road trip in july

Submitted: Monday, Dec 26, 2016 at 18:30
ThreadID: 134000 Views:3117 Replies:11 FollowUps:23
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Hi all
I have just been given the best christmas present this year. A 2 week travelling holiday to wherever l want with my 3 daughters and wifey.
My question is: l am looking to travel to Uluru from Ballarat, through Tibooburra, Camerons corner, Cordillo Downs and into Birdsville. Then onto Uluru (which way? l'm open to opinions here). Then from Uluru, head south through Flinders Rangers and back into Adelaide, opens to opinions here also.
I have 2 weeks available, a 105 series Landcruiser in perfectly reliable condition.
My family is NOT the travelling type ( i presently have the Cruiser for sale as l gave up trying to get them to go on a trip like this - hence why it's such an awesome chrissy present and totally unexpected) and l'm hoping to include some roads less travelled - without going overboard as we'll be travelling by ourselves with my brother-in-laws cub camper trailer.
What l'm hoping to include is some waterholes for swimming, hopefully staying away from the "touristy" places. The Cruiser is a diesel so no hassles with lack of range for heading off the main track for a picturesque drive - so to speak, Not interested in having to drop tyre pressures in order to get through some places but l'm experienced enough to know when/how to utilize low range.
Hoping some of the more experienced travelers can help me out. I have done a quick check on distances and am hoping to travel at most 500 kms a day (travelling to Broken Hill in a day, so we can then have more time up our sleeve when "the outback starts") hopefully less so we can enjoy the more camping side of things in these idyllic areas.
Thanks again for a great informative forum!
Nick. Ballarat
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Reply By: Shaker - Monday, Dec 26, 2016 at 18:39

Monday, Dec 26, 2016 at 18:39
You had better take plenty of spare tyres if you're not interested in dropping tyre pressures!

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Follow Up By: jack1971 - Monday, Dec 26, 2016 at 19:04

Monday, Dec 26, 2016 at 19:04
Hi Shaker,
The essence of what l was getting at was that if l need to go through an area where one needs to drop tyre pressures, then l'm not interested in going there. I do realise that alot of the dirt roads, you need to be aware of what pressures you run compared with travelling on sealed roads. l don't want to get into a discussion of what pressures to run and having to go out and purchase an air compressor for one trip.

One trip, 3 daughters a capable car and an opportunity to show them the outback and the occasional side trip to a idyllic spot/camping trip.

Thanks for your reply..
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Follow Up By: RMD - Monday, Dec 26, 2016 at 20:32

Monday, Dec 26, 2016 at 20:32
A bit silly to try a trip such as that and NOT have a compressor for ANY inflation needs.
Of course you will have to modify your tyre pressures for such a trip. If you don't know what to do it has to be learnt/discovered BEFORE getting out there.

Just knowing how to select low range is simply not enough understanding for outback travel, even if the trip is free.
The lives of family members are also important to most folk.
Capable vehicle are useless if the driver is incapable.
Read lots, learn good and remember it, your life may depend on it.

PS, A cub camper will, as stated, probably require a few tyres is the conditions are not ideal. Sudden sidewall cuts also disable landcruisers too.

BE Prepared!!!!
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Follow Up By: Les - PK Ranger - Monday, Dec 26, 2016 at 21:24

Monday, Dec 26, 2016 at 21:24
..
$99 for a good compressor Nick, 150lt/min, 150psi, all you need.

If you aren't prepared to listen to what people say, then stick to the blacktop mate, forget Cordillo Rd, Birdsville Tk, Strz Tk, or Ood Tk.
If you don't delfate just a little on most of these (most of the time) from bitumen pressures, you are asking for possible tyre problems, and making the trip not quite as comfy for the team on board.

You won't be 'staying away from the "touristy" places' as much as you could if prepared to travel wisely.

As mentioned, 2 weeks is pretty slim anyway, it'd be a pretty fast trip.

I'd say the best option for you is through the back blocks to Yunta on the Barrier Hwy, up the back routes to the Flinders Ranges, say 3 days to get there, 3 days there exploring, then up to Marree, and on up the Ood Tk, you could take 3 or 4 days doing this as there is heaps to see.

