Plenty Hwy Travel Time

Submitted: Sunday, Oct 16, 2016 at 21:49
ThreadID: 133612 Views:4158 Replies:10 FollowUps:1
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Hi, Looking at travelling from Longreach across the Plenty Hwy to Alice next year with the family. Well prepared 4x4 and no van to worry about but I am unsure of the travel time required - can anyone put a ballpark time frame on the trip? I was hoping to do it in 2 full days staying overnight at Tobermorey Station.
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Reply By: Kyle H - Sunday, Oct 16, 2016 at 21:56

Sunday, Oct 16, 2016 at 21:56
2 days is certainly doable, Tobermorey is a nice stop over. We did it in 2 days with the van.
AnswerID: 605151

Reply By: Member - Young Nomads - Sunday, Oct 16, 2016 at 22:20

Sunday, Oct 16, 2016 at 22:20
It would be a very rushed time to do it in 2 days. I think, travelling that fast to get there in 2 days is a little ambitious. You may not get to actually have time to "smell the roses" especially as you are travelling with family.
We have travelled it more than once from Birdsville to Alice, via Bedourie...took us 3 days of unrushed enjoyable driving....we aren't too slow..just enjoy the outback life.
Another highly recommended place to stay is Gemtree near the western end of the Plenty (Stuart Highway)...from there it is a casual drive to Alice.
Research their website and you may be there on a day when they have one of their delicious camp oven roast nights!
Remember. The plenty is still dirt in sections. Driving with caution is recommended..Darn backpackers insist on driving too fast on the wrong side of the road!!!!!
However they are doing extensive bitumenizing of the road to the western end of the Plenty.

AnswerID: 605153

Reply By: Baz - The Landy - Monday, Oct 17, 2016 at 08:53

Monday, Oct 17, 2016 at 08:53
Like any trip, the more time you spend the more you are likely to see, mind you if you are travelling on a “time budget” it becomes more difficult.

The Plenty Highway is a great drive with a number of places to stopover. Others have highlighted Tobermorey and Jervois as overnight camps, you could also camp at Arthur River, not too far from Jervois (about 60klm east from memory). This is quite a pleasant free camp.

Travelling east, I have done Alice Springs to Arthur River, overnight, and a camp at Boulia the following night towing our TVAN. Quite doable especially given the better road conditions in the western parts.

Enjoy your trip,

Baz – The Landy
AnswerID: 605156

Reply By: Member - John and Lynne - Monday, Oct 17, 2016 at 10:39

Monday, Oct 17, 2016 at 10:39
Road conditions can vary. We did the trip a couple of years ago towing a van and western parts were very corrugated with a lot of holes. Driving was quite tiring and very dusty. We were also slowed down more by a flat tyre near the border - spiked by a bit of wire on the best part of the road! We had the time and were happy to take 3 days from Boulia to Gemtree and reached Alice early on the fourth day.It was a great trip. Last year the road was quite a bit better according to friends. It would be wise to not cut your time too tight and take enough time to enjoy the trip more and go slowly if necessary. Tobermorey was a great stop as was Jervois. Should be interesting for the kids. Gemtree was a welcome oasis and the kids could enjoy a fossicking trip there too. You certainly need to watch out for oncoming vehicles that refuse to slow down as they pass. It is obvious why there are so many windscreen repairers advertised as you enter Alice! John and Lynne
AnswerID: 605162

Reply By: Bob Y. - Qld - Monday, Oct 17, 2016 at 10:57

Monday, Oct 17, 2016 at 10:57
After a late start from Winton, we camped at Bendgeacca Ck, just at the start of the Donohue.

Stopped numerous times the next day for Kodak moments, and had an ice-cream and a chat at Jervious, finally getting to Gem Tree about 4.30pm. Travelled along at 90-100 kmh, and weren't towing, in a Landcruiser ute.

Next day, we were in Alice before midday, fuelled up and at Yulara well before dark.

We found the Plenty generally good going, with some corrugations. There has been further bitumen work on the Donohue, and I'd suggest there'd now be over 100kms sealed, in sections. Not sure about the Gem Tree end, for any new work?

A good alternative return trip is along the Sandover Highway, if you were interested.


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AnswerID: 605164

Reply By: LMDBPres - Monday, Oct 17, 2016 at 15:04

Monday, Oct 17, 2016 at 15:04
Thanks to all for the fast response and thoughts! More research to be done and some decisions made.
AnswerID: 605170

Reply By: Member - Odog - Monday, Oct 17, 2016 at 15:33

Monday, Oct 17, 2016 at 15:33
Hi Zaak, we were there 8 weeks ago, had to wait in Boulia an extra day, for the Plenty to open after rain. Quite a lot of mud, with diversions around the worst bits.
Had a lot of water over the road on the Winton side of Boulia through the dips as well. We were greatfull we only lost a day, as the trip progressed, this became common, think we got stuck four times with the rain.
We left Boulia, and camped at Jervois, then turned down the Binns track into Ruby gap, camping there the following night.. great drive.. enjoy!.. cheers Odog
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AnswerID: 605171

Reply By: bgreeni - Monday, Oct 17, 2016 at 16:47

Monday, Oct 17, 2016 at 16:47
A couple of years back I was driving Perth - Townsville. I did Alice - Mt Isa via Plenty Hwy in a day. Not a sight seeing trip.
AnswerID: 605172

Reply By: splits - Tuesday, Oct 18, 2016 at 22:22

Tuesday, Oct 18, 2016 at 22:22
It is never a good idea to try and set a time limit on Outback unsealed roads because the conditions can vary so much. So much depends on the weather. the amount of traffic and where the graders happen to be working.

I drove over the Plenty last June. It was fairly good except for the corrugations down near the Alice end.

Your biggest danger though can come from a surface that is smooth because this can easily result in many drivers treating it like a sealed road and driving too fast. The roads can be wide flat and looking trouble free so down goes the foot but even the best of them can have unexpected sandy patches, washouts or short but bad corrugation sections etc. and the driver can't get the car down slow enough before it goes into them The result is often a roll over which is the most common accident out in those areas.

It is such a serious problem that Vic Widman from Great Divide Tours tours has written a book about it as well as a couple of magazines articles on the need for driver training on dirt roads. There is plenty available for mountain tracks but not good unsealed roads. driver training.
AnswerID: 605201

Follow Up By: Member - John and Lynne - Wednesday, Oct 19, 2016 at 17:21

Wednesday, Oct 19, 2016 at 17:21
Exactly Zaak! It aso depends really on the sort of trip you want to have - see a lot and arrive in one piece or just get to places fast. Then it could depend on how much unhappiness and resistence is coming from the kids in the back seat! We have seen some very unedifying scenes of near hysterical kids refusing to get into a vehicle for the third or fourth long day of non stop driving. Also if all the kids do is watch CDs etc all day to keep them quiet there is hardly any point in taking them. I understand that many are pressed for time but perhaps, if so, it is better to plan on a shorter distance and a more enjoyable and interesting trip for everyone. Just our thoughts, and yes, we did quite a few road trips with our kids! We learnt from experience! Lynne
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Reply By: Lindsaydi - Saturday, Oct 22, 2016 at 16:47

Saturday, Oct 22, 2016 at 16:47
Mate, I not far from Jervois is the start of the Hay River Track. They have/ had a good though open camping area with facility's. The best part is the demonstration they put on of local culture --yes you do need a permit some people say expensive. If you have not had this experience it is well worth the break to smell the roses.
AnswerID: 605299

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