Old Ghan Track, NT

Submitted: Friday, Jul 04, 2014 at 07:53
ThreadID: 108599 Views:2088 Replies:8 FollowUps:14
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Hi,we're travelling down to chambers pillar from Alice springs tomorrow & debating whether to continue along the Old Ghan track to get to Dalhousie. Have heard how bad the road can be but wondered if anyone had been out there recently and has feedback on the state of the corrugations? Also, how long this stretch might take to travel? Thanks in advance
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Reply By: Member - mechpete - Friday, Jul 04, 2014 at 08:30

Friday, Jul 04, 2014 at 08:30
the road is pretty rough in places after the finke desert race, but let your tyre pressure down a bit an just plod along
mechpete
AnswerID: 535412

Reply By: Les PK Ranger - Friday, Jul 04, 2014 at 09:07

Friday, Jul 04, 2014 at 09:07
As Pete said, plus don't venture far off the main track or there's more risk of staking a tyre on an old rail spike . . . generally the track itself is pretty clear now.
It's a couple of hundred kms (not including the Chambers detour), so not a major time thing driving easy.
AnswerID: 535418

Follow Up By: Kathleen W1 - Friday, Jul 04, 2014 at 09:33

Friday, Jul 04, 2014 at 09:33
Thanks for the feedback. Is it mostly soft sand or hard corrugated track? Would you say a day's drive?
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Follow Up By: Les PK Ranger - Friday, Jul 04, 2014 at 09:52

Friday, Jul 04, 2014 at 09:52
TBH I haven't driven it as yet, going through via Finke - Kulgera, or Binns in the past.
I have had that feedback from others that have done it.

Expect it would be mostly corrugated from the old sleepers and continuing traffic.
Likely you'd strike some sand but nothing major.

It could be driven in a day I imagine, perhaps including the Chambers detour.
Coming from the north, I would personally allow a day to drive to Chambers, camp there (sunset / sunrise pics, and toilet etc).
Then take a couple of days back out and down to Mt Dare / Dalhousie as there is bound to be some sights on the way both days.
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Reply By: tim_c - Friday, Jul 04, 2014 at 10:29

Friday, Jul 04, 2014 at 10:29
I drove that way a few years back - I left Dalhousie just after lunch, arrived in Finke late afternoon or early evening but there was a bad vibe about the place (I've never seen so many bars on windows, anything that could be locked down was) so I didn't want to risk spending the night anywhere near there so I pushed on to Chambers Pillar - I think I got there around 10pm from memory. I was taking it pretty easy and stopped a few times to look at some of the ruins from the Old Ghan Line and take photos here and there.

It was an interesting drive with a mix of sand and corrugations, sometimes both together, as well as some small 'dunes' (or jumps for the Finke Desert Race?) which meant slow going at times (unless you want to fly over them like the do in the races, and risk a similar 'drop out rate'!).
AnswerID: 535427

Reply By: cookie1 - Friday, Jul 04, 2014 at 13:51

Friday, Jul 04, 2014 at 13:51
Although not recent ( 2 years ago), the Ghan track is normally pretty good, just keep your tyres down a bit from Chambers and you'll be right BTW there is no shortcut through Maryvale.

Check out Mt Dare website http://www.mtdare.com.au/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=3&Itemid=23

It is a fantastic drive and one, done it twice, that I would do again.

cheers
AnswerID: 535446

Reply By: Allan B (Member, SunCoast) - Friday, Jul 04, 2014 at 14:22

Friday, Jul 04, 2014 at 14:22
Generally, that track is just dirt, not regularly graded, some corrugations and some soft sandy sections. But nothing too bad with tyre pressures of around 28psi. No difficulty for our Troopy but some in soft-roaders might whinge a bit.

Some people have made warnings about the danger of rail spikes on the track but in several trips, I have not seen a spike on the track nor spoken to anyone who has. The track runs adjacent to the old rail line, not along it where spikes can be seen. Nor are there any sleeper remnants on the track to cause corrugations or hazard.

Finke (Aputula indigenous community) is not a pretty town, not a favourite of mine and definitely no good coffee shops!



Cheers
Allan

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Follow Up By: Peter_n_Margaret - Friday, Jul 04, 2014 at 20:18

Friday, Jul 04, 2014 at 20:18




Cheers,
Peter
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Follow Up By: Les PK Ranger - Friday, Jul 04, 2014 at 20:29

Friday, Jul 04, 2014 at 20:29
Peter n Margaret, that's what I heard it's like, old sleepers and all as you're actually driving on the old line itself much of it.

