Finke River 4WD Track

Submitted: Friday, Apr 16, 2004 at 14:59
ThreadID: 12103 Views:4383 Replies:7 FollowUps:11
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Hi. I'm heading off to the red-centre in Jun, including the 4WD track from Hermansburg, sth along the Finke river to the Ernest Giles rd in the sth (about 5.5hr with some very sandy sections apparently). The Parks & Wildlife Commission "Fact sheet" says the route is not suitable for trailers yet i'm looking at hiring a Tvan camping trailer for the trip. I'll be driving a Prado120 with raised suspension & rear difflock, and be accompanied by another vehicle (hilux) not towing anything. Has anyone done this section and what is your advice re taking a trailer? (notwithstanding bad weather conditions that might stop me going on this section even without a trailer!).

Appreciate a quick reply as i need to book the trailer pretty soon!!
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Reply By: Rosco - Bris. - Friday, Apr 16, 2004 at 16:33

Friday, Apr 16, 2004 at 16:33

Sounds like you're referring to Boggy Hole. We were there 12 months ago, almost to the day. Went from South to North and the track was closed at Boggy Hole but there was no sign to this effect at the Southern end. It did say trailers were not encouraged. Due to the track closure we ended up on an emergency access track which was unbelieveably rough ... had to build our own road. Took 3 hours to travel 1.5 km. The Rangers didn't think we'd make it, spoke to them across the waterhole which caused the track closure and met up with them again later when they told us they had never seen anyone take a trailer through before.

Suffered about $1K damage ... track rod, steering damper, muffler. But at that stage we were committed and couldn't turn around, even if we'd wanted to.

We made in in a Disco towing a box trailer but wouldn't advise it if the track is still closed. If it's open, which sounds to be the case, you shouldn't have any probs, notwithstanding the signage about trailers.

It's a great spot overall and not to be missed.

AnswerID: 54554

Follow Up By: DrewT - Friday, Apr 16, 2004 at 17:07

Friday, Apr 16, 2004 at 17:07
thanks Rosco. yes it is the boggy hole track i'm talking about ... looks like i'll give it a go with the trailer. thanks for your reply
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Reply By: Davoe - Friday, Apr 16, 2004 at 17:31

Friday, Apr 16, 2004 at 17:31
I was in the region 12 months ago and was thinking about doing the same trip from nth to south but there was ample information around that it was closed after boggey hole and the impresion I got that it wouldnt be reopened due to to unsuitable vehicles requiring help to often but more up to date info would be needed
AnswerID: 54561

Reply By: Willem - Friday, Apr 16, 2004 at 17:44

Friday, Apr 16, 2004 at 17:44
I have read your response to Rosco's comments.

Why is it that you will not heed warnings? If the Fact Sheet says that the track is not suitable for trailers then it means just that. This does not mean that it cannot be done with a trailer. How well versed are you with towing a trailer in rough terrain?

Fact..... The Finke River and ElleryCreek river beds change every year due to seasonal rains. Sands get shifted around and what may have been a good part of the track this year is a sandy boghole the next. The Finke Gorge Track will be pretty chopped out by July with increased numbers of visitors wending their way through the park.

Fact...It will cost you plenty if you have to be rescued by Rangers or the Police.

Fact....You WILL scratch your trailer on some sections of the track as it is overgrown with gidgee and mulga. I doubt if the hirers will be pleased with that.

I would leave the trailer in Alice Springs and do a campover run at Boggy Hole.

AnswerID: 54562

Follow Up By: Graeme - Friday, Apr 16, 2004 at 18:32

Friday, Apr 16, 2004 at 18:32
I'm not trying to start a bunfight, however ...
all trailers aren't equal!! For those of us who spend considerable money buying off-road campers (eg an Ultimate) that are designed to go wherever a 4WD vehicle will go find general statements like "the track is not suitable for trailers" dificult to understand in that ... all trailers aren't equal.

A bit of help & advice (and informed opinion) - ask a Ranger - is invaluable in these situations.

