Track update. Anne Beadell Highway. It's wet!

Submitted: Sunday, Apr 23, 2017 at 12:40
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Last week I drove from Nullarbor Roadhouse to Voakes Hill via Knowles Cave and Cook. Cook is on the railway line so has Telstra reception. I checked the weather forecast- 6mm over 2 days then fine. Sounded good. Dry conditions to Voakes Hill on the ABH. On Monday 17th April the rain started. At first it rained 12 hours a day. Every day. I camped near Voakes Hill for 2 nights then near Anne's Corner for 2 nights. I travelled slowly to let the track dry out. On the fourth night the thunderstorms started and did not stop for 24 hours. By Friday morning my tent was surrounded by a lake. Time to make a decision. Stay put and wait for the promised fine weather or get out while it was still possible.

I got out. Twelve hours driving in constant rain on a track that was often flooded. Emu was the wettest and scored 50-75 mm. The most difficult section was the last 5km to the dog fence. The most depressing section was the 3km run along the dog fence to the gate, and then 3km back on the opposite side of the fence driving in the same endless bog.

The best technique was to drive on the track even when it was under water. A lot of the track is heavily corrugated but at least the corrugations provide a firm base. A few times I tried the detour tracks. They looked relatively dry but were incredibly soft and much worse than the track.









I arrived in Coober Pedy well after dark. There was one appropriate place to stay.



Today I note that the same rain band has closed the road from Coober Pedy to William Creek and the Oodnadatta Track.

Cheers, John
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Reply By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Sunday, Apr 23, 2017 at 13:30

Sunday, Apr 23, 2017 at 13:30
Hi John

That sure must have been a trip to remember.

The only time that have struck it wet out there was on an west to east crossing

It started raining and got heavier as the day went on. Got to Voakes Hill Corner in rather muddy conditions. Snuggled in for the night with the swag under the awning and hoped for the best. It sounded great during the night with the rain on thw awning, and it looked like we were in for a longer stay there than we had planned.

Woke up just before dawn....and could see stars twinkling in the sky. Just afte sun up got out of the swag to a perfect day on the Anne Beadell. There were a few wet patches throughout the day, but generally the rain soaked in and made driving great.



Cheers




Stephen
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Follow Up By: Member - JOHN C16 - Sunday, Apr 23, 2017 at 17:38

Sunday, Apr 23, 2017 at 17:38
Hi Stephen,

I agree with your comment that the driving can be great after the rain soaks in. I have driven the ABH in the dry and the corrugations in the wet were a lot smoother. The track just needs to be given a chance for it to soak in. On Thursday afternoon the clouds cleared and the sun came out for a few hours. I thought it was all over. Then at sunset the thunderstorms kicked in. After raining all day Friday the sun was shining Saturday morning in Coober Pedy but another 12 mm fell that day. Sunday has been dry but more rain is forecast for Monday. Let's hope it dries up soon.

Cheers, John
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Reply By: Member BarryG - Sunday, Apr 23, 2017 at 14:48

Sunday, Apr 23, 2017 at 14:48
I hope it has dried out by the time I get there - leaving Coober Pedy for the ABH on May 7!

Barry
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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Sunday, Apr 23, 2017 at 16:03

Sunday, Apr 23, 2017 at 16:03
Hi Barry

Do not hit the panic buttons just yet, as you still have over 2 weeks before you leave and with a few dry days does not take lone to dry up, and this is how you want the tracks to look like....




Cheers



Stephen





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Follow Up By: Member BarryG - Sunday, Apr 23, 2017 at 16:17

Sunday, Apr 23, 2017 at 16:17
Thanks Stephen,

That puts my mind at rest a little.
Can't wait to go though. From Laverton we head to Warburton, then Well 33 on the CSR then to Sandy Blight Junction and down to Docker River, Yulara, Alice Springs and back home via Diamantina Lakes.

Barry
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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Sunday, Apr 23, 2017 at 16:30

Sunday, Apr 23, 2017 at 16:30
Hi Barry

Have a fantastic trip and your Ultimate will handle it with ease.



Cheers



Stephen
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Follow Up By: Member BarryG - Sunday, Apr 23, 2017 at 16:32

Sunday, Apr 23, 2017 at 16:32
Thanks for good wishes Stephen.

