NT possibilities in summer

Submitted: Sunday, Aug 03, 2014 at 11:03
ThreadID: 108996 Views:1992 Replies:3 FollowUps:3
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We are in a situation where 1) we have to take leave over the Christmas/new year break, and 2) my son has to be in Darwin on 7January to start a new venture.
We have travelled NT before but have of course done this in the dry and winter.
We are in Cairns and travel with TVan,
Are there any opportunities for camping at that time given the hot and humid weather, or should we just send our time elsewhere and send him up by Greyhound?
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Reply By: Bob Y. - Qld - Sunday, Aug 03, 2014 at 20:19

Sunday, Aug 03, 2014 at 20:19

At that time of the year, the weather will be a real gamble. If there's been no general rain, then you can class it as furnace weather. Travel from roadhouse to road house, so you can avail yourself of their power, and maybe run a fan at night. I've spent the past 3 Christmas travelling into, and out of the NT, and don't think it is that good, without a comfortable nights sleep.

If there's been good rain up the top end, many of the creeks and falls will be running. It's supposed to be a special time around Kakadu then. Not as crowded either.

Re putting the young bloke on the Skinny Dog. Unless he wants to travel that way, why not put him on Jetstar/Virgin.....he'll be up there in 4 hours, refreshed and ready to start this new venture, and you can travel to somewhere more befitting a holiday. Our kids suffered bus trips between Toowoomba and Winton, during their school years, and while they don't hate us for it, doubt they'll ever get on a bus again! :-)


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Can't remember most of it.

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Reply By: Member - Serendipity(WA) - Sunday, Aug 03, 2014 at 23:53

Sunday, Aug 03, 2014 at 23:53
Hi CSeaJay

We lived in the NT (Darwin) for years and of course holidayed during the xmas break. Yes it is a lot quieter then for a good reason.

It is unbelievably hot, and you can't go a lot of places due to flooding.

Mostly we tried to go south by airplane during xmas but occasionally we would stay in NT. One year we drove over to Queensland and to Fraser Is. The locals thought it was so hot and of course not many people due to the weather. We loved it and thought it was so cool compared to Darwin.

If we did holiday we would book airconditioned cabins. As a local Territorian we would get discounted prices during the off season (buildup).

Your main question about camping. As said before, if the rains have not come you can still get to places like in Kakadu. Of course it is mating season for crocs so they are quite aggressive and territorial so don' t go near any water - even though you may really really really want to due to the heat.

We travelled with fans - 12v and 240v. Only way to sleep at night. We would have mossie nets inside our tents or camper. We would sleep with cans of bug spray and use them all night. We would sleep with drinking water and drink it all during the night. We would sleep with water spray bottles and use them all night. It is do-able but you just change a few things. Get use to sweat.

Good part - no one else around.



Then of course you would often have a cyclone in the area. They just caused lots of rain. Sometimes the Stuart Hwy would be closed off between Darwin and Katherine for a week or more until the rivers went down.

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Follow Up By: Member - PhilD_NT - Wednesday, Aug 06, 2014 at 00:35

Wednesday, Aug 06, 2014 at 00:35
When did you live up here?

I've been up around here since late(ish) 1973 and your last paragraph doesn't exactly line up with my experience, or my wife for that matter who was born here. Cyclones aren't that often but do need to be taken notice of and those who are in non cyclone coded accommodation, or are totally afraid of them, will relocate themselves to Adelaide River, Pine Ck or even to Katherine for the duration. As to the Stuart Hwy being cut for up to a week, even in those earlier days with some of the main rivers you were able to just use the railway bridges as an alternate. The last time it was cut for a while was when the train derailment at the Edith River happened from flash flooding, but that was just a few years ago. The longest duration I remember was when flooding closed it near Newcastle Waters during the 74/75 Wet Season but since the George Redmond Crossing was completed a few years later it hasn't been threatened again at that spot. But that's well South of the section of Highway being mentioned. Many places would get closed for short durations but usually only for a day or so. More delays happened on the Victoria Hwy and the Barkly at the Georgina. These days it isn't a regular occurrence for long(ish) delays on any of the 3 routes up here. We Seasons can vary a lot though.

