Tjukaruru Rd - Great Central Rd condition report - Oct 2014

G'day everyone!
Just did a run from Alice Springs to Perth this week in an '04 model 2WD petrol Hilux, via the Tjukaruru and GCR.
Didn't experience any serious problems, and the roads are quite suitable for 2WD's with modest ground clearance.

I got warned about Kata Tjuta to DOcker River being the worst section - but I found Kata Tjuta to the W.A. border, was in quite satisfactory condition.
From Kata Tjuta Westwards, the first 50-60kms of the Tjukaruru road is below average condition. It's rutted and contains patches of corrugations and soft loose gravel. Despite this, I was able to keep up 90-95kms hr with no major dramas.
Loose sections of gravel in this area contain a few fist size gibbers that could easily destroy tyres, you just need to be alert and avoid them.

From about 60ms West of Kata Tjuta, heading West, the road improves gradually. This section about the middle appears to have been graded about 6-8 weeks ago.

As you approach Docker River, the grading is more recent and the road condition improves markedly. The graders were working right at the Docker River community on Thursday 23rd October 2014, with the road freshly graded. The short section between Docker River community and the W.A. border was in poor condition and was obviously slated to be graded soon. Speed was down to 75-80 kms/hr here.

From the W.A. border heading West to Warakurna/Giles, the road condition is below average.
It's deeply rutted, contains corrugations, and loose gravel in many sections. It's been many months since this section was graded.

From Warakurna heading West to Warburton, the road condition is average, with numerous sections below average. These sections are rutted and corrugated.
Despite this, I was able to mostly sit on 100-105 kmh without slowing down too often.

About 40 kms from Warburton (Eastwards) the road conditions improve substantially due to recent roadworks. The last approximately 20 kms into Warburton, going Westwards, is on a new, upgraded formation with new gravel sheeting. Roadworks are currently ongoing here, on a sizeable scale.

From Warburton Westwards towards Tjukayirla, the first approximately 40 kms is dual-lane bitumen. This turns into a good average gravel road with some short sections that are below average with rutting and corrugations. I was able to sustain 110 kmh easily on the bitumen and 100 kmh pretty easily on most of the gravel, through this portion of the GCR.

From Tjukayirla to Laverton, the road is fairly good overall - but there's a number of sections that suffer from deep rutting and corrugations due to poor gravel quality.
I was able to keep up 100-105kms/hr along most of this section of the GCR.

I was running on standard 2WD Hilux tyres - 185R14C - and I only took one spare, with some basic tyre repair equipment and a compressor.
I ran the tyres at 32 psi (220 Kpa) and I never had a single tyre problem of any kind.
A couple of the days were around 39 deg C - but I was running lightly loaded with only basic camping gear and food, 20L of water and 60L of fuel in jerry cans.
I had no problems with items carried on board, apart from the compressor punching holes in its el-cheapo plastic case.
It was carried upright on the tray and secured with a ratchet strap - but the compressor isn't held firmly enough inside the case.

I only travelled daylight hours, and never saw a single hopping marsupial of any kind until about 35 kms East of Laverton, when a solitary 'roo bounded out in front of me. He was easily avoided with straight-line braking.

I came across at least 6 groups of camels on the road, mostly West of Warakurna. You virtually have to stop for them, they're very reluctant to move, particularly the older camels.
Saw one big very fat brush turkey (bustard), the biggest I've seen in years. The grasshopper supply must be good out there at present.

The biggest road dangers are the abandoned or burnt cars belonging to the locals. Had to pull one Falcon off the road, it was abandoned right in the centre of the lanes with a blown front tyre and it provided a major hazard - if lighting conditions were poor, you would almost certainly clean it up.
There are numerous burnt wrecks lying on the road shoulder or just off the road edge.

I camped at Warakurna one night (unpowered site) and I found Warakurna quite good with very reasonable charges and a good camp kitchen and ablution block.
Remember Warakurna operates on NT time, and that you can get booked in and get the ablution block key up until 20:00Hrs NT time, even though the roadhouse shuts at 17:00Hrs.

Didn't stop long at Warburton, the place is too depressing.

Stopped quickly for fuel and a steakburger and chips at Tjukayirla - the food is good, but with Opal at $2.45 you don't want to be taking on 150 litres of it!

Overall, had a pleasant run through from Alice Springs to Perth from Tuesday afternoon (21/10/14) to Friday night (24/10/14).
It wasn't an extended sightseeing tour, just a run to get a ute back to Perth, quickly.
I hope to get out there again soon and see some of the sights along the way in more detail - and hopefully after the Federal Govt has poured that $30M they are talking about, into the Outback Way!

Cheers, Ron.
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Reply By: Sandman - Sunday, Oct 26, 2014 at 20:12

Sunday, Oct 26, 2014 at 20:12
We drove from Warakuna back to Alice last week, infact we were probably 2 days infront of you :-) Grader was out at Docker River, the run was great. We sat on 70-80, very easy on the car :-)

Yes the camp kitchen at Warakuna was awesome and so were the people and travelers we met.

AnswerID: 540894

Follow Up By: Zippo - Tuesday, Oct 28, 2014 at 14:48

Tuesday, Oct 28, 2014 at 14:48
Warakurna definitely deserves a mention. We were there in late July and spoiled ourselves in their flash new motel-style units. The rest of the facilities were better than many on the GCR (although I won't mention names).

The current "Where to stay" for the GCR doesn't even mention Warakurna in the Treks/GCR even though a pic appears in the "Images from this trek"! I have asked the ExplorOz site operators to fix this but so far it is still missing.
FollowupID: 826906

Follow Up By: Sandman - Tuesday, Oct 28, 2014 at 15:04

Tuesday, Oct 28, 2014 at 15:04

I recall the rate was $145 for the donga but there were nice. We did the cheap alternative, threw the swag out on their rear lawn for $20 :-)
FollowupID: 826909

Follow Up By: Zippo - Tuesday, Oct 28, 2014 at 15:08

Tuesday, Oct 28, 2014 at 15:08
Tjukayirla has donga-style accom. These weren't dongas. They were full-on motel units, and flash as.
FollowupID: 826910

Follow Up By: Sandman - Tuesday, Oct 28, 2014 at 15:11

Tuesday, Oct 28, 2014 at 15:11
Well yes, they were more motel style than traditional dongas I agree. Definitely quality accommodation for being out there....

Camp kitchen was very clean with all the stuff you'd need.....

Place is definately A+
FollowupID: 826911

Reply By: Robin Miller - Wednesday, Oct 29, 2014 at 17:49

Wednesday, Oct 29, 2014 at 17:49
Thats a nice long and detailed description of roads - Thank you Ron
Robin Miller

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AnswerID: 541048

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