Here's a Brief Trip report of our 2013 Central Australia Touring Trip

Submitted: Thursday, Jul 18, 2013 at 00:21
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Re: 2013 Central Australia Trip Report

Pictures can be seen here: 2013 Central Australia Trip Pics

or try this link for a more detailed Trip Report plus the Tracklog of where we went: Triplog and Photos

Day-1: (21-Jun)
Left HOME @ 2.45 had breaky at Chinchilla Maccies, then Lunch at Mitchell. From here we pushed on to Tambo for a break then refuelled at Blackall and also stayed at the free in town campgrounds next to the creek at around 4.30pm
Refuelling: Blackall - BP: 119.35 ltrs // $167.26 // 995 kms // 140cents/ltr
Stopover: Blackall Free camp site
Distance: 988kms
Driving Time only: 10.93hrs

Day-2: (22-Jun)
Left Blackall at 8.35am and headed off to Barcaldine. 30kms along, I discovered the Cruise Control wasn't working, and then I noticed the fuel usage. I then noticed that the Auto wasn't in O/D and would not go into OD. I turned off the Wind Booster that was set to ECON w/o success. I then pulled over and turned off the engine and waited for a 1min, then restarted and all was good. Reached Barcaldine and had a quick look around, buying a Cig Socket, then headed off to Longreach. Reach Longreach around 11am and bought some supplies, then decided to have an early lunch and head off towards Winton. Reach Winton 2.30pm to refuel, then on towards Boulia. About 122kms from Winton, found a place to camp on the side of the road around 4pm.
Refuelling: Winton - Caltex: 48.37 ltrs // $74.44 // 402 kms //153.90 cents/ltr
Stopover: On the Road between Boulia and Winton (122kms from Winton)
Distance: 524kms
Driving Time only: 5.97hrs

Day-3: (23-Jun)
Up early and headed for Boulia with the countryside looking very dry in parts but the scenery was changing with us now coming into the breakaway country. Reach Boulia at 10.40 and refuel; bought family some ice-creams and headed off along the Donohue Hwy and onto the Plenty Hwy. As usual, the roads on Qld side of the border were rough & roads on the NT side being great dirt roads. Pulled up at Arthur River at 16.00 (qld Time)
Refuelling: Boulia - Choice: 47.29 ltrs // $83.18 // 370 kms // 175.89 cents/ltr
Stopover: Arthur River along the Plenty Hwy
Distance: 655kms
Driving Time only: 7.08hrs

Day-4: (24-Jun)
Left 08.30am and headed towards Alice Springs, passing Harts Range Police Stn & Gemtree Caravan Park. Turned onto the Hwy at 13.30 and then onto Alice Springs where we called into the info centre, then onto a Beanie Festival; refuelled and then headed to our campsite for the night - Heavitree Gap Outback Park at around 3pm
Refuelling: Alice Springs - Shell: 103.37 ltrs // $175.63 // 827 kms // 169.90 cents/ltr
Stopover: Alice Springs - Heavitree Gap Outback Lodge/Caravan Park
Distance: 423kms
Driving Time only: 4.80hrs

Day-5: (25-Jun)
Left Camp at around 10am and headed out to the National Truck Museum (4hrs well spent, could have been more); then went next door to the Ghan Train Museum - bad mistake and not worth the $$ to get in. After buying some food & Souvenirs, it was off towards Chambers Pillar. The Road was VERY corrugated and even worse when we got to the Maryvale Stn T/O. Took us an 1hr to cover the 46kms from the T/O to Chambers Pillar arriving at 17.00hrs to have the campgrounds to ourselves (Note: WB worked having it set on P2)
Stopover:Chambers Pillar Campgrounds
Distance: 164kms
Driving Time only: 2.42hrs

