Esperance to Bilbunya Dunes

Submitted: Wednesday, Dec 10, 2014 at 02:30
ThreadID: 110376 Views:2495 Replies:6 FollowUps:12
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Hey all,

I'm looking advise, 2nd week in January im looking to do a trip from Esperance out to Bilbunya Dunes.

Heres a few things to keep in mind for my trip:

1. I'll be driving a 2012 petrol Nissan Xtrail (city / normal road driving = 600km out of a full tank)

2. I will be going total solo, as this is the only time im going to get to do this trip and i have no one else who's interested in tagging along.

3. I've got 7 days in total, 1 to get down from Perth 5 days down there and 1 day to get back up to Perth.

Some people tell me its an ok trip and it can be achieved with a full tank in the Xtrail and a spare jerry can just incase.

I thought id like to visit Israelite bay, but some people are telling me not to bother going out so far as that area and the dunes are nothing special and there's other places closer like Thomas River and Duke of Orleans which would be better.

I guess ive just got it in my head that i was going to go visit Bilbunya and get some great photos.

Im keen to 4wd, fish, camp, possible kayak, walks to view points etc

I have the basics being max trax, shovel and an air compressor, tow rope.

The xtrail has a set of pretty new Maxxis A/T tyres which im pretty confident in and have let down to 10psi when the going gets soft. I also have a full set of spare suspension dampers that i could bring with me.

With the Xtrail im pretty confident and have put it through its paces before so i know its limits pretty well. Ive taken it out to Steep point which was alot of fun.

Other things ive thought about is hiring a sat phone from somewhere in Esperance just incase.

For the camping side of things im happy enough being away from people and dont really want to stay in camping grounds / caravan parks.

In terms of having a fire each night this time of year in that area, would be you allowed? specially if its on sand, would this be a problem?

Sorry for the long winded topic, im just trying to get as much information as possible on the trip. I have read the topic on the area along with maps and will print all those out as well.

Many Thanks for all your replies.

Jon
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Reply By: Idler Chris - Vic - Wednesday, Dec 10, 2014 at 07:55

Wednesday, Dec 10, 2014 at 07:55
Is the Xtrail auto or manual? I have seen an auto in heavy sand and it did well. Very experienced driver though, you will know your experience level. The auto somewhat makes up for the lack of low range. With a manual the risk of burning the clutch out in those dunes would be a significant risk.
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Follow Up By: mants - Wednesday, Dec 10, 2014 at 14:47

Wednesday, Dec 10, 2014 at 14:47
Hi Chris,

Mines a manual, but im pretty good on it, i know when not to push on etc
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Follow Up By: Idler Chris - Vic - Wednesday, Dec 10, 2014 at 16:12

Wednesday, Dec 10, 2014 at 16:12
Hi mants it sounds like you have got a pretty good grip on what you are about to do. I have been to both ends of the dunes in a very well prepared 100 series but not ventured in alone, now that I have a sat phone I might.
It is not a matter of knowing when "not to push it" in those dunes you may have no choice. I have seen an Xtrail in very dry sand and they do very well. IMHO you cannot bog an Xtrail on flat sand, you just let the air out until you can drive out. (they are not very heavy) I suggest that if you think you are having "to push it a bit" just let more air out, it should make the world of difference. Maxtrax and a long handle shovel are the best insurance, a sat phone can be used to get you out but you would help from Gina to pay the bill.
I have just got home from a over five month trip so Mr Murphy is looking for someone else to follow, so concentrate on the job at hand and you should have a good and safe trip.
On your return do not forget to post how you went.
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Follow Up By: mants - Wednesday, Dec 10, 2014 at 16:30

Wednesday, Dec 10, 2014 at 16:30
Thanks for the Chris.

Yeah i find the Xtrail is a pretty capable vehcile, you just got to remember its not a full big 4wd and therefore not as tough as a Patrol etc, but then on the upside, like you say, they are fairly light vehicles and i will also try to pack as light as possible to give me a good float across the sand.