I had been told the track was fairly clear of spikes, plenty just off the track, but if that was a fairly recent picture above, maybe there's more about still.
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Follow Up By: cookie1 - Friday, Jul 04, 2014 at 20:56

Friday, Jul 04, 2014 at 20:56
Those "spikes" are pretty rounded and worn and would suggest that you would be pretty unlucky for them to puincture your tyre. My mate went for a walk down the track and found 2 in about a couple of hundred metres

cheers
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Follow Up By: Peter_n_Margaret - Saturday, Jul 05, 2014 at 01:51

Saturday, Jul 05, 2014 at 01:51
Those pics were taken in 2007, but I don't imagine it has changed. That spot was selected for a pic at random, so there are plenty about.
We did not get any punctures though :)

Cheers,
Peter
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Follow Up By: Allan B (Member, SunCoast) - Saturday, Jul 05, 2014 at 09:43

Saturday, Jul 05, 2014 at 09:43
I stand corrected Peter. Though I must be blind! Perhaps "Collectors" have cleaned up since then?
Cheers
Allan

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Follow Up By: cookie1 - Saturday, Jul 05, 2014 at 10:01

Saturday, Jul 05, 2014 at 10:01
Yes, there were heaps in 2005 when we went through the first time but when we went in 2012 they weren't that plentiful and when we had a good look at them they were well rounded - could pierce a wet paper bag I reckon

cheers
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Follow Up By: Hairy (NT) - Saturday, Jul 05, 2014 at 10:29

Saturday, Jul 05, 2014 at 10:29
Gday,
Ive driven the track from Alice to Finke about 50 times and only ever had 3 punctures. None where caused by railway spikes. I wouldn't be too worried about them.......
Cheers
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Follow Up By: Ozrover - Saturday, Jul 05, 2014 at 10:33

Saturday, Jul 05, 2014 at 10:33
There are literally millions of the things on the old Ghan rail line, the thing is when it's dry & sandy they are just under the surface & you won't see them, after a bit of rain the surface dust/sand washes away, then you will see a carpet of them in some places!

If you go slow i.e. 40kph then you are unlikely to get a puncture from one, (dropping the tyre pressures helps as well), but the faster you got the more likely you are to get "spiked", the front tyres kick up a spike then the rears nail them, pop, flat tyre that is rarely repairable.

There are also other bits of railway junk on the track, bolts, plates, slivers of steel etc...
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Follow Up By: Allan B (Member, SunCoast) - Saturday, Jul 05, 2014 at 15:36

Saturday, Jul 05, 2014 at 15:36
Jeff, that may explain why I have seen none on the road track. But plenty up on the old rail alignment.
Seems that the rail lines were worth salvaging but not the spikes.
Cheers
Allan

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Reply By: Member - iijmartin - Friday, Jul 04, 2014 at 18:31

Friday, Jul 04, 2014 at 18:31
Hi Kathleen,
we travelled from Alice to Chambers Pillar few days before Finke Desert race. Road to Maryvale station was in good nick 80-90 kmh. From Chambers returning to Maryvale is about 45 km and took 1.25 hrs rough corrugated with sandy sections.
We did not go to Finke.
However later in our trip we travelled north from Cooper Pedy up to Dalhousie. This was 2 wks ago. Road from Cooper Pedy to Ooodnadatta excellent condition then from there to Hamilton station good condition with patches of corrugations and few bulldust holes to watch. From Hamilton HS to Dalhousie rough in places, some graded dry creek crossings,
small rocks. The grader driver said the most direct/shortest road from Dalhousie to Mt Dare was very rough. Check in at Mt Dare to see whether it has been graded.
All in all on our trip the road into Chambers Pillar was the slowest going we encountered BUT the spectacular colours of the pillar were definitely worth it. Plenty of photographic memories to cherish.
Hope this current info is of help.
Safe travels
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Follow Up By: Les PK Ranger - Friday, Jul 04, 2014 at 20:33

Friday, Jul 04, 2014 at 20:33
Hamilton Stn to Dalhousie via Perdika siding ruins and Dalhousie Stn ruins is on Perdika Track.
I have been told it is a track that never gets graded and is pretty corrugated most of it's 70km length.
Worth it though for Dalhousie ruins, or just pop down form the northern side, only 18km return.
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Follow Up By: cookie1 - Friday, Jul 04, 2014 at 21:00

Friday, Jul 04, 2014 at 21:00
Chambers Pillar is a must see and the facilities are brilliant, gas bbqs and long drops for about $3 per person per night.

In 2005 we did Chambers to Dalhousie via Mt Dare in a day very comfortably (stopped at all the sidings) - and didn't get 1 puncture from the "spikes".

cheers
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Reply By: Kathleen W1 - Saturday, Jul 05, 2014 at 11:19

Saturday, Jul 05, 2014 at 11:19
Thanks for all the info and details, its most appreciated!
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Reply By: Member - Wildmax - Sunday, Jul 06, 2014 at 21:38

Sunday, Jul 06, 2014 at 21:38
We were out that way a couple of weeks ago. Track from Dalhousie to Mt Dare was rough and rocky, so take it easy.
Mt Dare up to Old Andado via the Binns Track was a great drive, and Old Andado is definitely worth a visit. Track from there into to Finke and Lambert Centre was fine.
But we were just a couple of days after the Finke desert race and the section from Finke to the Maryvale station turnoff into Chambers Pillar was really badly corrugated; nothing insurmountable, just uncomfortable and hard on the vehicle. A bit rough into Chambers Pillar too, but well worth the journey.
Back into Alice was in excellent condition, and the grader was working on that section, so maybe it's been graded further down towards Finke now.
Enjoy, and look for the scones and jam and cream at Old Andado - really !!!
Wildmax
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Follow Up By: Sandman - Wednesday, Jul 09, 2014 at 19:25

Wednesday, Jul 09, 2014 at 19:25
The Caretakers have scones and jam there ? :-)
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