Then, time permitting, up via Dalhousie Springs, Mt Dare, up to Alice via Maryvale, maybe a Chambers Pillar side trip.

There is 13 days, so in reality doing the red centre / Uluru is probably asking too much.
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Reply By: Allan B (Member, SunCoast) - Monday, Dec 26, 2016 at 19:24

Monday, Dec 26, 2016 at 19:24
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Nice idea Nick, but your allowance of 2 weeks is way too short for your itinerary.

For a start, Broken Hill is about 800km from Ballarat which would be a sensible 12 hours at best with only minimal stops. Your family would be hating you on the first day! Typical highway travel time is no more than 6 hours (400km) per day with no sightseeing. On unsealed roads it would be less than 300km. You need at least an hour to have breakfast and break camp in the mornings and two hours to prepare a meal at the end of the day. You would really need the whole two weeks just to get to Broken Hill and back if you do some sightseeing.

If you got to Birdsville, then to get to Uluru you need to go down the Birdsville Track to Marree then up the Oodnadatta Track. The alternative is to cross the Simpson Desert from Birdsville to reach the Stuart Highway then to Uluru, a route which I would not advise if pulling a camper trailer and without experience in sand and dune driving. This is where you really need to drop tyre pressures to 18psi to avoid becoming hopelessly bogged. Low range alone would not get you through.

You really need to rethink your itinerary and introduce your family more gently to camping and outback touring, maybe a route around western NSW.


Cheers
Allan

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Follow Up By: Jon W (Toow - Monday, Dec 26, 2016 at 20:02

Monday, Dec 26, 2016 at 20:02
Agree with Allan re two weeks being optimistic for your itinerary. How sturdy is your Cub camper? Even well maintained gravel will take its toll on soft suspension and light construction. Jon W
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Follow Up By: jack1971 - Monday, Dec 26, 2016 at 22:14

Monday, Dec 26, 2016 at 22:14
Thanks for all your replies

We have been to Broken Hill in a day previously - just left early and expected a long day.

Have had plenty of trips to the high country with mates and the like but l'm not the type to go looking for roads that require low range, just nice to have it there if on the way to a camping site and you come across a patch that a 2wd wouldn't make it. Wasn't even thinking of going to the Simpson desert - too remote/risky and hard and l certainly wouldn't attempt it with a trailer unless properly equipped which l won't be.

Was hoping to get to Birdsville and Uluru and was hoping to go via Camerons corner - ain't going to happen apparently. I have no experience with the outback - hence the question.

Looks like l'm heading to Uluru via Adelaide and back down the same way and take my time through the Flinders Ranges, sounds much easier/less risky - no experience with those gravel roads up there. Might be able to get a few extra days if l'm lucky. I don't mind at all staying at Pubs/motels if needed if we are taking out time on a given day. Will just mainly stick to the bitumen. Just was hoping to get some good spots to stay - plenty of info on the web, just good to get some opinions from people who have travelled these parts before.

Yes, know it can get cold out there and was intending to ensure we have enough gear to stay warm.
Have been checking out this site:http://www.outback-australia-travel-secrets.com/australian-tourist-attractions.html
Anybody know of any other sites that give info on good spots to go to whilst travelling Adel to Uluru and the Flinders?

Again ta for the replies, much appreciated. Nick

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Reply By: Outback Epicurean - Monday, Dec 26, 2016 at 19:43

Monday, Dec 26, 2016 at 19:43
Jack
We live in western Vic not far from you. Have done a lot of outback travel. The trip you are planning could (will) easily end up a total disaster as far far too much time travelling, especially as a first trip. Will be too cold to go swimming in central Australia anyway. Suggest you head closer and go to Broken Hill then Flinders Ranges. Note that both of these places will have sunny days but be very cold at night in July. You need to factor in some decent heating as campers are cold. Hot water bottles and fleecy stuff essential to ensure first camping trip is not your last!
Think and plan carefully and heed the advice of the previous reply.
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Follow Up By: Member - Robert1660 - Monday, Dec 26, 2016 at 21:49