Day-6: (26-Jun)
Left camp and headed around to look/walk around Chambers Pillar and The Castle. After Morning Tea, it was off & towards our next destination Rainbow Valley. Turned off onto the Hugh River Stock Route and travelled along this road until half way and decided to take a side track that would hopeful bring us into Rainbow Valley from the eastern side and not the usual way from the Stuart Hwy. As it turned out, this was definitely a more direct route but also rough & corrugated in places & we had to ask for directions in the aboriginal community we passed through. Crossed the Northern Railway rail and continued our way into Rainbow Valley. We did the usual walks and looking around, etc. and had Lunch there as well. After Lunch it was off and out to the Hwy and head sth, calling into visit the Henbury Meteorite craters, then backtracked out to the Hwy and down towards the T/O to Ayers Rock. Found a nice little secluded area along the Stuart Hwy for the night as it was starting to rain. Stopped for the day at around 16:30 to 17:00.
Stopover: Along Stuart Hwy - 36kms Nth from Erldunda
Distance: 276kms
Driving Time only: 4.15hrs

Day-7: (27-Jun)
Left our roadside camp at 9.22 and headed sth to refuel at Erldunda b4 heading west towards Ayers Rock. Had issues with the kid’s 12v power outlets but managed to sort it out once I found the blown fuse under the dash. Finally reached the Yulara Resort campgrounds around 13.00. While we setup, the kids went off to the playgrounds to find some other kids to play with. After lunch, etc. we headed off to the Rock to do the walks & pics (almost lost my SLR camera when I accidently left it on the bonnet and didn’t realise until we were some distance down the road). With time & light running out we headed back to camp realising that there would be no sunset photo opportunity due to cloud cover. Made it back at around 6.45pm (QT)
Refuelling: Erldunda - Shell: 66.69 ltrs // $131.38 // 480 kms // 197.00 cents/ltr
Stopover: Yulara Resort Campgrounds
Distance: 343kms
Driving Time only: 4.43hrs

Day-8: (28-Jun)
Up early to try and catch Sunrise over the rock, but Cloud Cover beat us - still nice viewing though. From here it was back to the Culture Ctr for Morning Tea / Lunch and buy some souvenirs. As usual the rock was CLOSED due to "possible" wind / rain. This started to become a bit of a joke….. so it was off to The Olgas and do the walks out there b4 they closed them - it turned out that these walks were better than Uluru walks. some 4hrs or so later, we were back in the car heading back to camp, all being very tired from the walks. Kids did VERY well on the 7.5km considering they have never really done any big walks b4. Left the Olgas and made our way back just in time to see the locals perform a dance for the tourists…. I had to have a little chuckle as one of the “traditional dancers” was whiter than me and had blonde hair….
Stopover:Yulara Resort Campgrounds
Distance: 145kms
Driving Time only: 2.03hrs

Day-9: (29-Jun)
Slowly packed up and left camp around 11am, refuelled, then headed off to the ROCK in hope of climbing it….on arrival we discovered we were about 15>30mins too late as they closed it again for so called high winds…… this was becoming ridiculous!!!. Waited ALL day in the hope that it would be re-opened, but unfortunately luck wasn't on our side, so we made the decision after a few tears from the missus, etc to drive up the road and bushcamp it, so we could have a Fire & BBQ & bake a Cake for Ethan's Birthday. Stopped around 15.30 at a roadside camp behind some good bushes, well hidden from passing vehicles
Refuelling: Yulara Resort - Shell: 54.62 ltrs // $118.38 // 453 kms // 216.73 cents/ltr
Stopover: Roadside Camp 11kms from Yulara Campgrounds
Distance: 53kms
Driving Time only: 0.93hrs

Day-10: (30-Jun)
Left our camp at 9am and made our way back to the Rock, hoping to be able to climb it this time….. But again the weather was against us with it being closed to high winds. Made our way back to refuel and set off to Kings canyon, reaching there about 14.15 where we setup camp b4 heading off to do one of the shorter walks. From there it was back to camp to refuel; wash; cook and to bed
Refuelling: Yulara Resort - Shell: 14.52 ltrs // $31.46 // 102 kms // 216.67 cents/ltr
Refuelling: Kings Canyon Resort - Shell: 39.25 ltrs // $91.47 // 327 kms // 233.04 cents/ltr
Stopover:Kings Canyon Resort Campgrounds
Distance: 376kms
Driving Time only: 4.37hrs

