First trip advice please

Submitted: Friday, Jun 20, 2014 at 16:45
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I am planning my first visit to Oz. Will be hiring a camper bodied Troopie or similar. I have some experience of desert travel in the Moroccan Sahara and the Namib, solo and in a group. So many wonderful desert places in Oz I don't know where to start. Any suggestions for a beginner welcomed. I will probably be travelling solo, but willing to team up. Still reading the books but hearing from people would be a real help. I reckon I will have around 3 weeks for travel.
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Reply By: Dave(NSW) - Friday, Jun 20, 2014 at 17:11

Friday, Jun 20, 2014 at 17:11
If you could give people an idea what time of the year and where you will be starting as this would make it easier to answer.
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Follow Up By: transnamib - Friday, Jun 20, 2014 at 17:47

Friday, Jun 20, 2014 at 17:47
Thanks Dave.

This is one of the issues I need help with. In the Namib the dry season (May to October) is best as temperatures are lowest, it being winter. What would be your recommended season? Clearly high summer is out, so I am assuming winter is the least problematic time. I just don't know the conditions first hand. Even in winter the Namib is very, very dry; I'd rather keep it that way if travelling solo, since bogging can be a serious problem. Bad enough in sand, even worse in seasonal water. One thing I have learned is that deserts may look similar but can be very different when you are in them.

Where to start is a whole other issue. Everywhere looks equally interesting. Originally I was thinking of exploring the Simpson desert but perhaps there are better places to start for a desert addict like me.

Love the Patrol by the way - I have one of the last of the six cylinder Y61's. Terrific truck. Would bring it if I could.


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Follow Up By: mikehzz - Friday, Jun 20, 2014 at 19:09

Friday, Jun 20, 2014 at 19:09
I assume you mean the Namib desert in Southern Africa? If so, the seasons are the same here as there and the conditions similar as well. Have a great trip.
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Follow Up By: Dave(NSW) - Friday, Jun 20, 2014 at 20:06

Friday, Jun 20, 2014 at 20:06
Hi Mike,
As mikehzz said the best time for the Simpson is May to October, It has been known to flood occasionally but not very often. It takes about 3 - 4 days to cross but you can do a double crossing on a different track if you want to spend more time in the desert.
It's a pity you can't bring your own car here.
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Follow Up By: equinox - Friday, Jun 20, 2014 at 21:25

Friday, Jun 20, 2014 at 21:25
Hi Mike,
Forget the Simpson if you want desert travel - it's small, overrated and it's so busy with tourists they have introduced rules and regulations for it.
There is a lot of talk of this forum and on the net about the Simpson - this is not because it is such a wonderful desert that everyone wants to go there; it is because it is the closest desert to the populated areas of Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide. So this is where most of these people go. You are specifically coming from overseas so your starting point can be chosen prior.

I often think of the Simpson as a small part of Western Australia that just happens to be located on the other side of the country.

I suggest starting from Perth and make your way to the real deserts from there. You can be in desert proper a day and a half out of Perth. In two and a half days you can be in areas that will see no traffic for months if not longer. The deserts are varied here too. We have deserts that are thick with bush such as the Great Victoria, Deserts such as the Gibson, which are made of gravel and Deserts that have sandridges all over (like the Simpson but on a much larger scale).
Try going up the Great Central Road, or Gunbarrel Highway or Gary Highway, or Gary Junction Road or Ann Beadell Highway and tracks in between. Parts of these tracks together could be completed in a single 3 week trip planned correctly. That's just an example off the top of my head.

Enjoy your trip anyway - whatever you end up doing.


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Follow Up By: transnamib - Tuesday, Jun 24, 2014 at 03:18

Tuesday, Jun 24, 2014 at 03:18
Alan, thanks for the advice and suggested route. My first instinct was to start in WA but I asked for help in case there were other interesting options. Turns out there are, but the pull of big, empty desert is very strong and I don't think I will be able to resist it.

thanks again.

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Reply By: Member - Duncan W (WA) - Friday, Jun 20, 2014 at 19:02

Friday, Jun 20, 2014 at 19:02
Mike a lot depends on which desert tickles your fancy. For the Simpson you'd need to fly into Adelaide and then out from there and in 3 weeks you can see an awful lot of desert. A mad dash trip could see you go from Adelaide into the Simpson via Birdsville and do an East West crossing. Then up to Alice Springs via Finke and then back down to the rock and then to Perth via the Great Central Road which will take you through the Gibson and Great Victoria Deserts.

Bit of a rush but doable. We're doing Perth to Perth via the Simpson in a couple of weeks time and all we've got is 3wks.

Whatever you decide it will be great trip with plenty to see and do. make sure you get a good compressor and tyre gauge as our sand can be pretty soft.



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Follow Up By: transnamib - Tuesday, Jun 24, 2014 at 03:30

Tuesday, Jun 24, 2014 at 03:30
Thanks Duncan, I will follow your trip with interest and investigate your suggested route. How can anyone come to Oz and not go to Alice Springs?

