Aussie Route Planner??


I'm wanting to plan our yearly trip, this time from Northern Nsw via the Plenty, Tanami, Gibb River Rd, Top End and back across the gulf.

Surely with all this technology around there's a simple way to type in towns/routes etc. and get a result with distances etc. (other than google which wants me on blacktop only!!)

Or do I do as always......and get out paper maps and calculator??


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Reply By: Sand Man (SA) - Sunday, Feb 16, 2014 at 17:44

Sunday, Feb 16, 2014 at 17:44
Hi Craig,

In my experience, a "paper" or digital map may be required to gather reference detail for some off road tracks.

When planning our trip to the kimberley, I used the RAA Travel Planner.
You type in the start point (town, location,etc.) and the end point and the result will tell you the distance and approximate time. You can even enter multiple locations along the route and it will provide the full detail of distance and time.

This worked great from Adelaide until I got to Kununurra and then El Questro. No problems to this point.
But entering locations along the Gibb River Road and I all but gave up. One or two locations was OK along the GGR to Derby, but trying to enter stopover locations such as Drysdale River Station, or Middle Lagoon on the Dampier Peninsula, (both locations we are staying at) and the product spits the dummy.
Even tried Bing with a similar result.

So, I have produced a spreadsheet with all the distances we intend to travel each day and the locations we are planning for either an overnight, or an extended stopover for the trip.
No map at this point. I will have to wait until I have recorded the trip on OziExplorer and I can produce a map with our recorded track and waypoints for future reference.


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Follow Up By: Les PK Ranger - Sunday, Feb 16, 2014 at 17:55

Sunday, Feb 16, 2014 at 17:55
Cheers Bill.
Hadn't heard of the RAA Travel Planner before, found it via a Google search.

It is actually just using the Google maps platform, and as soon as you are off the blacktop, their times usually double (or worse) for travel times.
Distances are still fairly accurate, but limited to reasonable secondary roads in the main.
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Follow Up By: Nomadic Navara - Sunday, Feb 16, 2014 at 22:46

Sunday, Feb 16, 2014 at 22:46
So RAA have gone away from Whereis have they? I have found Google OK most of the time. If they have a road marked on the map you can generally right click on the road and select Add destination" or other options.

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Follow Up By: Les PK Ranger - Monday, Feb 17, 2014 at 08:11

Monday, Feb 17, 2014 at 08:11
Yes Peter, you can still add destinations, also (didn't check this, but) possibly drag route to another road, etc.
But you might as well then simply use Google for that I suppose :)
I did notice that RAC website used one based on Whereis, so quite likely RAA have switched from that in recent past.
Only trouble with all of them is that you're limited on being able to truely utilise all 4wd tracks, for example to Mt Dare it will only take you via Dalhousie and not Eringa / Bloods Ck.
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Follow Up By: Member - PJR (NSW) - Monday, Feb 17, 2014 at 09:12

Monday, Feb 17, 2014 at 09:12
Just for a bit of fun, I tried the RAA travel planner with Alice Springs, Finke, Mt Dare and Dalhousie. You would run out of fuel!! So many double ups.

From Alice it went straight down the Stuart to the Finke turnoff at Kulgera and then east to Finke. After Finke it was back the same road to Kulgera and then southwards down the Stuart to Marla. From Marla it went east on the Oodnadatta Track (???) to Oodnadattathen north on the Dalhousie road to just short of Dalhousie where it swung north to Mt Dare. After Mt Dare it was back southwards along the same road to swing east at last to Dalhousie.Well at least you wouldn't forget the roads as you would have travelled them enough times not to.

I wouldn't bother with RAA Travel Planner if the whole route is not on bitumen.

You can't expect those type of sites to bother with outback roads and tracks and our favourite 4WD routes. Not enough need to go there for the greater population. And lets face it that is where their revenue base is. Not us, so to speak.

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Follow Up By: Les PK Ranger - Monday, Feb 17, 2014 at 13:47

Monday, Feb 17, 2014 at 13:47
Indeed Phil, that is the issue with all of those types of maps online.
You can trick them sometimes, but in the main if they don't want to put you down a track, even if marked, it won't do it.
The big issue with some peoples planning is the way it multiplies the dirt sections by at least double, if not triple.
Not good unless you are a seasoned track driver and can estimate your own times closer.
Me, I use Google maps for overall trips planning and major route modifying, then the finer stuff with detailed maps online and paper.
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Follow Up By: Member - PJR (NSW) - Monday, Feb 17, 2014 at 14:32

Monday, Feb 17, 2014 at 14:32
Never planned atrip in detail.

eg for the upcoming CSR;
Day Notes
2 Port Augusta
3Coober Pedy
4 Alice
5 Alice
6 Tanami
7 Wolfe Creek
8 to 23 CSR
After CSR drive straight home, approx 5 days.

