Article Comment: Great Central Road

Hello everyone,
In december 2016 and january 2017 I will be visiting family in Fremantle, WA. I plan on hiring/buying a 4WD, and travel across the Great Central Road in january. I know I'll have to prepare for a lot of stuff (fuel, water, maybe a satellite phone?, permits,...) I have some experience with off road driving, and corrugated roads, as I did a six month trip in Australia about 6 years ago. BUT, I want to ask if driving the Great Central Road in the month of january is managable, heatwise and road condition wise... Thanx for any advice! Grts, Simon.
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Reply By: AlanTH - Friday, Jul 15, 2016 at 10:48

Friday, Jul 15, 2016 at 10:48
It'll be hot for one thing Simon but still doable. Several places to stop along there including the Tjukariyla Roadhouse. Don't stay at Docker River campground as from many reports you'll have a high likelihood of theft from your camp.
We found various spots where we could get right off the road and be unseen from those driving past. Quite a lot of them had the tracks and entrances ripped and dozed but we could easily drive around them and get into an area suitable.
Enjoy the ride even if it is a bit sweaty.
AlanH.
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Follow Up By: Simon D. - Friday, Jul 15, 2016 at 17:38

Friday, Jul 15, 2016 at 17:38
I prefer camping in the wild (but safely of course), and I don't mind sweating :-)
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Follow Up By: Member - MARIC - Saturday, Jul 16, 2016 at 23:31

Saturday, Jul 16, 2016 at 23:31
May I beg to differ July 2015, Docker River no problems road corrugated NT side of the border, not bad at all WA side when we passed through
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Reply By: Peter_n_Margaret - Friday, Jul 15, 2016 at 12:33

Friday, Jul 15, 2016 at 12:33
Extreme temperatures are likely at that time of year, like shade temperatures approaching 50C and no where to hide from it.
Those temperatures will put significant extra stress on your vehicle - engine, tyres, transmission, air conditioning..............
The prospect of what may be a minor break down under those conditions can quickly turn to tragedy.
Be mindful of that and plan on how you intend to handle it.

Cheers,
Peter
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Follow Up By: Simon D. - Friday, Jul 15, 2016 at 17:37

Friday, Jul 15, 2016 at 17:37
I realise that preparation is key, and I don't take this kind of trip lightly. It would be foolish and possibly dangerous to underestimate this journey. A lot will depend on the weather and road conditions at that time. BUT, if I can believe the internet, this particular road is supposed to be well travelled. And, in case of a vehicle breakdown that I can't fix myself, I would not have to wait days for another car to pass... But I haven't driven on that road, so that's why I'm asking for advice and experiences of others... Thanx for the advice!
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Follow Up By: TomH - Friday, Jul 15, 2016 at 17:54

Friday, Jul 15, 2016 at 17:54
Wouldnt think so in January.
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Follow Up By: Member - Boobook - Monday, Jul 18, 2016 at 07:41

Monday, Jul 18, 2016 at 07:41
It sounds like you are not living in Australia. It will be unbearably hot.

I think you are mad to consider it. The most interesting part of the trip will be sitting int he car with the air conditioning on. It will be just too hot to enjoy the trip even if noting goes wrong.

Stay further south, it will still be hot and there are many more pleasant places to visit. Preparation includes evaluating if the trip should be done at all at that time and personally that would be no. Apart form anything else the flies will drive you nuts.

If you do decide to still go good luck.

Take EPIRB, Sat Phone UHF radio, tons of sunscreen and fly repellant, and lots of water.


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Follow Up By: Simon D. - Tuesday, Jul 19, 2016 at 19:23

Tuesday, Jul 19, 2016 at 19:23
Thanx for the advice everyone! It looks like I will have to change my plans, as almost everyone keeps telling me it will be too hot. I don't mind and can handle heat, but 50 degrees will be a bit too much probably. I like a bit of adventure, but it has to stay fun ofcourse...
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Reply By: Tjukayirla Roadhouse - Saturday, Jul 16, 2016 at 09:44

Saturday, Jul 16, 2016 at 09:44
Hi Simon, it is certainly Doable that's for sure, as people that work/ live out here all still drive, no matter what time of year it is. However, it will be hot, some days over 50. And yes, you can go a couple of days without seeing another vehicle at that time of year.
preparation is key and you'll be fine.
And by " camping wild" just be sure to stick to your permit conditions and camp in allocated areas, especially from 130km East of us and all the way to Yulara.
Enjoy the trip and pop in to say G'day
Cheers
Al
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Follow Up By: Zippo - Sunday, Jul 17, 2016 at 17:20

Sunday, Jul 17, 2016 at 17:20
I was going to give fellow EOers the heads-up that Al and Serena were back managing the Tjukayirla Roadhouse as of early this week, but he posted this before we got back into internet territory.