Monday, Dec 26, 2016 at 21:49
Central Aus is very cold at night and with a south easterly blowing even the days can be very cold. With the wind you never seem to be able to get warm. If the family is not the touring type don't turn them off for life by a constant 500 km per day. With such a distance you never have much time to stop and look at things along the way. We find that 300 km per day gives you the opportunity to stop and take in the scenery.
With respect to tyre pressures you really need to reassess in this regard. Dirt roads at blacktop pressures do not offer a safe grip. Not having a compressor is quite ill advised. Remember that you do need to moderate your speed when you lower your tyre pressures.
I have just spent two weeks travelling from Canberra to the Flinders and back. Thoroughly recommended, however even this 4200 km trip was rushed to some extent. We spent about 7 days exploring the Flinders. Stayed at the fantastic Rawnsley Park Station. Did SkyTrack at Willow Springs and RidgeTop at Arkaroola. Plenty to do and fantastic scenery.
Don't try to do too much. It took us 3 days to get to the Flinders and 3 days to get back.
Best of luck wherever you go, however as stated many times keep your travels realistic.
Robert
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Reply By: Member - Rustygq - Tuesday, Dec 27, 2016 at 07:43

Tuesday, Dec 27, 2016 at 07:43
Jack
No way can you safely do that distance in two weeks. Id need 6 to 8 weeks to do that trip. Youd have to spend daylight to dark barrelling along at a 120 KPH throwing rocks and dust at everyone that you passed and at that speed you'll see nothing. 500 k a day is way to ambitious. In 2015 I did the BVT which is 500 Ks and it took me 2 long days. And as for tyre pressures, even on the Birdsville track, which is usually a good well maintained road, tyre pressures need to be dropped 10 or 15 pound to even look like making your truck ride smooth. One of the basic requirements for outback travel is a compressor, patches, plugs and tools. Good luck
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Follow Up By: Les - PK Ranger - Tuesday, Dec 27, 2016 at 08:26

Tuesday, Dec 27, 2016 at 08:26
True, as much as I love long days drives :) :D and doing the BV Tk is a day is easy enough, Mungerannie is one of the best half way stops you could do too, hard to go past the camping there with another outback pool to have a dip the OP is looking for to cool off in.
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Reply By: Sigmund - Tuesday, Dec 27, 2016 at 08:39

Tuesday, Dec 27, 2016 at 08:39
It's good to map out an itinerary.

Equally, be ready and willing to change it on the spot, cos...

a. you overestimated
b. you have a breakdown
c. just 5mms of rain has closed the next road, or 10mms and you'll need to wait for several days
d. you just found a magic spot and say bugger to another 10 hour day in the wagon.

It's a balance of tight and loose, and it's something to be learned inc how to negotiate over it with the others in the party.

The first trip should be seen as a recce anyway. You can never do it all let alone the 'best' spots. And while you intend to sell the wagon, can I say once you've sampled it out there you may change your mind.
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Reply By: jack1971 - Tuesday, Dec 27, 2016 at 10:46

Tuesday, Dec 27, 2016 at 10:46
I have 6 months to plan it and this is why l'm after opinions. It's looking like an air compressor is on the shopping list and maybe no Uluru and staying closer to the Flinders - was at least hoping to get to Birdsville but again, it's my first time and many things can change plans in a day...

Thanks Les and Robert for the places that might be worth a look, this is the type of info l'm after.

All in all, just good to get an idea of what to expect and what one needs - even- if it's just the one trip...and maybe more...

Thanks again.
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Follow Up By: Member - Rustygq - Wednesday, Dec 28, 2016 at 15:45

Wednesday, Dec 28, 2016 at 15:45
The Flinders would be a great alternative. Heaps of gorges, old ruins, history, old towns etc. You could easily fill in your 2 weeks poking around there checking out all the stuff, have a nice relaxed time and not have to drive the wheels off your truck every day. Who knows, the family might enjoy it and want to go again.
I will be in the Flinders around that time. Who knows, we might see you there.
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Reply By: TomH - Tuesday, Dec 27, 2016 at 11:28

Tuesday, Dec 27, 2016 at 11:28
What will you do with the stuff you will buy if you sell the vehicle before July.
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Follow Up By: jack1971 - Tuesday, Dec 27, 2016 at 11:59

