Old Ghan Railway

Submitted: Thursday, Dec 19, 2013 at 18:14
ThreadID: 105542 Views:3633 Replies:9 FollowUps:7
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I'm going from Mt Dare to Alice as part of a trip next June and want to take in part of the Old Ghan Heritage line.

I have have done some homework on this site and take away the following.
-The road will be rougher after the Finke races
-There are lots of spikes but manageable at speed and with correct tyre pressure.
-The section from Maryvale to Finke is quite rough but it is better from Maryvale to Alice.
-Chambers Pillar is a rough ride but worth it.

Can someone tell me the following
1)Is the above basically right and anything else to watch?
2)Can I camp basically anywhere along the way and what are some nice spots to camp?
3)What is the approx driving time from Mt Dare to Finke then Finke to Maryvale then Maryvale to Alice?

Will 1 1/2 days be too quick?
Any other advice?

Thanks in advance
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Reply By: mikehzz - Thursday, Dec 19, 2013 at 18:20

Thursday, Dec 19, 2013 at 18:20
I don't recommend it but I drove from Alice to Chambers Pillar, climbed up to the platform, walked around it then drove to Mt Dare in one day. It would be nice to have more time. :-) I didn't think the road from Maryvale to the Pillar was that bad, just a lot of blind humps you go over.
AnswerID: 523275

Follow Up By: mikehzz - Thursday, Dec 19, 2013 at 18:24

Thursday, Dec 19, 2013 at 18:24
I forgot to add, lot's of people camped in the ar park at Chambers Pillar. Sunrise or sunset would probably be nice there....I'll see that one day hopefully.
FollowupID: 804658

Reply By: Ozrover - Thursday, Dec 19, 2013 at 18:28

Thursday, Dec 19, 2013 at 18:28
Didn't I just talk to you on the phone... lol.

First section is correct!

Driving times vary but count on at least 3 1/2 hrs. from Mt Dare to Maryvale, then another hour or so to Chambers Pillar.

From chambers Pillar to Alice around 2 to 2 1/2 hrs.

Camping at the Pillar itself is reasonable, between Finke & Maryvale, Rumbalara claypan is good, but anywhere without dunny paper & rubbish is okay.

AnswerID: 523276

Follow Up By: Member - Boobook - Thursday, Dec 19, 2013 at 18:38

Thursday, Dec 19, 2013 at 18:38
Ahh you got me Jeff, After our discussion I thought about more options and focused on the rail line a bit more. I'll circle around then come back to you on another stinking hot day to confirm the trip so you don't have to dig those holes.

FollowupID: 804660

Reply By: Member - Boobook - Thursday, Dec 19, 2013 at 18:43

Thursday, Dec 19, 2013 at 18:43
I should add, it was you comment that that's the way you usually go to Alice that made me check it out more.

Does you comment about dunny paper mean rubbish is everywhere?

BTW I thought your computers were down! Speak to you after the new year.

AnswerID: 523280

Follow Up By: mick78 - Thursday, Dec 19, 2013 at 21:22

Thursday, Dec 19, 2013 at 21:22
Hey mate,

We plan the same trip in early July. Plan to stay the night at chambers. I have read trailers also not approved just like the Simpson. We also have a tvan. Love to take it along with us. Just have not decided. We have done desert trips before. Always have tyres Down and take it nice and easy. Just wondering what your plans are with the tvan.

I guess Jeff at mt dare does not approve going by his signature.
FollowupID: 804672

Follow Up By: Member - Boobook - Friday, Dec 20, 2013 at 06:03

Friday, Dec 20, 2013 at 06:03
Mick, While I'm still planning the trip I'm taking my Tvan and would take it slow into Chambers.

You should definitely talk to Jeff at Mt Dare, he is a wealth of information for the area.

I spoke to him yesterday and he gave me some good ideas and advice. I plan to do more research then give him a call again to see if it all makes sense.

You should ask him on his opinion on trailers. I can't speak for Jeff. Call him.

FollowupID: 804683

Follow Up By: Ozrover - Friday, Dec 20, 2013 at 08:05

Friday, Dec 20, 2013 at 08:05

Pub computers are mucking up, this is my personal one!

Not too much dunny paper & rubbish, just at the more popular Finke Desert Race camp sites.

My sig line doesn't have anything to do with giving approval for any thing, just my opinion...

Trailers are & should be a personal choice, it's up to the driver to decide if they want to take one or not, & if they do then to recognize the issues involved & not to complain when things go tits up & it starts getting stressful & expensive to correct them.

FollowupID: 804686

Reply By: splits - Thursday, Dec 19, 2013 at 20:53

Thursday, Dec 19, 2013 at 20:53
I drove over the railway line a couple of weeks after this year's race. The race track beside the line was in far better condition than the rail section and we spent about two thirds of the distance between Finke and Maryvale on it. The railway was flat, mostly straight and very heavily corugrated. The race track was curved, sandy, it had lots of huge woopdedoos and was a lot of fun but if it was corrugated then they must have been minor and few and far between because I can't remember them.

Rail spikes are everywhere but I only saw one sticking up vertically. I think speed could be the big problem with getting punctures with these things. You are unlikely to get a front wheel puncture by running over one laying flat but if too much speed causes the wheel to throw it back like a stone, it could go under the rear wheel at just the right angle causing a puncture that would be far too big for a plug kit.