Day-11: (1-Jul)
Packed up the inside of the Tent and left it there while we set off to do the Kings Canyon Scenic Rim Walk. The walk took us some 3hrs to complete with plenty of photos taken. The walk was about 6kms long and was just long enough b4 Ethan started running out of puff….. Upon completion, we had a good drink of water, filled up the water bottles and set off back to the campgrounds for Lunch. After lunch we headed off to head up the Finke River Gorge Track, finding a FANTASTIC camping spot along the Finke River at 17.00.
Stopover:Finke River Gorge Track - Along the banks of the Finke River
Distance: 230kms
Driving Time only: 3.00hrs

Day-12: (2-Jul)
Woke up late and had a late Bacon/Egg Breakfast b4 heading off, passing through the southern entrance to the Finke Gorge NP. Cont'd along, passing 2 other Prado Owners b4 reaching Boggy Hole Waterhole finding the water to be green in colour. Found a better camping nth of Boggy Hole. Reached the northern end of the park and left the NP and made our way to Hermannsburg Community for a bit of a look around b4 heading off to Palm Valley. The Drive in was only 22kms but is corrugated and the last 8kms is slow going over rocky terrain. Reached the walking area and did the 2hr return walk b4 making our way back to the Palm Valley Campgrounds to set up camp for the night at 17.20
Stopover:Palm Valley Campgrounds
Distance: 88kms
Driving Time only: 3.60hrs

Day-13: (3-Jul)
Woke up at daylight and had a bit of a chat with Greg from PP, and slowly packed up and headed off to do another short walk b4 heading out of the park. By the time we left the park it was 12.15. Made our way towards Gosse Bluff for Lunch, then onto Redbank Gorge where we decided not to do the walk. From here we pressed onto Glen Helen Resort where we camped for the night…… should have bypassed Glen Helen and camped at Ormiston Gorge campgrounds as the money u pay at Glen Helen wasn’t worth it when u look at the facilities there
Stopover:Glen Helen Resort - campgrounds
Distance: 159kms
Driving Time only: 2.72hrs

Day-14: (4-Jul)
Woke up to the coldest morning so far - ice over car and table. Had Breaky, then packed up then went for a walk down to the Finke River Waterhole at Glen Helen Gorge, following it around to the gorge itself. Left there around 11am and headed to Ormiston Gorge for the walk around and down into the gorge. From there, we headed off around 13.30 and called into Serpentine Gorge to have a late lunch. Decided not to do the walk there and push onto Ochre Pits and Ellery Creek Waterhole. Lovely place but not suited to tent camping due to stony ground. We cont'd towards Alice Springs eventually finding a little side track off to the LHS of the road and followed it until we were well hidden and set up camp there for the night at 16.00
Stopover: Namatjira Dve - 5kms East of Point Howard Lookout off the side of the Road
Distance: 88kms
Driving Time only: 1.37hrs

Day-15: (5-Jul)
Left camp and went for a little drive up the track where we camped for a few kms b4 deciding to turn around and heading back out onto the Hwy. Bypassed Stanley Chasm, and called into Simpsons Gap for a bit of a look. From there we called into the Aviation Museum, then to Coles to top-up with food, then to Bunnings to buy some more Shellite for our stoves. We then headed out to Emily Gap and Jessie Gap for lunch b4 making our way back to Alice Springs to camp for the night at Heavitree Gap Caravan Park
Stopover: Alice Springs - Heavitree Gap Outback Lodge/Caravan Park
Distance: 139kms
Driving Time only: 2.05hrs

Day-16: (6-Jul)
Left the park and started our look for a Servo to refuel at, ending up heading back to the Shell due to the line of cars waiting to fillup. After our refuelling, it was off up the Stuart Hwy, turning off on to the Plenty Hwy again b4 turning off onto the Sandover Hwy, heading towards the Davenport Ranges NP. 1/2 way along the Sandover Hwy we turned left onto the Binns Track and made our way along until we reached the T/O to the Davenport Ranges NP. This point is where the road became poor and speed reduced. At this point we decided to start looking for a spot to camp on the flat just in case the ground at Hatches Creek was too stony. Stopped at 16.20 about 15kms from where we turned T/O.
Refuelling: Alice Springs - Shell: 102.49 ltrs // $178.23 // 711 kms // 173.90 cents/ltr
Stopover: Binns Track - 42kms WSW of Hatches Creek along Binns Track (Davenport ranges NP)
Distance: 440kms
Driving Time only: 4.58hrs

