Is the Tanami really a short cut?

Submitted: Tuesday, Jan 26, 2016 at 11:19
ThreadID: 131460 Views:2564 Replies:8 FollowUps:5
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Hi everyone,
We are in the midst of finishing our itinerary for our 6 week road trip through the Kimberley. We have never driven the Tanami before and wondered if it is actually quicker to go home that way after doing the Gibb river road etc. or drive back up and stay at Kununurra, then Katherine and back down the Stuart highway again (which is what we did last time to stay at the Bungles, don't need to do it again). It sounds like it is an interesting drive, something different, we thought we might have a look!
Is it good for photography, bird spotting?? Any advice would be grateful. Thanks.
Amanda
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Reply By: Member - John - Tuesday, Jan 26, 2016 at 12:17

Tuesday, Jan 26, 2016 at 12:17
G'day, the Tanami can be a short cut or it can be a bone jarring slow cut. If you are pushed for time the extra 300k's via Katherine will be a very minor consideration, It is going to be two days which ever way you go, mainly depends on how you feel after the GRR etc. Enjoy your trip which ever way you end up going.
John and Jan

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Follow Up By: birdnerd - Tuesday, Jan 26, 2016 at 12:38

Tuesday, Jan 26, 2016 at 12:38
Thanks John and Jan, looking forward to it. Lift off day May 3! (Hopefully all mods to car/camper are done)
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Reply By: Member - John - Tuesday, Jan 26, 2016 at 12:48

Tuesday, Jan 26, 2016 at 12:48
Birdnerd, you may find that early May is too early for the Wet to have cleared the Kimberley, roads may still be closed.
John and Jan

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Follow Up By: birdnerd - Tuesday, Jan 26, 2016 at 12:53

Tuesday, Jan 26, 2016 at 12:53
We thought this may be the case, but leaving from Geelong so will check roads when we leave and perhaps take our time getting there. Hope to be up there mid May. Leave is booked in so we will take our chances! Thanks. Amanda.
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Follow Up By: Sigmund - Tuesday, Jan 26, 2016 at 14:24

Tuesday, Jan 26, 2016 at 14:24
We've got the same interest Amanda.
A google will throw up what conventional highlights there are. Not that many per kilometre.
The desert is for some the main attraction.
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Reply By: Member - Robert1660 - Tuesday, Jan 26, 2016 at 17:40

Tuesday, Jan 26, 2016 at 17:40
Hi Birdnerd,
We did the Tanami in July 2013 from Alice. The road itself is not too demanding, at least when we were there. Some sand on the NT side of the WA/NT border, however that being said we managed to catch up to a Commodore which was progressing slowly but surely along the road.
Wolfe Creek Meteorite Crater is worth a visit, however the road in was very corrugated.Stretch Lagoon is about 15 km south of Billiluna on the northern end of the Canning Stock Route. A pleasant place to stay as an alternative to Wolfe Crater where the camping area is very exposed.
For birdwatching there is Newhaven Wildlife Conservancy on the southern side of the Tanami. It is about 115 km off the road but although we were not able to visit it is certainly worth checking out.
Overall we were pleased to have done this road at least once. Others can give you ideas for camping spots as we stayed at Tilmouth Well Roadhouse CV Park and Stretch Lagoon.
We managed the trip from Tilmouth Well Roadhouse to Stretch Lagoon in a day.
Robert
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Follow Up By: birdnerd - Tuesday, Jan 26, 2016 at 18:40

Tuesday, Jan 26, 2016 at 18:40
Thanks Robert, we wouldn't mind doing it just once. Will check out Newhaven.
Amanda.
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Reply By: Member - Warrie (NSW) - Tuesday, Jan 26, 2016 at 21:41

Tuesday, Jan 26, 2016 at 21:41
Hi birdnerd, go to these links in Places and look at pix and read comments re our 2013 trip.
Tanami Road - Yuendumu to Stuart Highway
Tanami Road - Great Northern Highway to NT border
Tanami Road - WA border to The Granites Mine
Tanami Road - The Granites Mine to Yuendumu

Cheers, Warrie
Warrie

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Follow Up By: Member - Warrie (NSW) - Tuesday, Jan 26, 2016 at 21:47

Tuesday, Jan 26, 2016 at 21:47
PS - at the time we were exhausted after all the corrugations. It's 1000 plus km from Halls Ck to the Alice and it is not the most scenic drive especially after the Kimberley mountains. But it's a bucket list thing and you can cross it off - then maybe do it again in 5 years. LOL....... W
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Reply By: Motherhen - Tuesday, Jan 26, 2016 at 23:57

Tuesday, Jan 26, 2016 at 23:57
Distance between fuel fills is a problem for many on the Tanami Amanda. The very minimum span is 561 kilometres, and that is if you go into Balgo for fuel (35 - 40 kilometres off the road, permit required, and limited opening hours) and Yuendumu (one kilometres from the road).

You can see My Blog for the Tanami from 2008.

We had three nights "bush camping".
Motherhen

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Reply By: Member - Alastair D (NSW) - Thursday, Jan 28, 2016 at 07:19

Thursday, Jan 28, 2016 at 07:19
Amanda,
I have not travelled the Tanami for years so cannot comment on the road conditions but I think it would be the same as all Aus outback roads - good in patches sometimes, awful in patches sometimes. Just take it as it comes and drive to the conditions.

As to sights. Others have detailed many things. If you just drive it is not very senic if you are not keen on the flat outback. If you look around and go off to old mines, interesting geology, birds animals then it is really worth the trip. The first time I did it in 1972 I had planned to spend 1 night on the track but took nearly a week. Since then it has changed with the vagaries of the mining industry and other influences.

Like most of outback Aus it is much more interesting if you take time.
cheers
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Reply By: Member - nick b - Thursday, Jan 28, 2016 at 20:49

Thursday, Jan 28, 2016 at 20:49
G'day : when we did the Kimberley few year back now , we went straight up Stuart hwy to Dunmarra & turned off at Buchanan hwy( it has a nick name ???) takes you to Timber ck just north of lake Argyle . This is a good track bit boring till Top Springs & Victoria river downs then gets a lot better , good photo opportunity .

Tanami can get very rough , MANY trucks use this a lot to go to the granite gold mine & the west but if your up to it good short cut back .
Cheers Nick b
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Reply By: Member - Scott M (NSW) - Friday, Jan 29, 2016 at 10:48

Friday, Jan 29, 2016 at 10:48
This is one of those yes / no / maybe questions. If you're heading into Alice Springs and either south or across the Plenty Hwy, then it is probably a short-cut. If you're planning to head into QLD along the Barkly, then Nick B's suggestion is probably correct.

Having said that, if you want to travel it, then do it. However keep in mind it's a service road, not a tourist route. Apart from Wolfe Crater, there's not a heck of a lot along the route. 800k's of corrugations.
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