Travelling to Darwin

Submitted: Tuesday, Oct 14, 2014 at 12:59
ThreadID: 109809 Views:1973 Replies:6 FollowUps:7
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Good morning,

We are planning a trip end of March 2015 to Darwin, leaving from Bundoora Melbourne, stopping at as many as possible tourist spots and then hopefully, all going well, travelling back to Melbourne via Qld.

We are a 60 y.o. couple and this is a first trip to N.T. We will be driving a 2009 HiLux dual cab and towing a Cub Daintree LE camper. We have done a little 4x4 driving, just a little.

Can you please give us some tips on preparing for the trip, e.g. spare parts we may need to take, road conditions etc. As I said this is our first trip and we are a little nervous.
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Reply By: Member - Oldbaz. NSW. - Tuesday, Oct 14, 2014 at 13:54

Tuesday, Oct 14, 2014 at 13:54
Hi Judith, sounds like a great trip. Assuming you have done some touring with your
rig, your prep will be little different for NT...longer distances of course. You need to decide your route..dirt or no dirt, both are possible. Good tyres are essential & a well
serviced car & camper is a wise move..especially bearings on trailer. Night travel is
risky & should be avoided. Stop early for the best free camps if that's your plan.
Basic spares are belts & hoses, extra fluids such as coolant & oil, & a basic tool kit.
There is plenty of good advice on this site...feel free to ask..cheers.....oldbaz.
AnswerID: 540333

Follow Up By: Judith C1 - Tuesday, Oct 14, 2014 at 14:20

Tuesday, Oct 14, 2014 at 14:20
Thanks so much for your advice.
As stated, we are brand new at this 4x4 experience. Only done a little bit of driving following my son around the hills of Jamieson. We were having trouble keeping up with him as he had a much higher clearance on his Nissan Patrol.
We have now had the Hi-Lux's suspension engineered as the bullbar we were carrying was too heavy for the HiLux suspension and at the same time had the suspension lifted 2". We now have no trouble grounding out. We have also had new set of BCFs fitted. We are very happy with the way the Hi-lux has performed around the Jamieson, Mt. Buller region, plenty of steep climbs.
No doubt the drive to Darwin will be totally different sought of driving. We would definitely like to do some dirt driving. We are not sure where to start finding out what route to take. Can you advise what sites to go to to find out different route and difficulty ratio.
As I said we are new at this and I am a little nervous doing this trip by ourselves, all and any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Kind regards Judee :)
FollowupID: 826153

Follow Up By: Member - Oldbaz. NSW. - Tuesday, Oct 14, 2014 at 14:44

Tuesday, Oct 14, 2014 at 14:44
I suggest you go to , click on the Trip Planner
on the left menu..start at your place & end where you want to get to
on day one. You can then add to your trip in as many steps as you wish.
I cant see you needing 4wd much on this trip, depending how adventurous you want to get. If you want to do some dirt..take the
Oodnadatta track on your way to Uluru..& continue around the
Mereenie Loop to Alice from Kings Canyon. Not really 4wd but formed gravel roads , can be rough, dusty & corrugated, but not
difficult...just slow down.
Don't be nervous, thousands like you do this all the time, just plan
carefully & go for it. cheers....oldbaz.
FollowupID: 826155

Follow Up By: Judith C1 - Tuesday, Oct 14, 2014 at 14:52

Tuesday, Oct 14, 2014 at 14:52
Thanks for the advice. We will definitely have a look a Once again thankyou.
FollowupID: 826157

Reply By: Steve in Kakadu - Tuesday, Oct 14, 2014 at 14:53

Tuesday, Oct 14, 2014 at 14:53
Hi Judith you may wont to think about travelling a month or so later, the reason being is that it will still be quite hot and humid in April, not only that but a lot of places will still be closed due to the wet season not being finished.

Most dirt roads and main attractions will still be closed, even by the middle of May not all attractions are open, if we get any rain in May this will prolong the opening of places up here in the North even longer.

If I was planning a trip up here I would plan for early to mid June, hope this helps.

AnswerID: 540335

Reply By: Member - Gordon R - Tuesday, Oct 14, 2014 at 16:35

Tuesday, Oct 14, 2014 at 16:35
Hi Judith

If you nervous about doing the trip, you might like to think about carrying a sat phone. There are quite long distances with no phone signal. Try Peter at Lara Electronics - he used to rent them and his rates were reasonable. Don't be afraid to get off the beaten track if you see a sign that interests you. We did this trip last year and took 10 days each way and we are about your age - great trip. Carry basic spares and plenty of drinking water. But mostly - just have fun! And by the way, the roads (sealed) were great.
AnswerID: 540343

Reply By: Member - John and Val - Tuesday, Oct 14, 2014 at 17:16

Tuesday, Oct 14, 2014 at 17:16
Hi Judith,

Where to start? We were about your age when we did our first big inland trips, though we had done long trips in less remote areas so knew a bit about travelling and camping, but nothing about inland conditions. I can still remember the excitement and yes, apprehension prior to our first inland trip. But there is really no need to be nervous - do your planning and preparation well and you will have a wonderful time.

