First time trip from Adelaide to Broome and back

Submitted: Sunday, Feb 09, 2014 at 13:00
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Hi All,
My wife and I with our two children (ages 8 and 10 now), plan on doing a trip from Adelaide to Broome via Alice Springs/Katherine, and then back through WA in May 2015 or thereabouts.

We plan to do the main trip on sealed roads, but one of the main attractions of the trip is the Kimderly's so we'd like to see some attractions that would obviously need a 4WD.

But the main question first off is do you think that this trip could be managed easy enough within 4 weeks?

Secondly, we're tossing up ideas as to whether to just buy our own 4WD, or hire one, or hire a 4WD campevan. So, is there any reason why we couldn't do this whole trip with a 4WD and tent?

Thanks guys
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Reply By: happytravelers - Sunday, Feb 09, 2014 at 14:03

Sunday, Feb 09, 2014 at 14:03
Hi Dean

Four weeks is do able, although travelling with kids you'll most likely find packing up and moving on every day or so wears you down and you'll be wanting to stop in one place for a few days to relax a little. Four weeks may not give you a chance to do this.

As for your second question about needing a 4wd. The Kimberly's have several great places that you may want to visit ie Bungle Bungles, various gorges etc. that you will need a 4wd to get to as the roads are pretty rough at times and may include several water crossings. There are many 4wd hire companies in Broome, so it may be an option to hire one for a week or so to do the Kimberly and then do the rest of the trip in your own car.

We did the Kimberly's over 6 weeks last year from SE Qld. with two kids and found it a bit rushed, that also included time in Darwin.

Hope this helps, have fun

AnswerID: 526043

Reply By: Motherhen - Sunday, Feb 09, 2014 at 14:08

Sunday, Feb 09, 2014 at 14:08
Hi Dean

If all you want to do is see the white line and have children whining "are we there yet", yes you may be able to achieve the distance. We spent five weeks in and around Alice Springs alone.

As your children are old enough to enjoy the responsibility of setting up camp, and would probably love tenting, that would be fine.

Why not be flexible, and take you time stopping and enjoying the things you find, then half way through turn around and pick up the things you discover you had missed. If you only get as far as Alice Springs and you all enjoy yourselves, it will be time and fuel well spent.

You are welcome to read My Blogs from 2008 (Kimberley and Alice Springs) and 2009 (Alice Spring to Darwin).


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Follow Up By: Member Andys Adventures - Sunday, Feb 09, 2014 at 20:01

Sunday, Feb 09, 2014 at 20:01
I agree with Mothenhen. Only I would go to Darwin and Litchfield NP, Kakadu, Douglas hot springs, Adelaide River, Katherine Gorge, Edith falls and Bitter springs. And there is a lot more to see and do just in that area. To do the Kimberly properly will take min 2 weeks better 3 weeks.
This is a big country and it takes a lot of time to see it all. Better seeing all in one area then go to the next area next time. All roads in the places I have mentioned can be done with a 2 wheel drive and a tent.
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Follow Up By: Dingo34 - Monday, Feb 10, 2014 at 08:57

Monday, Feb 10, 2014 at 08:57
A couple of years ago my wife and I holidayed in Darwin for a couple of weeks, which included 7 days through Kakadu and Litchfield NP's in a hired 2WD home...and it was the best! Agreed that we only skimmed the surface at what we could have seen but we made the most of what we did see. Of course, I'm sure from memory we weren't driving 6 hours a day though, more like 2 or 3 at most.

This time our main goal is Kimberley but I'd like the kids to see at least some of Litchfield on the way, as this was the most enjoyable part of our last trip

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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Monday, Feb 10, 2014 at 09:33

Monday, Feb 10, 2014 at 09:33
We spent nine weeks in the Kimberley, and we skipped Broome and Cape Leveque. Just Derby, Geikie Gorge, Gibb River Road including Mitchell Falls and Kalumburu, around Kununurra, and Purnululu. A bit of that was on r&r, but if something goes amiss and you have no flexibility, it can ruin your holiday and even cause you to be late back to work.

