Comment: Plenty Highway

Submitted: Friday, May 17, 2013 at 07:27
ThreadID: 102252 Views:2697 Replies:4 FollowUps:25
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Hi all, we spent Anzac day in Boulia then headed off across the Donahue hwy to Tobermorey station on the nt / qld border , it took us around 5 hours to do the 200 odd kms. The road conditions varied greatly from sealed bitumen sections to corrugated rocky,sandy sections that had us down to 20/30 kms per hour. With a four year old on board and towing an 18 ft expanda we were in no rush so we had plenty of rest stops.
Tobermorey has a nice grassy, shaded camp area which was a pleasant break from the harsh surrounds. As it is a working station don't expect a sleep in :-) . We left Tobermorey about 8 am the next day with the road condition once again varying greatly and many more stops we reached Gem tree around five thirty that afternoon with the last 200 k being freshly graded it was great.With an easy couple of hours drive into Alice the next day we enjoyed the trip with a little dust in the van the only downside.
The information Centre in Boulia was very helpful with local knowledge. Re fuel prices and road conditions.
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Reply By: Member - Oldbaz. NSW. - Friday, May 17, 2013 at 07:52

Friday, May 17, 2013 at 07:52
Good Stuff, Mark, we will be across there next week ,& it is handy to have an idea
of what to expect..cheers....oldbaz.
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Follow Up By: Mark S20 - Friday, May 17, 2013 at 08:16

Friday, May 17, 2013 at 08:16
No worries baz, all I can suggest is let your tyres down and enjoy the trip. Oh and carry enough fuel for the trip if possible it was around the $2.20 + for diesel.
Cheers Mark
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Follow Up By: Member - Broodie H3 - Friday, May 17, 2013 at 11:18

Friday, May 17, 2013 at 11:18
Good Morning Mark, Thank you for the update as we will be travelling across that way around the 20/6/13, on our way to Brisbane, I don't suppose you would have the actual distance Boulia to the Alice handy would you, as I am trying to work out our approximate fuel requirements for our trip Perth to Brisbane across the centre and using the plenty Highway to do it. thank you for the road update.
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Follow Up By: Mark S20 - Saturday, May 18, 2013 at 08:59

Saturday, May 18, 2013 at 08:59
Hi Broodie, sorry for slow reply we have been exploring uluru and surrounds. The distance from Boulia to Gemtree was 657 kms and aprox 140ks from there into Alice. Hope this helps.
Mark
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Follow Up By: Member - Broodie H3 - Sunday, May 19, 2013 at 11:37

Sunday, May 19, 2013 at 11:37
Hi Mark,
sorry it took so long to get back to you I hope you are enjoying the trip. My fuel planning is now complete as we are not towing anything and after last weekends run being fully loaded I managed 720kl out of the tank of fuel being a 70 ltr tank I shall be needing to carry at least three Jerry cans of diesel that should take me across the GCR and the Plenty /, Alice to Boulia easily. thank you for the distance information as I haven't been able to get an accurate distance from anywhere. thank you very much.
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Reply By: Mick O - Friday, May 17, 2013 at 12:09

Friday, May 17, 2013 at 12:09
Thanks for the update Mark. It's great to get some feedback on the conditions as many have been asking of the Plenty/Donohue in recent weeks.

Safe travels,

Mick
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trip would doubtless be attended with much hardship.''
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Reply By: JimDi - Friday, May 17, 2013 at 14:42

Friday, May 17, 2013 at 14:42
We left Tobermorey on the 8th May heading toward the Stuart hwy. Picked up the graders around Jervois. The road was pretty good from Jervois right to the Stuart Hwy.

We had a sidewall blow out around 80klm on the Qld side of Tobermorey . Mainly due to unintentionally picking up speed to about 70klm. The road altho a gravel section was not causing any angst or concern at the time. I guess it pays to stay wide awake at all times.
Jim
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Follow Up By: Member - eighty matey - Friday, May 17, 2013 at 22:37

Friday, May 17, 2013 at 22:37
G'day Jim.

We bought a Tyre Pressure Monitoring System a little while ago because we found on them big dirt roads it's hard to get a feel of your tyres.

I put off buying a set before we went to the Kimberley last year and ruined a tyre coming back on the Tanami Rd.

I'm hoping the TPMS will give me a heads up before I wreck the tyre.