Day-17: (7-Jul)
Woke up VERY early after having the WORST night ever. With the high winds that started during the night, our tent came down twice during the night with the 2nd time, we decided to leave it down until morning. Got out of the tent around 6am and packed up and headed off up the track b4 sunrise. Reached the Hatches Creek abandoned Mine. I believe they use to mine Tungsten & Gold at the site. Had the usual look around b4 heading off again up the track further, stopping for a late breakfast. Came to the T/O to the Frew River 4WD Track and decided to travel along it to get to Old Policemans Waterhole. The track wasn't that hard but was rough and slow going. Managed to checked out 2 side tracks which lead to 2 campspots with the 2nd one being the only good one. Reached Policemans waterhole campsite at 11am, finding about 4>5 other campers already there. The wind was still blowing and with little to no grass at the campsite, the wind just blew the dust up everywhere. We sat in the car for a few hrs catching up on some sleep and deciding on whether or not to stay or go..... in the end we decided to risk the tent falling down again and managed to find a spot to pitch the Tent in between the trees for a bit of shelter for the winds......
Stopover: Binns Track - Old Policemans Waterhole (Davenport ranges NP)
Distance: 75kms
Driving Time only: 2.57hrs

Day-18: (8-Jul)
Left the windy/dusty campsite at Old Policemans Waterhole and headed to the Stuart Hwy, and the END OF OUR DIRT ROADS FOR THE TRIP. Upon reaching the Hwy, we headed sth to the Devil's Marbles. Had Lunch at Devils Marbles & a bit of a look around, then back in the car to head nth to Tennant Creek to refuel and book into a Motel for the night where we can relax and refresh for the long drive home.
Refuelling: Tennant Creek - BP: 106.96 ltrs // $184.93 // 796 kms // 172.90 cents/ltr
Stopover:Tennant Creek - Eldorado Motor Inn
Distance: 298kms
Driving Time only: 3.67hrs

Day-19: (9-Jul)
Left our Motel Room at 07.30am and started our long trip home. Pulled into the Barkly RH to pump up the tyres to road pressure but they had no Compressor Hose, so I had to pull out my ARB Compressor while the kids had Morning Tea. From there we pushed on across the QLD/NT Border and onto Camooweal for Lunch at the BP Servo. Left there around 1pm and pushed onto Mt Isa to refuel, then pushed onto Cloncurry where we stopped at Wal’s Camp for the night
Refuelling: Mt Isa - Shell: 96.89 ltrs // $156.86 // 673 kms // 161.89 cents/ltr
Stopover:Cloncurry - Wal's Camp
Distance: 793kms
Driving Time only: 7.63hrs

Day-20: (10-Jul)
Up early to get an early start and we managed to be on the road at 7.30am. This section of the Hwy was very boring with open plains and nothing to really look at. For the 2nd day running we were driving into a headwind which would be with us all the way to Barcaldine. Had lunch at Longreach, and cont'd our journey, striking A LOT of ROADWORKS which slowed us down a bit. Reached Barcaldine around 3pm and Blackall around 4pm and kept going, hoping to get close to Tambo for the night. Managed to get to and stop at the Tambo Nth Rest Area 21kms nth of Tambo itself at 5pm.
Refuelling: Longreach - Shell: 94.77 ltrs // $153.43 // 660 kms // 161.90 cents/ltr
Stopover:Tambo Nth Rest Area - Landsborough Hwy - 21kms Nth of Tambo
Distance: 823kms
Driving Time only: 8.15hrs

