Trip advice dalhousie springs and Mt Dare in mid-December??

Submitted: Tuesday, Jun 30, 2015 at 08:38
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Does anyone have any advice on how practical, treacherous or difficult it would be to visit dalhousie springs and Mt Dare in mid-December?

I would be coming from the south on the A87 and then via Oodnadatta. I don’t want to go into the desert more than just as far as Dalhousie/Mt dare and then returning on the same route.

I’ve never been to this area and I’m concerned about it being the wet season at that time.

Thanks for any advice
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Reply By: Been-Everywhereman - Tuesday, Jun 30, 2015 at 08:45

Tuesday, Jun 30, 2015 at 08:45
Don't worry about wet season because it is all tooooooooo low for tropical weather but it may well be over 40 degrees every day with barely any traffic so not a great time to travel around there. It will be hot hot hot hot hot with flies flies flies flies
AnswerID: 556510

Reply By: 671 - Tuesday, Jun 30, 2015 at 09:44

Tuesday, Jun 30, 2015 at 09:44

People live in those areas and they don't stop driving during summer. I don't live there but I have driven in summer through desert areas. It will most likely be scorching hot and below zero at night. If you are sure you can handle that then you will be ok.

You can not rely on seeing other cars in areas like that in summer so remember a few basic points like get local advice before leaving and tell them where you are going; contact your destination and tell them when you expect to arrive; keep the car well under its maximum weight; don't drive like a bat out of hell; make sure the car's cooling system is in excellent condition; don't use well worn tyres or any tyre that is more than about six years old; take plenty of food and more water than you think you will need; NEVER leave the car if something goes wrong; carry some form of reliable communication equipment.
AnswerID: 556513

Reply By: MEMBER - Darian, SA - Tuesday, Jun 30, 2015 at 10:21

Tuesday, Jun 30, 2015 at 10:21 my view, only 'tough bush types' could enjoy the area at that time of the year; you may be one such person :-). Keep in mind..... Heat levels could be very high and risk to personal safety is elevated, compared to the winter. Reliance on vehicle airconditioning is most unwise (with a breakdown, you could be out there for quite awhile waiting on recovery; if you have distance communications, that is.......)....on some route sections there would be significant time gaps between passing vehicles too. You'd need to carry extra water.....oh for the suggestion above about not worrying re the wet season.....that is the season that pastoralists up there have traditionally expected to get their annual useful rain, from the bottom end of summer monsoons that sweep across the north. Stranding on closed roads may not be likely, but entirely possible...once again, distance communications allows you to stay in touch with police and family, while the roads dry out.
AnswerID: 556517

Reply By: Jackolux - Tuesday, Jun 30, 2015 at 10:25

Tuesday, Jun 30, 2015 at 10:25
I have been in that area a number of times , I let myself get talked into doing a trip in April one year , I told em it would be too bloody hot , but stupid me went anyway .

I was right it was that hot all we did was stay in the air con vehicle , Dalhousie Spring was that hot ya couldnt get in and the bloody flys ,

I reckon December would be the same , might even be hotter ,suggest you have a rethink .
AnswerID: 556518

Reply By: phtest - Tuesday, Jun 30, 2015 at 10:49

Tuesday, Jun 30, 2015 at 10:49
Thanks for all the replies and advice, much appreciated. It’s not my 1st rodeo however I have never traveled in the central desert area much. I’m always faced with the same problem in that Christmas is the only time I can get enough time off to adequately see these place. I guess there is nothing for it but to pack in work and go travelling. Now where did I put my car keys lol.
Thanks Paul.
AnswerID: 556519

Follow Up By: Ozrover - Tuesday, Jun 30, 2015 at 12:37

Tuesday, Jun 30, 2015 at 12:37
As long as your vehicle is up to it I.e. Well serviced, good suspension, Good tyres etc... & you are prepared for the flies, heat, rough "roads" you should have few problems.

I would give Mt Dare a call (talk to Dave) tell him your plans & he will fill you in on all of the pros & cons of travelling out there in summer, we did it for years with no problems.

Also be aware of the local UHF duplex channels & how to use them, I would also invest in a sat phone, either hire or buy one, I did have to use mine a few times to get assistance & to let people know where I was.

