Some notes on my recent trip on CSR and ABH

Submitted: Thursday, Jul 24, 2014 at 13:23
ThreadID: 108860 Views:2436 Replies:5 FollowUps:12
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Here are some notes based on my experience on these great tracks. I guess others may have additional or alternative comments.

Vehicle:
I travelled with my lovely wife and two daughters aged 9 and 11 in a 78 series LC.
The only relevant modifications are heavier springs, with OME Ntirocharger shocks all round, and Firestone airbags on the rear (inflated to just 35 psi). I run BFG All-Terrain T/A's.
We had no breakages and no flats. Well, we did lose one nut off a bolt that holds the awning to the roof rack.
Both the CSR and ABH are overgrown in sections so we copped lots of scratches.
I think we were very lucky to get off so lightly as we saw several cars with broken suspension, cracked chassis and so on. Also three or four trailers with serious chassis damage.
There's no telling what will fail. We met a number of soft roaders with no mods that were having no trouble. Then we met seriously modified cars that were broken. I guess it's how you drive, load the car etc.

Route:
We travelled from Brisbane to Blackall via the highway, then Isisford, Lark Quarry, Old Cork, Boulia, Alice (via Plenty and Arltunga), Billiluna, Wiluna, Leonora, Laverton, Spackman's Track (around Lake Rason), ABH, and Coober Pedy. As the tracks were rougher than I expected (more later) and because of rain, and the kids had to get back to school, we headed home on the bitumen via Pt Augusta, Broken Hill, and Bourke.
Alll up 9828 km in 5 weeks.

Fuel:
Fuel consumption varied between 10.9 and 15.3 L/100km. On the CSR we managed 15.3 between Billiluna and Kunawaratji, 12.9 between Kuna and Leonora. For the ABH, figure was 10.9 between Leonora and Coober Pedy. The bitumen figure averaged mid 12's.
Fuel (diesel) at Billiluna was $2.60/L. At Kunawaratji $3.40/L. Ilkurlka $3.00/L. I have figures for other stops as well but the prices are reasonably close to city prices.

Supplies:
Billiluna has a well stocked supermarket with almost everything you need including fresh fruit and vegetables.
Kunawaratji has a well stocked mini-supermarket but don't rely on fresh produce being available.
Ilkurlka has frozen meat and bread with a few tinned items.

Road conditions:
I appreciate this is entirely subjective. My view is that the Plenty is reasonable in the Qld side, rough up to about Jervois, then good, then rough again from Harts Range to the bitumen.
The Tanami is variable from good to very rough - mostly rough.
CSR is rough (heavy corrugations especially around wells 31-35). Bottom section between wells 1 and 9 had been flood affected so there are lots of wash outs but nothing difficult. It was all bone dry when I was there (late June - early July).
There was water flowing in Savoury Creek but with a hard bottom and only a few cm deep. People had attempted to drive on Lake Disappointment with obvious disastrous results judging by the signs left of their recovery. The dunes were OK but were rough in spots. Travellers told us a group using Mercedes trucks as tour vehicles were making a mess of the dunes and there was certainly evidence of that.
The Spackman Track was in good condition and goes through excellent country. This was my first time on this track and I would recommend it. It is shown in Treks as West Great Victoria Desert. I wasn't sure about permits for this track so I got one anyway!
The ABH (at least from where Spackman's track joins) to near Ilkurlka is a well maintained highway. From Ilkurlka to the border it is rough, and from the border to the dog fence it ranges between fair and terrible - but goes through spectacular country. The corrugations are especially bad around Emu. From the dog fence to Coober Pedy it is a well maintained road.

Fellow travellers:
We met lots of people. Both tracks are exceptionally busy these days compared to the last time I was on them (15 years ago!!!). Everyone was very friendly and we made a number of new friends.
We met cyclists, motor cyclists, walkers and runners on both tracks - some having more success than others.

A big trip. And yes I feel flat now that it is over and the kids are back at school and the wife is back at work. All I have to do at the moment is plan the next one!!

Happy to provide more details if anyone is interested.
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Reply By: Member - Megan and Kevin D (AC - Thursday, Jul 24, 2014 at 14:39

Thursday, Jul 24, 2014 at 14:39
How fabulous it all sounds! I am pleased it went so well for you.

Imagine the memories your children will carry with them for the rest of their lives.

I love that country!
Megan
AnswerID: 536517

Follow Up By: Member - Keith B (QLD) - Friday, Jul 25, 2014 at 10:14

Friday, Jul 25, 2014 at 10:14
Thanks Megan. Yes I agree that the kids have had a life experience. They were so well behaved and never bored - loved that country as you say.
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Reply By: Jezza_1972 - Thursday, Jul 24, 2014 at 22:11

Thursday, Jul 24, 2014 at 22:11
Keith,

Well done mate, that's a fantastic report and WOW some serious KM's done!!

