Trip ideas from Sydney to Kimberley

Submitted: Sunday, Mar 26, 2017 at 14:35
ThreadID: 134545 Views:2576 Replies:5 FollowUps:5
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Hi looking to travel to Kimberley region in May 17 and wanting to plan a route. Want to reach Kimberley in around seven days from Sydney and was thinking maybe Birdsville and Tanami Track. Have done Oodnadatta, Birdsville and Strzelecki Tracks so would like to avoid these but like to see Corner Country. Open to ideas other than main sealed roads but we are travelling in single vehicle fairly well equipped and not towing.
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Reply By: Member - Mark C (QLD) - Monday, Mar 27, 2017 at 08:25

Monday, Mar 27, 2017 at 08:25
It took us eight days at 500km per day to drive from Broome to Toowoomba and a third of that was on dirt roads while towing our camper. Seven days to kimberley will find you rushing the simpson.
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Follow Up By: Darren W12 - Monday, Mar 27, 2017 at 10:16

Monday, Mar 27, 2017 at 10:16
Thanks for your reply i wasnt sure how long to allow but that gives me an idea wasnt sure about simpson trevelling solo.
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Reply By: KiwiAngler - Monday, Mar 27, 2017 at 08:54

Monday, Mar 27, 2017 at 08:54
Not sure of your setup or experince - but take a look at the Gary Junction Highway that goes from the West McDonnel Range (Alice Springs) across to Marble Bar - i beleive it to be one of the nicest tracks to travel
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Follow Up By: Darren W12 - Monday, Mar 27, 2017 at 18:55

Monday, Mar 27, 2017 at 18:55
Thanks will look into the Gary sounds like a good option.
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Follow Up By: Member - eighty matey - Thursday, Mar 30, 2017 at 17:10

Thursday, Mar 30, 2017 at 17:10
The Gary Junction Road is a great option but make sure you top up at Papunya and Kiwirrkurra on the way out. Kunawarritji fuel prices are always high due to the remoteness.

Just after Kunawarritji we headed north west along the Kidson Track/ Warpet Road. This is nice drive at the start, gets rough for a while and then is better for the second half. It brings you out just north of 80 Mile Beach.

It's all remote but the scenery is outstanding, except for the last few hundred kilometres.

Steve
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Reply By: Gerard S - Monday, Mar 27, 2017 at 22:47

Monday, Mar 27, 2017 at 22:47
We are doing the Gibb this year and have good contacts in Broome and Cape Leveque. Because of the huge wet season and more to come we have postponed our trip from early may to very late may. We suspect the bottom (west) end will open sooner than the Kununurra end. The Pentecost river will be the acid test. Maybe schedule your trip so you can go in from Derby and spend time at say Mornington Wildlife Reserve (bookings essentail) and fill in time till the road opens all the way. At the end of the day.....who knows lol.
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Follow Up By: Darren W12 - Tuesday, Mar 28, 2017 at 20:00

Tuesday, Mar 28, 2017 at 20:00
Thanks for the heads up on the weather I thought that may be the case so was planning to come in through the south somewhere and assess from there. Mornington Reserve looks good thanks for the tip. Do you have any suggestions on where to keep an eye on weather and road conditions.
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Reply By: Member - Robyn R4 - Saturday, Apr 01, 2017 at 11:21

Saturday, Apr 01, 2017 at 11:21
Hi Darren.
We did the Kimberley from the far north coast 2 years ago now. We've seen the closer bits many times and tend to scoot over them quickly so we can then meander our way back home according to our remaining time.
We left early (to beat the Gold Coast's horrible peak hour traffic!) and went through to Toowoomba, stopping the night at Augathella. We then did nights in Boulia and Tobermorey Station (on the Plenty Highway), Tilmouth Wells (on the Tanami) and near Bililuna. The 6th night was at Fitzroy Crossing Lodge (very nice).
Probably half was on tar, the other half on dirt. By the time you've bounced and rattled your way along the dirt bits, you don't feel "soft" for choosing some tarred options sometimes!
It was hard going, but as I said, we did big days because we've seen so much of the closer stuff.
It's amazing how far away the Kimberley is for us on the east coast, but when we're not grey nomads and we have a time limit, we certainly do have to face the prospects of skipping over stuff to get to our goal.
I suppose because we have lots of little breaks from work we tend to see the country in lots of little bits, eh?
Just a word of warning on those dirt/gravel roads-the rocks can be "as sharp as" and they can shred tyres.
We never had a chance to patch one tyre (and we did 4 if I remember correctly) because they just shredded.
We hadn't had a flat tyre in 20 years (and like you, we've done the Strzelecki and Birdsville too) but we certainly did our fair share during the Kimberley trip!
I reckon that if you were to head across to Tibooburra (Corner Country is rather amazing) and up to Birdsville (the Strzelecki from the Corner to Innamincka is a big dirt highway!), then up to Boulia, across the Plenty and up the Tanami...?
There was another option of heading up the Stuart Highway and across the Buchanan Highway-I think the sensible grey nomads choose this option to save tyres!! We would certainly do that route next time.
You'll skip past some great places but hey, they'll be there waiting for you to go back and do them another day!
Have a great trip!

