Birdsville Track at Christmas

Well, limited time off means we only have a week or so at Christmas to get away.

With Brisbane as the start / finish point we are thinking of doing a run to Birdsville and down the Track at Christmas time.

While we realise this is not the ideal time for such a trip due to heat and weather, we are looking for any information that might assist in planning or indeed making a go/no go decision.
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Reply By: Allan B (Member, SunCoast) - Tuesday, Nov 22, 2016 at 15:27

Tuesday, Nov 22, 2016 at 15:27
Well, you are aware of the heat at that time and apparently consider that it would be bearable in an air conditioned(?) vehicle. But with limited time available for the journey have you considered the effects of that heat on the vehicle and tyres? You will probably be wanting to push hard and the vehicle may not like it.
Also, at that time there will be very few travellers on the road so if you get a problem and need help it may be a long time coming.

I have been through Birdsville in mid November when it was 42c with a broken air conditioner (46c in the cab)and there was not much happening in town. Residency drops, the bakery is closed and I think the Visitor Centre was too.
But on the bright side, the beer was cold.

I wouldn't do it if I didn't have to.

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Reply By: Peter - Tuesday, Nov 22, 2016 at 15:28

Tuesday, Nov 22, 2016 at 15:28
May be a big ask. You would need to be travelling every day. Temps will be pretty high. Another suggestion could be to go to such places as IDALIA national park.
Bladensberg, Expedition NP. All will be still a bit warm in the 40s??

Peter S
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Reply By: Peter_n_Margaret - Tuesday, Nov 22, 2016 at 15:42

Tuesday, Nov 22, 2016 at 15:42
Strzelecki Track, 11/11/2009, about 50C shade temperature (but there is no shade) and blowing about 40 knots.
Even a minor breakdown could become very serious very quickly in these conditions and the chances of one are greatly increased.

OKA196 motorhome
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Reply By: Ozi M - Tuesday, Nov 22, 2016 at 18:34

Tuesday, Nov 22, 2016 at 18:34
From Brisbane you would probably go to Windorah then about 400k without any support at all to Birdsville.
Most probably 40c+ outside, no probs if you are rolling along with AC but if you hit something or something hits you or you break down, within about 30mins inside the car is 60c
No mention of how many people on board but if there are any kids then I would not risk it.
It is life threatening out here, is it worth it ?
AnswerID: 606103

Reply By: Michael H9 - Tuesday, Nov 22, 2016 at 19:03

Tuesday, Nov 22, 2016 at 19:03
Looking at the positives, it's a great place to escape the crowds at that time of year. :-) If you are tenting it will be extra memorable. A few 40 degree nights in a row will sort out the pussies from the real campers in your group. We were camped at Uluru in early January one year and it was still 47 degrees at 9pm. I think I may have fallen asleep once that night, maybe not, the rest of the time I was busy basking in the wonderfully warm atmosphere while playing with hordes of over friendly insects. Like I said, extra memorable.
AnswerID: 606105

Reply By: Red Dirt - Tuesday, Nov 22, 2016 at 19:09

Tuesday, Nov 22, 2016 at 19:09
Agree with the above responses in general but ,,,,

As an old friend who was born and lived in western Queensland all his life said when we were hesitant about heading outback in summer said
"people live here all year you know".

If you are willing to experience it and are willing to acceptt what it is, as long as you are prepared go for it. It is the outback as it really is.
AnswerID: 606106

Reply By: Member - RUK42 (QLD) - Tuesday, Nov 22, 2016 at 19:42

Tuesday, Nov 22, 2016 at 19:42
You could always try three New Years at Cameron Corner!
Prado SX and a little van

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Reply By: wendys - Tuesday, Nov 22, 2016 at 20:11

Tuesday, Nov 22, 2016 at 20:11
My friends abandoned a planned trip down the Birdsville Track, two weeks ago (they were at Marree at the time) because the track was in really poor condition. I don't know if it likely to have been graded etc at this time of year?
AnswerID: 606110

Reply By: djm67 - Tuesday, Nov 22, 2016 at 21:51

Tuesday, Nov 22, 2016 at 21:51
Well I should have added a little more detail.

2 adult travellers, who have lived and worked most of our lives in NQ & CQ, so no strangers to the heat.

Nissan Patrol wagon set up for extended range and harsh conditions (LR fuel, 2nd battery, solar power, HD clutch, crawler transfer gears, front & rear diff locks, winch, 2 inch lift, dual wheel carrier, up-rated rear suspension mounts and a few other bits and pieces).

Planning on having around 4 weeks of food & water on hand in case of bad weather and/or breakdown and a registered EPIRB in the glove box.

Have confirmed fuel availability at Birdsville.
AnswerID: 606113

Follow Up By: Member - eighty matey - Thursday, Nov 24, 2016 at 22:17

Thursday, Nov 24, 2016 at 22:17
Go for it mate.
45 out there is only feels like 38 on the coast.

You might be surprised how many are out there at that time of the year. Not so many tourists but, as said before, people live out there.

We spent a couple of weeks travelling out to Cameron Corner and back for three New Years Eves a couple of years back. There were about 70 people out there for the night and New Years Day people headed in all directions. You should make a destination and loop back through Hungerford.
We did it with no air con. It was hot but take plenty of water for the day and grog for the night.