The Kimberley trip was the best of the best, and one I had always wanted to do, but as my jobs always had a heavy end of financial year workload, it had to wait until I finally threw caution to the wind and left the jobs and contracts to do it. Worth waiting to take the time to enjoy it. Almost every day in peak season there are accidents and breakdowns on the Gibb River Road caused by people travelling too fast because they didn't understand the time needed when planning.


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Reply By: Member - John and Val - Sunday, Feb 09, 2014 at 14:09

Sunday, Feb 09, 2014 at 14:09
Hi Dean,

There is no doubt that you could drive that distance and see a few of the sights in 4 weeks, but you might end up disappointed when you realise what a huge amount there is to see ( with a lot of long days of travel in between). You will probably feel its all rather rushed. If you could find another couple of weeks it would be better but I realise that may be easier said than done.

If you only have 4 weeks then maybe think about just doing either home to Darwin via Alice Springs (where you could spend a couple of weeks to see things in that area), Litchfield and Kakadu NPs OR go pretty much direct to Kununurra via Katherine, do the GRR, have a look around Derby and Broome, then home via the Tanami. See what you can around Alice en route.

I take it this will be your first big remote area trip? I cant see why you couldn't do the trip using a tent - plenty of others do, and most camper trailers are really not a lot more than a tent on wheels, often with longer set-up and pull-down times than some of the "instant-up" tents like the Black Wolf and Coleman types. If you plan to do more trips then buying a 4WD is probably a better option than hiring, but of course it all depends on your plans and budget. If you do buy make sure you do a few short "shake-down" trips before you set off. That way you can sort out any little issues while you are still at home.

We have up some blogs of our travels in that part of the world that might give you some ideas.


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Reply By: Member - Rowdy6032 (WA) - Sunday, Feb 09, 2014 at 14:48

Sunday, Feb 09, 2014 at 14:48
Hi Dean

By "back through WA" I take it you mean back through Kalgoorlie or the South West.

Sorry to be blunt, but to try and travel such distances in 4 weeks, even without kids would be a nightmare.

You would hardly get to see anything. You will have long days of driving and packing up.

We spent 7 weeks travelling from Perth to the Kimberley and back, and we didn't hang around anywhere too long. We could have spent a lot longer in several places.

Probably need to give it a bit more thought.

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Reply By: Dingo34 - Sunday, Feb 09, 2014 at 16:21

Sunday, Feb 09, 2014 at 16:21
Thanks so much for all the replies guys..

considering the responses, and as the main attractions for us are Alice Springs area, and the Top End, we've thought that maybe it would be better to fly to Darwin, hire a 4WD, and then explore the top end, Litchfield through to Kimberlies, ending up in Broome and then fly back (and do Alice another time)...time-wise, this seems the better option...

im not sure if there would be any costs benefit from driving straight to darwin in our own 4wd, (compared to flying and hiring), plus the fact that it seems it would still take 3-4 days to get there...

so, i think the first option is the better

thanks again, much appreciated!
AnswerID: 526054

Reply By: John and Regina M - Sunday, Feb 09, 2014 at 16:24

Sunday, Feb 09, 2014 at 16:24
1. No, not doable in 4 weeks.
2. Hire one from Broome but make sure u tell them it's going offroad. Some may not let you, or add a surcharge.

3. It's the Kimberley. Singular, plural and with the correct spelling. We're particular like that in The Kimberley.
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Follow Up By: Dingo34 - Sunday, Feb 09, 2014 at 16:29

Sunday, Feb 09, 2014 at 16:29

Is there any particular reason for hiring in Broome and not Darwin?