That's what I thing anyway!
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Follow Up By: Willem - Friday, Apr 16, 2004 at 18:54

Friday, Apr 16, 2004 at 18:54

I agree with you that not all trailers are equal but the fact remains that if you strike a particularly boggy section then no matter what trailer you are towing you are going to get into trouble. The only trailer that will really do the job in any country is the Landrover 101 PTO driven trailer.

As I said before, it is quite possible to take a trailer along the Finke Gorge track, but then again you may be heading for strife. This same argument goes for the Simpson Desert and the Canning Stock Route tracks. But there are smart arses who wish to defy logic and common sense. Some get away with it...some don't
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Reply By: Member - John W (SA) - Friday, Apr 16, 2004 at 18:18

Friday, Apr 16, 2004 at 18:18
Hi DrewT
I towed a box trailer along the Boggy Hole track in September 2003. Just let the tyres down and take it easy. In some places the track is narrow, so you'll score a few scratches -maybe not good for a hire trailer. There are signs discouraging trailers, but there is no penalty for taking one. Unless you get stuck, in which case it will cost you a fortune to retrieve it.
Good luck with your trip
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Follow Up By: Member- Peter & Mrs Peter, Lez - Friday, Apr 16, 2004 at 19:15

Friday, Apr 16, 2004 at 19:15
Does letting the tyres down on your trailer really help? Surely this would increase drag on the surface you are towing over. Create more restance.
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Follow Up By: Member - Jiarna (SA) - Friday, Apr 16, 2004 at 19:39

Friday, Apr 16, 2004 at 19:39
That's what I thought too, until I was persuaded to try it. The lower pressures allowed the trailer to float over sand, and made the rough bits a lot smoother. Have to take it easy though to avoid damaging the tyres. I have LT tyres on my trailer, and haven't had a flattie since fitting them.
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Follow Up By: Willem - Friday, Apr 16, 2004 at 20:45

Friday, Apr 16, 2004 at 20:45
Geez are chancing your arm towing that box trailer through the rough... 14" wheels?

Like you pic of Oodna's Main Street

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Follow Up By: Member - Jiarna (SA) - Friday, Apr 16, 2004 at 23:07

Friday, Apr 16, 2004 at 23:07
Yeah I thought so too. So I bought an axle that could take 6-stud hubs and a set of 16" steel rims. Still waiting for the old one to pack up!! The trailer is home made, with Landcruiser leaf springs and Koni shocks, Treg hitch, hydraulic brakes, battery wired on auxiliary circuit via a relay, worklight, camp table, gas bottles x2, and jerry cans x2. We've done a lot of camping with it, and can't break it. When we do, I'll upgrade to 16" wheels and hubs to suit.
The leaf springs sit on top of the axle to make it level with the LC.
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Follow Up By: Willem - Saturday, Apr 17, 2004 at 18:48

Saturday, Apr 17, 2004 at 18:48
Ahhhh...that box trailer has seen a few modifications. I have a similar setup. A box trailer with Hi Lux wheels and with a canopy etc, Treg coupling. Have made a fold up bed inside. Click on my pic below to see it. Going to do a shake down test on it this coming trip carrying 7 jerries in the back.
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Follow Up By: Member - Jiarna (SA) - Saturday, Apr 17, 2004 at 19:28

Saturday, Apr 17, 2004 at 19:28
I like the colour coordination Willem. Just try not to do what I did on my shakedown trip (which led the the current modfications). See my pic.
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Follow Up By: Willem - Saturday, Apr 17, 2004 at 20:02

Saturday, Apr 17, 2004 at 20:02
Ouch!! That must have hurt, John.

Yeah...the colour co-ordination is a 5 metre paint job. Stand 5 metres away and it looks quite good.

