Birdsville Big Bash ....Directions pls

Submitted: Monday, Feb 06, 2017 at 20:33
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We would have to Travel to Birdville via the Birdsville Track from Victoria but are towing a standard Jayco Caravan and are wondering wether it may be a bit " rough" What is the alternative to getting to Birdsvile ?thanks johno
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Reply By: Member - Wildmax - Monday, Feb 06, 2017 at 20:43

Monday, Feb 06, 2017 at 20:43
Shortest section of unsealed road is either from the east via Quilpie and Windorah (but still a couple of hundred km of unsealed), or from the north through Boulia and Bedourie. If you take it easy on those roads and the weather is OK, you shouldn't have any problems.
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Follow Up By: Nomadic Navara - Monday, Feb 06, 2017 at 20:59

Monday, Feb 06, 2017 at 20:59
The road from Windorah to Birdsville has less than 280 km of good gravel road. I first travelled that stretch some time ago and the 280 km was all gravel. Most of the way I was travelling at around 80 km/h with my soft road van. Most of the gravel was better than some patched bitumen roads. The last time I travelled it there were some stretches of sealed road along it. From Birdsville to Mt Isa is mostly bitumen. Again the gravel is well maintained.
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Follow Up By: Member - Wildmax - Monday, Feb 06, 2017 at 23:24

Monday, Feb 06, 2017 at 23:24
.....and if you decide on the Windorah-Birdsville option, make sure to drive up Dion's lookout on the way - great views.
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Reply By: Member - Boobook - Tuesday, Feb 07, 2017 at 05:35

Tuesday, Feb 07, 2017 at 05:35
If you're in Victoria and the Birdsville Big Red Bash is on, then the best directions are as follows.

Head to Port Melbourne and look for a big white and red ferry. Drive on to it, and wait for 10 hours. Get off and relax, away from a few thousand crowded sheep..

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Follow Up By: RMD - Tuesday, Feb 07, 2017 at 22:49

Tuesday, Feb 07, 2017 at 22:49
Very sound advice that. Less beer cans on the ferry and the other land too.
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Reply By: Baz - The Landy - Tuesday, Feb 07, 2017 at 06:24

Tuesday, Feb 07, 2017 at 06:24
The Birdsville Track shouldn't present you with any problems, certainly no more than the alternatives.

Drive to the conditions and enjoy...

Cheers, Baz - The Landy
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Follow Up By: Sand Man (SA) - Tuesday, Feb 07, 2017 at 07:37

Tuesday, Feb 07, 2017 at 07:37
Baz,

I wouldn't recommend the Birdsville Track to anyone towing a non offroad van.
The upper section across the gibber plains can be a real pig.
Agree with others on Windorah to Birdsville route as the better option.

Regardless of suspension and clearance, at an absolute minimum I would swap out any highway tyres usually found on standard vans to All Terrain tyres.

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Follow Up By: Baz - The Landy - Tuesday, Feb 07, 2017 at 08:26

Tuesday, Feb 07, 2017 at 08:26
Hi Bill

I guess it comes down to a point of view.

But I must say whenever I have travelled the Birdsville Track it has almost resembled a highway and not too different from the alternative routes, but then one man’s dream is another’s nightmare and it all comes down to subjective judgement.

And I think it is worth noting though that people have been driving on outback roads in all kinds of vehicles since Henry Ford built his first vehicle and I think with the advent of the modern 4WD vehicle there is a view that is what is needed for these types of roads, which isn’t necessarily the case.

As with any outback road or track, drive to the conditions – do this on the Birdsville Track and most will survive.

All good feedback for the OP to work through though...

