Tanami track with a Kluger and a Jayco starcraft

Submitted: Tuesday, Jul 02, 2013 at 13:24
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Hello

We are setting off on a 4 month trip in September and as part of it I am wondering if we could travel the Tanami track in our Kluger towing a Jayco Starcraft (underslung) or is that a really bad idea? We would be there around late October/November.

We are newbies so would be taking it nice and easy with the 3 kids. Thanks for any advice.

Tracey
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Reply By: Member - Michael P (QLD) - Tuesday, Jul 02, 2013 at 14:06

Tuesday, Jul 02, 2013 at 14:06
Tracey Hi,
The Tanami road is not the horror that it used to be, though can be very corrugated and quite unpleasant when wet.
The Kluger will be fine. The Starcraft ? I have towed a standard Jayco poptop over it a few years ago. Took a lot longer than most as I lowered the tyre pressures and drove to the conditions.
IMO a great drive & plenty to see.

Regards Mike.
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Reply By: Gone Bush (WA) - Tuesday, Jul 02, 2013 at 14:37

Tuesday, Jul 02, 2013 at 14:37
In the interests of a counter argument, the Tanami IS still the horror it always has been.

Do not understimate the potential for damage and for being stranded with little kids.

If you are newbies, as you say, I think it is almost guaranteed that you will not enjoy it. By the way, there's no fuel anymore at Rabbit Flat.

Sorry to paint a negative picture, but that has been our experience towing our Bushtracker behind a 200 Series Cruiser. We've been down the Tanami twice and regretted it both times.





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Follow Up By: mountainman - Tuesday, Jul 02, 2013 at 16:55

Tuesday, Jul 02, 2013 at 16:55
sounds like you didnt learn the first time round ha ha ha.....

must of been good to draw you back for the second time !!
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Follow Up By: Gone Bush (WA) - Tuesday, Jul 02, 2013 at 18:06

Tuesday, Jul 02, 2013 at 18:06
Quite the contrary mountainman,

The first time was in 1994 in our Troopy, not towing, from Halls Creek to Alice.

The second time was against my better judgement but....

We were travelling with friends and they wanted to go from Top Springs south through Ladjemanu and Kalkarinji to pop out onto the Tanami midway and then to Alice.

They had never been along the Tanami and I didn't want to abandon them to a lone trip. The section from Top Springs south was great and I'm glad we did it but the Tanami was/is a shocker. I will never drive it again.

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Follow Up By: Sandman - Tuesday, Jul 02, 2013 at 20:21

Tuesday, Jul 02, 2013 at 20:21
Tracey

A few points to remember and consider

1) Its corrugated from the granite mines out to the WA border. Get yourself an air compressor, dont go to super cheap and buy a $100 thing. Buy an ARB or similar, it will cost you $350 to $400 in its own carry case. LET THE TYRES DOWN, I cant say this enough....let them down, dont be shy... My prado goes from 40 to 25psi and I sit between 70-80 without a trailer, its a magic ride.

2) Travel at the right speed, there are utube videos showing vans getting out of control and rolling cars, especially on very slight bends...there will be idiots going past you, probably Government cars, 150 series prados or troop carriers, dont try and keep up with them, its jsut not worth it.

3) last fuel is at Yuendumu, it will be Opal (low aromatic fuel) and I think its 700km to the next fuel stop. Personally to be double safe, calculat the distance from Yuendumu to Halls Creek incase the mission doesnt have fuel...

4) Its magic countryside, take your time and just enjoy it. We stayed overnight at Tilmouth Well and left around 8:30am and made it to Wolfe Creek by sunset and that included a refuel and some food at Yuendumu. Tilmouth Well is an awesome little roadhouse, has a pool, great amenities and the food isnt bad... remember you're in a desert, this place is good considering where you are.

If you ignore road conditons, drive at highway tyre pressures and try and sit on 80 with your van, you will wreck your van and car....