Barry
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Reply By: Kilcowera Station Stay - Monday, Apr 24, 2017 at 07:11

Monday, Apr 24, 2017 at 07:11
Well no doubt the track is totally stuffed up after that effort John! There will be a few more immortalised bog tracks through there that will be visible for years to come. Cheers from a very dry part of the world. Zenonie.
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Follow Up By: Member - Phil G (SA) - Tuesday, Apr 25, 2017 at 00:44

Tuesday, Apr 25, 2017 at 00:44
Zenonie,
Sorry, I think that's a bit harsh. Perhaps you don't know that area?
John was very, very remote. Voakes Hill is 250km from the nearest graded road and over 400km from the nearest bitumen. The road you are referring to is an unmaintained track - Len Beadell put it through in the early 1960's and most of it hasn't seen a grader since. He called it a Highway as a joke!
There is no help out there. Nobody will come to your aid unless you let off an EPIRB. The only aboriginal community is 200km away on the Dey Dey road.
John checked the weather at Cook before venturing into the desert.
He made a decision to get out and that was the correct decision. I would have done the same as him - I've travelled that track a dozen times over the years.
Otherwise he may have been stuck out there for weeks.
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Follow Up By: Member - Boobook - Tuesday, Apr 25, 2017 at 04:31

Tuesday, Apr 25, 2017 at 04:31
Agreed. Talk about the Russian Judge.
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Follow Up By: Kilcowera Station Stay - Tuesday, Apr 25, 2017 at 06:32

Tuesday, Apr 25, 2017 at 06:32
Sorry. I knew I would get jumped on as soon as I hit the submit button! It's true I don't know the area. Just speaking from my own experiences with dirt / gravel roads. Driving on any of them when wet is not good for the road or those people who drive on it after it dries up. But once again sorry for being too judgemental. zenonie
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Follow Up By: Member - Phil G (SA) - Tuesday, Apr 25, 2017 at 08:59

Tuesday, Apr 25, 2017 at 08:59
All good Zenonie!
We know where you're coming from. Trashing graded roads is a big problem. Probably happening right now with the rain through the middle of SA. Hope some of that rain heads your way
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Reply By: Member - shane r1 - Tuesday, Apr 25, 2017 at 19:36

Tuesday, Apr 25, 2017 at 19:36
I reckon a lot of people , including myself would consider "trashing" any road ,track whatever it is labelled isn't a good thing.
Maybe even more so when it won't see a grader. If going that remote travellers should be prepared to park up. The interior country dries up fairly quickly, as it is rare for the rain to keep going for many days.
Maybe not many comments against driving on this wet track, because of fear of being berated?
People bitch a lot about irresponsible 4 wheel drivers wrecking areas close to civilisation, so being remote is ok? I don't think so!
Look after our country.

Robbo
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Follow Up By: Michael H9 - Tuesday, Apr 25, 2017 at 20:12

Tuesday, Apr 25, 2017 at 20:12
My reading of his account suggests that he was doing his best to try and do the right thing. Checked the weather before, stayed extra nights in two different places, then found himself stuck in the middle of what was fast becoming a lake before deciding to try and make a run for it. That's a lot more responsible than someone looking for mud with twin lockers and 35's. It seems to me he was trying to find dry roads and the weather beat him. We can't all stay out there for weeks.
We may as well bash the couple who got bogged on the Gary Hwy then set off the PLB for wrecking that track.
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Follow Up By: Member - Phil G (SA) - Wednesday, Apr 26, 2017 at 20:02

Wednesday, Apr 26, 2017 at 20:02
Hi Robbo, again I respect and agree where you're coming from but have you been out there? Do you know how remote John was - he hung around for 5 days waiting for the weather to clear which it didn't. He would have been driving in the ruts from the last time it rained. Those ruts have been there since the 1960's. As I mentioned above, nobody will come and help you unless you set off an EPIRB - then they will just send you a food drop and wait for you to arrive at Coober Pedy.
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Follow Up By: Member - Boobook - Thursday, Apr 27, 2017 at 08:54

Thursday, Apr 27, 2017 at 08:54
There is a massive difference between 'trashing' a track, which to me means deliberately or casually choosing to use a track when it isn't serviceable or necessary, and being stuck in extremely remote conditions, not by choice, but by circumstance, despite planning and checking of conditions.

Speaking as a past and future user of that road, I would have done exactly the same thing in those circumstances, and commend the OP for clear thinking and not wasting taxpayers money by putting himself and his party in a potentially bad situation.

Its so easy to be critical well after the event, with the heater on, a warm dry house, food in the cupboard or 10 mins down the street, water on tap and no personal consequences of the advice. 'Post event analysis' from the luxury of an armchair or a committee has become an unfortunate trend in the past years. EO seems to have more than its fair share of it.

It reminds me of committees who make a call on what a cop should, or should not have done during a dangerous situation. Armchair experts.

Robbo, it's Interesting that you are concerned about being berated after having done just that to the OP too. LOL.
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Follow Up By: Member - shane r1 - Thursday, Apr 27, 2017 at 12:33

Thursday, Apr 27, 2017 at 12:33
Yes , fair comments from all.
I must clarify, that I meant my comments to be of a general nature , not having a go at the OP . Just that every traveller should be taking as much care as possible to look after our country.
Cheers
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Reply By: rlhydn - Tuesday, May 16, 2017 at 21:22

Tuesday, May 16, 2017 at 21:22
Thanks John for the informative report. We will be out there next month. Fingers crossed
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