great central road

Submitted: Wednesday, Apr 05, 2017 at 19:40
ThreadID: 134605 Views:3335 Replies:5 FollowUps:1
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Lots of info everywhere,BUT,can I do it with a single axle NewAge Manta Ray &Colorado?Wish 2 travel east 2 west .in 3 weeks(barring weather).Wot is the appropriate tyre pressure?& is it the samefor the whole journey.Know about permits etc,but this could be our 1 and only 'way out' expedition-cept 4 Carawine Gorge.
Will ask about Kingsford Smith mail run later!
Thanks in advance

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Reply By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Wednesday, Apr 05, 2017 at 20:36

Wednesday, Apr 05, 2017 at 20:36
Hi Alan

In dry conditions it is a very easy drive.

For starters, drop your pressures 20% from what you use on the highway, or around 28psi, and you should be fine,

You will only be travelling slow, so take you time, make regular stops and enjoy the changing scenery.


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Reply By: Idler Chris - Wednesday, Apr 05, 2017 at 21:12

Wednesday, Apr 05, 2017 at 21:12
HI Alan,

Totally agree with Stephen. Take it easy and enjoy your time in the middle of nowhere. Its a great drive.

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Reply By: splits - Wednesday, Apr 05, 2017 at 22:38

Wednesday, Apr 05, 2017 at 22:38
If this is your "way out" one and only trip in those areas, it sounds like you have not driven over outback roads before.

The major roads like the Great Central, Birdsville Track etc can look like unsealed freeways at times but there can be a few hidden traps in them. The key to driving safely on them is don't treat them like a sealed road. There are far too many accidents on them involving inexperienced drivers and this prompted Vic Widman to write a story in On The Road magazine about three years ago about the need for driver training for good dirt roads. There is any amount of it available for rough mountain tracks but not good unsealed roads.. Vic owns this company VIC

These roads can often contain short corrugated sections that can come up suddenly. There can be sandy patches, holes at the bottom of dips, cattle grids with deep holes each side of them and so on. Cars can easily go into them at too high a speed and within seconds you can be upside down. A roll over is a very common accident in those conditions.

I never set a time limit when travelling on unsealed roads. I set out each day prepared to take as long as it takes. In your case though it may not be all that easy. You can not always drive off into the bush for the night when towing a van.

As for tyres: the air in them supports the weight on them and it should be exactly right for that weight. Letting them down will increase their temperature. It also increases the sidewall exposure to rocks, sticks etc. Many people reduce pressures but you can go too far.

Tyre manufacturers usually have a customer information service. Details will be on their web site. Try contacting the manufacturer of your tyres and discuss it with them. I have done that a few times and found them to be very helpful.

if you do contact them find out the weight on your van wheels first.

Punctures can also be a problem. I know one person who recently towed a van over desert roads in the company of friends in their van. His van had no tyre problems while the other one destroyed three tyres. It just seems to be the luck of the draw out there.

I carry enough puncture repair equipment to fix holes in the tread and shoulder area as well as cuts up to 80 mm long in the sidewalls. It is easy enough to buy the equipment from Rema Tip Top but not everybody has the experience to use it or get the tyre on and off the wheel.

Plug kits can be useful but they won't fix every type of hole and they are not legal in sidewalls.

I am not trying to frighten you, you have about a 95 % chance of having a trouble free trip but things can go wrong out there..
AnswerID: 609963

Reply By: Member - J&A&KK - Wednesday, Apr 05, 2017 at 22:44

Wednesday, Apr 05, 2017 at 22:44
Hi Alan.

I agree with both Stephen and Chris.

A few obvious factors of weather and previous traffic will effect road conditions. The WA portion of the road is usually in good condition and at times is as good a gravel road as you will ever see. The NT section can be less well maintained and if there has been any reasonable rainfall prone to ponding. So do your homework prior to the trip.

There are plenty of places to camp but be aware of the restrictions that go with your permits. WikiCamps has plenty of comments on GCR camping locations that are worth a look prior to deciding on where you will camp. I would avoid Docker River camp ground if you prefer peace and quiet but thats a personal opinion.

Fuel should not be a problem but on odd occasions fuel may not be available due to fuel truck not arriving as expected. So ring ahead and check.

Counting the roadside car wrecks is good fun. We gave up counting on our last trip at around the 150 mark. I am sure there were a lot more than that.

It is a nice drive. Usually very easy and peaceful with very little traffic. Some interesting scenery especially on the NT side.

We have done it a few times as a short cut from Perth to Brisbane. Have never regretted going that way. The only semi drama we had was in July 2016 where the NT side was very waterlogged and some of the "puddles" were over 75cm deep. Didn't stop us but definitely had me wondering what was next. Lesson learnt on that trip was the road was officially open - but was a challenge when towing.

Enjoy the trip.

Regards John
AnswerID: 609964

Follow Up By: Life Member - Duncan W (WA) - Thursday, Apr 06, 2017 at 10:56

Thursday, Apr 06, 2017 at 10:56
Last year the fuel bowsers at Warakurna weren't working fortunately we'd filled up at Warburton and had enough fuel to get us to Alice Springs via the SBJ Road.

The moral to the story here is get fuel when ever you can because you never know what the situation will be down the road.

July last year the road was like silk and I could have done way over what my old Troopy would let me do.


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Reply By: Sigmund - Friday, Apr 07, 2017 at 02:26

Friday, Apr 07, 2017 at 02:26
Re tyre pressures, I follow the late Adam Plate's advice to air down 30% on outback dirt roads. And no more than 80 kmh. Never had a puncture. Never overhheated. That's with PC and LT in a few flavours.
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