Cheers, Baz – The Landy
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Follow Up By: Member - Rustygq - Tuesday, Feb 07, 2017 at 08:53

Tuesday, Feb 07, 2017 at 08:53
I agree with Baz. The BVT is usually in good shape, all you have to do is take your time. I have a standard Jayco poptop and dont hesitate to take it on dirt roads but just be mindful to drive to the conditions. 30 years ago friends of mine took their kids out of school and towed a 16 or 17 foot Viscount around Oz for 12 months including all through the northwest, his comment when people used to say "you cant tow a van on those roads" was "Oh we just crawl along and drive to the conditions"
Good luck

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Follow Up By: toffytrailertrash - Tuesday, Feb 07, 2017 at 09:12

Tuesday, Feb 07, 2017 at 09:12
Enjoy your trip.

When you get to Birdsville can you post a couple of photographs, one inside and one of the outside of the van.

Or even better the before and after shots.

The Birdsvile Track is not to be taken lightly, those gibbers can cause a tremendous amount of damage.

Merv
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Follow Up By: Baz - The Landy - Tuesday, Feb 07, 2017 at 09:38

Tuesday, Feb 07, 2017 at 09:38
Toffy raises a point about what impact outback roads and tracks can have on vehicles, caravans, and camper trailers.

I have a 2013 Toyota Landcruiser Twin Cab and a TVAN. Take a look at the outside of either and one can see that they have been used for the purpose they are designed for. My experience suggests that rocks and stones don't discriminate when it comes to which vehicles they choose to damage...

Travel any of these tracks and you will most likely suffer the same, vehicle or van choice won’t make too much difference in that regard. If that sort of thing bothers you, the answer is simple – don’t do it…

As to the question of capability of a caravan – as indicated, and I can see others are in agreement, drive to the conditions, give the vehicle and van a rest every so often to allow shocks to cool, slow down, and then slow down again, don’t race over cattle grids, essentially treat your kit kindly and you should have no problem.

Mind you, this is all generalist advice in any case. The OP hasn't indicated what van or vehicle he has - what constitutes an on-road or off-road van?

Suck it and see I say - you'll soon find out one way or the other what works and what doesn't..

But then, I live to a motto;

“Those that don’t think it can be done shouldn’t bother the person doing it”…

So maybe one shouldn’t take my advice!

All food for thought though...

Cheers, Baz – The Landy
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Follow Up By: Baz - The Landy - Tuesday, Feb 07, 2017 at 14:00

Tuesday, Feb 07, 2017 at 14:00
And just to add...

I don’t want to ‘burden’ this thread with a plethora of stories and photos of what can be achieved when it comes to outback travel.

But…

There is a wonderful story, written and told by Kelly Theobald, that provides a great example that a big 4WD (or off-road van) with all the ‘fruit’ is not necessarily needed for outback travel. In some cases it just takes a good imagination, a well prepared vehicle, a well thought out plan and a great sense of adventure.

A link to the story follows...



This stock standard Volkswagen Vee-Dub crossed the Simpson Desert a number of years back – how many people do you reckon said it couldn’t or shouldn't be done…?

I mean, a stock standard beetle crossing the Simpson Desert, surely not…!

And for sure, the question in this thread is about taking a caravan along the Birdsville Track, but the similarities to the question and answers are unmistakably familiar…

You can read more about it here.

Cheers, Baz – The Landy
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Follow Up By: Sigmund - Wednesday, Feb 08, 2017 at 10:17

Wednesday, Feb 08, 2017 at 10:17
Beetle design is actually quite good for that. Adequate clearance, plenty of low grunt and weight over the driving wheels. Also a couple of guys can do a snatch with their hands!

As for the track, maintenance frequency has increased in the last few years. You won't see much gibber. Last time I drove it the greatest risk was deep large size gravel enabling you to easily get a drift up round a bend. Just last year a BV local fatally rolled her car that way and the year before an acquaintance lost steering and speared off the road.

What you can still expect is vibes and not even the Jayco Outback range copes well with those.

With any softroad trailer I'd be working on the underside to protect or reroute cables and pipes at a minimum.
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Follow Up By: Sand Man (SA) - Wednesday, Feb 08, 2017 at 11:02

Wednesday, Feb 08, 2017 at 11:02
I have experienced twobroken windows on my last two trips.
The first maybe caused by a little stone bouncing off the stone guard frame into the back window. I didn't have a stone stomper back then.
The second one last year was caused by an idiot who refused to slow down when passing from the other direction taking out my side canopy window.

