Planning trip to the Kimberly from the southern highlands of NSW.

Submitted: Sunday, May 19, 2013 at 11:52
ThreadID: 102294 Views:1669 Replies:4 FollowUps:21
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Hello, I have a desire to do this trip in the next couple of years, have atleast 2 years to plan everything.
I have a standard 08 Nissan Narvara STX 2.5 turbo diesel with about 90,000 ks on the clock. Am looking for information on what essential mods I'd need to do to it to be more capable of doing such a trip.
Planning on camping out most of the way, then indulging in a bit of comfit at destination.
Hoping not to have to spend a fortune on mods, more so wanting to know what I'd really need?
Quite possibly doing the trip on my own, as my partner does not wish to go, may have to find a mate to tag along with me.
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Reply By: Member - PJR (NSW) - Sunday, May 19, 2013 at 12:13

Sunday, May 19, 2013 at 12:13
Hi Stu

The Kimberley is not one would say a rugged area in comparison to what you may have seen the the Snowy Mountains and across the border in the Vic high country and even Bendethera would be about the worst you will strike unless you go to those rugged tracks in Home Valley Station.. So as far as suspension and lift is concerned get yourself a good set of shockies and don't worry too much about a lift. We took our standard cruiser there and up the Mitchell Plateau, the Bungles. And also the gorges of El Questro and the karunji track. I could have driven the Kingswood there. But the standard Kingswood's suspension wouldn't be worth much when we got home. The Nav will go to the Bungles without a worry.

Tyre pressures will need changing so a compressor would be very handy.

You can pick your own camping. We used a tent and it did us well. We also stayed at Home Valley in a spa room to "rough it". Don't stay at El Questro though. The entry and fees came to $66 for one night unpowered tent site in a heavily crowded area and freezing cold showers. Shower early is best before the bus loads hit the showers.

UHF radio, a first aid kit and a fire extinguisher wont go astray. Mainly for the drive there and back. Fuel was readilly available when we went.

Over to others for their ideas.

Phil
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Follow Up By: Stuoow - Sunday, May 19, 2013 at 16:52

Sunday, May 19, 2013 at 16:52
Hi Phil, thanks for your reply, already have all that gear in the Nav, plus a Wacoe fridge freezer, possibly put a long range tank in also, as I say it will be a couple of years before I go (long service leave coming in sept 2015) but no point waiting to the last minute to have the vehicle ready.
Planning on heading out through Lightening Ridge and then on to Alice springs then across that way.
Any other suggestions will be taken onboard.
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Follow Up By: Member - PJR (NSW) - Sunday, May 19, 2013 at 20:06

Sunday, May 19, 2013 at 20:06
I don't know how long you have but if you are talking about Lightning Ridge and Alice Springs the consider this.

Lightning Ridge, Tibuburra, Cameron Corner, Walkers Crossing, Birdsville, Simpson Desert, Dalhousie, Mt Dare, Finke, Ols South Road to Alice Springs, Tanami Track to Halls Creek, Bungle Bungles, Kununurra (visit Ord Dam with boat ride back). Then to the Gibb River Road and your Kimberley adventure.

Or would that be a dream time drive. Any company or on your own. Any desert/sand skills etc etc. A lot of that stuff would be necessary for the Simpson and extra spare for the corrugated and stony tracks. More thought for that drive methinks! Am I right???

Phil
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Follow Up By: Stuoow - Sunday, May 19, 2013 at 20:34

Sunday, May 19, 2013 at 20:34
Yes Phil more thought for that drive, that is the dream drive, but maybe not for the first one. More then likely going on my own, my partner now tells me she might like to go.
What other way would you suggest on going?
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Follow Up By: Member - PJR (NSW) - Sunday, May 19, 2013 at 20:41

Sunday, May 19, 2013 at 20:41
Instead of Lightning Ridge head west from home through Hillston and the dirt road through Menindee to broken Hill. Then head towards Adelaide to the little town of Yunta and swing north towards the Flinders, Wilpeena Pound and Arkaroola. Then across to Leigh Creek and up the Oodnadatta track through Marree to Oodnadatta and on to meet the Stuart Highway at Marla. Swing north to Alice and then north east on the Tanamai Track to Halls Creek and up to Kununurra via the Bungle Bungles. Your choice of the Kimberley if you cannot look at the Ord then skip it.

Getting do-able yet??? She will love it and you will enjoy the company. Do not dare deter her.