The road into Chambers Pillar is easy. It has plenty of corrugations but not as bad as the railway. The sign at Maryvale says 4wd only but, if you were determined to get a 2wd in, about the only thing that might stop you is one rock covered hill and maybe a few sandy patches.

Maryvale to Alice is no trouble at all.

The roughest roads that we found in the area were from the Oodnadatta Track to Dalhousie Springs then on to MT Dare and part of the way to Finke. They were not only heavily corrugated but covered with countless rocks.

I think you could camp just about anywhere through there. We camped about fifty metres off the road at the Oodnadatta Track to Dalhousie Springs turnoff then a night at Mt Dare and spent two nights at the ruins of the Bundooma railway siding. It is just bush camping through there with no facilities.

Travelling times are entirely up to you. It depends on how fast you want to push your car over corrugations. It is easy to break cars out there. We saw about a dozen cars go through Bundooma with everyone going slowly except Aborigines in old Falcons and a police Landcruiser travelling at warp speed.
AnswerID: 523286

Reply By: Member - Michael P (QLD) - Thursday, Dec 19, 2013 at 21:42

Thursday, Dec 19, 2013 at 21:42
Boobook Hi,
As Jeff has said,except that I would allow more time.
Chambers Pillar is a must IMO.
Also Lambert Centre is a deviation worth considering.
Just after the Finke Race dodging the piles of cans & stubbies require a bit of skill as well.
Have travelled that way a few times and always look towards a return trip.
Regards Mike.
AnswerID: 523287

Reply By: Motherhen - Friday, Dec 20, 2013 at 10:28

Friday, Dec 20, 2013 at 10:28
We did not go on beyond Maryvale, but took out caravan from Alice to Chambers Pillar in 2008 (see my Blogs) with no problems. The track from Maryvale to the Pillar was not the best road we travelled on that year. There is now a new campground at Chambers Pillar. The old campground only had room for eight rigs.


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AnswerID: 523305

Reply By: wombat100 - Friday, Dec 20, 2013 at 15:11

Friday, Dec 20, 2013 at 15:11
When you get to Finke- it's worth a short trip to the Lambert Centre !!

AnswerID: 523312

Follow Up By: Member - blackbird1937 - Friday, Dec 20, 2013 at 16:01

Friday, Dec 20, 2013 at 16:01
Hi Wombat. To me the trip to Lambert's Centre of Oz was well worth the drive but everyone is different. I saw in the visitors book at the Centre some not happy with the amount of flies, the track, the toilets should be better, etc. Some people want to go bush and then whine about the conditions. These people should expect rough conditions or stay home in comfort, because they are too soft and just visiting is too hard for them. I hope you enjoy your trip as much as I am, I may be home in 2 years. I met Jeff at Mt Dare, The Alice and Kulgera and he was very helpful. He is only telling the truth.
FollowupID: 804698

Reply By: Davo53 - Friday, Dec 20, 2013 at 17:37

Friday, Dec 20, 2013 at 17:37
Hi All .

We did this trip at the beginning of September this year . This is after the Finke race , so we were expecting the road to be well chewed up , but as luck would have it the grader had just been through , and we cruised in comfort all the way .

We had an easy day from Finke to CP , and another easy 1/2 day from CP to Alice . This included a side trip to Lamberts Centre , if you visit Finke , , you may as well go there !

It was also time enough after the race for all the legendary garbage to have been removed .

The sections of road following the Ghan line are very interesting , especially going along raised sections with a fall off on both sides ! We saw heaps of dog spikes , probably at least a dozen standing on end . Worth watching out for .

The road to CP was rough in spots , some corrugated sections but well worth the trouble . There is one steep hill , we used low range getting our camper over it . There is also a section through dunes where the road is narrow enough to be wary of a head on .

To our surprise we were the only people at CP , had the place totally to ourselves . Great for me , made Fiona feel a bit Wolf Creekish , if you know what I mean .

So it all depends ! Timing , as always , is everything.

AnswerID: 523321

Follow Up By: BUSH CAMPER - Saturday, Dec 21, 2013 at 08:46

Saturday, Dec 21, 2013 at 08:46
Well worth the trip, we did the Oodnatta track through Dalhousie springs, Mt dare, Chambers Pillars Maryvale thru to Alice, last year with a 17' off road Elite caravan and did it with no trouble.
It was early June, just drive to conditions and adjust tyre pressure to suit conditions.
regards Hugh
FollowupID: 804724

Reply By: Norm C (WA) - Friday, Dec 20, 2013 at 21:44

Friday, Dec 20, 2013 at 21:44
I was out there late September this year
Kulgera to Lamberts Centre Finke Chambers Pillar onto Alice.
The race is along side the road there fore is not really affected by it.
The road from Kulgera to Finke is Very good Out to Lamberts center
is a bit rough but easy as is the road to Chambers Pillar although a
bit corrugated in a couple of spots.Bear in mind these roads except the
one to Lamberts are Major access roads so generally good.My Ford Ranger
towing the TVan had no trouble at all. Engaged 4WD once on the way
out to the Centre. You should allow enough time at Chambers to be there
at sun up or sun down.
Great trip Don't over think it and have a Great time
AnswerID: 523328

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