Best time to travel the Anne Beadell "Highway" in 2016?

Submitted: Wednesday, Aug 26, 2015 at 14:35
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I'm tentatively planning a 2016 trip and would like to include the AB. I also hope to visit Maralinga while in that part of the world. All of these desires are largely fueled by Stephen L's great write-ups about his travels around the GVD. :)

I expect to travel sometime late April through June. I haven't picked the exact dates yet, nor set the exact itinerary, direction of travel, etc. I will, of course, have a 4WD (hired), not sure exactly what vehicle yet. I won't be towing anything. This also won't be my first outback trip. And I know to expect awful corrugations if I drive the stretch of AB in SA, lol.

One thing I particularly enjoy in Stephen's reports and photos are the blooms. What is the best time to see that, especially wild flowers? Is there an optimum time in my window to see critters and blooms?

I'm aware of the Woomera PA exclusion period 16-29 May. Are there any other known scheduled events that might interfere with travel in that area? I'm also aware of the need for permits, and that a visit to Maralinga must be coordinated with Robin.
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Reply By: Member - Duncan W (WA) - Wednesday, Aug 26, 2015 at 14:44

Wednesday, Aug 26, 2015 at 14:44
Hi Candace, we travelled in late June last year and the flowers were starting to bloom then. Based on what Stephen reported later that he'd travelled a few weeks after us and he saw a great deal more flowers in bloom. Guess it all depends on how much rain falls and when.

Temperature wise it was low 20s in the days and low single digits to minuses over night. No rain for us either.

And yes the corrugations in and around Emu were horrible.

Cheers & enjoy

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Follow Up By: Candace S. - Wednesday, Aug 26, 2015 at 15:11

Wednesday, Aug 26, 2015 at 15:11
Sounds like I need to shift my travel window if I want to see the flowers.

One problem is, my past experience is that the rates for hire vehicles increase dramatically later in the season (namely, July and August). Which is one reason I was looking at that late April through June time frame. My earlier trip was mid-May through mid-June.

On the other hand, if I'm in Oz during those months, then I miss the 40+C weather here where I live!
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Reply By: HKB Electronics - Wednesday, Aug 26, 2015 at 14:53

Wednesday, Aug 26, 2015 at 14:53
We did it late June this year, it had rained a couple of weeks before and the wild flowers were just starting to bloom, by the end of the trip start of August there were masses of wild flowers and everything was in bloom. Trip was hard and your vehicle will require a good suspension setup, if hiring I suggest you avoid a car with leaf springs unless your prepared to carry a spare.

It was unusually cold this year so that may affect the wild flower timing somewhat, the trip would be very difficult in wet weather.

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Follow Up By: Candace S. - Wednesday, Aug 26, 2015 at 15:16

Wednesday, Aug 26, 2015 at 15:16
Considering the information about this year's weather, I wonder if anyone here could make a prediction for next year's bloom in the GVD?

No way to predict the rain, so I just have to hope for the best. During my 2008 trip, I had to alter my travels due to rain.

I wonder if or how an El Nino affects the weather patterns in that part of the world?
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Follow Up By: Member - Leigh (Vic) - Wednesday, Aug 26, 2015 at 17:58

Wednesday, Aug 26, 2015 at 17:58
I think a Troopy with leaf springs would be exempt from your suggestion? Hope so LOL!!
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Follow Up By: Member - backtracks - Wednesday, Aug 26, 2015 at 18:33

Wednesday, Aug 26, 2015 at 18:33
I may be wrong ,but I think wild flowers are totally dependant on rain. I was there 2 years ago in early August and there were few flowers. Track is slow at times, but with tyres down low it's not too bad. Really a 2wd high range track, unless it rains a lot.
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Reply By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Wednesday, Aug 26, 2015 at 20:31

Wednesday, Aug 26, 2015 at 20:31
Hi Candace

Firstly I would like to say the GVD Desert is my favourites and is no secret here on the EO Forum.

First of all, which direction of travel are you planning on doing the AB?

There are a number of entry and exit points along the 1500 kilometre drive.