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Reply By: get outmore - Friday, Jun 20, 2014 at 19:16

Friday, Jun 20, 2014 at 19:16
I would start by seeingt where you can take the hire vehicle first - there are restrictions, its in the fine print so can be hard to see but it is there.
also firing off an email should confirm what they will allow you to do
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Reply By: 671 - Friday, Jun 20, 2014 at 19:51

Friday, Jun 20, 2014 at 19:51

If you can find a hire car company that will allow you to take the car into the more remoe areas then I think Adelaide would be a good starting point for a three week trip. Go north to Maree then up the Oodnadatta Track to Oodnadatta. Turn right about 20 ks further on to Dalhousie Springs then Mt Dare and on up through Finke and along the Old Ghan Railway Heritage Trail to the ruins of Rodinga railway siding at the end of the trail. You then turn left on a well maintained unsealed road for about 10 ks to Maryvale then out on the 45 k detour to Chambers Pillar. Return to Maryvale then up north to Alice Springs.

That part of the trip will take you over some very remote areas on both major and minor Outback roads but you should see more than enough cars so if something happens, you will not be left stranded.

There is no end of information available at Alice Springs on what to see within a few hours of Alice.Palm Valley near Hermannsburg and the gorges off Namatjira Drive are well worth seeing.

If you now want to go over an extremely remote road where you may not see another car, then go north west of Alice Springs on the Tanami Road for about 140 ks and turn west on the Gary Junction Road to Sandy Blight Junction. Turn left at the junction and go south down the Sandy Blight Junction Road. There is a short detour 20 ks down that takes you to an Aboriginal settlement that has a shop and fuel. The rough section of this road is around 250 ks long. It has flat corrugated surfaces, rocky sections and about 100 ks of sandy surfaces with low sand hills. You will cross the border into Western Australia half way down. It is remote and beautiful but any standard 4wd will do it with ease.

When you come out at the other end, turn back east through Docker River to Uluru and then back on sealed roads to Adelaide.

That should fill in three weeks nicely without rushing. You will need permits from two Aboriginal Land Councils for the Gary Junction Road, the Sandy Blight and to get back to Uluru and I think you will need a one day one for Dalhousie Springs. Ask about that one at the Pink Roadhouse at Oodnadatta. ..

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Follow Up By: transnamib - Tuesday, Jun 24, 2014 at 03:14

Tuesday, Jun 24, 2014 at 03:14
Thanks 671 for taking the time to give such detailed advice. It certainly helps to have place names and roads/tracks. It also helps to have advice about permits. I am in the early planning stages at the moment and your suggested itinerary sound really interesting.

thanks again.

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Reply By: transnamib - Saturday, Jun 21, 2014 at 04:22

Saturday, Jun 21, 2014 at 04:22
Many thanks everyone for your very helpful and practical advice - all very useful. Thanks too for kindly replying so quickly.

I suggested three weeks but that was a guess. I could make it four, but as always it is a case of balancing the cost with the benefits. (And I suspect I will want to come back once I have visited.) I will certainly research your suggested routes further. I shall no doubt be asking advice again on finer points as my plans shape up. The key thing for me is to find wilderness routes that can be done solo - I hate convoy driving - without taking foolish risks.

I take the point about hire vehicle small print - same in Namibia and Botswana. Hate hiring really since my truck is fully equipped, but shipping to Oz not really practical.

Will reply to each of you individually shortly. I have just become a grandfather (which is why I couldn't come over this year) and I have a feeling I am being called downstairs to hold the baby.

Thanks again
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Reply By: Member - John and Val - Saturday, Jun 21, 2014 at 08:56

Saturday, Jun 21, 2014 at 08:56
Hi Transnamib,

Good suggestions above and there's lots of other useful material on this site. A couple of things about this site that are often overlooked - the search button (top right) works very well (not meaning to be rude in stating the obvious! There is so much useful stuff here that it really is easy to overlook that button and there's a wealth of experience behind it.) Among other things it can lead you to relevant members' blogs, many of which are very helpful when planning. Also often overlooked - most pictures can be clicked to expand them.

With a Troopy there are very few constraints on your desert movements. Provided you are desert experienced and mechanically able to deal with day to day issues, solo travel is probably ok in areas where you can expect to see at least another vehicle or two in a day. A companion vehicle is very desirable though if you are going seriously remote. I suggest stay in touch with us using Exploroz and you may well meet amiable companions for the more challenging parts of your trip. There are certainly places that I would not travel solo (even in a Troopy!). Be aware that if traveling alone, seriously remote in a hired vehicle, a satellite phone is probably an essential, though it wouldn't be wise to rely on it to summon outside assistance.

I agree with Equinox that Perth is probably a good starting point for someone looking for our serious deserts.


J and V
"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted."
- Albert Einstein

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Follow Up By: transnamib - Tuesday, Jun 24, 2014 at 03:27

Tuesday, Jun 24, 2014 at 03:27
Hi John and Val

Thanks for your sound advice. Though I am used to remote and solo, I have no intention of pushing beyond the limits of my competence. Your warning is sound and well advised.

Thanks for pointing out the useful features of the site. I have only recently found it, so your pointers to further information are very useful. Don't worry about stating the obvious; it is always a good place to start. I am just beginning to realise the value of Exploreoz; the nearest thing in Africa is Tracks for Africa which provides updated information and gps waypoints for tracks based on travellers feedback.

thanks again.

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