Purnululu NP and Mornington Wilderness camp

Submitted: Monday, Aug 03, 2015 at 06:51
ThreadID: 129635 Views:3215 Replies:11 FollowUps:8
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We are going to drive the Gibb River Road, the Purnululu National Park and to the Mornington Wilderness camp in mid-August. We will get a basic 4wd course before setting off, but otherwise this will be our first time on such roads in 4wd.

We have some questions:
- Is the water level in the creeks likely to be as high as to require that we cover the front of the vehicle with a tarp?
- In all training material it is advised to go through the body of the water first, before driving. Does this apply alsto the Gibb River Road and Purnululu, especially if there are many other cars crossing? Are the beds od these river crossings sandy?
- Does the access road to Purnululu involves very steep hills?
- Do we need a radio in case something happens? We assume there is no or very little mobile phone coverage in the area?
- Do we absolutely need a jerry can for fuel, or can do withot?

Thank you very much in advance,
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Reply By: Member - Alan H (QLD) - Monday, Aug 03, 2015 at 08:05

Monday, Aug 03, 2015 at 08:05
At this time of year the water crossings are likely to be low so tarp not required
Most crossings are rockiy so take it easy in there.
I would not walk crossings up there due to crocs. Plenty of traffic so crossings all OK
It takes about 2 hrs to get into Bungles as the road is rough and winding. There are no steep hills but there are a couple of wet crossings.
Should have some sort of communication device even if only a UHF to talk to other travellers. I have UHF, sat phone and a PLB
GRR will have other traffic so takes corners carefully and expect to find vehicles coming the other way. The vehiclle could be a semi trailer or B Double
Fuel range can be real problem. It depends on the vehicle you have and the fuel type. Get to know your fuel range and top up when you find fuel available. You probably do not require extra fuel in Jerries for those roads.

Enjoy the trip. Great part of the country and take it slowly on the gravel roads

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Reply By: Member - bungarra (WA) - Monday, Aug 03, 2015 at 08:55

Monday, Aug 03, 2015 at 08:55
Hi Ania

Following on from Allan's comments....I agree with his comments. As far as Crocs go it is probably only the Pentecost River crossing that is a risk for crocodiles and you certainly wont be walking that, however that crossing is very well marked and subject to water levels at the time is quite straight forward, it is subject to tides so if worried about the depth just wait for the turn of the tide...or another vehicle and use them as a guide.....if your worried stop them and ask their advice......everyone will be pleased to help.

The rest of the water crossings will be shallow in most cases and shortish in length. Considering the GRR is well travelled I wouldn't be walking those crossings unless there has been seasonal rain.....It is a well travelled road and if in doubt just wait there is a good chance another vehicle will come along inside an hour or less...just watch them.

Mornington Wilderness Park is absolutely stunning..one of our favourite places.

I would suggest you purchase a UHF hand held radio for the journey as 99% of travellers carry a UHF radio...at least you can call someone (Channel 40) nearby or travelling...if you have an issue just wait there WILL be someone passing through daily or more so just wait for help and advice....more important to focus on tyres and some form of repair gear on the assumption the vehicle you hire is suitable and roadworthy.....see my answer to you on your other post re Broome supplies.

Despite the hype of the GRR being isolated etc...it is well travelled and you wont be alone for advice and assistance......BE CAREFUL of other traffic and BIG trucks with long trailers.......don't pass unless you have a long visual distance in front of you and the dust is not affecting your vision...

Call the vehicle you are behind on your UHF and talk to them before you do pass.....some idiots travel fast and on the wrong side of the road on corners...usually the inexperienced and overseas travellers.....the high top station wagon type hire vehicles (Brits etc.) have a higher centre of gravity and "fall over" quite easily handled wrong...probably seen more of them in trouble because of the driver than anything else on that road

Go...slow down and enjoy

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Reply By: Derek Jones - Monday, Aug 03, 2015 at 09:37

Monday, Aug 03, 2015 at 09:37
A bigger issue for mine is allowing reasonable travel times between destinations and stops. The Gibb is often heavily corrugated and highway speeds are not possible on it. The track into Mornington can be slower going so allow plenty of time.

