Alice to Perth via GCR / Gunbarrel - Advice?

Hi from British Columbia!
Back in June '12 I took a self-drive from Alice to Broome via the Tanami, and then back to Darwin via the Gibb in a 4x4 bush camper. So, although I would by no means consider myself even close to a seasoned Outback traveler, I feel I have a base-line understanding of what to expect from Outback tracks and how to drive them - at least under ideal circumstances as they were then!
I may have the opportunity to come back in late May/early June of next year, but for a fairly short period of time so I want to focus on a single drive. I was considering driving from Alice to Perth via the GCR but diverting up to the Gunbarrel Hwy at the Heather Hwy and taking it to Wiluna (and then continue over to the coast and down to Perth to fly home). This would be again in a 4x4 camper (e.g. Britz) with a long range fuel tank, over the course of 9 days - provided, of course that I get all the necessary permission, permits, the weather cooperates, etc.
Much of what I've read about the Gunbarrel Hwy being a real challenge appears to focus on the abandoned sections east of the Heather Hwy junction, which I would not be taking. But I wanted to ask for opinions on this - would the western section of the road be acceptable for travel in early June, say over 4 or 5 days (e.g. taking it nice and slow)? Anyone really advise against it and/or want to suggest a completely different drive for that time of year and time frame?

Thanks everyone,
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Reply By: Member - DingoBlue(WA) - Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013 at 10:21

Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013 at 10:21
Hi Steve,
Normally there would be no problem traversing the Gunbarrel from the Heather Highway to Wiluna if it's dry. It's a bit rough in places but a great trip. Main consideration will be the weather in June.
Rather a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy!

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Reply By: rocco2010 - Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013 at 10:54

Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013 at 10:54

As mentioned weather would be the main issue. The Gunbarrel is a typical western deserts track, lots of corrugations, rocky bits and washouts and can be pretty slow going at times and no place to be after rain. But a suitable vehicle driven appropriately shouldn't have any trouble.
It is a few years since I was there but it wont have got any better.
we took our time and were four days from Warburton to Carnegie. Lots of stops to check the sights (and rest the shockers) and early camps.
But remember Carnegie is still some 1300km from Perth!
And you wont be alone, lots of people out there at that time of year and I think the night we stopped at Carnegie there were a probably a dozen groups of travellers there.
I'd say make your plan and if the weather goes against you just continue on down the GCR.
Enjoy the trip, it is a wonderful part of Australia.


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Reply By: Mick O - Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013 at 14:47

Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013 at 14:47

It’s a great part of the world and easily achievable with your bush camper type vehicle. I wouldn’t be overly concerned about the old sections running out by the Rawlinson Range as less traffic means as a general rule, the tracks are in better condition (certainly less corrugated). The Old sections are affected by erosion to a large degree but again, it’s simply a matter of taking it easy. It’s magnificent country.

I’ve travelled extensively in that region with a couple of Canadians, Scott and Gaby in an ex Britz bush camper. They would be a wealth of information for you and only too happy to provide advice to a fellow Canuck.

A bit of info here;

Old Gunbarrel near Van der Linden Lakes

Cheers Mick

''We knew from the experience of well-known travelers that the
trip would doubtless be attended with much hardship.''
Richard Maurice - 1903

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Reply By: Member - Megan and Kevin D (AC - Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013 at 18:36

Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013 at 18:36
The Gunbarrel is a glorious drive. You might like to view a little video I made which summarises the Gunbarrel part of our trip in 2006. Link below.

Hoping your plans work out well.

AnswerID: 518696

Reply By: SteveCanuck - Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 at 15:09

Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 at 15:09
Thanks all for your replies! Fantastic advice (and reassurance), and I'm even more inspired now to take this drive. Now I just need to squeeze a bit more time off work...especially since I neglected to see that many 4x4 rentals have two week minimums between Alice and Perth, before getting myself all gunned up on this plan :)

Thanks again everyone!

AnswerID: 518725

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