Ive asked in this thread, but you know the trip notes, that show you the distances, is there one that takes you from Esperance out to Bilbunya? Giving all distances etc?
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Follow Up By: Idler Chris - Vic - Wednesday, Dec 10, 2014 at 17:31

Wednesday, Dec 10, 2014 at 17:31
Hi again mants, Re sat phones see my post 110383.
One day to Israelite Bay and one day back are very big days. I cannot remember the distances but I am sure you can work it out and know what is possible. I have been along both tracks to Israelite Bay, from Esperence, and Balladonia and would suggest you think about going there on one and exiting there on the other, they are both great drives.
You have another option, that is to drive to the north eastern end of the dunes, up the Wylie Scarp Beltway and along a track going north which would bring you out on the Eyre Hwy about 32 lilometres east of Balladonia.
Being solo you need very good navigation and backup. I would strongly suggest you use Google Earth and mark all track intersections and which one to take. I would use Google Earth to create waypoints for all POI's and track turns and then import them into OziExplorer.
Again have a great trip.
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Follow Up By: mants - Wednesday, Dec 10, 2014 at 18:53

Wednesday, Dec 10, 2014 at 18:53
Hi Chris

Sorry i meant 1 day from Perth to Esperance and 1 day from Esperance to Perth, with 5 days inbetween to get from Esperance out to Bilbunya and back to Esperance.

I think the option i'd take would be Esperance to Bilbunya view the tracks then up the rubber belt out onto Eyre Highway and back to Esperance that way.

I think im going to need to get a paper map of that area and study it abit. At the moment im just finding it hard to figure it all out.
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Reply By: Member Kerry W (WA) - Wednesday, Dec 10, 2014 at 10:25

Wednesday, Dec 10, 2014 at 10:25
Hi Mants,
Its a pretty remote spot, your main issues will be ground clearance and looking after your clutch in the xtrail. It seems a few xtrails have had clutch problems in soft sand but I would say inexperienced drivers and high tyre pressures were more the problem rather than the vehicle. Suspension will get a workout if the track into Israelite Bay is corrugated, it is a long drive in, from so best to keep tyre pressures as low as possible. You can top up with fuel at Condingup out of Esperance along Fisheries Rd.

There is a track behind the dunes which will be your best access to the dunes and camping spots behind the dunes. Have a look on google earth to get the lay of the land and tracks.

Exploroz has some excellent trek notes which will give you some good info re what to take and preparation here http://www.exploroz.com/TrekNotes/SouthCoast/Nuytsland_Nature_Reserve.aspx#rqc_tabs=1

Also some info on the dunes here:-

http://www.exploroz.com/Places/86940/WA/Bilbunya_Dunes.aspx#rqc_tabs=1

and of course you read thread 110374 "Planning Trip to Israelite Bay"

If you want good photos its a great spot.

Kerry W (Qld)
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Follow Up By: mants - Wednesday, Dec 10, 2014 at 15:08

Wednesday, Dec 10, 2014 at 15:08
Hi Kerry,

Yeah ground clearence may be abit low, ive added bigger tyres and have full under body protection on as well.

See the direction trip notes, are there any that takes your from Esperance out to the dunes?

Also are you able to give me this link? Planning Trip to Israelite Bay

Thanks
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Follow Up By: Member Kerry W (WA) - Wednesday, Dec 10, 2014 at 15:25

Wednesday, Dec 10, 2014 at 15:25
Ahh Thats the post you replied to yesterday. Thread no 110374


http://www.exploroz.com/Forum/Topic/110374/Planning_Trip_to_Israelite_Bay.aspx?ky=&sn=&p=%2fForum%2fDefault.aspx%3fpn%3d1
Kerry W (Qld)
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Follow Up By: mants - Wednesday, Dec 10, 2014 at 15:28

Wednesday, Dec 10, 2014 at 15:28
Aright sorry, thanks for the info
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Reply By: mants - Wednesday, Dec 10, 2014 at 16:34

Wednesday, Dec 10, 2014 at 16:34
Thought i would put up a photo of my Xtrail so you get an idea of the vehicle im talking about.

AnswerID: 542801

Reply By: Member - Megan and Kevin D (AC - Wednesday, Dec 10, 2014 at 22:22

Wednesday, Dec 10, 2014 at 22:22
Hi Jon
We drove through Nuytsland NR in 2010 doing the Israelite Bay to Bilbunya Dunes section via the OTL with plenty of drives along tracks to the beach for a look.

We're certain that we wouldn't have liked to have been travelling the track or the beach tracks in an XTrail.