There can be a lot of stock on the roads at dusk/night so make sure you are well and truly set up before dark so you can avoid the animals and have ample opportunity to appreciate our great bush.

Track into Purnululu can be slow going so once again (allow 2/3 hours to travel from highway to camp ground) so make sure you give yourself plenty of time.
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Reply By: Michaeljp - Monday, Aug 03, 2015 at 21:25

Monday, Aug 03, 2015 at 21:25
I just got back from the kimberley, did not go to the Bungles but have been there before. The creek crossings along the Gibb are either dry, or in regards to the Pentecost river its about 10" deep and a good firm rocky base. You will not need a tarp. The track into Bell Gorge has a water crossing but it should not bother you at. Mornington is a long drive in, but well worth it, same as bungles. The first creek crossing shouldnt have much water in it as there hasnt been much rain this wet season.
What sort of 4WD are you driving?
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Follow Up By: Member - Munji - Thursday, Aug 06, 2015 at 13:27

Thursday, Aug 06, 2015 at 13:27
Can I also add, take heed of the road signs.
If it says there is a Dip ahead, then there is a dip ahead so slow down early.
Safe travels
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Reply By: Ania - Tuesday, Aug 04, 2015 at 01:33

Tuesday, Aug 04, 2015 at 01:33
Dear all,

Thank you very much for all you kind answers and helpful suggestions for my 2 posts related to the GRR and Purnululu NP. I appreciate very much you advices. We will be traveling Mitsubishi Pajero, so this car should be fine for our itinerary.What do you think?

However it's quite complicated to know in advance what equipment (number of spare tyres, car jack, tyre gauge, compressor, fuel jerry, etc) and what recovery kit (winch, spade, snatch strap, bow shackle, hitch shackle, etc.) is provided with the car. We hire the Europcar car by Britz, so it's quite complicated to find out the exact equipment provided. We need to contact Britz and they ask Europcar before coming back to us...
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Follow Up By: Member - bungarra (WA) - Tuesday, Aug 04, 2015 at 08:25

Tuesday, Aug 04, 2015 at 08:25
Hi Ania

The Pajero will be fine for your trip. The vehicle should be normally equipped with a spare and a jack but check when you hire it

1) The most important thing is that Britz know the roads you will be travelling on with that vehicle...some hire vehicles are not equipped or allowed to travel the GRR or the Bungles

2) Some hire companies do supply some of the recovery equipment that you have listed...you need to check so you don't waste money purchasing items you don't need

3) As for spares the minimum I suggest you carry is at least 2 spares of which perhaps only one needs to be fitted on a rim and that would be normally supplied with the vehicle.... Perhaps try and purchase a 2nd hand casing from a tyre company if the hire company wont supply a second one for you

4) I am assuming you will be only staying on or near the GRR and in/out the Bungles and so considering you will be flying in and out I would keep the expenditure to the basics as the chances of you requiring the serious recovery equipment is very unlikely (straps, winch snatch strap shackles etc)...so to avoid wasting money on items you cant take home or recover your costs on I would take with me the following

* spare 2nd tyre ...on a rim if possible but at least a 2nd casing and a fellow traveller may have the tyre levers to help you change onto a rim if needed
* a tubeless plug repair kit...assuming the tyres are tubeless.... ( get a decent one ARB or similar that is not a cheap plastic handle that wont have the strength to insert the plug into a 4WD tyre
* a compressor...don't spend too much on this you may not use it or if you do you don't need one that is very fast....just one that pumps air
* a long handled shovel/spade
*Jerry cans.. number for you to decide once you know the fuel tank size and the longest distance between fill ups....(not a lot of options on the GRR)...also never use your last one if you can help it....a hole in the fuel tank from a rock can happen...if it does make a paste from soap and fine dust and plug the hole and let it harden.
* water...make certain you have plenty of drinking water per person
* sunscreen and hats and personal drinking bottles...some of the hikes into the features are longish and you can dehydrate easily
* a handheld UHF would be handy but not essential
* If you are not careful you will spend a lot of money on recovery gear you may never need and have to leave behind when you fly home
* take plenty of common-sense...a good sense of humour...fuel, water, spare food ...interact with fellow travellers...don't be afraid of asking advice and help if you need it....as long as you were well prepared and didn't bring any misfortune on yourself by being under prepared and take silly risks then any fellow traveller will stop and help