Day-21: (11-Jul)
Up early again in hoping to get home early in the arvo and we managed to be on the road at 6am. We had a good run down the hwy w/o hitting any Kangaroos. Once past Mitchell is where our hope of getting home early started to disappear..... ROAD WORKS !!! The road works got worse as we got closer to Roma, then Miles and finally at Dalby where we refuelled.... Ended up getting stuck in a traffic jam at Dalby due to all the road works, and this continued right to Oakey which put us in peak hour traffic time period in Toowoomba. With the Toowoomba Range road works, we were at a stand-still, taking us some 30+mins just to travel a few kms. Finally past the range and then the roadworks continued nearly all the way Gatton bypass. Finally managed to get home around 6pm..... LONG DAY
Refuelling: Dalby - BP: 129.61 ltrs // $202.06 // 973 kms // 155.90 cents/ltr
Refuelling: Albany Creek - BP: 27.85 ltrs // $43.70 // 220 kms // 156.91 cents/ltr
Stopover: HOME
Distance: 910kms
Driving Time only: 10.63hrs
Cheers..... RobM
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Reply By: Member - hopbush - Thursday, Jul 18, 2013 at 06:11

Thursday, Jul 18, 2013 at 06:11
Terrific report....great info.
AnswerID: 514938

Reply By: Robin Miller - Thursday, Jul 18, 2013 at 10:15

Thursday, Jul 18, 2013 at 10:15
Good report Rob.

Ayers rock has to be one of the worst managed parks out there , elsewhere in the world it would be a tourist goldmine but here they take the gold and give poor impressions of Australia in return.
Robin Miller

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Follow Up By: RobMac (QLD_Member) - Thursday, Jul 18, 2013 at 11:50

Thursday, Jul 18, 2013 at 11:50
Would have to agree.... They don't want to stop people climbing it totally as that would drop the number of visitors, so they do the next best thing.... they give the "hope" that u will be able to climb it. This way u will still go there but then they close it at the 1st breath of wind.....

My link in the 1st post didn't work..... hopefully this one will: 2013 alice Springs touring trip
Cheers..... RobM
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Reply By: member - mazcan - Thursday, Jul 18, 2013 at 12:25

Thursday, Jul 18, 2013 at 12:25
hi Robm
thanks good reading and pics but I didn't know you could put what seems like a blog to me
into an ordinary thread section
learn something every day on here
checked your fuel consumption figures and noticed they varied with the different terrain and wind conditions on a daily basis but were good for the 150 prado
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Reply By: Sacred Cow - Thursday, Jul 18, 2013 at 17:43

Thursday, Jul 18, 2013 at 17:43
Great report and I enjoyed looking at each of your marvellous 802 photos. It would have been a great education for your kids. I bet that they learned a lot more than at school. Was particularly interested in your comments as we are about to do a fairly similar trip. We definitely want to go to Chambers Pillar but your description of the dirt road has me concerned given that we do a quarter of the distance you do in a day at a quarter of the speed most likely. What tyre pressure did you use to Chambers Pillar? What speed did you find best to ride the corrugations?

Thanks Glenn
AnswerID: 514961

Follow Up By: RobMac (QLD_Member) - Thursday, Jul 18, 2013 at 19:54

Thursday, Jul 18, 2013 at 19:54
The road from Alice to Maryvale Stn has good sections and then the usual corrugated sections which allow u to do various speeds.... I think from memory around 60>80kms/hr was a suitable speed we found with tyre pressures of around 35>37psi for a LT A/T tyre.
The section from Maryvale Stn to Chambers was a different with it being a lot slower and rougher(rocky / corrugated / and sandy sections), but nothing too difficult. This section of the track I can only assume a varying speed of 20>40kms/hr was what we probably done but there will be slower sections as well. I didn't think we drove fast but just to the conditions that we had and what we felt was safe
Cheers..... RobM
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Reply By: Member - Toyocrusa (NSW) - Thursday, Jul 18, 2013 at 20:18

Thursday, Jul 18, 2013 at 20:18
Thanks Rob. Nice report and very interesting reading. I'm a bit surprised at just how much the price of fuel creeps up out there. Not complaining as it is a nessesity to do that trip but have never seen reports before of it up over the $2 mark in such an area. Hope your family enjoyed it as much as I did reading it. Thanks,Bob.
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Follow Up By: RobMac (QLD_Member) - Friday, Jul 19, 2013 at 18:52

Friday, Jul 19, 2013 at 18:52
Yeah.... prices have increased a fair bit..... gone are the days when I used to plan on fuel costs of $100/1000kms travelled

This trip worked out at $170/1000kms. I try to limit the amount of fuel I have to take onboard at places where prices are over the top.....
Cheers..... RobM
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