Ron and Viv Moon in their excellent book "Across the Bight and Nullabor - An Adventurers Guide", say, referring to travelling on from Israelite Bay to Pt Culver, "Whichever way you go, the run north to the cliffs south of Pt Culver is one of the great 4wd adventures in Australia." Another quote: "You need to be well prepared and experienced for this trip - especially running the beach as it can be soft and treacherous."

Being on your own on this trip would be high risk. There are numerous tracks not shown on maps. We found a digital map on a gps and a printed map essential to choose our path. I can't recall at which stage that was used the most but I would consider it basic equipment for this trip.

In many places, the track was very overgrown and very slow going.

If you were travelling in convoy with a 4WD vehicle then maybe your vehicle would not be such an issue - however, I doubt we'd recommend it even then.

So to summarise - we feel that your vehicle is not suitable and travelling alone is not advisable. A sat phone is essential in our view if you go ahead.

Sorry to be such kill-joys.
Megan
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Follow Up By: mants - Thursday, Dec 11, 2014 at 00:46

Thursday, Dec 11, 2014 at 00:46
Hi Megan,

Thanks for the reply, its so hard to know, as you say you wouldnt take the Xtrail down there and then theres others that say yes it would be fine etc

Im getting so many mixed messages its hard to know what to believe.

One of the people thats said it would be fine has done the trip and is a well known 4wder. So i find it hard to know what to think really.
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Reply By: PhilD - Wednesday, Dec 10, 2014 at 22:43

Wednesday, Dec 10, 2014 at 22:43
Hi,
I towed a Kimberly Kamper from Esperance to Israelite Bay on both the beach track and the inland track to the jump up and then without the trailer went down to the Bilbunya Dunes. They are well worth seeing. The best way of getting to them will be determined by what the beach is like. We had no chance of driving along the beach from the west, and even with the Landcruiser on its own, the trip from the East with tyres down, etc was pretty hard going. The Old Telegraph Track is well worth doing, and may involve some bush bashing as the track gets overgrown due to lack of use, particularly from the jump up to the Cliffs, and if it is wet the pans can be interesting to navigate.
I suggest you get some detailed maps of the area as Hema, etc is sparse on detail. There are tracks going in different directions, so some intuitive navigation is also called for.
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Follow Up By: mants - Thursday, Dec 11, 2014 at 00:50

Thursday, Dec 11, 2014 at 00:50
Hey Phil,

Thanks for the reply. Yeah from the photos ive seen online i really think the dunes look pretty awesome. Would be great to get out there and get some photos of my own.

Im guessing were theres parts on the beach with the likes of stone/rock gardens there would be inland tracks to get around them?

Ive been looking at the hema maps but havent found a real detail one of that area, have you got any recommendations?

Thanks again
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Follow Up By: Member Kerry W (WA) - Thursday, Dec 11, 2014 at 01:34

Thursday, Dec 11, 2014 at 01:34
EOTopo seems to have some of the missing tracks on it. Especially the exit to the Highway east of Balladonia - dont go all the way through to Toolinna Cove it would take ages. There is a track signposted not far from the Belt track. Go to places look up Bilbunya Dunes and then click on the Map tag.
Kerry W (Qld)
Security is mostly a superstition. It doesnt exist in nature. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.
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Follow Up By: PhilD - Thursday, Dec 11, 2014 at 08:48

Thursday, Dec 11, 2014 at 08:48
Go and see Graham Gath, a surveyor in Esperance. Address is Suite 5, 98 Dempster Sreet and he has maps for sale and his own trek notes. It costs money, but he knows more or at least as much about the area than any one else. He will be able to answer most questions as well with all his local knowledge.
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Reply By: mants - Thursday, Dec 11, 2014 at 00:54

Thursday, Dec 11, 2014 at 00:54
Hey all again,

Since ive got 5 days to go from Esperance to Bilbunya and then back via Eyre highway, what would you say are my best options for the best camping areas for each night.

Keeping in mind id like to do some fishing off the beach as well and not having to drive to go fishing would be great to save fuel.

Regarding the fishing for that are what im i likely to catch? what bait would be best? ill just be using my 7ft Shmino rod.

Is there anyone in the Perth area that has done this trip and would fancy meeting with me to look at maps and help me plan the trip abit?

Thanks
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