Ania... your proposed journey is not really into isolated country...there will be other vehicles travelling the same time and often each day..........apart from running out of fuel your most likely trouble will be rock/stone damage on your tyres......so keep your tyre pressures lower on the rocky country so the vehicle doesn't shake itself to pieces...slow down and drive according to the conditions and don't spend a fortune on recovery gear that you most likely wont need....I carry all the spares and recovery you can think of and have travelled the roads you are talking about several times and never even had a puncture or a tyre issue...but others are not so fortunate


PS.... if you intend crossing the King Edward River and travelling to the Mitchell Falls...then those of us on this site may add a few more comments to what we have advised so far

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Follow Up By: Member - Robert1660 - Tuesday, Aug 04, 2015 at 15:56

Tuesday, Aug 04, 2015 at 15:56
Hi Ania,
As mentioned in the posts so far the areas that you will be travelling through are generally busy, however that being said the area is still isolated and does not have many vehicle services.
When we have hired vehicles in the past the information provided to you by the hiring company is generally quite inadequate to cope with some of the conditions that you may find. In particular the issue of tyre pressure must be considered. Of course if you are lowering and then raising tyre pressures you need a 12 volt compressor. You can usually hire these from the car hire firm.
The nature of the tyres on your vehicle is also worth noting. Light Truck (LT) tyres have much stronger sidewalls. Having stronger sidewalls means that pressure can be lowered more safely to cope with the corrugated roads. If you ever get bogged in sand, probably unlikely on your trip, lowering your tyre pressures will probably get you out. You can often hire a recovery kit. When we hired a recovery kit we used it to pull others out of a sand bog.
Hiring a satellite phone is worth considering as mobile coverage out of town centres is problematic. If you intend to use your mobile make sure it can connect to the Telstra Next G network. A UHF radio can be helpful but its distance coverage is generally between 5 to 10 km at best.
Mitchell Plateau is well worth visiting , however when we visited in 2013 the road from near King Edward River to Mitchell Falls was extremely corrugated. This is the road that causes most vehicle damage. Again to lessen any chance of damage to your car lower tyre pressure and speed is essential. The King Edward River crossing can be interesting.Check before you head out that way.
I have heard that the Imintji Roadhouse is no longer operating.Check this out before you leave.
If your vehicle is petrol powered rather then diesel take car carrying fuel. As suggested calculate your potential fuel usage and relate this to refueling points.
Temperatures can be quite high throughout the region. So prepare yourself as suggested.
Have a great trip.
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Reply By: TomH - Tuesday, Aug 04, 2015 at 21:16

Tuesday, Aug 04, 2015 at 21:16
I have just queried Europcar on their chat line and this is what the answer to " Can I drive one of your Pajeros on the Gibb river Road"

Answer Carlos : I'm afraid that, at least with Europcar, driving on unsealed roads is strictly forbidden.

So I would make VERY SURE you can actually do it.
AnswerID: 588849

Reply By: Ania - Tuesday, Aug 04, 2015 at 21:50

Tuesday, Aug 04, 2015 at 21:50
Hi Tom,

The car rental conditions are confusing, however I understand that the Europcar terms and conditions of rental (point 7.11 on the page 15) (https://www.europcar.com.au/files/live/sites/Europcar.com.au/files/t%20and%20c/au-terms-and-conditions-feb-2015)
allows driving on the GRR if you have 4WD car and 2 spear wheels.