We'll see what happens.

Hoo roo.
Steve.
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Follow Up By: JimDi - Friday, May 17, 2013 at 22:59

Friday, May 17, 2013 at 22:59
Hello Steve,
I am currently in Darwin, just got back from dinner at the wharf. So with the benefit of a few days behind me I am a lot more relaxed. Plus dinner with my wife and daughter was great.

Just after we blew the tyre I had a great fellow traveller stop and help. He was about my age (65) with bad knees, but none the less would have had a longer job without him.

After we had finished and I thanked him he asked me what pressures I was running. I told him that for the first time in 15 years of 4WD travelling I had actually lowered my tyres. He said "bad move" and the truth was that for the first time in 15 years I had my first blow out or for that matter first puncture on what would be classed as (maybe) 4WD territory. Just minutes after he moved on and I was packing up another fellow traveller pulled up towing an off road caravan. He offered to help , which was nice of him, but I told him it was all over but the moving on bit. He then asked me what pressures I was running and when I told him he said..."not low enough". I thanked him for his advice and help and waited till both helpers had moved on and then raised the pressures in all tyres back to sealed road pressures. travelled the next 700 plus k's slower with no probs.

So at this point in my life I am back in the don't lower your tyre pressure crowd for the foreseeable future. Altho I am still open to discussion.

In your case with the tyre pressure monitors you may be on the right track.
Regards
Jim
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Follow Up By: Member - eighty matey - Friday, May 17, 2013 at 23:15

Friday, May 17, 2013 at 23:15
G'day Jim,

I wish I was in Darwin at the moment to warm up a bit. Next year.

The old argument about lowering pressures or not is a good one.
I've decided over theyears to lower them a bit, compromise.

Coming through Bedourie last year I was talking to the old bloke that fixes tyres there. He reckons he never lowers his tyres and he's been driving on them roads longer tha I've been driving.

It'll be interesting to have the tyre monitors on. I generally don't have much trouble but I think I'll feel a bit more comfortable keeping tabs on the pressures as we go.

Have a good and safe trip.

All the best.
Steve
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Follow Up By: JimDi - Friday, May 17, 2013 at 23:39

Friday, May 17, 2013 at 23:39
Yes I have followed that argument for years. At the moment I have just retreated to be on the safe side. I still have the Gibb and a few others to go. Done it all before but will go back to slower speeds and higher pressures.

I must admit that the lower pressures on the Diamantina and the Donohue made travel easier... but... then I just took my eye off the game and the speed gradually got higher. Then bang a sidewall blow out at around 70klm.

I also lowered the tyres from cold first thing in the morning. I am almost convinced that maybe my speed was the real culprit in this instance. The gravel section of the road I was on was not causing any real concern. But who knows whats underneath.
jim
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Follow Up By: RobMac (QLD_Member) - Saturday, May 18, 2013 at 08:29

Saturday, May 18, 2013 at 08:29
Just wondering what pressure you did lower your tyres down to? I'm in 2 minds as to whether to lower or not as well.
Our trip last year across the Simpson desert, down to Oodnadatta and then along the Painted Desert road and then down the Oodnadatta Trk & up the Strezlecki Trk were hard on the tyres. We obviously let the pressures down to cross the desert, but I can't quite remember as to what pressure we pumped them back up to when we hit the dirt. On the Hwy we had 40>45psi. I know that the tyres were almost new b4 leaving and after ther 6k trip I had lost 3mm off in tread depth.
Back in my younger days when we were doing alot of outback touring we never really dropped pressures with the only flats being holes in the tubes from sand/dirt grans.....
Cheers..... RobM
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Follow Up By: pistol - Saturday, May 18, 2013 at 16:39

Saturday, May 18, 2013 at 16:39
Rob,
I always have 21psi in the front tyres and 28psi in the back and fully loaded and never had a problem on the outback gibber roads, but the tyres have always been in top condition and driving to the road conditions helps

Pete
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Follow Up By: Member - eighty matey - Saturday, May 18, 2013 at 16:50

Saturday, May 18, 2013 at 16:50
I noticed more chipping on the rear tyres on the last trip.
I never run Dick Cepeks before and I'm not sure if it's normal for them.

We did 10,000 kms of dirt roads but I haven't had chipping to my Wrangler Duratracs before.