I love the desert in summer, but treat it with respect or it could bite you...

FollowupID: 842714

Reply By: Rangiephil - Tuesday, Jun 30, 2015 at 12:18

Tuesday, Jun 30, 2015 at 12:18
As the wags used to shout at anyone in a Britz camper on the Stuart Highway, after Ms Grossmuller died trying to walk out from ABC Bay to William Creek in December .

"Stay with the car"

She made it about 17Km in 48C heat while her partner who waited at the Troopie survived.

Regards Philip A.
AnswerID: 556523

Follow Up By: Pete Jackman (SA) - Wednesday, Jul 01, 2015 at 16:55

Wednesday, Jul 01, 2015 at 16:55
That was a sad story.

We researched it after seeing the memorial on the road to Halligan Bay and wondered how someone could die so close to civilisation. The story doesn’t seem to be posted anywhere on here so we googled the name and it is certainly a tragic tale:

Caroline Grossmueller

On the 7th of December 1998 tourists Karl Goeschka and Caroline Grossmueller (from Vienna, Austria) left William Creek Hotel to travel 65 km East to Lake Eyre. Before leaving the hotel the couple signed their name in a register letting the boy behind the counter know about their whereabouts in case they would not be back within a few days so he could raise the alarm. After arriving at the banks of the lake that evening they bogged their Britz troopy campervan manoeuvring in loose sand at the camp site. Karl did let the tires down a bit and dug some of the sand away with a plate but was unable to get it free.

They were stuck at the bush camping site, had a full 65 litre water tank in the vehicle and enough food to survive for weeks. They were bogged next to a shelter with large water tank containing over 300 litres of water. Karl and Caroline were confident that the hotel boy would raise the alarm and that someone would come to their rescue. But after 2 days of waiting at the banks of the dry lake, there was no sign of help. They became worried that somehow they were forgotten. As it happened, the boy had left the hotel the following day after his father returned. He had written the whereabouts of the couple in a new book because he couldn’t find the existing one. When the father returned he only checked the old book, not finding any indication that anyone was still out at the lake. Caroline and Karl decided that they could not wait any longer. They took a tent, various small articles, and 17 litres of water between them. As an experienced walker and medical student Caroline estimated they could do about 4-5 km an hour in the night, making it possible to do the 65km in less than 12-14 hours, just enough time before the heat of the day would become unbearable. However the temperature was over 40º each day (shade temperature) and did not drop much below 35º at night. They only walked 5 hours before needing to rest for another 5 having already drunk half their water. After another hours walking Caroline left Karl who felt he couldn’t continue, taking his boots because her shoes had started to melt, and most of their remaining water heading on alone about 4:00am on the 10th. Karl stayed in the tent during the day and returned to the lake that evening. Caroline only covered half the distance to William Creek and was found dead five days later by two German tourists. Caroline had died next to the road, half way between Lake Eyre and the Hotel. She managed to walk about 30 km before collapsing. She still carried almost 2 litres of water on her and had walked past cattle troughs and dams containing water (and was only 700m from another one when she died). During the inquiry of her death, Dr. James attributed her death to "heat exhaustion and exposure". The coroners findings can be found here. Karl was rescued that same day.

The attending police officer later reported that the troopys tyres still had 34 PSI of pressure. He dropped the tyre pressure down to 24, spent 10 minutes removing sand from under the vehicle and "then drove the vehicle out of the bog with minimal difficulty"

The couple were carrying a desert pass pack with all the right instructions: Stay with the vehicle, Stay in the shade, Conserve water, Prepare signals - eg fire, mirrors, and ground markings. They were carrying no recovery gear – not even a shovel and the vehicle was not in an impossible situation as evidenced by the relative ease of the attending police officer in shifting the vehicle. The pair were clearly ignorant of the effect of the high temperatures on the body even though Grosmueller was a medical student.

All in all a very sad story.


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Follow Up By: Les - PK Ranger - Thursday, Jul 02, 2015 at 08:03

Thursday, Jul 02, 2015 at 08:03
I wondered at the time if they had a decent UHF, and knew how to use duplex with the repeaters in the area ??

