wednesday, May 08, 2013 at 16:48

Wednesday, May 08, 2013 at 16:48
Hi Judy H2
If your new to this and want a newby Adventure trek then how about this as a section of your trip;
Broken Hill - Yunta - Eradina Woolshed - Martins Well - Arkapena - Rawnsley Park(campsite) which is next to Wilpena Pound.

Trucks from Broken Hill use part of this as a supply route to the Flinders\Gammon Ranges.
The trek will take a full day and you can then explore the wonderful Flinders while your there! If you are fit and want real adventure, try climbing St Mary's peak at Wilpena!!

For Day 4wd Treks in the Flinders Google Warraweena and Sky Trek.

Just make sure you have proper maps for all the areas you intend to visit.
Worthwhile map set is Hema's Great Desert Tracks.


AnswerID: 510587

Follow Up By: Judy H2 - Wednesday, May 08, 2013 at 19:19

Wednesday, May 08, 2013 at 19:19
Hi Mal,
We were thinking of heading out Broken Hill way, so what you mentioned could be a good idea to start, have to start somewhere.

Have made a note of the Map Set you mentioned. We are going to start buying what we need over the next week or so. We will be as prepared as we can be, can't cover every eventuality, do not intend to take on anything too rigorous.

Rightly or wrongly I thought the Birdsville Track would be a good place even for new trekkers like us so long as we are prepared. One reason for that is that it is a relatively well travelled track, not as isolated as some other regions.

We are pretty loose with directions, like to leave somethings to chance, certain places interest me but not sure how they come together. For instance like to see Camerons Corner, maybe do the Oondatta Track, Lake Eyre.
FollowupID: 788692

Reply By: Judy H2 - Wednesday, May 08, 2013 at 18:55

Wednesday, May 08, 2013 at 18:55
Just as a question, our Pathfinder is obviously not 'troopy', but what is the general consensus of the appropriateness or experience with them on this type of trip - it is well maintained, in good condition, will be serviced and prepared for outback driving as much as we can.
AnswerID: 510595

Follow Up By: AlbyNSW - Wednesday, May 08, 2013 at 19:16

Wednesday, May 08, 2013 at 19:16
Hi Judy
A well maintained and prepared Pathfinder is more than capable to do your trip.
It is not a hard trek unless it rains and then it can be a nightmare.

Do a couple of weekends away up Turon way to test out your camping setup and bedding.

I suggest you head up to Bourke and then over to Birdsville via Cameron's Corner and then head home via the bottom end through Broken Hill and even add a bit of time in the Flinders if you want

It is a fantastic trip and I am confident you will love it
FollowupID: 788691

Follow Up By: Judy H2 - Wednesday, May 08, 2013 at 19:29

Wednesday, May 08, 2013 at 19:29
Hi Alby NSW

Thanks for that, I'm hoping it doesn't rain!!!! We are setting off around 8 August, we can add a few days at the end if we want to - might never want to come back to normal world!!!!!

As I've said we are going to purchase as much of our gear as we can over the next few weeks.

Where is Turon?

I'm very excited, wish we were going to tomorrow....I've seen some of the outback, but not this remote.Birdsville has always interested me - when it came up for lease some years ago, we considered applying but didn't follow it up - that would have been a different life for us as opposed to Sydney!!!!
FollowupID: 788698

Follow Up By: AlbyNSW - Wednesday, May 08, 2013 at 21:13

Wednesday, May 08, 2013 at 21:13
Turon is just the other side of Lithgow
There are lots of place in the vicinity that you could go
I suggested up that way as it gets nice and cold at night to check your bedding
I find Birdsville a little ho hum ( except for the curry camel pies at the bakery) compared to the other places you will visit on the way
The whole corner country and Cordillo Downs area is beautiful country as is the Oodnadatta track and its old buildings and bridges
I head out into this area every year and look forward to the day I don't return to Sydney
FollowupID: 788718

Follow Up By: Judy H2 - Wednesday, May 08, 2013 at 21:25

Wednesday, May 08, 2013 at 21:25
Sounds like a good idea - Turon - that is.

As I said we haven't got the maps yet - but we do want to do the Oodnadatta Track and see Lake Eyre and other things I don't know about really yet. Sounds really interesting.

Birdsville maybe ho hum to you somewhat, but I guess if you are not prepared you can still get into a lot trouble....I intend to do a bit more of this outbacking, hopefully this is just the start, there are so many places I want to see
FollowupID: 788720

Follow Up By: AlbyNSW - Wednesday, May 08, 2013 at 22:07

Wednesday, May 08, 2013 at 22:07
Sorry what I meant regarding Birdsville is that I like a lot of the other places that you will be passing through better than Birdsville itself, but still a must see just the same
FollowupID: 788731

Reply By: mikehzz - Wednesday, May 08, 2013 at 20:43

Wednesday, May 08, 2013 at 20:43
I'm in a 4wd club and the help and experience you get from being a member is invaluable. You get to learn from everyone else's mistakes and benefit from their good ideas. An added bonus is that all your 4wd training is included in membership for free. There are 2 Pathfinders (old shape) that regularly do trips in our club and they are absolutely fine handling it. I had a Pathfinder myself around 9 years ago and took it where you are going. The range is not great..around 500kms per tank if the going gets tough so extra fuel is an issue. Just take an extra tyre without rim for the second spare, it will save weight.
Other things I like-
Side awnings on the car are very, very handy
Tents should be quick and easy, not complicated. Oztent?
Self inflating mattresses (not mats) are good
Led strip lights are good under the awning
Get really good sleeping bags with room to move and low temperature rating
If you haven't got drawers in the car, then good solid plastic tubs are the go

Have a great trip.
AnswerID: 510607

Follow Up By: Judy H2 - Wednesday, May 08, 2013 at 21:02

Wednesday, May 08, 2013 at 21:02
thanks for the tips specific to the Pathfinder - we realise fuel can been an issue and were trying to work out how to carry extra fuel. Any suggestions?