As to weather, you would need a very good crystal ball to know what it will be like next year. But generally late April and it will still be warm out there, in the low to mid 30's. Get into June, the temperatures will be nice during the day, but getting very cold at night.

The first and most importantly is to make sure that you have or carry an on board air compressor. The secret to an enjoyable trip out there is low tyre pressures and to drive slow. Comfortable speeds out there will vary from 20 to 40 kilometres per hour. If including Maralinga in the drive, I would personally skip the eastern end from Emu through to Coober Pedy, as they are by far the worst corrugations for the drive.

Speak to Robin and take the track north of Maralinga and enter the AB at Emu.

The following images were taken over 5 years and are all taken at camera site C and all during August.

If you want to head there to see any form of wildflowers, I find that August is a great month, but like above, you still need a crystal ball.

Its a great drive an allow a minimum of 8 days to enjoy the solitude of the desert. There is so much to see out there and a lot of people miss so many great things that require getting out of your vehicle and exploring.

Enjoy the Great Victoria, Australia's largest desert system.



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Follow Up By: Candace S. - Thursday, Aug 27, 2015 at 01:55

Thursday, Aug 27, 2015 at 01:55
I would most likely be travelling the AB from west to east.

So the road down from Emu to Maralinga is now a good option?

Obviously I like the idea of doing the entire AB to Coober Pedy. I was under the impression the road was bad all the way from the SA line to near Coober Pedy. Is the AB east of Emu worse than the AB from the SA line to Emu?
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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Thursday, Aug 27, 2015 at 21:10

Thursday, Aug 27, 2015 at 21:10
Hi Candace

Rather than saying a thousands words, these images will show you what you can expect to see from Laverton to Emu, before heading south to Maralinga. Now you will see why I love the Great Victoria Desert. That Red sand gets into your blood for ever.



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Follow Up By: Candace S. - Friday, Aug 28, 2015 at 08:02

Friday, Aug 28, 2015 at 08:02

You are definitely the number one salesman for the GVD! Beautiful pics, thank you.

"Do not miss this site east of Neale Junction." I don't want to miss ANY of those sites, but if I do finally get this all booked I will have to make sure I know where they are!
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Follow Up By: Bonz (Vic) - Saturday, Aug 29, 2015 at 11:46

Saturday, Aug 29, 2015 at 11:46
Stephen, is it OK to say I both hate you and admire you at the same time!!! Ever since reading Len Beadells books one Christmas on King Island I have wanted to travel those roads. His books make it feel so real and so immediate, as if you can drive the road and come up behind Scotty on the Grader doing the smoothing works on the road, or Doug on the Bulldozer. The stories awakened a need I never knew I had, and led me to believe that I was born on the wrong era, Star Observations, mirror signalling and true adventure.

These pics mate, are fantastic! Thankyou

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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Saturday, Aug 29, 2015 at 18:03

Saturday, Aug 29, 2015 at 18:03
Hi Bonz

I think that just like you and reading all of Len's book, I had to get out there myself to see what it is like in the flesh as

Len sure travelled some real great country and we owe him and his great team the most greatful thanks of opening up all that country.

But just like Len, there are many other just as special people that opened up other great parts of our country, for all of us the explore.

It is well known here in Clare my love of the bush and though that, have had the opportunity to meet and talk to many special people. My great friends from Booborowie, north of Clare, Gwen and Ivan Sims we one of those very special people, opening up all Virgin country in what is now known as the Nippon Highway area in WA. The stories and photos that he has told me, just make me envoy of him opening so many news tracks and finding many special places.

Another one of my real life heros was a Clare local called Gerald Day. Like many unrecognised people, he also opened up a lot of remote places in the northern part is South Australia and Western Australia and was even once hire to take well known Australian, Harry Butler out into the desert. One very special story that Gerald told was on one of his trips, he came across a small family group of wild Aboriginal that had never had any contact with white people.

He had instructions from the then Western Australian Aboriginal Welfare to report any groups that he came across. He radioed in his find and stayed with the group until trucks were sent out to take them into the missions out there. Gerald kept in regular contact with the mission, to keep updated on how the true remote bush people settled into mission life. When they were taken, he said to me that that was the worst thing that he had ever done in his life and felt sorry for them. The good end to that story was that the family group only stayed in the mission for less than twelve months, before dissappearing one night and going back out into the bush to live the lives that they truely missed.

