Great central road

Submitted: Tuesday, Jan 24, 2017 at 08:03
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Any hints for great central road with a camper van?
Many opportunities for free camp?
Any advice on accommodation or places to avoid?
Ayres rock to laverton
Steve b
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Reply By: HKB Electronics - Tuesday, Jan 24, 2017 at 08:54

Tuesday, Jan 24, 2017 at 08:54
We only did part of it, there are places you could free camp but we needed to refuel so we stayed at one of the roadhouses.

Road itself was very good by like all gravel roads conditions can change fast. Lots of rocks at times so good under body and stone protection is required.

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Reply By: RobAck - Tuesday, Jan 24, 2017 at 08:59

Tuesday, Jan 24, 2017 at 08:59
Search for Australia's longest shortcut. You will find excellent maps, track notes, camp sites, permits and everything else you need. Allow four days at a relaxed pace and drop your tyre pressures

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Reply By: Jackolux - Tuesday, Jan 24, 2017 at 10:51

Tuesday, Jan 24, 2017 at 10:51
We did the GCR from Laverton last August towing. Tvan ,
it was in excellent condition
We got our permits in Laverton, it says on the permit you can only camp in designated camp sites but the girl at the Laverton visitor centre said we could camp anyway we liked just don't go to far off the road
Camping in the NT section is restricted because it's in the National Park
It took us a easy 3 days 2 nights from Laverton to Curtain Springs .
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Follow Up By: Peter_n_Margaret - Tuesday, Jan 24, 2017 at 11:04

Tuesday, Jan 24, 2017 at 11:04
The western 200km in the NT (Tjukaruru Road) is all outside the Uluru NP area.
If you have permits to transit the Aboriginal land west of Uluru, you do not need to pay for the Uluru permit to transit the National Park, but you can not dawdle along the way.

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Reply By: Zippo - Tuesday, Jan 24, 2017 at 16:18

Tuesday, Jan 24, 2017 at 16:18
I would suggest first-timers get the Hema "The Outback Way" Atlas and Guide. It provides a blow-by-blow description which includes camping possibilities. You need to read that in conjunction with the conditions on the permits, as the Hema suggestions are sometimes a little "creative" vs the strict transit permit terms.

Make sure you obtain the two permits required.

Accommodation, we have always (last three years, three trips):

. used Tjukayirla Roadhouse and Warakurna Roadhouse; and

. avoided staying at Warburton (don't like having to be in a locked compound for security) or Docker River.

I would only contemplate dropping tyre pressures if road conditions showed it was warranted. It hasn't so far.
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Follow Up By: Member - Robert1660 - Wednesday, Jan 25, 2017 at 21:09

Wednesday, Jan 25, 2017 at 21:09
I would agree with Zippo regarding the places to stay. Both Tjukayirla and Warakurna Roadhouses are very good.Laverton has a good caravan park. As mentioned you really cannot dawdle along this road but then again it is an easy 3 days from Uluru to Laverton.
I would respectably disagree with Zippo regarding tyre pressures. Certainly the road is generally quite good, however provided you have good tyres with strong sidewalls lowering the pressures will reduce the strain on the suspension and really make the journey smoother. It will also give you better control of your vehicle on the dirt especially if you are towing. Just remember to keep your speed down if you lower your pressures.
I would also agree with Zippo about the Hema Guide. We found it rather uninformative apart from the maps. It really appeared that the authors had x pages to fill with text so that is what they did, almost random words to fill that space. Such a shame, very unlike any of Ron Moon's guides.
Enjoy the trip. Some great scenery.
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Follow Up By: Idler Chris - Wednesday, Jan 25, 2017 at 21:35

Wednesday, Jan 25, 2017 at 21:35
There is nothimg wrong with Warburton RH. Safe and with good facilities. Been there a couple of times and will be there again sometime in September this year.
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Reply By: Motherhen - Tuesday, Jan 24, 2017 at 23:49

Tuesday, Jan 24, 2017 at 23:49
There are plenty of opportunities for bush camping Steve, but by the conditions of your permit, you are only permitted to overnight in authorised places while transiting Aboriginal land. I have made a list of a dozen suitable places to stop overnight (including three roadhouses), fuel stops and distances. EO do not permit me to link my own work, so you need to contact me privately if you would like to read this information. I have a blog on our trip through the Great Central Road on My Blogs

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Reply By: Member - Paul B (WA) - Thursday, Jan 26, 2017 at 09:54

Thursday, Jan 26, 2017 at 09:54
Steve B, The Great Central Road should be very much thought of as two things: the NT section, which is awful, and the WA section which is excellent.

The NT section from Kata Tjuka (The Olgas) to the WA border near Docker River is usually rough, corrugated and somewhat rock strewn. You should certainly lower your tyre pressures and slow down (probably 80 or 90 max) to avoid shaking your rig to bits. Also camping is officially somewhat more restricted to either end, ie Uluru and the public campsite just west of Docker River, although we did see people camping amid desert oaks in the eastern half. The desert oak groves are a real highlight, like funny little enchanted forests in the vast outback. It is possible this section of the road is being upgraded right now as considerable funding has been allocated to the NT govt for this purpose. The Docker River office will be able to tell you.