We (two other mates and me) have two weeks until we hit the road. We plan to start at Wiluna and follow the CSR North to Halls Creek then West to Cape Laveque, Broom, Karragini then back to Perth.

I'm pretty concerned about the corrugations as my 76 Series Cruiser is pretty standard other than BFG Mud Terrains and a front Lokka. I did note your comment that the heavy modified units copped it and standard vehicles handled it petty well :)

If you don't mind can you tell me which wells have good quality water in them?

I have already spoken to the shop owne Raelene at Kunawaratjie and they have said fuel is $3.40/L and fresh veg is in every two weeks. Any good camp spots that's worth a day or two stop over along the track? If you could share any other info it would be much appreciated.


Cheers Jeremy
AnswerID: 536539

Follow Up By: Freshstart - Friday, Jul 25, 2014 at 00:08

Friday, Jul 25, 2014 at 00:08
We are nearly home and may I add that I appreciated the help that Bill and Raelene gave me. We had to depart the CSR at that stage. No breakages on the car apart from a broken awning mount. My error as I had removed the roof rack before thr trip.

But you can have the corrugations. As others did, we tried all speeds from 5 KPH to 60 KPH. No one was better than the other. Get some good glue for the false teeth. And enjoy the experience.

I must say the bloke in the awd surprised us also. No radio or flag but he did have a SPOT!!!!!

14.000 kms and looking forward to the home bed.
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Follow Up By: Member - Keith B (QLD) - Friday, Jul 25, 2014 at 10:56

Friday, Jul 25, 2014 at 10:56
Jeremy,
I'm sure you'll get a plethora of ideas from everyone you ask re car set-up. Here's what I did - I carried a full set of spare shockies. As I said, I didn't need them but I think I was lucky. I counted 5 cars that had changed to their spare set (one indeed was on its third set!!), and 3 cars with collapsed suspension and no spares. Shocky seals and rubber mounts were the problem in all of these cases. There didn't seem to be any one model that stood out. Advice I had was to stop every hour or so for 15 minutes to let the shockies cool so seals are not threatened. I did this. And they do get HOT - too hot to touch in some cases.
I ran very low tyre pressures as well - 15/22 (lower in some areas) and this definitely made a difference on the corrugations (and dunes of course. It's amazing how many travellers were refusing to let tyres down).

Freshstart is spot on re his comments about speeds on the horrorgations. I chose to be on the slower end of the spectrum. We averaged about 100km per day - plenty of stops and taking it easy. Personally I think that added to my luck.

Being just one vehicle we could camp in limited space so we found some really good little spots with plenty of firewood. We preferred to camp away from the wells but if you are prepared to carry wood or go without, then really good group camps are found easily. Most of the wells now have extensively open but private areas for groups to camp. Pierre Springs, Durba Springs, Georgia Bore are the best examples, and are often used by people for extended stays. The more popular spots even have toilets. Some really good camps can be found among the desert oak forests. Just before you hit the CSR proper, it's worth considering North Pool as a first stop - popular and no wood to speak of but a pretty spot where you can swim (at the moment). At the end of your trip consider camping at Stretch Lagoon - great spot after the desert. A permit is needed but easily obtained.

We had no trouble with obtaining good water from the wells. Some of the wells have cloudy or stained water but we used this for showers with no problems. I carried 50L of spring water (fussy kids) and topped this supply up at Kunawaratji. We used the well water for showers, cooking, cleaning etc but water from a number of wells is quite potable. Principally, water from the restored wells is reliable and safe, although be your own judge re boiling or treating first. There was an interesting photo in the store at Kunawaratji showing the carcass of a camel being lifted from well 36 with a warning "do not drink water from well 36"!!!!
I used information from "The Outback Travellers Guide series 4 The Canning Stock Route" as a guide to water availability.

Happy to add more detail if needed.

You will have a ball. Wish I was coming with you.
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Follow Up By: The Landy - Friday, Jul 25, 2014 at 12:48

Friday, Jul 25, 2014 at 12:48
Hi Keith

Perhaps we may have crossed paths at some stage as we have just returned from crossing the ABH from Maralinga and back through the GCR to the Sandy Blight and north from there.

Spectacular country to be enjoyed.

Like you, we stopped regularly to enable the “shocks” to cool down and drove to the conditions.

On tyre pressures (always contentious) I ran pressures higher in the rear of our Toyota 79 Series rather than lower due to the weight of the vehicle. I think the key is to run pressures that enable traction to be maintained with the surface travelled on. One of the risks of running pressures too low is the possibility of overheating due to flexing in the side-wall which will eventually lead to failure – so it is all a balancing act I guess.