Tuesday, Dec 27, 2016 at 11:59
Hey Tom
No idea, 6 months is a long time. I will buy what l "need" then go from there, just want to focus on doing the trip, have what l need, have fun on the trip and what is after that, who knows?? Probably keep it as l usually only buy quality stuff - your're a long way from home for the sake of a few dollars....if the car sells, will work it out from there - we do have another car, 2wd that will happily do the trip also and stay in paid accommodation and stick to bitumen only, really don't mind as it's the experience of it that counts.
Ta.
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Reply By: Sigmund - Tuesday, Dec 27, 2016 at 12:47

Tuesday, Dec 27, 2016 at 12:47
Make sure too that the CT has had a thorough check-over and service. Corro and dust are hard on them, and dropping into a hole at speed - which will happen sooner or later - will easily break a weakened stub axle, spring hanger etc.
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Follow Up By: jack1971 - Thursday, Dec 29, 2016 at 09:48

Thursday, Dec 29, 2016 at 09:48
Forgive me - CT?
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Follow Up By: Les - PK Ranger - Thursday, Dec 29, 2016 at 20:12

Thursday, Dec 29, 2016 at 20:12
"brother-in-laws cub Camper Trailer."
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Follow Up By: jack1971 - Thursday, Dec 29, 2016 at 22:02

Thursday, Dec 29, 2016 at 22:02
Yep, going to get that from him in the next 2 months and give it some new tyres, check spare/maybe thrown another spare on it and service wheel bearings and generally go through the whole thing just for my peace of mind.


"Don't assume anything".
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Reply By: splits - Wednesday, Dec 28, 2016 at 13:28

Wednesday, Dec 28, 2016 at 13:28
Jack1971.

Regarding tyre pressures: contact the manufacturer of your tyres and see what they say. I fitted a set of 205 x 16 Goodyear Wrangler TG to my Hilux nine years a go. Goodyear told me to use Toyota's pressures as per the handbook and don't reduce then for off road conditions. The pressures were 25 front at all times and 25 to 34 rear depending on load. When they are that low, why would you want to reduce them anyway?

Those tyres took me over all the roads that you mentioned plus many more in the Outback. They have also been on many of the remote Beadell roads as well as dozens of Victorian High Country tracks. They also crossed the Sydney Harbor Bridge a few times.

All of that has been on the same pressures with the only exception being a climb to the top of Big Red and straight back down again. I reduced them for that then re-inflated them straight away.

The suspension on the car is standard and the ride has been very good .

If you have larger non standard specification tyres then you are on your own. The pressures in the book may no longer apply. If that is the case then contact the manufacturer and do what they say.

The attached photo shows another one of my "Outback tourers". It is just outside of Boulia heading for Winton at Christmas 1967 .It had its standard size 5 / 20 x 10 Dunlop SP141 street tyres on pressures as per the book.

An hour or two prior to this photo being taken, it had come down the rough two wheel track and dried creek bed road from Mt Isa. That was a real challenge but by driving as slow as was necessary and carefully watching wheel placement, I got through with only a polished sump guard.

That area was not exactly 1275 cc Morris Cooper S territory but just about anything is possible if you take it very easy.

It is never a good idea to set time limits or distances to cover each day in Outback conditions.


AnswerID: 607056

Follow Up By: Allan B (Member, SunCoast) - Wednesday, Dec 28, 2016 at 13:41

Wednesday, Dec 28, 2016 at 13:41
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But Splits, you can pick that thing up with one hand! lol
Cheers
Allan

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Follow Up By: splits - Wednesday, Dec 28, 2016 at 16:45

Wednesday, Dec 28, 2016 at 16:45
"you can pick that thing up with one hand!"

You sure could Allan. I think from memory the 850 only weighed about 500kg. The S would have been slightly heavier.

You could buy an after market key to stick on the back of a VW so they looked like a wind up toy. Maybe a plastic brief case handle on the roof of a Mini would have sold well.
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Follow Up By: Shaker - Wednesday, Dec 28, 2016 at 17:41

Wednesday, Dec 28, 2016 at 17:41
Manufacturers only care about ride comfort, not tyre durability!

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Follow Up By: splits - Wednesday, Dec 28, 2016 at 21:08

Wednesday, Dec 28, 2016 at 21:08
" Manufacturers only care about ride comfort, not tyre durability! "

I have heard that argument more times than I could possibly remember. I have never heard such BS.