Simon, what others have said. Unless unseasonal rain changes things, quite doable with preparation the key. In a vehicle you purchase for the trip (i.e. "new" to you), a thorough mech-check is recommended. Satphone advised.

Current conditions: We came through from the Rock on Tuesday with memories of the Docker River stretch being seriously corrugated each of the last two years. Apart from some wet patches (aka bogs) between Lasseter's Cave and DR it was a highway. WA side was generally good after the first 10k or so. Of course today's rain may change some of that, given that the Leonora Shire's bit only opened Monday after the previous closure.
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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Sunday, Jul 17, 2016 at 21:53

Sunday, Jul 17, 2016 at 21:53
HI Al

"And by " camping wild" just be sure to stick to your permit conditions and camp in allocated areas, especially from 130km East of us and all the way to Yulara."

How do travellers know what are authorised areas? The permits tells us this, but not where. We read of many different places people have camped while on the Great Central Road, and many are known by name. However apart from roadhouse camping, the only "official" ones I know of are the Kaltukatjara (Docker River) campground (which had been thoroughly trashed when we got there which seems a common occurrence) and the Yarla Kutjarra Rest Stop.

Good to see the Road Conditions on the Tjukayirla Roadhouse up to date again Al. Thanks, it has been lagging for some time, no doubt due to your absence at that time.
Motherhen

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Follow Up By: Tjukayirla Roadhouse - Monday, Jul 18, 2016 at 09:53

Monday, Jul 18, 2016 at 09:53
Hi MH, thanks for the comments :-) it's great to be back here. We've already reduced a lot of the prices like rooms and camping, back to what they should be and Serenas been busy in the kitchen, and we couldn't have arrived back at a busier time of year . .lol
As for the camping spots along the road, yes those ones you mentioned are the only ones you should be camped at between Warburton and Yulara offically. It's a bit more relaxed down our end of the road however and there are many more spots to camp, but then you may miss our awesome company.. haha

Cheers
Al
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Follow Up By: John & Annette - Monday, Aug 01, 2016 at 23:59

Monday, Aug 01, 2016 at 23:59
Went thru last week and the road is the best I've seen in 4 crossings. Always stay at Warakurna and Tjukayirla, for unpowered campsite it's cheap as, flushing toilets and a shower your prepped for the next day.
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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Tuesday, Aug 02, 2016 at 00:07

Tuesday, Aug 02, 2016 at 00:07
Travelling east to west we were going to stay at Kaltukatjara (Docker River) but it was such a mess with nothing working and we had plenty of time to get to Warakurna which was a pleasant serviced campsite behind the service station. That also made it easy for an early start for the Giles Weather Station tour which was operating in full at the time.

We planned to stop at Tjukayirla but a broken spring bracket forced us to stop earlier at an old gravel pit.

Motherhen

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Follow Up By: John & Annette - Tuesday, Aug 02, 2016 at 11:38

Tuesday, Aug 02, 2016 at 11:38
Al, I assume it was you dishing out extra firewood to your camping guests on what proved to be a very cold night Sat 23/07. Thankyou for your hospitality.
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Follow Up By: John & Annette - Tuesday, Aug 02, 2016 at 11:55

Tuesday, Aug 02, 2016 at 11:55
Also got asked a few times what tyre pressures I was running, I found the happy spot was 24psi front and 28psi rear and on the caravan.(I run 45 front and 60 rear and on van for bitumen, so I was down 50% on highway pressures) Rear axle and caravan have similar loads of around 1800kg. Ride was great, just take it easy on the bitumen stretch at Warburton (Max 85kph or less in hot weather) and air up at the first servo. I still saw people with 50psi+ in the tyres of their 4x4 and trailers/vans saying the road was a bit rough.
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Follow Up By: Tjukayirla Roadhouse - Tuesday, Aug 02, 2016 at 15:45

Tuesday, Aug 02, 2016 at 15:45
G'day John and Annette, yeah that would have been me throwing out a bit of firewood, I try to get some out around the campsites as often as I can. It just makes life a little easier after a long drive if you don't then also have to try and find firewood. :-)

Cheers
Al
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