As member Ruth once advised, "cover side and rear windows with cardboard or similar".
You can employ things such as a stone stomper to protect your vehicle and others, but you cannot protect yourselves from other stupid, inconsiderate drivers.
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Reply By: Member - McLaren3030 - Tuesday, Feb 07, 2017 at 14:30

Tuesday, Feb 07, 2017 at 14:30
Just a point Wrt tyre pressures & gravel roads. It is good practice to lower the pressure in your tyres on your van to help soften the impact of corrugated roads. I have a 2.5 T Off Road van which I normally run 38 psi in the tyres. When I hit the gravel, I tend to drop the pressure back to 30 psi. If the corrugations are really bad, then even dropping to 26 psi would be advisable. Of course you might need to have a portable compressor with you in order to "air up" again once you get back to the bitumen. If your van only has road tyres fitted, then I would strongly recommend changing them out for LT all terrain tyres, as they a stronger & will give better cut resistance. Driving to the conditions as others have mentioned is also good advice.

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Reply By: gke - Tuesday, Feb 07, 2017 at 15:15

Tuesday, Feb 07, 2017 at 15:15
All good advice above, but all bets are off if it rains.
It would pay to get under your van and work out how to protect anything that can be damaged by hours of sand and rock blasting.
If you have forward facing lower shock mounts on either vehicle or van I suggest protecting the threads with short pieces of suitable tubing- garden hose often works.
Enjoy the experience, Graham.
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Reply By: splits - Tuesday, Feb 07, 2017 at 23:39

Tuesday, Feb 07, 2017 at 23:39
If you have plenty of time on your hands then you can tow just about anything anywhere without breaking it.
Three years ago my wife and I were tippy toeing along in our 4wd ute at about 20 to 25 ks per hour on the very rocky and corrugated road between Oodnadatta through Dalhousie Springs to Mt Dare. We slowly caught up to an on road caravan that was travelling about 1 kph slower than us. They said roads like that formed only a small part of their travels all over the country so they simply slow down and take as long as it takes and they have never had any problems with their van.

Three or four days later we were camped at the ruins of the Bundooma railway siding on the Old Ghan Railway Heritage Trail and they came in still travelling at the same speed.

If you are able to do that then you should not have any problems. If on the other hand you allow say two days to drive from Maree to Birdsville, then the van may not last the distance.

The big killer in those areas is speed, not the road surface. To break cars or vans you have to hit things hard. If you crawl over rough spots you should not break anything.

Light truck tyres would be an advantage although I have driven without any problems at all over the Oodnadatta Track on the standard street tyres that came with the car using the pressures listed in the owner's handbook. The handbook says those tyres are not suitable for off road work. Our speed was around 30 to 60.

I have never reduced pressures on those roads. I don't like the way the sidewalls are exposed to the road surface when you do that or the increase in tyre temperature. So far the score is one puncture in tens of thousands of ks of Outback driving starting in the 1960s.

I have had five punctures that I can remember on sealed roads with one in the middle of the Sydney Harbor Bridge. That bridge can be rough on tyres.
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Reply By: aussiedingo (River Rina) - Wednesday, Feb 08, 2017 at 10:00

Wednesday, Feb 08, 2017 at 10:00


I did the whole Birdsville Track in 1995 when it was a goat track! standard road tyres & no ground clearance - only got 5 punctures!.... great trip!!
"the only thing constant in my life is change"




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Follow Up By: b1b - Wednesday, Feb 08, 2017 at 14:12

Wednesday, Feb 08, 2017 at 14:12
jeez - 1995 - check the shorts on the bloke on the left. but what a trip with only 5 punctures.......
b
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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Thursday, Feb 09, 2017 at 20:12

Thursday, Feb 09, 2017 at 20:12
Hi Aussiedingo

Are you sure on that date, as I would have said more like 1975?

