Travelling Townsville to Broome with young kids

Hi everyone,

We have finally made the decision (after months of what ifs and complete confusion)to head west and and do the top end NT and north west coast of WA in search of new opportunities. We leave in two weeks. Travelling with our two young kids (aged 4&1)

Just thought we would ask some advice from you more experienced travellers as this is our first big trip and my wife is a little scared of the unknown, and remote travelling with the kids. We will be travelling via flinders hwy, barkley, stuart and onto victoria.

Are there any must do's or dont's when travelling the outback in regards to saftey especially for the kids, as I just want to make sure the wife and kids feel safe on our big adventure.

We don't want to be doing massive amounts of driving each day. just want to take our time as we have at least 3 months.

Also any help or advice you could give to help as plan eg, freecamps and cheapest fuel stops would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks so much in advance for taking the time to reply!!

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Reply By: Athol W1 - Sunday, Jul 27, 2014 at 16:44

Sunday, Jul 27, 2014 at 16:44
You do not say what sort of rig you have but I presume that you have some sort of caravan, and with the family I would suggest that it would have its own toilet.

As for overnight camp sites I can only recommend that you carry a copy of the Camps Australia Wide 7 (preferably the spiral bound version with photos) and you will find plenty of suitable sites along that route. Do not travel for more than about 4 hours a day and find your camp site early, as some sites fill by early afternoon.

As for fuel it is generally best to purchase your fuel from the larger sites in town rather than the roadhouses, although this is not always practical, the fuel is more likely to be free of nasties that can cause untold damage to the latest common rail diesels however a roadhouse with a high turnover should be OK.

Some of our favourite camp sites include Clem Walton Dam (between Cloncurry and Mt Isa), Beside the Georgina River just west of Camooweal (across the first bridge then turn south for 1 to 3 km), The Pebbles (just south of Three Ways then turn west for about 2km well signposted), Longreach Waterhole (cross the cattle grid north side of Elliott turn west for 11km), Mary Pool (about 80km west of Halls Creek, well signed) just to name a few, and all of these locations you will not be alone.

If your Wife is a bit nervous about outback camping you can always stay at the roadhouses, as they all have camping facilities and can be very reasonable. I would suggest that you have some form of good communications (Sat phone or HF radio) as most of this area that you will be travelling through does not have any form of mobile phone coverage. You would probably qualify for the Sat Phone subsidy (if it is still on) which was for half price phones, and if you get the Iridium phone then you can use the Telstra SIM with International Roaming enabled, and then use the sat phone as though it is a GSM, but beware of the call costs (strictly emergency use only). UHF is only good for vehicle to vehicle comms within about 5km.

Enjoy your journey, and do not try to do too much in any one day, plan to have a rest day every few days.

And above all HAVE FUN.
AnswerID: 536680

Follow Up By: Ado84 - Sunday, Jul 27, 2014 at 17:43

Sunday, Jul 27, 2014 at 17:43
Hey Athol.

Thanks for your advice. Sorry i should have mentioned that we have a Holden Rodeo and towing a new Jayco Swan OB.

We have the wiki camps app but I should probably get the camps 7 book as well for when we dont have internet coverage.

Thanks heaps for the suggestions on campsites. We will definetly check them out.

We don't have a sat phone though and i hadn't thought of that. Are they expensive to buy?

FollowupID: 820877

Follow Up By: Athol W1 - Sunday, Jul 27, 2014 at 18:01

Sunday, Jul 27, 2014 at 18:01
Ado 84
I bought mine about 3 yeas back and, after the government subsidy, it cost about the $700 mark. All I had to do to get the subsidy was to fill out a declaration that I would be outside the GSM network for at least a number (I can not recall the number) of days over the next 2 years. I had to apply and be approved for the subsidy PRIOR to making the purchase, and it took about 10 days to come through.