Pete in Alice
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Follow Up By: Sandman - Tuesday, Jul 02, 2013 at 20:21

Tuesday, Jul 02, 2013 at 20:21
Tracey, forgot to mention, that time of year... going to get pretty hot...take water and flynets :-)
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Reply By: Member - eighty matey - Tuesday, Jul 02, 2013 at 21:44

Tuesday, Jul 02, 2013 at 21:44
G'day Tracey,

the Tanami's not the worst road in the World but it's one of the longest. Some parts are smooth, some parts are corrugated.

- Fuel to get you from Yuendumu to Balgo is a minimum.
- It's be an idea to have two spares for both vehicle and van (that's to counteract Murphy's Law).
- I've found Supercheap air compressors great. One of the bigger ones, not the little ones.
- October/November will be getting hot.

My opinion is, if you're not sure don't do it.
If something goes wrong and you can't fix it yourself, you're a long way from anywhere.
If you need a tow, that's a lot of money if it's possible to get a tow.

Another option is the Gary Junction Road. The road's better for most of it but it's more remote again.

Steve
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Follow Up By: Sandman - Wednesday, Jul 03, 2013 at 12:00

Wednesday, Jul 03, 2013 at 12:00
Steve, Gary Junction Road ? That is one place I wouldnt recommend they go :-) Just check out some of the youtube videos..

I was hoping to get out there this week from Alice, its a 4 day loop but I was too lazy :-)

Not sure why folks reckon its the worst road ? It sucks if running 40psi on conventional suspension. 25psi on our tough dog suspension fully loaded wasnt bad at all..Its great out to the Granites, gets a little worse to the border and the WA side, well take your time and pick the right line...

2 spares, fully agree and I'd take a plug kit too

Supercheap, each to their own...though you wont get a warranty claim out there :-) Seriously the ARB one, and trust me I refused to buy one for ages saying they were a rip off...I finally gave in and it was just worth it, I would not be without it...

In the end if you never try you never know. You can only deal with what you know, worrying about stuff you don't know will paralyse you and you'll never go.. I'm not suggesting anyone put their life in danger but some reasonable preparation will see the average explorer go amazing places :-)

Pete
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Follow Up By: Member - eighty matey - Wednesday, Jul 03, 2013 at 19:28

Wednesday, Jul 03, 2013 at 19:28
G'day Pete,

Gary Junction Road is remote but it's my favourite way to cross to the West Coast. Not much traffic and as a result the roads a lot better. Fantastic scenery and great camp sites, but you have to be prepared for anything because you're pretty much on your own for a lot of it. The Kidson Track gets rough round Razorblade Bore but just west of there it turns into a superhighway now.

The Tanami is a good road overall but I reckon if they have any doubts they probably should give it a miss and go up around the top.

Whichever way you go, it's better than sitting at home.

Hoo roo,
Steve
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Reply By: bockstar1 - Tuesday, Jul 02, 2013 at 22:36

Tuesday, Jul 02, 2013 at 22:36
What year model Kluger? I've seen a few older models around the Hills district in Sydney with BFG ATs. I'd be wary of taking a newer model with the low profile tyres as yes, you'll have to drop the pressures. I'd be concerned about the drop in pressures and the heat build up in the tyres. A LT constructed AT tyre would be advisable.