Perhaps you could tell us how long you plan to take for your trip, then we can make some recommendations for possible routes and places to see. Also help you refine your timing as you dont want to get to the northern areas too early as it could still be hot and possibly wet.

A couple of pointers: look at the member profiles of people on here (link is near their signature photo) and sometimes you will find a lot of info about the gear they take. Also search through the blogs - as well as searching, members blogs can also be accessed via the link near their sig. photo. We have done trips in the areas you mention and have written blogs about them so there is quite a bit of info there that might give you some pointers.

You could do all of that trip on bitumen, but by going onto gravel you will see much more. You probably wont use 4WD much, but its good for getting into those out of the way special camps etc, and can make for better travel on rough roads.

Finally there is a fine line between planning enough and overplanning. There are long distances involved and conditions and circumstances can change as you travel, so its best to have plenty of flexibility built in. You dont want to be on such a tight schedule that you have to leave a beautiful spot just because you have a timetable that says that you need to be at spot x instead.Talking to other travellers on the road will give good info on places to see and road conditions.

Make sure you have at least a UHF radio for local communication. Mobile phones only work around remote towns and communities so dont rely on them for emergencies in the outback. As others have said, maybe a sat phone or HF radio for long distance communication and peace of mind.


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

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AnswerID: 540345

Follow Up By: Judith C1 - Wednesday, Oct 15, 2014 at 08:15

Wednesday, Oct 15, 2014 at 08:15
Good morning Val,
Wow, Wow. I am so impressed with this site. First time I have used it. It was recommended to me.
Thankyou so much for your insight.
We are taking 6 weeks for this trip.
We were planning on leaving end of March 2015 but have since been told that this may be too early, we should consider travelling early mid June. This is disappointing for us as one of the reasons for travelling end March is that my son, daughter-in-law and grand daughter are leaving Melbourne end of March for a 7 month trip, up the centre for 4 weeks and then they are heading over to WA, they having done alot of travelling and are well equipped, so we were relying on them for their advice and use of their shower etc. I was looking forward to spending the first few weeks of our trip with them.
But having said that I don't want to ruin our trip by travelling during the wet season. Our plan is to take our time travelling up to Darwin, seeing all we can on the way, spending time in Kakadu and Litchfield and then heading home via central Qld.
What do you think of us leaving end of March. Any travel tips would be greatly appreciated.
Kind regards Judee :)
FollowupID: 826205

Follow Up By: Member - John and Val - Wednesday, Oct 15, 2014 at 08:33

Wednesday, Oct 15, 2014 at 08:33
Hi Judith,

If you are planning to leave Melbourne at the end of March and take 4 weeks to reach Katherine/Darwin (?) that puts you towards the end of April, still warm but not impossibly so and the wet should be pretty much over by then click here for Katherine weather info.
My main thought though is that 6 weeks is a bit tight for the trip you propose. Now you may only have that time available, but if you could add even another 2 weeks I think you would see more and travel at a more relaxed pace. Its a long way.
J and V
"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted."
- Albert Einstein

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FollowupID: 826206

Follow Up By: Judith C1 - Wednesday, Oct 15, 2014 at 11:48

Wednesday, Oct 15, 2014 at 11:48
Sorry I led you astray.
We have not put a time limit on any of our travel, as far as getting from place to place. My thought was to spend approx. 4 weeks in N.T. and then 2 weeks getting home through Qld. Would this be possible or would we still be pushing things. I realise we will not have time to see everything in N.T. but hopefully alot of the main attractions, Uluru, Catherine Gorge, Kakadu and Litchfield.
FollowupID: 826230

Reply By: Searay - Tuesday, Oct 14, 2014 at 23:13

Tuesday, Oct 14, 2014 at 23:13
Hi there, We live in Darwin and travel a fair bit. Carrying spares for your car take an extra fuel filter and before leaving home learn to change it. Make sure all tyres on the car and camper are fairly new and in good condition. Many people carry two spares, we take a plug kit and small compressor but our tyres are always in good condition before a trip. Extras for in the car 10ltrs water for you or the car, it is still hot and humid that time of year and many roads including highways can close due to rain, but reopen quickly when rain stops. Dont worry about to many plans do some research before leaving but always keep an open mind some places you dont plan on staying at are often the best spots. In most states the racq,racv etc will give road conditions but if your still worried call ahead to police stations for updates. Have fun
AnswerID: 540373

Follow Up By: Judith C1 - Wednesday, Oct 15, 2014 at 11:55

Wednesday, Oct 15, 2014 at 11:55
Thanks Searay,
Can you tell me some of the most see places, we don't mind going a bit off the bitten track.
FollowupID: 826231

Reply By: Judith C1 - Wednesday, Oct 15, 2014 at 08:18

Wednesday, Oct 15, 2014 at 08:18
Thankyou so much for your advice. Uncertain now if we are planning to travel at the right time.
AnswerID: 540379

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