Have fun
FollowupID: 820882

Reply By: Motherhen - Sunday, Jul 27, 2014 at 17:04

Sunday, Jul 27, 2014 at 17:04
If you are sticking to the highways, it will not be really remote, except for the fact you won't have regular phone reception or regular suburban shopping centres along the way. The roads are well used and you will meet up with plenty of other travellers.

Have your UHF tuned to channel 40 to keep in touch with what is going on around you.

Take plenty of drinking water for the little ones.

In the Northern Territory most rest areas are authorised 24 hour rest areas with camping permitted. The best ones along the Stuart Highway do fill early in the afternoon.

The top end has so much to see. My Blogs from 2009 outline what we saw and enjoyed.

Red desert dreaming

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AnswerID: 536681

Follow Up By: Ado84 - Sunday, Jul 27, 2014 at 17:47

Sunday, Jul 27, 2014 at 17:47
Thanks you Motherhen,

We will defintely check your blogs to see whats its like. Glad to hear there will be plenty of other travellers. Thanks for the reply.
FollowupID: 820879

Reply By: Top End Az - Sunday, Jul 27, 2014 at 18:48

Sunday, Jul 27, 2014 at 18:48
I have travelled these routes in the last 2 years. To be honest, after Charters Towers there isn't a lot that had our interest until Mt isa. Cammoweal was nice. The Barkley highway is better done in a day and not much to see but it's really flat and 360 degrees view of sky. Take extra water, fuel is a bit exxy at Barkley Roadhouse but fair enough.
Spend some time in Katherine at the gorge, hot springs and the Cuta Cuta caves. Kid loved it.
The Victoria Hway from Katherine to Kununurra is stunning. Especially from Timber Creek onwards.

Allow some time. Likewise, Kununurra is beautiful and a lot to see. After Kununura the drive to Halls Creek is great, then not really a lot until Broome except Geike Gorge.
For our kid, lots of books, comics, lollies, in-car activities, and stop every couple of hours for a stretch and the kids to burn off some energy.
We had handheld UHF radio, mobile phones, car serviced before we went, 2 spare tyres and about 60 litres of water and enough food for a couple of weeks. Take a few spares and tool box. If you can't fix it maybe someone else can. The highways are busy, so you won't be alone at all.
Allow for roadworks on Flinders Hway. Lots of them and slow going.
Lots of free camping in NT, but less so in Qld.
To be honest we weren't towing so willing to knock over serious km in a day, but each to their own.
Very jealous, have fun.
AnswerID: 536688

Follow Up By: Ado84 - Sunday, Jul 27, 2014 at 19:15

Sunday, Jul 27, 2014 at 19:15
Thanks so much Top End Az.

I have a cousin in Kununurra so i might see if we can stop at there place for a few days to have a look around.

we have a UHF radio in the car, and have had the ute serviced and checked over. Only have the one spare so hopefully i won't need 2. Toolbox is ready to go and i'm gonna go in and get a few spares like belts and radiator hoses.

What other spares did you take on your trip?

FollowupID: 820892

Reply By: Top End Az - Sunday, Jul 27, 2014 at 19:40

Sunday, Jul 27, 2014 at 19:40
Hi Ado. We only took the second spare as we were on the Gibb for a few weeks and our Dmax has an odd tyre size at 255/65R17.

Main highways you will be fine. I took spare belts, fuel and air filters, and just usual stuff in tool box like cable ties, silastic, hacksaw, air compressor, which we used all of). Our car is newish so didn't overload on spares.

Camps7 is good, but you won't be alone which is fine with us if you are after a freebie, but as mentioned, if using freebies, get in earlier in the afternoon.

One thing that caught us out were sunset times. Being from NT we have late sunsets so we factored in more driving time, but heading east we were travelling in the dark at 5:30 which we weren't used to. Minor details but it only takes one roo to spoil the trip.
Last cheap fuel is at Mount Isa if heading west. Allow for strong headwinds across the Barkley which increases fuel consumption, although more of a concern heading West to east.
Have fun.
AnswerID: 536691

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