Robyn :)
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Follow Up By: Darren W12 - Saturday, Apr 01, 2017 at 18:18

Saturday, Apr 01, 2017 at 18:18
Thanks Robyn for your helpful info

As you have done we have also seen the closer bits and wanting to pass by to get to our goal. Looking forward to taking our time in the future but have to fit in what we can in a limited amount of time for now. That's interesting that you had so many shredded tyres sounds harsh were they new or old tyres? I am now thinking of just doing tar highway through Broken Hill to Stuart Hwy to save us and vehicle and then on to Tanami thinking we will need to come into Kimberley region through the south to asses road openings after the wet season to determine our direction from there. Buchanan Hwy might be a good option for our return not really sure on where we will be going once we get there think we will just plan as we go and avoid the busy tourist areas. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Darren
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Reply By: Member - Robyn R4 - Sunday, Apr 02, 2017 at 10:54

Sunday, Apr 02, 2017 at 10:54
Grilled hubby on our tyre issues this morning.
Our tyre issues were all with the trailer. We started off with older tyres (but still in decent condition) and he said the carcass just wasn't suitable. That said, even the replacement we bought in Alice blew on us...on tar!
Car tyres were all successful, but yeh...those rocks that they line the roads with are still damn pointy! Takes spares, take patches/plugs.
We have a 2008 Kia Sorento and it stood up to the corrugations beautifully. Not an ounce of problem with the car. It has dual range 4WD and does the dirt and horrendous stuff with relative ease.
Whichever road you choose will be full of awesome experiences. Whatever you have to drive past will still see you talking about your trip for years.
I think Broken Hill and across to the Stuart sounds fine. You'll certainly do enough dirt at the top to make up for the "soft start"! We did that route when we lived in Newcastle and did a trip to Ayers Rock on hubby's 750 Kawasaki.
Compare the k's to see which route sounds appealing. Go one way and come back another. Even when you think it's a route that hasn't got much to see or do you will find there's still amazing stuff to see...ruins, stubborn wildflowers on the roadside, wildlife, colours that almost defy geological explanation, tshirts and hats on termite mounds...
The Tanami was a great drive until you get to the WA end.
OMG.
We'd heard that it was dodgy over the border but still got caught on a series of 3 horrendous "bumps" on a bend when we let down our guard for just a moment...
Airborne.
Take fuel on the Tanami. We fuelled up at Yuendumu but weren't sure if we'd make it to Hall's Creek or not because of the trailer. To "almost" make it is irresponsible so we had to stop near Billiluna for the night. We made friends with the community's lovely FIFO nurse and she said that yes, fuel is available but they preferred to think of themselves as a closed community.
Well, unfortunately we couldn't respect them on that one-we needed fuel! We were lucky to get fuel the next morning because they guy who ran the servo was filling up a few guys on offroad bikes and was then about to shut up shop for the day to go out to Wolf Creek Crater! If we had been another 20 minutes getting to the servo, we'd have been in Billiluna for another day!
Most of the teeny towns have food and supplies until you get to the Gibb River Road. Our little camper trailer had no kitchen and we therefore ate with the locals where possible, whether it be the roadhouse, the pub or whatever. When you get up to the Gibb it's harder and we hit the ol' gas burner and car fridge's contents more than once along there.
We left Broome off that trip because of time restrictions and because I've been there. Told hubby it was worth at least 1-2 weeks in itself and we'd return one day. If you do Broome, accommodation can be tricky because it's very popular at times and because there are many k's to the next alternative!
The Gibb was easy in the Kia until we hit the Kalumburu Road. Although it was hubby's sole dream to fish at Kalumburu, we had to seriously weigh up the road conditions vs the thousands of k's between us and home!
Loved Home Valley Station and we were sorry we didn't stay at the camping area out on the river. It was lovely. Home Valley Station had great meals and a local band that we still talk about.
The Pentecost River crossing was certainly an experience. Just watch others do it first and ask questions when they come through if necessary. Just try not to imagine all the crocs waiting off the sides of the causeway..!
I did most of the Kimberley research with a great Kimberley book they sell here at Explore Oz's shop. I highly recommend it.
Apart from that book, the best info was sourced from travellers along the way.
We came home via Katherine and tried to do the Savannah Way but came unstuck on their horrific corrugations, so we hit the welding shop and came home via Mt Isa instead.
Noting the late wet season is very important. If we had tried to do the same trip in 2016 instead of 2015 we'd have come unstuck in a few places.
Ummm...what else can I help you with?

Robyn :)


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