For every k those TG s did on unsealed roads, they did at least ten on highways and freeways at those same pressures. They did not overheat or crack the sidewalls or wear the outer edges due to under inflation.

I know
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Follow Up By: splits - Wednesday, Dec 28, 2016 at 21:55

Wednesday, Dec 28, 2016 at 21:55
" Manufacturers only care about ride comfort, not tyre durability! "
--------------------------------------
I have heard that argument more times than I could possibly remember. I have never heard such BS.

For every k those TG s of mine did on unsealed roads, they did at least ten on highways and freeways at those same pressures. They did not overheat or crack the sidewalls or wear the outer edges due to under inflation. I changed them because of age. They still had a few ks left in them.

I know Cooper, and maybe a few others, do recommend reducing pressures but Coooper do not make a 205 x 16 or a 7.50 x 16 LT. The TGs only come in those sizes. They are commercial tyres that are used all over the Outback and rural areas with the 7.50 being the most common. The 697 LT that I currently have are the same specifications and work at the same pressures.

I have worked for long enough in the motor industry in rural areas of NSW to know that local people don't get out and fiddle around changing pressures every time they go from sealed to unsealed roads.

Goodyear also told me the weight that each 1 psi increase in the rear tyres would support. That made it easy for me to adjust the rear pressures according to the load.

The other issue with pressures is the handling characteristics of the car. Tyres distort in corners resulting in them no longer pointing in the same direction as the wheels. That is called the slip angle. There is a certain ratio between the front and rear slip angles. The front is almost always higher than the rear. This determines whether the car understeers or oversteers. Just about every car is set up to understeer because very few drivers can handle oversteer

When my car is correctly loaded, the weight on the front wheels should not change. That is why only one front pressure is recommended. This leaves the slip angle constant.

The rear angle will increase as the car is loaded but the pressure should be increased accordingly. That will reduce the angle resulting in no change to the the front to rear angle ratio.

Changing tyre sizes and using your favorite pressures will change these vital angles and there will be a fair chance that it will not be for the better. Unfortunately if you have created any adverse effects, you most likely won't find out until it is too late.

Study the design of cars and don't worry about claims that the manufacturers are only interested in smooth rides. There is far more to it than that.
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Follow Up By: Shaker - Friday, Dec 30, 2016 at 13:27

Friday, Dec 30, 2016 at 13:27
I wonder why tyre services don't recommend to go with vehicle manufacturers pressures, but what would they know?

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Follow Up By: Michael H9 - Friday, Dec 30, 2016 at 20:25

Friday, Dec 30, 2016 at 20:25
I've always run manufacturers pressures. Tyre shops and mechanics always pump them up too hard in my opinion. I find the ride and handling crap when the pressures are high, I can literally feel everything rattling off the car.
It doesn't seem to have affected tyre life for me. I get good enough mileage, my current car is on its 4th set of tyres after 266k kms from new and there's probably 40k left on this set.
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Reply By: Michael H9 - Wednesday, Dec 28, 2016 at 15:40

Wednesday, Dec 28, 2016 at 15:40
Gday Nick
You could do Ballarat to Cameron Corner, Birdsville to Boulia then Alice Springs via the Plenty Hwy, then Uluru back to Ballarat via the blacktop in 2 weeks. It would be full on and you would only see the selected highlights you pick out and drive past the rest. I've done that exact trip from Sydney, not Ballarat, in that time frame and had a blast. Not all of us have luxurious time frames for pottering along sniffing daisies.
Your most vulnerable point will be your tyres, the dirt roads out there eat them. Getting the pressure right for your car in the conditions is a bit of a fine art. I carry an extra spare off rim plus all tools needed to do tyre repairs on the fly. Budget on 70-80 kph on those dirt roads. You may like to go faster but you can easily come a buster doing it.
If it rains then all bets are off, you might spend 2 weeks on the side of the road.
Even if you went Ballarat to Wilpena Pound, then Port Augusta to Uluru and Alice via the blacktop you would have a memorable time and you could do it in a Camry.
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Follow Up By: jack1971 - Wednesday, Dec 28, 2016 at 16:46

Wednesday, Dec 28, 2016 at 16:46
Perfect Michael! That's what l wanted to hear - it'll be a push for time (probably won't do the complete trip but it's good to know that it could be done at a push - but too many variables with mechanicals/weather etc.
Might give camerons corner and beyond a miss and do another time.