The other consideration will be the distance between fuel stops. You'll need to conservatively estimate your fuel consumption.
AnswerID: 514166

Follow Up By: Road Warrior - Wednesday, Jul 03, 2013 at 10:58

Wednesday, Jul 03, 2013 at 10:58
This is one thing we are in a dilemma with. We're considering a trip up north next year in our Territory but it has 55R/18 tyres on it - totally unsuitable for roads like the Gibb, Tanami and others. But finding an off road tyre of the correct load and speed rating for our car is nigh on impossible...
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Follow Up By: mikehzz - Wednesday, Jul 03, 2013 at 19:00

Wednesday, Jul 03, 2013 at 19:00
I don't think that 55/18 profile AT tyres are available. I know guys with 235/60/18 who have wanted them for ages and no luck. I heard that maybe Pirelli Scorpion ATR or General Grabber AT might be available in that size soon. Maybe check with the distrubutors and bring your money with you... :-)
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Follow Up By: bockstar1 - Thursday, Jul 04, 2013 at 09:18

Thursday, Jul 04, 2013 at 09:18
RoadWarrior. I think you know the answer to this dilemma. Leave the Territory at home to conquer the shopping centres and buy a Landcruiser or Patrol :-).

In all seriousness, yes the Territories and Klugers of this world, whilst giving the appearence of capability, don't really cut it in reality. Low profile tyres, smallish fuel tanks etc don't bode well for long distance outback touring.
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Reply By: toffytrailertrash - Wednesday, Jul 03, 2013 at 08:46

Wednesday, Jul 03, 2013 at 08:46
Ultimately if you do decide to tackle the Tanami you are going to have to carry at least 2 jerry cans of petrol with you to make it through and petrol has a habit of disappearing out there....particularly the non opal type.

Good luck with your trip


Merv
AnswerID: 514181

Reply By: MEMBER - Darian, SA - Wednesday, Jul 03, 2013 at 19:12

Wednesday, Jul 03, 2013 at 19:12
To support some of the 'no' advice above, the Tanami would be a bad idea for 'newbies' in my view, with that rig. Much better to get the hang of safe and reliable gravel road travel on better surfaces in other regions if possible - tackle the Tanami another time maybe when you know how to nurse the tyres and hardware over the 'troublesome' sections. I doubt the Starcraft's fittings were ever designed to withstand the horrid vibrations on some corrugated sections..... a stock Kluger might not be too happy either.
AnswerID: 514219

Follow Up By: Member - eighty matey - Wednesday, Jul 03, 2013 at 19:34

Wednesday, Jul 03, 2013 at 19:34
Following up Merv's mention of carrying petrol out there, check that it's not illegal to take Unleaded Petrol into Communities and some areas. Opal's and Diesel's okay.

Steve.
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Follow Up By: Sandman - Wednesday, Jul 03, 2013 at 20:16

Wednesday, Jul 03, 2013 at 20:16
If your passing through a community with less than commercial quantities it wont be an issue....No cop is going to pull the lid and sniff it.....
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Follow Up By: Member - eighty matey - Wednesday, Jul 03, 2013 at 21:24

Wednesday, Jul 03, 2013 at 21:24
Are you certain? We've been told a number of times "No Unleaded Petrol in the Communities".

I've heard of boys driving to Kalgoolie from NT to get some unleaded.

Mine uses diesel but the mates I travel with have petrol Cruisers and we usually end up in Alice nearly dry to fill up with Opal to head west.
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Follow Up By: Sandman - Wednesday, Jul 03, 2013 at 21:42

Wednesday, Jul 03, 2013 at 21:42
If you want a rock solid answer, call up the Police at Yuendumu on
08 8956 4004 and ask them, smack in the middle of Opal territory :-)

I would be more than happy to fill all my jerry cans with premium and drive across the Tanami. If you can lock them then its a bonus.

Folks in the remote parts are going to leave you alone unless you really look suspect ie: Grog Runners. Equally the police aren't going to sniff your fuel...

Alice has premium unleaded :-)

Cheers..Pete
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Reply By: Member - Warrie (NSW) - Wednesday, Jul 03, 2013 at 21:35

Wednesday, Jul 03, 2013 at 21:35
Hi Tracey, don't do it. Hug the tar and go up from Alice to Katherine. Let the kids and you swim in the mineral springs at Mataranka etc. This is my third reply in a week to aTanami query and I'm still not over our trip from Halls Ck to Alice 3 weeks ago. It was a shocker and like some above I won't be doing it again.... W
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Follow Up By: Sandman - Thursday, Jul 04, 2013 at 22:45

Thursday, Jul 04, 2013 at 22:45
You really cant compare Mataranka to say Wolfe Creek, totally different experience :-) The thermal springs are awesome, we stayed there for 3 days ourselves, loved it.....Wolfe Creek, you gotta see that, its darn impressive..both are great for different reasons...