And, the correct spelling is hereby noted :) thx

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Reply By: Griff61 - Sunday, Feb 09, 2014 at 17:26

Sunday, Feb 09, 2014 at 17:26
Hi Dean,
Im in Adelaide also and did this trip same time last your. Email me your phone number and we can chat on the phone.
AnswerID: 526063

Reply By: MEMBER - Darian, SA - Sunday, Feb 09, 2014 at 19:34

Sunday, Feb 09, 2014 at 19:34
As others have said, far too much driving and too little 'holiday' in 4 weeks. Once you get into such a trip, you soon realise how big the outback is..... its a real struggle to make an impression on your map ! To illustrate, Adelaide to Yulara, Kings Canyon, the Alice, the West MacDonnell attractions and back home is a good 4 week trip for a family in my view (we've done that sort of Red Centre trip several times).....even then, you might skip a few good spots. Adelaide to Broome and back via lower WA ?...... I wouldn't consider anything less than 7 weeks. It can be done in much shorter times of course, but its such a pity to waste all the fuel and time by driving past all those wonderful places en-route. The idea of flying to the region and doing it from a local base is a good one, if time is tight.....Broome to Darwin (or vv) via the Gibb RR would provide heaps of opportunity for a quality 4 week trip.
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Follow Up By: Dingo34 - Monday, Feb 10, 2014 at 09:02

Monday, Feb 10, 2014 at 09:02
The Gibb River Road...excellent..thanks for pointing that out

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Reply By: Nomadic Navara - Monday, Feb 10, 2014 at 00:50

Monday, Feb 10, 2014 at 00:50
No it's not enough time. Map of trip. If you drive that every second day you will be averaging 660 km/day. Are you trying to give the kids a break or break them. I hope you will be sharing the driving if you do go on the trip.

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Follow Up By: Dingo34 - Monday, Feb 10, 2014 at 08:59

Monday, Feb 10, 2014 at 08:59
LOL...yes I realize now that it was a naive proposition..i guess thats the beauty of forums like this..its the best way to ask real experienced people
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Reply By: Member - PJR (NSW) - Monday, Feb 10, 2014 at 09:38

Monday, Feb 10, 2014 at 09:38
Lots of good advice above and I would like to tell you our story for the Kimberley.

On 23rd Dec I got bad news from the doctor. On the 30th we registered the Landcruiser (100 series GXL) in our name. In the next few months we put a fridge, drawers, compressor and a few safety things in it like a fire extinguisher, shovel and first aid kit. We then purchased a small tent for just the two of us. In March we packed the car and headed to the Kimberley. We camped and used cabins and took a cruise up the coast (6 star MV Diversity - look it up). Had a luxurious cabin at Home Valley and the Bungle Bungles. We saw all we could from the road, ocean and then headed across the Gibb River Road. The road itself was a piece of cake. My wife would do it in a mini. But the side roads are a different matter. You will need a car with strong suspension for roads like the Windjana and Mitchell Falls/Kalumburu roads. The family sedan wont cop it and an AWD may be pushing it depending on the suspension.

We saw HEAPS and had a BALL. But we had six weeks away from home in Canberra. In four weeks you could see a lot of the Kimberley but you will have to go back some day.

Personally a bloody good start but you will feel obliged and beckoned to go back. Go for it but get the right chariot.

If you buy a 4WD then I would recommend doing a 4WD course. Not to be a rock wiz or specialist or the such but to get a feel for remote area driving and issues that can arise through bad luck and/or stupidity. I drove for years in the Army and even did a bundle of recoveries of Big Bous Toys (tanks etc). There is nothing wrong with even a refresher and introduction to things new and helpful.

AnswerID: 526115

Reply By: Kumunara (NT) - Monday, Feb 10, 2014 at 10:32

Monday, Feb 10, 2014 at 10:32

If you have a look at a map and calculate the distances you intend to do you could do it in 4 weeks. You wouldn't have time to see anything but the roads. If you wanted to do the trip properly and see the attractions then four months would be more like it. Unfortunately most people only get 4 weeks holiday a year and have to fit their holidays in that time frame.

I am doing the Gibb River Road this year. I only have to travel a little over 500 kms from Katherine to get there. I am still allowing over 4 weeks to do that.

As far as vehicles go. I love driving a 4WD. It is an expensive proposition to purchase a 4WD only for a 4 week trip and you would probably be better off hiring one. Having said that the trip would probably give you the bug and you would end up buying your own 4WD anyway. That also depends on she who must be obeyed. Some women do not like 4WDs, sleeping in a tent, etc. Some love it.

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