I could go on and on, but the bush is such a very special place for me to be.


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Follow Up By: Bonz (Vic) - Sunday, Aug 30, 2015 at 20:10

Sunday, Aug 30, 2015 at 20:10
Yep I know what you mean, maybe one day we'll meet up on the wallaby and share a yarn or two, I sure am keen to hear them mate.

All the best
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Reply By: Member - Phil G (SA) - Wednesday, Aug 26, 2015 at 22:55

Wednesday, Aug 26, 2015 at 22:55
Check with the hire companies - some won't let you hire a vehicle out there. Most have no idea where it is so no problem!!
October is the best month for flowers. Sept not bad usually and August usually OK too. Varies a lot from season to season but most years out there, we've enjoyed the flora.

April will be too hot, and its not a great place to be in the heat because shade is very limited. Also running low tyre pressures on the corrugations in 40+ degree heat will trash your tyres. In the cooler months, low tyre pressures and low speed (like Stephen mentions) is the best way to arrive in 1 piece.
So if April to June is the go, then go in June.
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Follow Up By: Candace S. - Thursday, Aug 27, 2015 at 01:24

Thursday, Aug 27, 2015 at 01:24
Currently I'm looking to hire from Australian 4WD Hire:
Their site

Britz is still a possibility. Though after April 1, they will no longer offer the beloved Troopy Bushcampers like the one I had in 2008. That worked perfectly for me, I wish I could get that again.

According to Australian 4WD Hire's site and the email quote I got, any Hema gazzetted road is okay to travel on. I do need to call later today and verify if certain destinations I have in mind are acceptable.

OK, sounds like even late April is too early, lol!
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Follow Up By: Member - Phil G (SA) - Thursday, Aug 27, 2015 at 08:21

Thursday, Aug 27, 2015 at 08:21
Yep, its definitely on a Hema Map, and 24/7 roadside assist sounds like a bargain!!!! Seen people broken down out there unable to get assistance from Cooper Pedy or anywhere else.
Make sure you get one with decent fuel capacity (say Prado or Troopie) and I'd steer clear of dual cabs which have small fuel tanks and can bend chassis on those roads when too much weight is in the back.

Early and late in the season is just a gamble on the weather. We once were out there in late October and had 6 straight days of over 40 degrees. Not comfortable - too hard to get respite from the heat apart from driving. Our favourite months are June/July/August.
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Follow Up By: GarryR - Thursday, Aug 27, 2015 at 11:54

Thursday, Aug 27, 2015 at 11:54
Please be careful about any track/road on the Hema map. I just went through this scenario, and the response from Hema was, that if it on there map it is drivable, as it has been driven by their repersentatives.. I was informed by a farmer who checked the Hema map and found tracks on his property listed on the map. The farmers response was that he has not seen a Hema rep in many,many years, and that the tracks marked on the map where not for general public use. On queryinghHis statement, he said the land has now changed from leasehold to freehold and you require the farmers permission to enter his property. I do not want to open a can of worms but, is hard to determine what is open and now closed as private tracks. This problem was encountered recently on my travels in Sth Australian areas. He stated that if you wished to enter his property to visit a point of interest or to travel through, you should visit the homestead as tell them of your intensions. He stated most time the you are granted permission. This is becoming of major concern for me as I travel in odd ball places , and finding private property and tresspassers signs. It make it a bit hard when you have already travelled 100kms only to find you cannot enter, and have to return back.
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Follow Up By: Member - Scott M (NSW) - Thursday, Aug 27, 2015 at 18:26

Thursday, Aug 27, 2015 at 18:26
Candace, having travelled the ABH three times, as long as you take it easy, get your tyres and set up correct, you should be fine. July/August there is still plenty off traffic on the ABH, so as long as you can sit any emergency out for a day or two, someone should be along.

On that topic, looking at the specs/inclusions in the 4wd hire, a couple of things spring to mind worth asking when you hire. In no particular order...