Phil
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Follow Up By: Stuoow - Sunday, May 19, 2013 at 21:07

Sunday, May 19, 2013 at 21:07
Yes mate starting to sound better and more do-able for the first drive.
Time wont be any issue as I'll have 8 weeks to fill in.
I've been out as far as Broken Hill carting livestock years ago with Finemore Transport.
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Follow Up By: Member - PJR (NSW) - Sunday, May 19, 2013 at 21:24

Sunday, May 19, 2013 at 21:24
You should know the black dirt way through Ivanhoe to Menindee and Broken Hill then. Did you live in Wagga then?

We have met before I believe. Something about me underestimating your car and skills. True?? Ha.

Is this the touring that you were thinking of back then? Good idea. It was our first big one and we did it in a standard 100 series.

Good stuff mate

Phil
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Follow Up By: Stuoow - Monday, May 20, 2013 at 10:29

Monday, May 20, 2013 at 10:29
Yes I did Phil, now in Goulburn and yes wasn't sure wether the Nav would be capable of a trip over there, myself, I'll have a go at anything and if it or I don't work I'll find another way around.
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Follow Up By: Member - PJR (NSW) - Monday, May 20, 2013 at 11:46

Monday, May 20, 2013 at 11:46
What are you using for navigation?
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Follow Up By: Stuoow - Monday, May 20, 2013 at 22:03

Monday, May 20, 2013 at 22:03
Will have Hema Maps running through either a laptop or iPad.
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Follow Up By: Member - PJR (NSW) - Monday, May 20, 2013 at 22:56

Monday, May 20, 2013 at 22:56
That will be enough. I use Ozi myself but in a dash mounted 2 din box. Don't forget a paper copy as well in case the boxes go flat or belly up.

We actually purchased the Toyota from your little town and I went to college in that place up on the hill. That was fun!!!

If you need anything feel free to drop me an email to "vk1dx@bigpond.net.au".

Provided that you maintain the nav properly it will be fine for that trip.

Most of the route that I mentioned is well travelled. The only light traffic section is from Yunta to the Flinders and maybe the Tanami, so if you break down just sit around, make a cuppa and someone will come along. In time I expect you could quite likely be self sufficient. If you really need phone access you can hire satellite phones. But then again what's the rush.

Phil
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Follow Up By: Stuoow - Tuesday, May 21, 2013 at 20:39

Tuesday, May 21, 2013 at 20:39
Hi Phil, I already have the Hema touring map atlas which is also the latest edition.
Being an old school truck driver I'm already self sufficient, so running repairs and stuff like that won't be an issue.
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Follow Up By: Member - PJR (NSW) - Tuesday, May 21, 2013 at 22:30

Tuesday, May 21, 2013 at 22:30
Excellent. We carry that one as well. Plus a few "local" maps. I bet you haven't got a compass in the car!! I wouldn't go bush without one.

Repairs are not in my itinerary. I have a problem with strength and even lying on my back under a car makes me nauseous. I can just change a tyre. So we pay heavily for good maintenance and hope all is well. Plus are prepared to pay for remote recovery. Beats sitting home. The sat phone was requested by my oncologist.

Just watching Silverado. Good old western. I am waiting for John Cleese to do his "goose step".

Catchya

Phil

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Follow Up By: Stuoow - Monday, May 27, 2013 at 12:09

Monday, May 27, 2013 at 12:09
What time of the year would you recommend going over there?
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Follow Up By: Member - PJR (NSW) - Monday, May 27, 2013 at 12:42

Monday, May 27, 2013 at 12:42
One of the must see places up there are the Mitchell Falls. The two roads to get you there lead to all the other places that are a must see. So I would suggest their opening after the wet as your guide. And if you would prefer less visitors then avoid school holidays. Another parameter to take into account is water crossings. You will encounter some so if you are a little unsure or do not have a hugely lifted car then you may want to wait a bit longer. But then there is less water over the falls.

We went in July but mainly because of work restrictions.

I would suggest earlier rather that later so IF the roads were to open mid May then would look at the first week in June.

I hope this helps. Have a read below.

Phil

Gibb River Road conditions
Kalumbaru Road conditions
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Follow Up By: Stuoow - Tuesday, May 28, 2013 at 16:57

Tuesday, May 28, 2013 at 16:57
Hi Phil, you say we've met before, any idea where or when?
My partner said she is going with me now, reckons she can't go 8 weeks without seeing me...lol bugga.
May be taking an off road camper with us now.
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Follow Up By: Member - PJR (NSW) - Tuesday, May 28, 2013 at 17:10

Tuesday, May 28, 2013 at 17:10
In a previous thread where I took you the wrong way.

All okay though.

Good on her.