By 1995 the Birdsville was no goat track and a well formed road.

That model Falcon would have been in the early 1970's vintage and the clothing looks more of the 70's style as well.


Am I wrong or correct?



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Follow Up By: aussiedingo (River Rina) - Thursday, Feb 09, 2017 at 20:54

Thursday, Feb 09, 2017 at 20:54
Stephen, it was 1995 as with all the punctures! at the time the road condition obviously after a rainy period - we also had 2 holes in the fuel tank because of the low rear ground clearance.
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Reply By: duck - Friday, Feb 10, 2017 at 10:27

Friday, Feb 10, 2017 at 10:27
I’m pretty sure the first motorised vehicle to Birdsville & most places was not a ARB/TJM etc. fully equipped vehicle & the trailer would not have had tregg coupling, double shocked & multiple linkage suspension
When I started traveling & 4wding an off road conversion to your trailer was the axle got underslung & putting 8 ply tyres on it & maybe a pintal hook
I wonder about some people/groups who say you must have this and that & it must be an off road version with all terrain tyres etc. etc., how would they have got anywhere even a few decades ago & all the tracks & roads were a lot tougher more remote than they are now
There are a lot of standard cars & caravans that travel up & down the track every year without issue check conditions before & while you’re on the road & take your time, the weather will be your biggest issue, in the repair kit have a spare carton of beer just in case you need help
Have a great time
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Follow Up By: Zippo - Friday, Feb 10, 2017 at 13:07

Friday, Feb 10, 2017 at 13:07
Just a comment on your repair kit inclusion. Back in '72 a mate and I were in Alice loading up for a trip back into WA. Vehicle was my Fiat 125 sedan, the only "modifications" being: sump guard, trusty Engel MRFT514 in the back seat area, roo-bar and lights, long-range tank, and four spare wheels on the roof rack. Several paper maps (250,000) and a couple of state "oil company" ones. Marine compass had died earlier in the trip, must have been made by Jaguar as the oil had all leaked out.

Met a couple of guys in a WA-registered Landie outside the grog shop, and they said they were heading back west the following day so we loaded an extra carton and said "if you run across us, there's coldies for you". That was OUR recovery plan!

Returned to the west via Docker River, "Blackstone mining camp (abandoned)" near Wingellina - the guy in the DR store said it was "more scenic" - and then Warburton. No events, no flats in our stock Pirelli road tyres.
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Follow Up By: Nomadic Navara - Friday, Feb 10, 2017 at 13:17

Friday, Feb 10, 2017 at 13:17
Yes but you blokes are talking about the days before 4WDs became the norm. These days the roads have been trashed by the gung ho blokes who travel at full speed in the 4WDs and wreck the track. Too much hard driving over any road buggers it.
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Follow Up By: duck - Friday, Feb 10, 2017 at 17:17

Friday, Feb 10, 2017 at 17:17
Nomadic navara
I still travel all over & most tracks & roads are a lot better now then they were in the 70's & eighty's, in 1977 I did the trip from steep point WA to Byron bay NSW & it took weeks & weeks, I did it again twice in 2001 & 2008 & it was easy & a hwy, The simpson on the French line is an easy trip now & sign posted for most of it

There's 2 trips I have done lately that the tracks are worse now, then in 1964,1969, 1979 & 1982 one is cape York but only a small section of the tele track the rest is a hwy & back then it would take 8 to 10 hrs to get to portland roads from coen old Ross Pope (he was eveything at portland rds back then sadly passed away at chilli beach a few years ago now) He would only worry if it took us more than 18hrs now its nothing to drive & sections of the Canning stock route are a lot more corrugated/chopped up now then what they were back then (1979), but all in all there in better nick now

Now you can get supplies in some of the most remote areas, so you are now not carrying tons of fuel & supplies,