When were you on the AB?

Regards
Baz
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Follow Up By: Member - Keith B (QLD) - Saturday, Jul 26, 2014 at 10:47

Saturday, Jul 26, 2014 at 10:47
Hey Baz,
I do recall meeting a car similar to yours. I remember because it's my dream vehicle - I WANT ONE. I did see a few of them so not sure if it was you or not. We would have been on the ABH in a location that intersected yours between July 7 and 13.
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Follow Up By: The Landy - Saturday, Jul 26, 2014 at 13:57

Saturday, Jul 26, 2014 at 13:57
Hi Keith

We were up along the Sandy Blight Junction track at that time...

But we enjoyed the trip greatly!!

Cheers,
Baz
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FollowupID: 820811

Reply By: Member - CSR Walkers - Friday, Jul 25, 2014 at 10:54

Friday, Jul 25, 2014 at 10:54
Wonderful report on our amazing country, well done on a great experience for you and your family.
AnswerID: 536570

Follow Up By: Member - Keith B (QLD) - Friday, Jul 25, 2014 at 11:07

Friday, Jul 25, 2014 at 11:07
Mick and Rose,
Thanks. We did meet you - we stopped and had a brief chat while you were heading to well 3. As promised I have been on the internet to donate.
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FollowupID: 820714

Reply By: Member - CSR Walkers - Friday, Jul 25, 2014 at 11:21

Friday, Jul 25, 2014 at 11:21
We remember Keith it was lovely to meet you and your family, I am glad you had a fantastic time and what an amazing experience for your kids. Now to plan your next trip it never ends, Australia just has to much to offer and thank you for your donation it will go a long way to creating suicide awareness. You will get a receipt direct from Suicide Prevention Australia, when you donated on line. That is also one of the reasons we would not accept cash, we wanted it to go direct to the charity with no middle man.
Your description is awesome of your trip for fellow travellers to get back ground information before they leave on a similar journey, well done mate, take care.
AnswerID: 536574

Reply By: Gaynor - Friday, Jul 25, 2014 at 15:01

Friday, Jul 25, 2014 at 15:01
Keith, can you tell us more about the runner and cyclist?
AnswerID: 536586

Follow Up By: Member - Keith B (QLD) - Saturday, Jul 26, 2014 at 11:02

Saturday, Jul 26, 2014 at 11:02
Hi Gaynor,
The cyclist we met about 10 km south of Laverton on a very good gravel road. He was heading into Laverton. Only had a brief chat so not sure of his story.
We came across the runners near Ilkurlka. In fact we never saw the runners (!!), but came across their support team. Not sure how many runners there were. They had quite a large support group - I guess 6 - cars. They were raising money/awareness for one of the rescue helicopters. Apparently all the group lived in a town just west of Maryborough (could be Mundubberah) that was devastated by the recent floods, and the helicopter rescue service was responsible for significant rescues. The runner program was to show support for that.
That's what they told me.
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FollowupID: 820795

Follow Up By: Member - Keith B (QLD) - Saturday, Jul 26, 2014 at 11:08

Follow Up By: Gaynor - Saturday, Jul 26, 2014 at 14:47

Saturday, Jul 26, 2014 at 14:47
You met the support crew for the man who holds the Canning Stock Route record for running the fastest time between Halls Creek and Wiluna, done in 1996.

Dave ran 1770km in 24 days, 10hrs, 42mins ..... that is 70.8km EVERY day for 25 days!!

http://www.ultralegends.com/holleran-conquers-the-canning-stock-route-1996/

It is likely he had rest days during that time and that would have pushed his daily running distance even higher. It is a mind bender for me to imagine what it took to do that.

This was Dave;s final desert run ... he has done 14 with massive distances involved. I have reposted the link as I could not open the one above for some reason.

http://www.frasercoastchronicle.com.au/news/mundubbera-man-run-670km-rescue-chopper-fundraiser/2257816/

This is the Facebook page for the event
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Dave-Holleran-Versus-the-Great-Victoria-Desert/548251218615319

Canning Stock Route foot powered traverses are my passion.
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Follow Up By: Gaynor - Saturday, Jul 26, 2014 at 14:52

Saturday, Jul 26, 2014 at 14:52
Interesting. The Fraser Chronicle links won't work as such but if you copy the whole link and put it into you browser the page will come up.
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FollowupID: 820816

Follow Up By: Gaynor - Saturday, Jul 26, 2014 at 14:54

Saturday, Jul 26, 2014 at 14:54
Same goes for the Facebook link. You need to copy the whole link and paste as there seem to be an issue with the links system?????
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FollowupID: 820817

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