I have lists of things to do and see if we go that way etc.

Is that what you call detail. I think that we have been in the high country with unplanned road closures and washouts too many times mate

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Follow Up By: Les PK Ranger - Monday, Feb 17, 2014 at 15:11

Monday, Feb 17, 2014 at 15:11
The overall route is what I'd do in the planning stages.
GPS & paper maps combined on the ground for tracks.

I'm a bushwalker too, so used to doing route plans looking at topo terrain, planning route sections, catching features, etc on the way, and have sections worked out detailed to get realistic ground walking estimated time etc.

I don't go to that sort of detail with 4wdn, but certainly look at X km on bitumen to a point, then X km on the dirt, estimating times with what we'd like to see along the way, travel distances / times on tracks from past experience and info gleaned from others recent trips etc.
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Follow Up By: Member - PJR (NSW) - Monday, Feb 17, 2014 at 15:44

Monday, Feb 17, 2014 at 15:44
I know what you mean. I used google earth to pick towns about 600Kms apart for our outward drive. We have done 1000Km legs but that was when we were younger!!!! As the years grow the kms shrink.

About fuel. Travelling from Esperance to home over the east coast. We filled up in Esperance and then again in Norseman.

Pulled over at the border to get fuel for us and the car. Cars all over the place. All bowsers were down.

I get fuel when I can. No! Not every 100Kms normally but more often than not.

A few envious faces when we just casually drove on without taking fuel.

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Follow Up By: Les PK Ranger - Monday, Feb 17, 2014 at 15:53

Monday, Feb 17, 2014 at 15:53
Good on ya Phil, yeah, just keep getting out there mate, no matter how far you go each day :)
Slower can be a lot better in most cases.

We are like that with the bushwalking now too, instead of a hard 35 to 40km day, we'll do 15 - 20 and be happy with an early camp, and more time along the way.

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Follow Up By: Member - PJR (NSW) - Monday, Feb 17, 2014 at 16:07

Monday, Feb 17, 2014 at 16:07
Hi Les

I don't like those distances a lot but when you have four weeks holidays in which to go from the east coast to one end of the CSR, transit the CSR and smell the roses on the way, then home from the other end you can't leisurly drive along at 80kms and stop on a whim. I hate it but buggered if I am giung to miss the bucket list. Time restraints are from my hospital treatments and my wife's work and can't do a bloody thing about it.

Only a camp, maybe just one night, in Antarctica and another cruise on MV Diversity left. Wanna come??

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Follow Up By: Les PK Ranger - Monday, Feb 17, 2014 at 16:18

Monday, Feb 17, 2014 at 16:18
Antarctica ? Anytime !
The missus would love it all, including the ship and inevitable big seas.
Me, I'd be sick as a dog, but willing to do that for the end result.

A mate has done it with his wife, the long way, South Georgia is a must apparently with the penguins there.

Diversity looks like an awesome trip too, look forward to getting over to the Kimberley coast for sure one long tour.
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Reply By: Member - PJR (NSW) - Sunday, Feb 16, 2014 at 20:34

Sunday, Feb 16, 2014 at 20:34
Planning for our Kimberley trip was with the computer at home on the internet, papaer maps and note and travel books/brochures. Then with all the towns, roads and whatevers in a note pad we set out. Only missed what we were not allowed to go to because of closed roads, weather or locked off tracks.

Planning for Cape York and subsequent heaps of trips has been digital with Ozi at home and then transferred to OziCE installed in a navigation and car entertainment unit mounted actually in the dash of the car. Lately we also take a laptop to store our photos, videos and the daily track history. Then for the next day we transfer the tracks etc from the laptop to the dash unit. Never use the laptop for navigation as there is too much on the screen for me to assimilate when I am driving. We both prefer the smaller screen mounted in the dash.

We always take a bundle of paper maps, and a compass, in the car. We still enjoy sitting on a hill with a map laid out on the bonnet with the compass on it, identifying destinations and things to see.

We would never go back to paper planning like that Kimberley trip and are satisfied with Oziexplorer for in car navigation. I can't walk far so we do not need portable stuff.