4WD Tracks & Repeater Towers

Repeaters can't always be relied on to be operating, but just about all stations / pubs / servos etc up there do monitor channels.

There is a repeater listed at Halligan (4), William Ck (2), and Coward Springs a little south (3).
If they asked at William Ck pub before going if they could contact by UHF in a situation, then they'd know it is an option.

At the very least with the Britz brigade, these vehicles should be fitted with a decent 5w UHF and external antenna, as they travel remote most of the time.
We passed a britz crossing the simmo in May on part of French Line, no radio at all.

Further, as inexperienced travellers, they should be carrying a PLB minimum, sat phone hire would be far better, and know all the contact numbers for RFDS, local police, etc.

Thinking deeper about it, all travellers should of course have the basics with UHF, and be carrying the PLB, Spot, Sat phone, etc out there, something reliable to get at least a distress message out in all circumstances.
FollowupID: 842808

Reply By: ChrisVal7 - Tuesday, Jun 30, 2015 at 14:32

Tuesday, Jun 30, 2015 at 14:32
I onve visited there in October and it was unpleasantly hot. But more i portantly, you probably need to check if Witjira NP is open in December. I know they officially close the Simpson crossing ip until March and this may apply also to Dalhousie.
AnswerID: 556528

Follow Up By: Ozrover - Tuesday, Jun 30, 2015 at 17:13

Tuesday, Jun 30, 2015 at 17:13
Witjira NP is open all year round to Dalhousie Springs but closed east of Dalhousie.

Keep an eye on the weather as it can rain at any time, but we had our biggest rainfalls between November & March.

FollowupID: 842730

Reply By: Allan B (Member, SunCoast) - Tuesday, Jun 30, 2015 at 22:41

Tuesday, Jun 30, 2015 at 22:41
Hi Paul.

Having worked there with Santos in all seasons I can tell you that at best it will be damned uncomfortable and at worst foolhardy. The people who live and work in these areas are conditioned and well prepared for the extreme weather conditions. If you must do it, be very well prepared and obtain good knowledge of safe conduct. It is very easy to underestimate the extremes of the Aussie bush as some people have found at their peril.

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AnswerID: 556544

Reply By: Member - Warrie (NSW) - Wednesday, Jul 01, 2015 at 09:41

Wednesday, Jul 01, 2015 at 09:41
Hi phtest, best to check the BoM site for accurate info about desert temps. Oodnadatta Dec 10th 2014 - minimum 30 and maximum 46.5. Even if the mins are a relatively pleasant 20 to 24 degrees of dry heat, the mean max is 38. And just 2.4 mm of rain for the month reflecting t he fact that most Decembers are just hot and dry. Link to Bom data here
Others have done such a trip but there won't be much incentive to get out of the car aircon from 10 am to 6 pm. Cheers.... W

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AnswerID: 556549

Reply By: Bob Y. - Qld - Wednesday, Jul 01, 2015 at 13:31

Wednesday, Jul 01, 2015 at 13:31
From my experience, Paul, having lived in a similar area(north of Birdsville)for over 20 years, is that December weather can be different every year. Remember one year we wore jumpers on Christmas Day, it was so cold. However, most years it's HOT.

Excellent advice above for you to heed, but one thing I would take, if you haven't one already, is an awning, or a tarp, to string off the side of the vehicle in case you need to stop at any time during the day. Vehicles are cool with aircon going, but provide little shade at midday, if you are changing a tyre..........or perhaps waiting for assistance. :-(

Enjoy the trip,
Safe travels,

Seen it all, Done it all.
Can't remember most of it.

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Follow Up By: Allan B (Member, SunCoast) - Wednesday, Jul 01, 2015 at 20:43

Wednesday, Jul 01, 2015 at 20:43
Agreed Bob, but I would point out to the OP that it is unwise to rely on the vehicle air conditioner for survival. For comfort maybe but not survival.
Several years ago we were heading home early in November across the Simpson when our vehicle air conditioner failed. We had to suffer 42+ degrees in the cabin for a week or so. It could have been more serious if it had been in mid December.

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