Have plenty of experince with tyre pressures - alot of that is just commonsense and experience. - bit like a "which oil do you use thread" -no right answer just mechanical empathy and a bit of experience. Have all the spare belts/hoses and tyre gear with me all the time anyway - that's just me and how l like to travel.

Yes, l don't have time to smell the daisies but prefer to take it a bit slower on the dirt roads and enjoy the journey and arrive 20 mins later. I'm the one who usually gets overtaken by the lout doing 90km/h+ out in the bush anyway and the one who usually has "the never used spare tyre" under the rear cargo - yes l keep it there as l've never had a problem with clearance - if in doubt don't do it!! The extra tyre sounds like a good idea to put on the roof rack though - thanks for that..

Dalhousie springs seems like a nice spot to go for a few days. Thinking we'll give Birdsville a miss also as then we spend more time on the oodnadatta track and the flinders and spend a few extra days camping.

Again, ta for the replies, it's always good to get differing opinions. Everybody's journey is different...
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Follow Up By: Les - PK Ranger - Wednesday, Dec 28, 2016 at 17:24

Wednesday, Dec 28, 2016 at 17:24
With the tyre empathy and speed on the Oodnadatta Tk, there is no reason why you can't go Flinders, out to Marree, Ood Tk, Dalhousie, Mt Dare, up the Maryvale Rd to Alice, no probs.
Maryvale Road is the old Ghan for quite a ways, it can be corroed, but find the right speed and not a bad run.
The return run to Chambers Pillar is a decent road too most of the time.
This then Uluru is what I outlined in previous post, not rushed 13 days puts you in Alice, so maybe too long.

I wouldn't camp Dalhousie, dusk to dawn mossies will kill the families outdoor desires permanently, nice place for a daytime desert dip though for sure.
Oh, and no campfires there either, not a big outdoor night time sit up a while kinda place.
Mt Dare has a great campground and excellent facs with shower / toilet block.

Maybe a loop back from Mt Dare, out to the Stuart Hwy, and down to home via the blacktop is more achievable, you could explore around Coober Pedy then for a day or two.

I just feel the way you described the familys travel habits, asking them to sit in the car for 8 - 10hrs a day for 2 weeks is too much for them.
A shorter trip with more out of car activities might just be more interesting for them and you, and whet their appetite for more remote travels.
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Follow Up By: jack1971 - Wednesday, Dec 28, 2016 at 18:21

Wednesday, Dec 28, 2016 at 18:21
Thanks Les
Will look at those areas you outlined, was told by a friend Dalhousie is a must see - thanks for the no camping tip - this is all gold - thanks very much.

I have been to Camerons corner via Mildura on motorbike a couple of years to wet my appetite and then back the same route and it was awesome - just took my time and had a manual tyre pump with me to lower tyre pressures slightly when needed but 2 wheels was hard work as l'm pretty conservative with my riding/driving habits but it gave me an idea of what's out there and l would never go into these areas on a motorbike again because it's just so much easier on 4 wheels and l've heard too many stories of motorbikes being stranded because of fatigue and mechanical issues and then nowhere to find shade - but that's anothere story...
Ta again, Nick
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Follow Up By: Les - PK Ranger - Wednesday, Dec 28, 2016 at 21:05

Wednesday, Dec 28, 2016 at 21:05
One big tip if you end up going from Dalhousie to Mt Dare, don't take the obvious direct route, there is a terrible geographic band through there, no matter if it gets graded, these bolders come up after a week or two again, from cricket ball size to basketball size.
Ok if you take it slow and drive very carefully, but in my drives through there would rather take the turn off to Bloods Ck, then up to Mt Dare on the other route in.
You'll see these 2 routes easy enough on the maps of the area.
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Reply By: Kilcowera Station Stay - Saturday, Dec 31, 2016 at 06:53

Saturday, Dec 31, 2016 at 06:53
We wanted to buy a 105 series a while ago, couldn't find one to suit us. Where is it advertised please? Cheers toni
Kilcowera Station Stay

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