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Follow Up By: Kumunara (NT) - Sunday, Feb 16, 2014 at 23:32

Sunday, Feb 16, 2014 at 23:32

I have an in-dash GPS that has both a street mapping system and OziCE. Plan our trips on the laptop and transfer to the GPS same as you do.

As you have also said the laptop is handy to back up photos, videos, etc.

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Follow Up By: Member - PJR (NSW) - Monday, Feb 17, 2014 at 07:27

Monday, Feb 17, 2014 at 07:27
What I like is that you take the "load" out of navigation. The off road navigation software (Ozi) just makes the trip so much easier.

Shock horror to people that we don't have GPS input to the laptop nor does it have wireless internet. Just a data dump.

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Reply By: Robyn R4 - Sunday, Feb 16, 2014 at 21:54

Sunday, Feb 16, 2014 at 21:54
That's sort of the trip we want to do next, but we'll be turning around at the Alice and heading home through western Qld. We obviously don't have the holidays that you have and I'm jealous!
Aw heck, I'm in my early 40s and am supposedly of the computer generation but I think there's nothing better than weeks of poring over the book of maps on the kitchen bench and arguing about which route is better because we've been there and there, and jotting down possible routes and roughly adding up the k's...
(And then the control of the aforementioned book of maps is mine on the road!)
My satnav is honestly only for getting us through the funny little shortcuts along the western suburbs of the Gold Coast.
I love showing my book of maps to fellow travellers who ask how the road is to Camerons Corner, or asking which is the best road to Hughenden...
I love making little pencil notes in it...

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Reply By: Motherhen - Monday, Feb 17, 2014 at 00:00

Monday, Feb 17, 2014 at 00:00
Hi Craig

While I do trip planning on paper maps where I can see the overview, I do use a couple of trip planners, but now find Google maps as good as any. None of them are suitable for outback tracks. With Google maps, you can drag the route onto another road. You can also vary the route by adding an interim destination. For example use Derby WA to Wyndham WA and Google takes you via the highway. Add Mount Barnett as an interim destination and you get the Gibb River Road. Google will take you via the Tanami, and the Plenty.
Plenty Highway Tanami and Gibb River Roads

Google tracks the Savannah Way except the Roper Bar Limmen section.
Savannah Way


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Reply By: Member - Boobook - Monday, Feb 17, 2014 at 07:20

Monday, Feb 17, 2014 at 07:20
In addition to the ideas above, try Bing maps ( Microsoft's version of Google maps).

Unlike Google, it will let you go on many 4wd tracks and most dirt roads. It will even let you navigate across the Simpson desert and Hay River track.

Like google you can place points to for it to go the way you want instead of the default routing, but unlike google it will let you include minor dirt roads.


Finke to Birdsville ( forcing it to try to go via Poepple corner)

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Follow Up By: Member - Boobook - Monday, Feb 17, 2014 at 07:23

Monday, Feb 17, 2014 at 07:23
Damm hit the wrong button. (EO REALLY needs an edit button!!!)

These compare Finke to Birdsville on bit maps

Google Maps best effort

Bing Maps route
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Follow Up By: Member - PJR (NSW) - Monday, Feb 17, 2014 at 09:53

Monday, Feb 17, 2014 at 09:53
Not knocking either Google Maps or Bing but here is a good example why those tourists drove into Moreton bay.

The track shown by Bing is a No Public Access road from the sharp dip or point near where Mt Dare is, all the way around past Arina and Erwillinna water holes to near Purnie Bore, and you wouldn't know it until you either got there or looked at the Hema etc maps.

But the example does show that Bing has a few more off road capabilities.

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Follow Up By: Member - Boobook - Monday, Feb 17, 2014 at 10:29

Monday, Feb 17, 2014 at 10:29
You are quite right about that section of track. It is easy to make it go another way though.

better way form Finke to Birdsville

But like in a recent thread, you need to do your own checking. A quick look at some recent maps show.

Westprint SE map shows it as a wet weather bypass track.
Hema Simpson shows it as no access.
Hema Central Australia shows it as a normal navigable track.
Aus topo 250 and EO 200 show it as a normal track too.

I think to your point Phil. You can't blindly follow any map, weather it be online, Vector GPS, Raster GPS or paper maps.

zBut for the purpose of the OP's requirement, and provided he does some homework. Bing is a very useful tool - so long as you don't blindly drive a line following ferries etc LOL.