For me, the Wet Season is the best time, unlike at the moment where it's been way too cold for way too long. I'll take our Wet Season and it's supposed suicide inducing conditions any day over a southern Winter or scorching Summer.
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Follow Up By: Member - Serendipity(WA) - Wednesday, Aug 06, 2014 at 09:32

Wednesday, Aug 06, 2014 at 09:32
Hi Phil

We lived up there from late 90s to mid 2000s.

In that time there where sections of the Stuart Hwy closer to Katherine that would still flood and I do remember after one cyclone dumping it stayed closed for nearly a week. The news showed road trains all queued up on the road. This also happens all over the NT at time. Another place is on the way to WA - a section there gets news coverage with travellers being stuck for a week with rivers flooding.

Yes they have built new higher bridges over most of the problem areas but some are just major flood ways where no bridge can cover.

And then there is the Arnhem Hwy being flooded from Windows on the Wetlands onwards. That happened almost every season. You would see the trucks driving through water to get out to Jabiru by just seeing the tops of the white posts.

Using the railway bridge might be OK for a 4x4 but those with caravans might have trouble or those with standard height cars would not make it. And the road trains - can't see them on a rail track. Nor can I see the Rail authorities allowing cars over their bridges. I would not be comfortable driving over one of the old abandoned bridges.

I agree with you that the wet season is some of the best times in the top end but that is not how the mexicans see it. For people living in the NT it is just so dry and boring during winter it is great to see the first rains, and green frog tadpoles growing in every water source around the house.


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Follow Up By: Member - PhilD_NT - Wednesday, Aug 06, 2014 at 11:24

Wednesday, Aug 06, 2014 at 11:24
Compared to the old road to Katherine (1.5 lanes width, no white lines, all low level crossings, Buffaloes, Road-trains, the old North Australian Railway crossings, windy, longer and slower) it's now a doddle. In fact it then used to be narrow bitumen all the way to Alice. It used to be an adventure in the 70's, just like the 900km route from the NT/SA border to Pimba on the dirt was.

Yes you can't build for the highest river levels at reasonable cost but the delays aren't really that bad and more and longer happen from closures after vehicle/truck accidents.

The Arnhem Hwy does need upgrading, especially from the Stuart to past the Mt Bundy quarries. That section just East of the Adelaide River has always flooded and generally a smaller stretch just on the Western side as well. The Eastern stretch though used to be completely devoid of trees on the flood plain due to the effects of the wild Buffaloes. In early 1974 we were trying to get to a Lagoon on the other side for some water skiing but were stopped at the bridge. Some friends just backed the trailer off of the road and went skiing on the plains anyway. Got some great views of "beach" landings on the bitumen road and the boat tied up to a white post. Not as many crocs around back then.

As to the railway bridges, back then the ones at the Adelaide River township, the Ferguson and the Katherine one itself were regularly used as alternate vehicle usage when the low level crossings were closed. Katherine and Adelaide River definitely had planks on them to allow vehicle usage. The Ferguson one I used once and it was in a Falcon and it was the worst but very little exhaust damage done. For a year I was living within view of the Katherine one and it was most definitely often used by Road-trains as well as all other traffic as the only other crossing was at the Low Level Reserve out West of the town and it was out for quite some time. The Armco guard railings did suffer a lot but helped to keep the Road-train trailers lined up. The first we knew about Cyclone Tracy was the stream of damaged vehicles pouring across the rail bridge on Christmas day. The Adelaide River and Katherine old rail bridges are abandoned as far as vehicle/train usage goes but the Ferguson one was resurrected and strengthened for the current railway but all 3 places now have high level road bridges anyway.
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Reply By: CSeaJay - Monday, Aug 04, 2014 at 15:02

Monday, Aug 04, 2014 at 15:02
Thank you both for your considered replies.
You confirmed what I thought - no fun camping, and no fun driving up and overnighting at rest stops. We will explore other options
Thanks again
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