Pete
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Reply By: Member - John and Val - Wednesday, Jul 03, 2013 at 21:55

Wednesday, Jul 03, 2013 at 21:55
Hi Tracey,

Have driven the Tanami a couple of times over the years. In my opinion its one of the less attractive desert drives from the scenery angle and there can be rough sections with corrugations. And it is very long with big distances between petrol pumps. You will also be doing it as the weather is stating to warm up. In those circumstances I would suggest that you may find it less stressful if you stayed on the bitumen. Assuming you are travelling between Alice and Halls Creek, yes its a longer distance via Katherine, but that way is all bitumen, has more refuelling opportunities and has some great scenery and there are more things to do along the way.

Despite occasional talk about sealing the Tanami I reckon that road will still be there pretty much as it is when you go back for your next trip by which time you will be more experienced at outback travel and have a better idea what to expect.

Cheers,

Val.
J and V
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Follow Up By: Norm C (WA) - Wednesday, Jul 03, 2013 at 22:37

Wednesday, Jul 03, 2013 at 22:37
Hi Val
Is the Tanami any worse than the Anne Beadell Hwy ?
It would seem the Tanami is a major supply route.
Just asking
Norm
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Follow Up By: Member - John and Val - Thursday, Jul 04, 2013 at 10:16

Thursday, Jul 04, 2013 at 10:16
Hi Norm,

Have only been on the western end of the AB, and that was just after the graders had been through, so it was a dream run and I think we only saw one other vehicle. The Tanami is by contrast a wide road that probably sees a grader rather more often than the AB but it also carries a lot of trucks. Really cant compare them. I think one of the sets of banner photos that scroll across the top is from the Tanami - just hover your mouse over it when something likely comes up and it will give you the title of the set.

Cheers,

Val.
J and V
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Follow Up By: Member - Warrie (NSW) - Friday, Jul 05, 2013 at 09:50

Friday, Jul 05, 2013 at 09:50
Hi Norm and Val. A lovely euphemism that "less attractive desert drive" and IMO correct. The Granites Mine has large rigs running in from Alice and we noticed a month ago that the surface was much rougher in that section. As for the AB the WA side gets graded and the SA does not from the WA border eastwards and through the hellish Tallaringa CP. Shocking corrugations on a track only 1/4 as wide as the Tanami. I doubt that the AB has EVER been graded in the SA section since Beadell' crew built it!!.... W
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Reply By: happytravelers - Saturday, Jul 06, 2013 at 19:43

Saturday, Jul 06, 2013 at 19:43
Hi Tracey

We've just got back to Qld. from a trip to the Kimberly and I'm trolling through a few posts and picked up yours.

We drove the Tanami 4 weeks ago and I would strongly advise you against doing it, especially with your vehicle and trailer. The corrugations were horrendous and they go on forever, at least 500km of really bad road that will shake your car and trailer to pieces. We did it from Alice to Halls Creek and it wasn't until we got past the Granite mine that the road improved. As others have said, your a long way from help if you cannot repair things yourselves. I would not drive that road again and we were in a beefed up land cruiser with a heavy duty off road trailer.
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Reply By: TraceyM - Saturday, Jul 06, 2013 at 21:15

Saturday, Jul 06, 2013 at 21:15
Thanks so much for all your comments. I think we will take the majority advice and leave the Tanami for another trip and stick to the bitumen for our first big trip. Definitely inspired though to get out there - so much to do and see! Thanks again.
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