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Follow Up By: Member - PJR (NSW) - Monday, Feb 17, 2014 at 10:50

Monday, Feb 17, 2014 at 10:50
When we planned our Kimberley tour we used maps, the internet and then rang the rangers. That was our first real off road experience and past experiences, not 4WD stuff but chasing surf, told me to talk to the locals. No matter what maps and devices you use.

I even used Google Earth to actually follow some tracks across a property that we eventually got authority (with very very stringent guidelines) to cross. The was a ripper. A 1Mill + property owned by some middle east consortium. Took some fast talking also and sworn to not say where.

Back to the point. In the end nothing beats local knowledge. The engineer at Cooktown was our greatest help for the Cape York trip.

Use it all and confirm as much as possible if it is remote.

Got a bit of remote access computer setup to do for some Windows NOT knowledgeable rellos. This may take a while!!!


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Follow Up By: Member - Ossiejs (Qld) - Monday, Feb 17, 2014 at 11:30

Monday, Feb 17, 2014 at 11:30
Hi young Phil, been following this with some interest as I travel through and camp in outback and western Qld at least twice a year. Have rellies, some alive and some deceased, I pay my respects to; do a bit of volunteer work; and generally enjoy outback life and its people. Have some rellies who have and still manage pastoral properties up that way.

Can you possibly advise the name of the 1mill+ property you spoke of plz? Interested as planning to extend travels to include NT, SA and WA in future, and need to do a "bit" of research well before hand.

Cheers mate

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Follow Up By: Member - PJR (NSW) - Monday, Feb 17, 2014 at 11:54

Monday, Feb 17, 2014 at 11:54
Hi John

You make it hard don'y you. I did say "Took some fast talking also and sworn to not say where."

Won't say any more mate about the place. Sorry. Neither publicly or privately. I pride myself in the fact that my word is my bond.

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Follow Up By: Member - Ossiejs (Qld) - Monday, Feb 17, 2014 at 15:29

Monday, Feb 17, 2014 at 15:29
Oh, that place! No problems Phil.

Catch ya sometime.
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Follow Up By: Member - PJR (NSW) - Monday, Feb 17, 2014 at 15:57

Monday, Feb 17, 2014 at 15:57
Bring on the peace and solitude of The Outback!

Nice try

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Reply By: craigandej - Monday, Feb 17, 2014 at 12:43

Monday, Feb 17, 2014 at 12:43
Hi travellers,

I had a crack at Google maps again last night, doing the "add destination" thing. I thought I was on a winner until I wanted to go past Roper Bar, Limmen Bight area. I could add the destinations but it wouldn't calculate distances etc.

So there we have it, from the responses received, it looks like the quickest way to plan is to still use a map and calculator at some point. In the time it took me last night on the computer, I could have had the distances written down, in sections, to add or delete extra legs if required.

Any techno heads out there could design a program or app and make a bit of money from 4wders etc.

See you on the track,
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Follow Up By: Member - John and Val - Monday, Feb 17, 2014 at 14:10

Monday, Feb 17, 2014 at 14:10
Hi Craig,
Do you use OziExplorer? I have used Google maps once or twice for planning bitumen only trips, but for anywhere else its Ozi with paper maps to provide an overview, with distances from Ozi going into a spreadsheet if required to calculate fuel requirements etc. Oh, and checking out some parts of the trip on Google earth too - you can often find good bush camps that way.

From my perspective Google looks like a very "destination focused" way of planning a trip, whereas with Ozi its more about the journey - what is up that sidetrack, where does that old railway go to, is there a good bush camp beside that creek. But then we travel with just our Troopy and a light trailer and aim to explore as we go. If you are towing a big caravan it might be a different matter.


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Follow Up By: Member - Boobook - Monday, Feb 17, 2014 at 16:36

Monday, Feb 17, 2014 at 16:36
Did you try Bing? I did it in about 2 minutes via Ropar River mouth and Limmen Bight.

Not sure of your exact start and end point so I picked Newcastle to Broom.


Newcastle to Broom via Limmen Bight
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Follow Up By: Member - Boobook - Monday, Feb 17, 2014 at 16:37

Monday, Feb 17, 2014 at 16:37
Would you believe Broome?
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Follow Up By: craigandej - Tuesday, Feb 18, 2014 at 11:23

Tuesday, Feb 18, 2014 at 11:23
Thanks, Bing maps is slightly better, but trying to go from Roper Bar to Burketown via Borroloola had me backtracking. Inserting multiple waypoints was time consuming and I soon ran out of available points (a-z only).

I use a Hema HN6 in vehicle and associated Hema mapping on laptop. Still have to add up manually though.

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