Comment: Birdsville Track

Hi, we are planing to do the Birdsville and Oodnadatta Tracks in September 2013 with a Mitsubishi Triton 4x4 with a Northstar Slide-On. I would like some advice regarding safety, tyres, fuel etc. Would I need to protect the rear of the vehicle from stones etc? Also would October still be a good month to travel - not to hot - if we are not able to get away earlier? We have not had much experience with 4x4 driving but from what I read these tracks are ok to travel with due care. Thanks
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Reply By: Member - PJR (NSW) - Friday, Aug 09, 2013 at 09:01

Friday, Aug 09, 2013 at 09:01
The Birdsville and Oodnadatta tracks are both big wide gravel roads. You could do it in a Mini. It's nothing like ages ago when they got their "outback" reputation. Heaps better than the old Marre mailman, Tom Kruze drove through there. You don't even need 4WD.

Take it easy, drop tyre pressure to around 25, mainly to protect them, and be prepared to wait and have a big wallet if you break down.

Safety and communications: I can't see a UHF antenna so buy, beg, borrow or steal one. A hand held will suffice. If you feel that you may need medical assistance on the way then rent a satellite phone. Just remember they are not cheap to make calls with so warn our the "mob" back home that they may have to pay if they call you.

Rocks. Attach some protection to the side of the camper where rocks will hit it. That bit just in front of the rear legs.

Fuel: Fill up in Birdsville and Marree (assuming that the drive is clockwise). It's a good excuse to see what's there and have a break anyway. You never know what memorable "junk" you can find in those old shops and roadhouses. You will pay more but it's a long way to walk if you run out. In saying that if you are worried about the cost of fuel then rethink where you are going. All fuel in the remote areas costs more so just pay and enjoy the area.

Water: It depends on how much you carry in the van. We have a water tank that carrys 55 litres. We filled up in the Flinders and got home in Canberra via the Simpson with some left over. Work it out using your own usage per day. We don't drink much.

Enjoy it and stop every now and then for a cuppa and just relax. It is not a hrd drive. Just a remote one.

AnswerID: 516126

Follow Up By: Member - Alan H (QLD) - Friday, Aug 09, 2013 at 09:13

Friday, Aug 09, 2013 at 09:13
I totally agree with Phil's advice.

FollowupID: 795424

Follow Up By: Member - PJR (NSW) - Friday, Aug 09, 2013 at 09:22

Friday, Aug 09, 2013 at 09:22
What no argument Alan. It might be a good day for me. Provided I stop missing words and get the spelling right. I missed two whole words then. Strange. It read okay to me.

Have a good day mate.


FollowupID: 795425

Reply By: Member - Patto (SA) - Friday, Aug 09, 2013 at 10:34

Friday, Aug 09, 2013 at 10:34
A good idea to take 2 spares and a tubeless repair kit ( if using tubeless ) and a compressor to inflate tyres
AnswerID: 516137

Reply By: Off-track - Friday, Aug 09, 2013 at 16:07

Friday, Aug 09, 2013 at 16:07
I'd be careful about how much pressure you let out of the tyres, 25psi is way too low on a hard stony road for what looks to be a heavy-ish load.

Also be wary of loading dual cabs too much (just google 'triton chassis' and you will see what I mean).
AnswerID: 516148

Follow Up By: Member - PJR (NSW) - Saturday, Aug 10, 2013 at 10:39

Saturday, Aug 10, 2013 at 10:39
You are correct. It is vehicle dependant. Talking to Adam (RIP mate) at Oodnadatta last year and for our car (heavy 100 series and 285 -75-16 tyres he suggested 26. I used 25 because I have a deflator set at 25. Have not had a flat since about 1969.

I wouldn't worry about spending money to carry a second spare. A puncture repair kit, spare valves and a tube is fine.

FollowupID: 795486

Reply By: rumpig - Friday, Aug 09, 2013 at 18:24

Friday, Aug 09, 2013 at 18:24
to give you an idea of what some of the Birdsville Track is like, below are pics we took about a month back on the last 120klms heading into Birdsville. we only drove the top 120klms as we came from the Walkers Crossing Track onto the Birdsville Track, so i can't comment about the current condition of the track further South. what we drove was what i'd call a super highway, it was in fantastic condition at the time we went along it (obviously conditions change though)

AnswerID: 516150

Reply By: Member - VickiW - Friday, Aug 09, 2013 at 18:52

Friday, Aug 09, 2013 at 18:52
Hi, as everyone said the tracks are fine (as long as dry) - be aware though that if there is rain and the roads are open it can still be a long tiring drive.

As for October temperatures - they can vary. I was out last Oct and the first week was freezing and rainy, the second week was clear blue skies and mid 30s. Have a great time!
AnswerID: 516151

Reply By: splits - Friday, Aug 09, 2013 at 21:26

Friday, Aug 09, 2013 at 21:26
Evi W

I drove over the Oodnadatta about six weeks ago and it was no trouble at all. I am a bit concerned though about the amount of weight it looks like you have hanging off the back of your car. While I was camped at the William Creek caravan park, another Triton drove in with a bent chassis. All makes do it, it is not confined to Tritons only. The owner knew he had a lot of weight well back behind the axle but he did not realise the problems it can cause. As the weight slams down on rough surfaces, it generates forces far above its static weight. The back of the car goes down and tries to lift the front. On this particular car, it cracked the chassis across the top flange at the front of the forward mount for the tray and opened up a V down each side.

The car did not have air bags but the vast majority of utes that bend their chassis do. They usually compress the lower flange of the chassis as it bends. The bags get progressively harder as they compress, unlike the original springs that compress at a constant rate. They are like sitting the chassis on oversize bump rubbers.

Keep in mind when loading dual cab utes that they are essentially a five seater car with an open rear section. In order to get them up to their maximum capacity, you must have five heavy people in the cabin. You can't have a little bit of weight in the front and heaps out the back.
AnswerID: 516156

Follow Up By: Evie - Sunday, Aug 11, 2013 at 23:01

Sunday, Aug 11, 2013 at 23:01
Thank you for the advise re weight. I will put most of my extra stuff on the back seats. Also driving slow as we are under no time constrains. As said before we have not done much 4x4 driving but have driven from Brisbane to Perth which also includes a few lonely stretches of road. From what I understand speed is a big contributor to the bend chassis? Well I will have the car checked by the dealer and RACQ to get their opinions. We also will take the legs off and store them on the back seat or maybe even leave them at home.
Thanks again Evi
FollowupID: 795579

Reply By: Evie - Saturday, Aug 10, 2013 at 10:25

Saturday, Aug 10, 2013 at 10:25
Thanks for all the good advise. I do have upgraded suspension and no airbags and we do intend to load quite a bit of gear onto the rear seats, leaving the slide-on as light as possible. We intend to take it fairly easy going slowly as we are not in a rush. So 3 days at least. Water should be fine, the watertank holds 80 ltrs.
AnswerID: 516169

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