1. Find out the best/worst range for the long range fuel tank - you're going to need at least 850 to Ilkurlka with safety margin
2. It lists a 20 ltr water cannister - would suggest you need to up this by a factor of 2 or 3.
3 Hand held UHF might be useful - would also ask about hiring a PLB or equivalent for that extra safety factor.
4. What other tools/spares do they provide .... this could be a curly question as they may not want a customer touching/fixing anything, however it would get very expensive towing a vehicle out of the ABH for the want of a fanbelt / fuse / or other such minor consumable.

Roof top tent looks like a goer ... had one - would suggest you sleep in it before leaving - some of the matresses can be rahter thin - a self inslator might make it a bit more comfortable... otherwise it looks the goods.
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Follow Up By: Candace S. - Friday, Aug 28, 2015 at 07:57

Friday, Aug 28, 2015 at 07:57

Thanks for the info.

I didn't get a chance to call them yesterday but will call them today.

Yes, with anything other than a Troopy, I'm concerned about the fuel capacity. Not only for the AB but also for the Simpson which I also hope to do. And water capacity is also an of the reasons why I wish I could hire one of the Britz Bushcampers! They had a built-in water tank.

I know if I want to do the Maralinga tour I'll have to obtain a UHF. And obviously I would want it in the Simpson as well. Speaking of the Simpson, if I do go there I will also need a sand flag...

I already have a satellite phone and a PLB so I'm good there.

Hopefully the rooftop tent isn't too much of a hassle to put up/take down! But definitely has advantages over sleeping on the ground.
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Follow Up By: Candace S. - Friday, Aug 28, 2015 at 08:12

Friday, Aug 28, 2015 at 08:12

Thanks for the info.

I doubt I'll be getting off the "beaten path" as much as you do, not that I wouldn't like to! But there are a number of places scattered around the Outback that are on my list to visit. Making it to all those will easily consume the approx. six weeks I hope to be there.

What you do sounds like what I do closer to home. But there are countless roads and places to visit that are fully on public land. So I can keep quite busy with them and don't have to get into that sort of research.
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Follow Up By: Candace S. - Friday, Aug 28, 2015 at 08:23

Friday, Aug 28, 2015 at 08:23

Thanks also for your advice.

I'll be calling them shortly so hopefully I can get more details about the vehicles, in particular fuel capacity. Seems odd they don't put detailed spec sheets on their website, Britz is good about that.
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Follow Up By: GarryR - Friday, Aug 28, 2015 at 14:39

Friday, Aug 28, 2015 at 14:39
Candace you will not regret using a rtt, they do have advantages. If you get a troopy and place a rtt, just consider the height to open and close your tent. Judy and I are a bit vertically challenged hence we use a wheel step to stand on. and a ladder to get on the roof rack to also help setup and pack, mainly to zip and unzip the cover. The wheel set is an adjustable step you place over the wheel. We also use it as an extra bench to place a tub on. From memory they are not real costly, I paid about $40- and got it from bcf or ray's outdoors. Supercheap also sell them
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Follow Up By: Member - Scott M (NSW) - Friday, Aug 28, 2015 at 15:54

Friday, Aug 28, 2015 at 15:54
Candace, if you're going to get a UHF and you don't want a permanent set up, but would like the benefit of an external antenna, might be worth looking at something like this...

Regards fuel range, ... if you can cover the ABH, then the Simpson won't be an issue.
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Reply By: Candace S. - Friday, Aug 28, 2015 at 16:01

Friday, Aug 28, 2015 at 16:01
Well, hold the phone! I tried a different online search and found this outfit: TCC

They have Troopy bushcampers available during my time frame next year, so I will probably book one of those. The diesel engine, 180L fuel capacity, installed fridge, and convenience of sleeping inside with nothing to set up/tear down are great! I'm less thrilled about the manual transmission and those clunky steel wheels/tube tyres, but you can't have everything I suppose.

I called and about the only place they don't want it to go is the CSR. AB and the Simpson are okay. So I'm good there.

One disadvantage is that they don't have a depot in Alice Springs. The closest location to where I plan to travel is Adelaide. So guess I'll be starting/stopping there.
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