Steve.
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Follow Up By: JimDi - Saturday, May 18, 2013 at 17:11

Saturday, May 18, 2013 at 17:11
Tyre pressures were dropped from 40psi front and 45 psi rear to 28psi front and 35psi rear. Tyres had less than 10,000k on them and were purchased late 2012.
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Follow Up By: RobMac (QLD_Member) - Saturday, May 18, 2013 at 19:17

Saturday, May 18, 2013 at 19:17
Geez.... that's a bit unusual for BFG A/T's. I'd be a bit surprised if lower tyre pressure was the cause of that...... Were the tyres bulging out at all as the pressures u quoted don't seem that low - depending on the weight of your vehicle of course?
The road surface in your pic doesn't look that bad either.....

rob
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Follow Up By: JimDi - Saturday, May 18, 2013 at 21:02

Saturday, May 18, 2013 at 21:02
We had stopped about 30 minutes prior to this and I did not notice anything unusual. As I said earlier the road was not causing any angst.
The vehicle weight was much lower at this point because we had slowly been using water etc and I had no intention of adding weight as we would hit the Stuart the following day. We had been on the road for about four days.

The vehicle has had an ARB suspension upgrade and lift , airbags , nitro shocks etc. The slide on comes in at 450kg. Add two spares and carriers. A 100 litre water capacity which was well down ...say 40litres. Food, personal clothing ,bedding and 60 litre fridge. Couple of pico folding chairs and a plastic table. Toolbag. Cannot think of much else just the usual that everyone carries. Well I am assuming everyone carries this stuff. A bottle white wine for the missus and a 2 litre cask of red for me. Maybe a bottle of rum.

So its back to either me, my driving, the tyres and/or the road. My guess at this time is that it was me lowering the pressures and then adding a little speed.
After this episode I raised the pressures and lowered my speed. Raised my awareness and drove to the conditions as they say. Travelled the next say 300 klms in similar road conditions but absolutely no probs.
Regards
jim

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Follow Up By: Member - eighty matey - Sunday, May 19, 2013 at 19:07

Sunday, May 19, 2013 at 19:07
It sounds like you're being a bit hard on yourself.
It's probably two things - a bit of bad luck and a rock.

Sometimes you can take every precaution and something will still go wrong.
It's hurts more when the tyre's still got plenty of life in it.

Enjoy your trip, wish I was there too.

Hoo roo,
Steve
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Follow Up By: JimDi - Monday, May 20, 2013 at 00:00

Monday, May 20, 2013 at 00:00
You are right Steve,
It was just an accident. Maybe I should not have mentioned it in the first place.

Tyre will be replaced this week in Darwin and then we are off to Dundee beach fishing. A week after then its the Gibb and Kalumbaru etc.
I guess at my age one just looks for what went wrong rather than "it just happened".
For example, next week I will be fishing at Dundee for Barra with a few old mates and we are already "worrying" if we will catch any.

Regards
Jim
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Follow Up By: Member - eighty matey - Monday, May 20, 2013 at 02:28

Monday, May 20, 2013 at 02:28
You've done it again.....I'm jealous again...

Up north of Kalumburu probably our favourite place.
Hanging out at McGowen's Island is a bit expensive for much at all, but it's the best place in the World, then there's the drive up to Pago Mission and beyond.

We can literally live on the oysters up there and the fishing off there is as good as it gets.

All the best. Enjoy yourselves.

Steve

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Follow Up By: JimDi - Monday, May 20, 2013 at 14:54

Monday, May 20, 2013 at 14:54
Looking forward to the Gibb and Kalumburu. Its been nearly 6 years since we did the Gibb with a camper trailer and eighty series , geez time flies when you are trying to travel this country.

Last time we had a few time constraints so left out kalumburu. But hopefully will do it all this time and slow down a bit.
Regards
Jim


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Follow Up By: Member - eighty matey - Monday, May 20, 2013 at 16:35

Monday, May 20, 2013 at 16:35
The road to Kalumburu gets rougher the closer you get to the town.
Nothing really bad but you can't hurry it.

There's a fair bit of history up there. The museum and mission is really interesting, as is the art centre.

I was amazed to hear about how much it was bombed during WW2 and how many people were killed. There are plane wrecks just near the airport to see.

