To do the Oodnadatta Track or not?

Hi folks,
We are currently at Wilpena and heading towards NT.
We are deliberating whether to go via the Oodnadatta Track or the conventional way via the Stuart Highway.
We are driving a Mercedes ML350 with a Geist XK660 caravan. Clearance on the van is quite low and I have heard horror stories about major damage to cars and caravans.

I realise that the road conditions are a major consideration but keeping that aside what is the view of the experts in Exploroz land?
And has anyone else driven the Track with a similar configuration?

Thanks in advance

Robert & Karen
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Reply By: Member - Broodie H3 - Thursday, May 30, 2013 at 16:44

Thursday, May 30, 2013 at 16:44
Hi Robert and Karen,
Last year we took our Conventional 23ft Roadstar van up the track and we were towed it with a Nissan Pathfinder ti550, we took our time and lowered the tyre pressure in the van to 30psi all-round and dropped the tyre pressure on the vehicle to about 35psi and didn't have any issues. We Had been told by a number of people not to take the van but to our way of thinking that was defeating the purpose of the trip which was to see lake Eyre in flood which we did from William Creek. the country out there is spectacular and the people are extremely friendly, and you will see all sorts on the track, including larger vans, and smaller than you have. Go and enjoy the trip and drive to the conditions
Broodie H3
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Follow Up By: member - mazcan - Friday, May 31, 2013 at 12:31

Friday, May 31, 2013 at 12:31
hi broodie H3
the Nissan pathfinder always seems to be up there with the well rated tugs a 23ft van is a pretty good load for it
how many k's have you done with it and have there been any problems what are they rated to tow towball /full load and fuel consumption figures with and without van
I am interested to know
FollowupID: 790523

Follow Up By: Member - Broodie H3 - Friday, May 31, 2013 at 13:57

Friday, May 31, 2013 at 13:57
Hi Mazcan,
we have only towed the van about15,000 klm so far and average according to the trip meter and fuel log about 11.9 ltrs /p/h/ k. the tow rate is 3.5.tonne. I have just done the 40,00klm service on it and it has had a few teething issues like the cruise control didn't work after about 8,000klm, but Nissan fixed that very quickly, I did have a lot of nuts and bolts come loose while travelling the track and a few other places that we needed to get too but once again the Nissan people in port Pirie did a marvellous job and just got in and did the work no questions asked.
Fuel consumption with out the van before I put the roof rack and other bits and pieces on was about 9.8ltr phk. since the extras have been added it is now up to 10.6ltrs phk. Ill let you know what the figures are after I get back from Brisbane as I will not be towing anything and just have our standard camping gear with us, which should give me a total loaded weight and fuel consumption. I have just put a new set of Rubber under the young lady Bridgestone Duellers a/t 657, the Jury is still out on them as they were only added two days ago. The tow ball weight is 3.5 tonne, and our van being the age the old girl is [1996] weighs in at 2.5 tonne fully loaded. the vehicle so far has impressed the hell out of me especially off road, it confused the hell out of me when I first brought it kept on getting bogged to many electrics that I knew nothing about, but one of the members taught me and my wife how to drive it. Being a die hard Toyota man for a lot of years, and this vehicle has changed my thinking and attitude toward the Nissan Product. The figures so far are unbelievable from a Toyota perspective, maybe they will increase as the vehicle gets older , I don't know, I hope to write a full review after the two year mark as everything should be worn and working well by then.. In short no serious issues with the vehicle, and very comfortable on the long haul driving and towing. I hope this answers some of your questions.
Broodie H3
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FollowupID: 790532

Reply By: Gronk - Thursday, May 30, 2013 at 17:41

Thursday, May 30, 2013 at 17:41
If you don't mind towing on dirt roads, then go for at 60 or 70 k/ph if you have to....will save on some stone chips and your tyres...
AnswerID: 512171

Reply By: Pradobob - Thursday, May 30, 2013 at 17:54

Thursday, May 30, 2013 at 17:54
Have a read of this and then ask the locals.,%20Restrictions%20and%20Warnings%20Report.PDF

Sounds like it's a bit cut up a bit at the moment.

AnswerID: 512172

Reply By: AlbyNSW - Thursday, May 30, 2013 at 18:03

Thursday, May 30, 2013 at 18:03
It would be a shame to miss the Oodnadatta and the highway is not very interesting so providing the current road conditions are ok and you can accept a few stone chips I would go for it.
The fond memories will last longer than the tears from the stone chips
AnswerID: 512173

Reply By: MEMBER - Darian, SA - Friday, May 31, 2013 at 09:25

Friday, May 31, 2013 at 09:25
The Oodnadatta road is usually very good overall - road gangs get it very smooth (mainly) for each tourist season. There are a few relatively short sections though where you need to rattle along over small stones. Two main points to raise in my view - tyres and stone chips. If you have the very smooth driving urban-passenger tyres on, they might well fail on those stony sections - the tyre shoulders are quite vulnerable. As for chips - the small stones not only ding the front of the van but will bounce off the van and pepper the tug - this can all be temporarily prevented by a quick rigging of some shade cloth (or similar) between the tug and the van, using ocky straps. As for current conditions - the SA Outback roads site will advise 'open' or 'closed' or 'caution'.. but a phone call to the William Creek pub and the Pink Roadhouse will probably get you the best advice. Have a good trip - great outback experiences up there.
AnswerID: 512218

Follow Up By: David16 - Friday, May 31, 2013 at 13:20

Friday, May 31, 2013 at 13:20
I am heading up to William Creek in the next few days, I just spoke with my contact at William Creek and they are expecting some rain over the weekend if this happens the track may be closed so keep an eye on the SA website.
FollowupID: 790528

Reply By: Steve M1 (NSW) - Friday, May 31, 2013 at 14:40

Friday, May 31, 2013 at 14:40
Conditions notwithstanding, it's not a bad road but you have a lot of overhang there on the van and dips could be a problem. Generally speaking you would certainly be well peppered with stones, largely underneath so you would need to make sure cables and hoses are robust or well protected. Also, if you were to take the plunge, it is usually more rugged north of Coober Pedy so you could come off the track at the William Crk Road and still enjoy most of it including the Wm Crk Hotel. You'd miss the Pink Roadhouse though. My main concern would be that long distance from rear wheel to rear end and it is low into the bargain.
AnswerID: 512238

Reply By: Robert & Karen - Friday, May 31, 2013 at 15:11

Friday, May 31, 2013 at 15:11
Thanks everyone for your advice and hints.
It is " bleep " down with rain here at Wilpenia and the same is predicted for the Track so we might have to do the track on the way back.

Thanks again

Robert & Karen
AnswerID: 512241

Follow Up By: Member - Broodie H3 - Saturday, Jun 08, 2013 at 16:50

Saturday, Jun 08, 2013 at 16:50
if it is raining go the highway, you don't need a muddy van, dusty yes, Muddy no, and you could get stuck for a few days.
Broodie H3
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FollowupID: 791305

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