AnswerID: 588852

Follow Up By: TomH - Tuesday, Aug 04, 2015 at 22:10

Tuesday, Aug 04, 2015 at 22:10
That link doesnt work Use the INSERT LINK button at the bottom
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Follow Up By: Ania - Tuesday, Aug 04, 2015 at 22:20

Tuesday, Aug 04, 2015 at 22:20
Here you go Tom:
Europcar terms and conditions of rental
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Follow Up By: TomH - Wednesday, Aug 05, 2015 at 08:37

Wednesday, Aug 05, 2015 at 08:37
Yeah perhaps they should get their answer service to read it but to be fair on website it is different
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Reply By: Ania - Tuesday, Aug 04, 2015 at 22:07

Tuesday, Aug 04, 2015 at 22:07
Dear all,

Thank you again for your time and for your extremely helpful advices !!!

-Reading a book about driving a 4WD I found an information that on the typical unsealed road the tyre pressure should be about 38 psi (pounds per square inch). Do you think that this pressure is adequate for the GRR? What pressure should it be on the sealed road (we will drive a well a large part of the Great Northern Hwy)?

- As you advice having a satellite phone, do you know where is it possible to hire satellite phone in Broome?

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Follow Up By: Member - Robert1660 - Tuesday, Aug 04, 2015 at 22:42

Tuesday, Aug 04, 2015 at 22:42
Hi Ania,
It is odd that the hire company said you cannot travel on the Gibb. We have hired 4wd Toyota Landcruiser camper vans and there is no problem taking them on any public road, sealed or unsealed.
With respect to pressures with our fully laden 200 Series Toyota Landcruiser towing a campertrailer I would run 50 psi rear and 45 psi front on bitumen. I do have light truck tyres so they are less easily damaged on the sidewalls especially when running low pressures. On good unsealed roads I run 30 to 35 psi rear and 25 to 28 front. These pressures are measured hot. Speed limited to 80km/h. If I have to lower the pressures further I would restrict my speed to 60 km/h. There is a rough rule of thumb which states that if your tyres increase in pressure by more than 4 psi after you drive for a few kilometres then the pressure is too low. A discussion of the rule can be found here, http://www.aawen4x4.com.au. The key is to check your tyres frequently with your hand to ensure they are not getting too hot. Of course with lower pressures you must restrict your speed.
Not sure where you can rent a sat phone in Broome. A search on the net will probably turn up something.
Enjoy your trip.
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Reply By: Ania - Tuesday, Aug 04, 2015 at 23:25

Tuesday, Aug 04, 2015 at 23:25
And one question more – would you be so kind a recommend a particular model of a UHF / VHF handheld radio to buy? I think that it should be a dual band (UHF / VHF), waterproof, shockproof and with the best possible battery, or are there any other important features to consider?
AnswerID: 588862

Follow Up By: Derek Jones - Tuesday, Aug 04, 2015 at 23:45

Tuesday, Aug 04, 2015 at 23:45
I'll go out on a limb here but the two routes you are travelling are pretty well travelled and I don't see a great need/benefit for a UHF radio. The area you are travelling is quite hilly and UHF signals are going to be restricted by the terrain in many parts.
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Reply By: Michael A (VIC) - Thursday, Aug 06, 2015 at 09:56

Thursday, Aug 06, 2015 at 09:56
We have just spent the last 2 weeks visiting these places, all water levels are very low. I have 30psi in front and 32 psi in rear and have just riven 4000k on rough dirt tracks. Touch wood. All good so far. Enjoy preparing and learning about your 4WD. Only issue is you will probably want to stay longer at Mornington than you planned :)
AnswerID: 588916

Reply By: Bilbo B - Wednesday, Aug 12, 2015 at 20:39

Wednesday, Aug 12, 2015 at 20:39
No need to carry fuel. No hard hills but rivers are too deep early in the dry. Mobiles don't work so get a satphone. Uhf does not go the distance in these places. But you will see 20 cars a day in the dry.
I have been along the Gibb a few times. Mornington is a long way off the side, You might see a gouldien finch or a purple crowned fairy wren as you camp in an Eco friendly campground where just about everything is banned. Look around and you might see a working catle station and scientists who do not go without any of the mod cons withheld from the tourists whose fees feed these fatties.
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