We did think about towing a small trailer for fuel, water and other heavy bits and pieces, any views? We were thinking it would be easy just to have the car, but its just the logistics of carrying what you need!!!
FollowupID: 788717

Follow Up By: Member - Laurie K (WA) - Wednesday, May 08, 2013 at 21:55

Wednesday, May 08, 2013 at 21:55
With regard to carrying extra fuel, know what your tank range is, allow for higher fuel consumption, study how far between petrol stations, and fill up every time you go thru a village/town. Don't carry more fuel than is necessary. It's extra weight and space.
Carry enough water for 5 ltrs per person per day, and add enough for a couple of extra days.
Have a plug kit for punctured tyres, and don't scrimp on the compressor - it's my most used piece of gear.
If you don't have a fridge, consider hiring one. Dual batteries would be useful.
Make sure you have spare hoses and belts - replace before you leave, and take the old ones as spares.
I am set up to drop the van off and be able to camp. In the early days, I Had a box for Kitchen Utensils, one for food, one each for clothes, and one for recovery gear and tools. Soft gear on top of boxes (sleeping bags, mattresses etc). Spare wheel, jerry can and tent on the roof. I have since built a set of drawers that are deeper than usual, and can take crates inside them, but the principle is the same.

FollowupID: 788729

Follow Up By: Hunjy100 - Wednesday, May 08, 2013 at 23:43

Wednesday, May 08, 2013 at 23:43
Just a thought if you decide on self inflating mattresses to maybe take a small plastic rake to rid your tent area of the dreaded spikes as they may pierce your mattress.
Also a piece of shadecloth a bit larger than the tent will help too as well as keeping the dirt at bay.

FollowupID: 788739

Follow Up By: RedCherokee - Thursday, May 09, 2013 at 21:31

Thursday, May 09, 2013 at 21:31
You may not need to stress too much about fuel if you plan your route appropriately. Our Cherokee has a 75l tank, and in that part of the world we would get around 400k out of it as opposed to the 500ish around town or on the highway.Check your distances and you'll find that doesn't limit you much, so long as you are willing to buy fuel at every opportunity.

Tenting is hard work if you aren't used to it. Lots of places do have rooms you can stay in, but they aren't flash. It is easy to find places that will hire you a Tvan or offroad camper as an alternative. The main roads are all very easy to tow on. Gives you a lot more comfort, and space for a jerry can or two on the camper.
FollowupID: 788806

Reply By: Member - VickiW - Wednesday, May 08, 2013 at 21:38

Wednesday, May 08, 2013 at 21:38
Tent choice may depend on whether you are sure you are going to be doing this again / regularly. If you are sure you will consider an Oztent as they are so quick and easy to set up. If you are not sure, maybe try an easy / small 3 man dome tent - we camped using one of these for years and I used to set it up alone within 5 minutes.
We also used a foam mattress (just a piece of foam cut to size) - very comfy & easy to roll up in the morning (although they do take up a lot of space in the back.
Also, look at getting plastic drawers as an easy way to pack food, cooking gear, spares etc - they stack well and are easy to get at (I got mine at Bunnings).

I second Val's recommendation re a decent quality air compressor. Another must have is a head torch for getting around after main lights are out & to read by.

Don't forget a washing up bucket (I also keep some loose stuff in it during the day - spare bungies, the lantern, towel, tea towels...
10ltr water containers (one with the tap installed) are easier to lift and pack than 20ltr. Also I use a card table I bought from Bunnings ((again) for $20 - cheaper than "camping tables" and works fine. Decent chairs are worth a bit of investment though.

You will get lots of tips from people at the 4WD club and maybe get a chance to camp with them beforehand as a test.
You will have a great time.

AnswerID: 510613

Reply By: Lyn W3 - Thursday, May 09, 2013 at 05:43

Thursday, May 09, 2013 at 05:43
Hi Judy,

You say that your better half is going to do a 4WD course, my suggestion is that you BOTH do the course .......just incase something happens.

Also be sure that you carry an EPIRB ..........also just incase something happens.
AnswerID: 510623

Follow Up By: Member - eighty matey - Friday, May 10, 2013 at 22:11

Friday, May 10, 2013 at 22:11
Instead of an EPIRB, I would suggest a Spot Connect.
Reasonably priced and you can send OK and Help messages as well as SOS.

For our dishwashing we have a medium plastic tub with a clip on lid. Everything for washing up goes in, the tub is the sink and the lid the drainer.

Our bathroom is a 10 litre BioZet laundry detergent bucket with a lid. Square packs good. In it we have a 12 volt shower that runs on batteries or the vehicle's 12 volt system and towels when they are dry.

You will have to consider the weight you can carry in your vehicle.
Check on the compliance plate, or Google Pathfinder specs, to find out what load you can carry. That load will be two people, fuel and any extras on the vehicle to start with before you put in water, food, tent, suitcases, fire extinguisher, tools, etc.

It can seem a bit daunting but it's a challenge. Don't overload your vehicle to be sure it's safe.

This trip might be the hardest but I believe you will love it all once you're out there and it will only get easier and more fun.

Hoo roo,


FollowupID: 788873

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