I would suggest that you make sure it is a good solid one because the ordinary run of the mill so called off-road caravan will have problems.

Catchya

Phil

Cool morning last weekend at the club property up near Cooma:
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Reply By: Kris and Kev - Sunday, May 19, 2013 at 14:45

Sunday, May 19, 2013 at 14:45
Agree with Phil except for El Questro. We stayed there for 4 nights in a private bush camp beside the Pentecost River. Absolutely loved the place. The place was busy when we were there but still heaps of hot water? But each to their own, just don’t write the place off. Just don’t put the trip off too long, just get there, allow heaps of time and try and do it all.
It is truly a magic place. And if you want a real treat, do the Horizontal Waterfalls trip, the overnight stay one! Kevin
AnswerID: 511381

Follow Up By: Member - PJR (NSW) - Sunday, May 19, 2013 at 15:49

Sunday, May 19, 2013 at 15:49
Kevin just reminded me of something.

If you really want to have a look at the Kimberley oceanside at places like the Horizontal Falls do a cruise like we did. It's a long way back to see it again. I am in Canberra. We did the Broome to Broome cruise with: MV Diversity II And blowed if out of the six passengers there was a couple from Queanbeyan that knew my wife through their work. Small world. But start saving though because it's six star prices and worth every penny.

And do not miss out on a visit to the Ord Dam and a return ride down the Ord River to your camp ground at Kununurra.Down the Ord River to Kununurra




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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Sunday, May 19, 2013 at 17:07

Sunday, May 19, 2013 at 17:07
Hi Stuoow

I also vote for including El Questro, as the cost is insignificant considering the cost of getting to the Kimberley from New South Wales.

We also took a private riverside campsite. We could have used the showers back at the 'village', and some private sites have a pit toilet nearby. Otherwise it is "be discreet and do the right thing".

Emma Gorge, although on the other side of the Gibb River Road, is part of El Questro and well worth the visit and walk. The 'Pass' fee applies to all features on El Questro. Zebedee Hot Springs (open to the public in the mornings only) is another stand out. We did not see everything in our three days touring, staying two nights, but El Questro Gorge is another I recommend. My Blogs for 2008 cover the Gibb River Road - the best of all our trips.

Motherhen
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Follow Up By: Member - PJR (NSW) - Sunday, May 19, 2013 at 18:58

Sunday, May 19, 2013 at 18:58
I would like to point out that it was only the accommodation at El Questro that I was saying should be avoided. We stayed up the road the next few nights and went back to El Questro to see the places there and don't forget the Karunji Track. Great drive all around the Cockburn Range. Top drive and follow the sun to get great photos with the sun behind you.

El Questro is worth a visit, yes, but not in our opinion the best accommodation in the area.

Phil
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Reply By: MEMBER - Darian, SA - Sunday, May 19, 2013 at 14:55

Sunday, May 19, 2013 at 14:55
If the car is maintained in good overall order, you can take off now Stu ! Just ensure you have decent light truck tyres. Wet weather aside, outback gravel roads are generally in good overall condition to cater for the peak tourist season. IF you wanted to cover some of the roads that are notorious for their bad corrugations (such as the Tanami road - Kalumburu / Mitchell Falls etc. roads) , it would be best to fit new robust shockers and take a couple of the old ones as field spares. Once mobile up there, your greatest asset will be a sensible driving attitude for the conditions ! Most folks who have horror tales to tell often travel on town tyres, may be overloaded, and / or go too fast and don't watch for those particularly nasty sharp stones that lay in wait for all of us :-o).
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Follow Up By: Stuoow - Sunday, May 19, 2013 at 16:59

Sunday, May 19, 2013 at 16:59
Thanks Darian, would love to go now but will be a couple of years before I can go.
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Reply By: Member - John and Val - Sunday, May 19, 2013 at 22:01

Sunday, May 19, 2013 at 22:01
Hi Stu

We did a couple of blogs on a trip that we did to the Kimberley in 2008. The first one is here. Its a magical part of the world and very do-able, just a long drive from home. Im sure your partner would love it.
The route that Phil suggested is a good one for a first go with plenty to see and do along the way, and your 8 weeks will go by very quickly. Apart from tyre plugs and a compressor a standard 4x4 that is well maintained is all that you need. More important is to get well organised for camping so that that side of things doesnt become a chore. With two years to plan and prepare you should be able to set out in a very well set up rig!

Cheers,

Val
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Follow Up By: Stuoow - Monday, May 20, 2013 at 22:07

Monday, May 20, 2013 at 22:07
Thanks Val I will have a read of the blog.
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