If feels like no so long ago that on the trip to top (Cape York) you paid for your fuel & got it dropped off well before you left (totts took it up the track on her Man 4x4 truck & the barge took it to Bamaga) I can remember in 79 at Musgrave you paid for what ever you pumped up into the glass bowser & no refund if you could not get it in a tank, can etc, you could buy beer at the station but you could not drink it there only under the big tree across from the pumps & you had to have a collar on you did not need shoes, pants or even a shirt but you had to have a collar

Peter since your an old radio tec I will try & find the photo I have of the linesmen working on the tele track & there vehicle was red a split window vw combi

I agree most people travel far to fast now & go to far before letting the tyre pressures down & I guess we had no choice but to do everything before it was an issue because we had overloaded vehicles, crap skinny rag tyres, no air conditioning, no power steering & brakes that would stop you sometime
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Follow Up By: Member - Blue M - Sunday, Feb 12, 2017 at 04:09

Sunday, Feb 12, 2017 at 04:09
There were very few 4 wheel drives getting around when I was a young fella growing up around St. George.
There were a few different roads out of the place, you could go to Bollon, Dirrunbandi, Mitchell, Roma, Dalby or Thallon. You got a few miles of bitumen and then she was dirt for the rest.
I can't ever remember seeing anyone pulling up at the start of the bitumen coming into town, getting out the old single stroke hand pump or taking out No.1 plug, and screwing the compression type tyre pump in and start pumping tyres up.
The only people who had a compressor was a servo or tyre fitting shop.
Back in the 70's era and before, driving offroad meant exactly that, there was no road, you went through some cockys paddock and followed the creek down to the fishing hole.

The off road driving that people do now days was just a normal road back then.
I would be pretty sure, back then, no one had ever heard of a 2" lift kit and all the other unnecessary stuff we spend a fortune on now days.
Maybe a 1" lowering block on the old EH to make it corner a bit better.

I truly think ARB, TJM and the likes have brain washed us to think we need all this stuff. It maybe good to have, but, is it really necessary to travel on 90% of the dirt roads in Australia.
Places like the Deserts, the Canning and other roads in that category maybe the exceptions.

Before I started reading stuff on the internet, I had been around Australia twice in a 2006 stock standard Toyota Hilux, with the exception of a long range fuel tank and took every dirt road I could find and never had a problem.
The third time I went around, still looking for dirt roads I had not traveled on, was in a 2013 79 series Toyota with all the goodies on it.
I can honestly say I did not feel $10,000 safer or feel any better prepared for having it.

I think that those of the older generation who grew up in the west and learnt to drive on rough dirt roads in a Holden or a Falcon have a different mental approach to dirt roads conditions, compared to those who grew up in the city or large towns along the coast.

Corrugations are natures way to slow you down so you don't hurt yourself by going to fast, also to allow you to test out your new suspension. :)

Anyway this is just my opinion formed from my own experiences over the past 47 years of driving, as I am sure many will have differing experiences.


Cheers

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Follow Up By: Baz - The Landy - Sunday, Feb 12, 2017 at 09:03

Sunday, Feb 12, 2017 at 09:03
Hey Blue,

Well expressed, my first foray into the bush/outback was in an EH Holden Station Wagon...

Cheers, Baz - The Landy
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Follow Up By: Shaker - Sunday, Feb 12, 2017 at 14:54

Sunday, Feb 12, 2017 at 14:54
Mine was in a Peugeot 504 & the four wheel drives didn't see which way I went!

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Reply By: duck - Sunday, Feb 12, 2017 at 12:17

Sunday, Feb 12, 2017 at 12:17
Blue M

I still have one of those spark plug pumps but find it had to use since i've owned a diesel for the last 20 years, most of the 4x4 uses now would not even no what they are, got mine from K mart with my shot gun
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Follow Up By: Gramps - Sunday, Feb 12, 2017 at 12:36

Sunday, Feb 12, 2017 at 12:36
"got mine from K mart with my shot gun"

x 2 LOL
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