I have taken the trailer in to some of the roughest tracks I could find to the north of Blinman on the PAR Artimore Track and it handled pretty well just chugging along behind. My shakedown is in carrying the extra fuel as I want to do a foray in to the Western Deserts soon and need the full 370 litres of petrol. The trailer is a Heavy Duty model but I have only slipper springs. Will see how they go as I probably need to do what you have done and put the springs on top of the axles and fit shockies. More projects!!! :-) Will take some welding rods with on this trip which is through flat country but how many corrugations????
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Reply By: Nomad - Friday, Apr 16, 2004 at 19:51

Friday, Apr 16, 2004 at 19:51
I really believe the problem of "Trailers not recommended" stems from people inexperienced in towing trailers and even inexperienced in off road driving.

If you wish to take your trailer into these situations then you must not only be properley prepared, but you must also take responsibility for your failures. Don't come up with the "It's not my fault" rubbish. If you get stuck and need to be rescued, then expect to pay for it.

I am aware of many people who have towed trailers across the Simpson, up the Canning and to many other unlikely places, and that includes Cape York.

As I said, it's your responsibility and you should accept the concequences.


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Follow Up By: Nomad - Friday, Apr 16, 2004 at 19:53

Friday, Apr 16, 2004 at 19:53
Should also add that I have towed our off road camper trailer all over Fraser, for instance, and with the tyres deflated to around 20 - 25 psi have never had a problem.
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Reply By: ianmc - Sunday, Apr 18, 2004 at 00:01

Sunday, Apr 18, 2004 at 00:01
Having owned & even built a few trailers over the years I would always go for rear shackle type springs over slippers any day. Many of the slippers are chinese imports and fracture but the Aussie ones where I live cost little more.
Every time you hit a bump the slipper springs seem to chuch the trailer in the air sharply, but a good set of shackle type absorb some of the shock.

Also the wider springs with possibly fewer leaves work real nice and should be less prone to breakage than the narrow leaves.
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Reply By: sails - Sunday, Apr 18, 2004 at 01:43

Sunday, Apr 18, 2004 at 01:43
Hi DrewT,
we did the trip last year ,18/6/03 ,from Kings Canyon to Hermannsburg via the Finke River Valley, and had a great time. It took us three days to cover the distance , but we were in no hurry as we were on a 12 month trip. From the south you travel 46k's before getting to the sign that says unsuitable for trailers ,and by that time we were not going back. We had already been stuck a couple of times in the sand, but low tyre pressures got us going again.
We were 2+1 in a dual cab rodeo , with a boat on top and a box-type camper trailer behind , and it was one of the highlights of the trip from the driving point of view and very scenic, so I'd advise you to disregard the 5.5 hours you mention in your post .There are some great spots to visit and camp at, Boggy Hole and Running Waters Yard being two of them. Also a couple of old police outposts to visit at Boggy hole and Illamerta Springs. They hold a dark history of our past dealings with the local aboriginals.
The track at Boggy Hole got washed away about three years ago I think, and so we had to use a track across the rocks at the base of the cliff on the western side of the river. The rocks there have been thrust up about 45-60 degrees, and so it is like driving over uneven steps. I walked the water hole, and it is a rock bottom, and not to much water, but with a thick mud base, and no trees easily available to winch to so we had to take the rock track. We walked it at first , and I guided a Troupie through and he then guided me through, and we had no real trouble. Low range, slow, always pick the high rocks to travel across, and it took us an hour or so together for the 300 meters +.We put the tyres upto 60psi for the rocks, as they would have caused trouble with low pressures,
We got stuck a couple of times after Boggy Hole to the north. but low tyre pressures for both car and trailer got us going.
It was very cold in the valley at night at that time of year, with the evening washing up water freezing in the early morning. Tents dont give much protection from the cold so be prepared. We had 8 out of 10 nights sub zero while in that area.
From the north the police at Hermannsburg and the rangers at Palm Valley tell people that the road is closed, as it is the only way they can disuade people from trying the track. Appears there are lots of inexperienced drivers in 4x4s' out there, and not all of them are from overseas.
You should not have any trouble if you know what you are doing, and it is an easy drive without a trailer. Make sure you have a good tyre pump as you will be using it there. If you do get bogged, disconnect and come in from a different angle, as we had to do once.
The tracks in the river can be confusing, as it is
AnswerID: 54773

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