McGowens and Honeymoon Bay are funny places but great to relax for a bit. We enjoyed the track up to Pago Mission and beyond.

If you love oysters, sharpen up the long handle screw driver and grab an oyster knife. The biggest oyster I ate took three bites to eat it.

We really liked it up there. It's not very busy because most people race up to Mitchell falls and then head back to Drysdale.

Another favourite of ours is Port Warrender/Walsh Point. We had this spot to ourselves but it can have a few fishermen popping in. The trip down to Crystal Head is slow and isolated but if you get down there you will see the biggest croc you've ever seen.

Take it easy,
Steve

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Reply By: RobMac (QLD_Member) - Saturday, May 18, 2013 at 08:04

Saturday, May 18, 2013 at 08:04
Thanks for the info as we will be heading out there in mid-june but we won't be towing anything. I'm assuming with not towing anything that our travel times will be a little quicker?

Our main agenda is to get to Alice, so we probably won't be doing any sightseeing along the way, unless something really catches our interest..... so is allowing 2 day's from Boulia to Alice reasonable ?

Regarding Fuel.... Is there any BP/Caltex/Shell Servo's between Winton and Alice Springs ? I have fuel cards for these servo's and it would just make things easier if I could use the cards....
Cheers..... RobM
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Follow Up By: Mark S20 - Saturday, May 18, 2013 at 09:18

Saturday, May 18, 2013 at 09:18
Hi Robmac,
We are in a pretty heavily loaded Nissan Patrol and van ,tyre pressures were front 35 psi , rear 45 psi and 35 all round on the van. This was just what worked for us with new tyres all round as it was the first time i had ventured into the lower pressure area on anything other than sand.
I think two days Boulia to Alice not towing would be easy , there was a couple did Boulia gemtree in one day so i guess it just depends on road conditions and what speed you are comfortable with.
Re fuel, The only service station in Boulia is a choice outlet @ $172.9 when we were there ( diesel ) Tobermorey and Jervois station both sell fuel Between $2.20 and $2.30 per litre.Winton and Alice have Caltex / Bp / Shell in Alice.
Hope this helps
Mark
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Follow Up By: Member - eighty matey - Saturday, May 18, 2013 at 11:51

Saturday, May 18, 2013 at 11:51
G'day Rob,

last year we left Boulia about 11am, camped on the (dry) Plenty River at about 5pm with a bit of dawdling in between. We left about 7:30 the next morning and would have got into Alice after lunch.
We turned off before Gemtree and went down Cattlewater Pass to Ruby Gap.

I think tyre pressures depend on the brand of tyres as much as the road.
I was running 33 front and 38 back on new Dick Cepeks. I put a hole in one near Haddons Corner, but that was a momentary lapse in concentration and I hit a rock on the road.

Hoo roo,
Steve
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Follow Up By: RobMac (QLD_Member) - Saturday, May 18, 2013 at 19:12

Saturday, May 18, 2013 at 19:12
Steve....
How long did it take u to get to Ruby Gap going that way? We were thinking of going there on our way home but only if time permitted. Going there 1st via Cattlewater Pass might save us some time? Is Cattlewater Pass open as I think I remember reading somewhere that it was closed....

rob
Cheers..... RobM
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Follow Up By: Member - eighty matey - Sunday, May 19, 2013 at 02:09

Sunday, May 19, 2013 at 02:09
Rob,

it would have taken us about 6 hours to get to Ruby Gap from The Plenty Hwy, but we stopped heaps and checked out plenty of places.

We travelled through there in August last year.
It's a great drive with some spectacular scenery and a lot of history on the way.

The last section from Arltunga to Ruby Gap can be a bit rough but any half decent four wheel drive would handle it.

We didn't leave Ruby Gap until at least lunch and again stopped to visit a lot of places and arrived in Alice about 4pm.

Steve
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Follow Up By: adrianjt - Tuesday, Jun 04, 2013 at 01:22

Tuesday, Jun 04, 2013 at 01:22
hi Mark, please can you confirm fuel (unleaded?) was available at Tobermoray? Thanks Adrian

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Follow Up By: Mark S20 - Tuesday, Jun 04, 2013 at 06:24

Tuesday, Jun 04, 2013 at 06:24
Hi Adrian, I am not sure about unleaded . I would give them a call just to be sure.
Cheers Mark
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