An alternative to this 180 km teeth rattler is the Sandy Blight Junction Road which is maintained by the (WA) Shire of Ngaanyatjarraku to a similar standard as the WA roads, but requires a bit of a rejig of your itinerary as its a bit hard to leave from Uluru. You would normally leave from Alice Springs and head west through the spectacular West McDonnell Ranges toward Kintore and then take the SBJ Rd south toward Warakurna.

The WA section, conversely, is like a billiard table in comparison! As you will generally be able to thunder along at full noise you'll need your tyre pressures right up, to avoid blow outs. I would recommend you get a permit to visit Surveyor-General's Corner, near Wingellina at the tri-state border, not that the corner itself is that interesting, but the drive from Wingellina to Blackstone to Jameson and Warburton skirts the spectacular Blackstone Ranges, which I think is one of the great pleasures of the outback.

If you want to visit the Giles weather Station near Warakurna, which I'd also recommend, it will necessitate a 35-odd km back-track to the Wingellina turn off, which is on the Docker River side of Warakurna. You should be able to get from Docker River to Warakurna back to Wingellina and then through Warburton in a day to be able to free camp west of Warburton, if that's what you prefer. This distances aren't massive. Otherwise, I've always been happy to camp at the campsite enclosure behind the Warburton Roadhouse.

You get your WA permits online from the Department of Aboriginal Affairs websitehere or the Ngaanyatjarra Council here. The NT permits are similarly available online from the Central Land Council here.

But you SHOULD DO IT! It's wonderful country and a great experience.

All the best
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Follow Up By: Zippo - Thursday, Jan 26, 2017 at 12:41

Thursday, Jan 26, 2017 at 12:41
Paul B: "The NT section from Kata Tjuka (The Olgas) to the WA border near Docker River is usually rough, corrugated and somewhat rock strewn."

We've been through there each of the last three years. The first two gave us tooth-rattling corros, but no rocks strewn around. Last year it was more like a billiard table, except for the bog patches. These were east of Docker River.

Westwards to the border was fairly rough once you pass the new sealed "highway' section. It was almost as though the graders don't venture there.
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Follow Up By: Member - Paul B (WA) - Thursday, Jan 26, 2017 at 23:26

Thursday, Jan 26, 2017 at 23:26
Thanks Zippo, you information is more current that mine. I was last through the NT section 18 months ago in July 2015, however the NT section was identical to my previous 2 times on it going back 4 & 10 years.

We had a rock break a water pipe out of an underslung water tank on the heavy offroad camper on the way across and another through not just the repaired hose, but also broke the elbow out of the tank to which the hose was connected on the way back. We've never had these problems on any other roads despite thousands of miles on dirt roads and tracks.

We also had a flat tyre with a large rock cut from the edge of the tread up the wall. We met other traffic with similar problems. We also met a guy with a smashed windscreen.

That's why I say it was somewhat rock stewn. I also note in your videos there are some quite large stones near the water across the road, which would probably account for you not particularly noticing them rocks, but if the road was dry they would certainly have been as brutal as I have described.

I also added the caveat that it might have been substantially upgraded following the allocation of $50 million (from memory) for that particular section of the Great Central in this financial year, so I was unsure whether the work had been done yet. From what you are saying, it appears some of it has been but the western end of the NT section is still awful. Brutal is how some have described it, hence my preference for the Sandy Blight Junction Road.
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Follow Up By: Member - Rod N (QLD) - Monday, Jan 30, 2017 at 11:20

Monday, Jan 30, 2017 at 11:20
Mention has been made a few time on travelling the Sandy Blight Junction Road. Is this road suitable for towing an 'off highway' caravan?
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Follow Up By: Baz - The Landy - Monday, Jan 30, 2017 at 13:11

Monday, Jan 30, 2017 at 13:11
Hi Rod

Anything is possible, but given you note it as an "off highway" van, as distinct from an "off-road" unit I will say no...

The track itself is not arduous, but sandy in some sections - if it was one of the more reputable units like a smaller Bushtracker unit (for example), one might be willing to attempt it with the right care and experience...

it will be interesting to hear if others have, and I would defer to the experience of someone like frequent EO visitor "Motherhen" ...

I have done it with a TVAN and it presented no problems, although it isn't a caravan.

Good luck with your travels.

Cheers, Baz - The Landy
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Follow Up By: Member - Rod N (QLD) - Monday, Jan 30, 2017 at 13:22

Monday, Jan 30, 2017 at 13:22
Thanks Baz, I thought as much but just wanted it clarified as the SBJ Road has been touted a few times as an alternative to part of the GCR. In fact it appears it is not suitable for the general traveller.
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Follow Up By: Peter_n_Margaret - Monday, Jan 30, 2017 at 15:57

Monday, Jan 30, 2017 at 15:57
One bit in 2003....

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