Your setup sounds like you're ready to go. I wish I could tag along but I'll be in Lorne.

Have fun,
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Reply By: MEMBER - Darian, SA - Tuesday, Nov 22, 2016 at 22:26

Tuesday, Nov 22, 2016 at 22:26
Well, apart from a week of far too much driving, motoring through that region in the middle of summer carries significant risk to hardware and humans ! As mentioned above, vehicles get stressed and can fail...even a flat tire with no shade to work under can take it out of you. And if you have engine trouble, there goes the air cond. Crikey...the locals who have seen it all up there wouldn't call those temperatures a holiday. Oh...and...its not being dramatic to point out that plenty of we city slickers have perished outback over the years due to miscalculation. On the other hand, mild weather can really make an outback trip...chilly nights round the campfire are a treat...hope you can swing it at some of luck with the plans :-).
AnswerID: 606114

Reply By: tazbaz - Wednesday, Nov 23, 2016 at 09:18

Wednesday, Nov 23, 2016 at 09:18
I have been told by a reliable source that the place is crawling with snakes at nightime at that time of the year.
AnswerID: 606128

Reply By: Member - Robyn R4 - Wednesday, Nov 23, 2016 at 22:06

Wednesday, Nov 23, 2016 at 22:06
There are two sides to the argument.

I have friends who've lived in the outback and travel a lot through the outback during summer. They once did the same sort of trip one summer (incl. New Year at Cameron Corner).
I wouldn't. I'd go nuts.
I hate the heat and the flies!

But they love it.
And they travel carefully.
They've never come to grief.
Is it luck or is it careful planning?

If you're a former west Qld person you'll know the basics.
If you go, just do a lot of reporting in. Let the cops at town (a) know that you're heading to town (b) and your ETA, etc.

Evan McHugh's book on Birdsville described the story of a local who came to grief on the Windorah Rd (if I remember) and it was pretty intense waiting for help...

Maybe, if summer is the only time you have a break, it could be put on the backburner for a few years and you could look for an easier tick on your bucket list instead...?

I'm "sort of" Brissy way and it'd be a big run for a week but the air con would certainly make the long days more pleasant!!
We did our nights at Nindigully Pub, then Thargomindah, Tibooburra, Innamincka (3 nights), Birdsville (2 nights), Windorah, Winton(2 nights), Charleville (2 nights) and Nindigully then home...2 weeks.

There's another interesting bit in Evan's book re the snakes on summer nights...


AnswerID: 606148

Reply By: djm67 - Wednesday, Nov 23, 2016 at 22:19

Wednesday, Nov 23, 2016 at 22:19
We have done the Thargo & Innamincka trip, actually in a 2 wheel drive ute for work during late Oct.

Was a lovely trip, but we did have 40 lt of water and 60 of fuel in the back along with a lot of food and the fridge :)

The other option I am exploring (actually as option #1) is going north from Birdsville through to Mt Isa and then home via Longreach.
AnswerID: 606149

Reply By: Baz - The Landy - Friday, Nov 25, 2016 at 10:58

Friday, Nov 25, 2016 at 10:58
My overarching principal for any trip or expedition into the bush, or the outback is simple – plan, do some more planning, and then finish off by planning.

Key to planning is to know what you want to do, the risks associated with it, assess whether the risks can be managed to an acceptable level, and ensure you have planned for contingencies.

In terms of travel to this area in summer, for sure it will be hot, but I believe seeing the country at different times of the year provides a different picture or perspective that you may not get at other times of the year.

And as others have highlighted, the outback doesn’t shut down during summer, people still live and work in the region…

The Birdsville Track is a virtual highway, that can become boggy at times of rain, but probably not something you will experience to any great degree in December...

So go for it, just plan for the time and conditions.


Cheers, Baz – The Landy

AnswerID: 606198

Reply By: Member - Phil G (SA) - Sunday, Nov 27, 2016 at 08:54

Sunday, Nov 27, 2016 at 08:54
In about 1991 we took the kids up to Innamincka in an old Troopie straight after Xmas. 2 vehicles as we went with another family. Wanted to do this to get away from the school holiday crowds and we'd been to Innamincka a few times before.

Camped on Cullyamurra waterhole - spent the mornings in the nice cool water and the afternoons in the pub. And New Years Eve was a blast at the pub - locals came from everywhere and were very chatty.

Flies were bad but solved with flynets. Had two of the old Finch 3-way fridges and they struggled - put wet towels over them and it was warm at night.

When travelling just make sure you have some sort of good shade if you get stuck. There can be more traffic than you think out there.

The other trip I did up that way was in 1978 in a Corolla wagon in December. Prepared it for the heat - tropical roof, 2 canvas water bags, supplementary radiator (actually a vacuum cleaner hose taking hot air from the heater out the two quarter vent windows). Went from Camerons Corner to Innamincka to Birdsville via Cordillo Downs, down the Birdsville Track then up Oodnadatta track to Central Australia for Xmas. Then home to Sydney via Cairns!

Just do it and plan appropriately. Al that extra stuff on your Patrol won't be of any use - the important things are that the vehicle is reliable and there is plenty of tread on the tyres and you keep the speed down. A satphone is essential in my opinion.
AnswerID: 606241

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