Trip Advice Adelaide to Darwin

Submitted: Sunday, Jul 23, 2017 at 11:18
ThreadID: 135295 Views:4627 Replies:13 FollowUps:2
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Hi Everyone,

New to the forum, looking for some advice on a trip. I have a 6 month old 2017 Ford Ranger MK II XLT. It is reasonably stock, and looking for some advice on a trip from a what I should add to the car and and hints for the trip along the way. This is only the rough trip, things will change as I see fit, no hard set plan which is the beauty of it. I have been 4WDing a lot before, but I am imagining a lot of these tracks will be normalish roads anyway.


Will add a roof top tent to the car. Have all my own gear already from camping as far as stoves and esky / fridge. Thinking:

- Roof top tent (advice appreciated, thinking of a cheap kings to not have to worry about it)
- Dual battery
- Regulator to run the fridge when not driving
- Carry extra diesel (do you really need a long range tank?)
- Are bull bars really useful?
- Given all the dust, should I add a snorkel?

#Travel Plan

Looking to start in the next 6 to 8 weeks by the time I get everything sorted.

- Will transport my car to Adelaide from Brisbane, seems cheaper than starting at Darwin
- Adelaide
- Kangaroo Island
- Barossa Valley
- Port Augusta
- Coober Pedy
- Uluru / The Olgas
- Kings Cayon
- Alice Springs
- Katherine Gorge
- Waterfalls at Litchfield National Park
- Kakadu National Park
- Darwin

Appreciate any advice. Will be trying to do this with a good friend, but rooftop tent would be give room to maybe take one more just in case. I really dont want to do this on my own.
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Reply By: RMD - Sunday, Jul 23, 2017 at 12:53

Sunday, Jul 23, 2017 at 12:53
If the blue line is the intended trip, then you won't require a snorkel, unless going on roads where the bulldust is, or travelling close behind others and in their dust. The OE airfilter should be sufficient.
Making sure the airfilter has no air leak is important, many vehicles are not sealed well. Even with a snorkel the airbox air leak remains the same issue if happening.

Because of wind resistance and climbing up and down, I am not a fan of roof top tents. Personal preference there I suppose.

A bull bar is useless until it has to fend off Kangaroos or other animals. Unless doing many KMs at night you may not require one. May be needed of fitting a winch.

Regarding aux batteries. A regulator doesn't run a fridge it only regulates the charge current into the aux battery from solar panels. The dual battery/AUX will be the item which runs the fridge. If a 12 fridge (compressor type) it has to be charged via a suitabe vehicle system, ie, DC/DC charger sited near the battery. If solar panels are also in the equation then they may be portable or on the roof of the vehicle. The DC/DC unit must also have the solar charge input feature to cater for both charge inputs. But then with roof solar, no room for RTT.

A canopy on the ute would be my first addition, then consider other needs. Some canopies have weight bearing structures inside so roof rack/ tent or other can be carried there. Anything on the roof is wind drag/fuel use.

I always carry some additional fuel. At the front of my canopy in tub, I have a 50 litre poly tank. Fuel pump and filter to deliver clean fuel to main tank or other vehicle.

AnswerID: 612671

Reply By: Sand Man (SA) - Sunday, Jul 23, 2017 at 13:11

Sunday, Jul 23, 2017 at 13:11
For the trip you are planning, you don't need a long range tank.
To provide for some backup fuel, consider one or two 20l jerrycans, but based on your planned itinerary, you could safely get away with none, if space is a premium.
One of the best things you can do to your vehicle is to fit a snorkel. Even on bitumen, it only takes one deepish water crossing to destroy your engine from water ingestion. Cleaner air also will prolong the life of your engine.
As for a rooftop tent, I am not a fan of them. Consider carefully the fact that whenever you wish to go somewhere, you will need to pack up camp completely. then set it up again after a day's trip.
A easy and fast erecting tent such as an Oztent RV4 is a much better investment in my opinion. Firstly, after erecting the tent and awning (peak side panels will give the best effectiveness to protect you from whatever weather conditions you encounter and give a practical covered and enclosed area for cooking, etc.
The vehicle can be backed up to the awning for practical camping and when you choose to drive somewhere, be it for an hour, or a day, you just zip up the tent and off you go. Only expensive items would need to be secured in the vehicle.
The addition of a good quality swag (or two) and you have a comfortable mattress for warmer climates, or an enclosed sleeping system for anywhere else, inside or outside the tent.
A roof rack system, preferably with a basket will enable you to store the Tent, jerrycans, chairs, etc. and it would be another good idea to consider a 20 litre container of water as well. Most places along the way have potable water to replenish your supply as you travel. Storing light but bulky items in the basket will give you more room inside the cab area for perishables, etc. (Do you have or are planning a canopy over the tub?)

A dual battery system is a wise addition. A 100+Ah battery and perhaps a 120w portable solar panel will give you plenty of 12v supply for the fridge and other 12v accessories, especially if you are not planning many powered campsites.

That is my recommendation and it has worked well for me on the occasions I don't take the camper.

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AnswerID: 612672

Reply By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Sunday, Jul 23, 2017 at 13:12

Sunday, Jul 23, 2017 at 13:12
Hi Random

As per your blue line for your intended trip, the only bull dust that you will encounter will be around a campfire with other telling how and what to do.

Taking extra diesel will be an overkill if you stick to your intended route, as there are regular ful stops along the way.

A bull bar can be a wise accessory even if you are not driving at night. The mid north of our state has seen an explosion of kangaroo numbers with many people either writing off, or extensive damage to vehicles will into daylight house, eg 11am a young girl hit a roo with new commodore near Wilmington the other week and car is a write off.

I like a snorkel to keep as much dust out of your air cleaner box, as many modern vehicles today suck air from the fron inner guard and if you ever come across any unintended water crossings. It is a big debate, I Had had both, aluminium and steel and the only one I would ever concider now is steel. I hit a roo once in the Flinders with my steel bar, only damage, one number plate written off. I know if it was ally, it would have bent like a banana.

The rest is up to you, but travel as light as possible and do not tke anything that you will not use.


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AnswerID: 612673

Reply By: Les - PK Ranger - Sunday, Jul 23, 2017 at 13:47

Sunday, Jul 23, 2017 at 13:47
Very straight forward bitumen touring RS.

You live in Brisbane ?
Transport Ranger to Adelaide ?
$$$$ to ship down . . . if time permits, why not so a 3 day run from BNE to ADL via an interesting route ?
About $300 in diesel tops.
Maybe time is against you ?

If you really wanted to make it interesting, and do a little off blacktop touring, then really consider going up via the Flinders Ranges, Oodnadatta Tk, maybe even up the Old Ghan (or Binns Tk) to Alice Springs . . . there is so much history and very interesting places to see / camp / stay !!

Not sure of your return run, whether to Adelaide or Brisbane ???
If Adelaide again, the return you can mix it up a bit too, through West MacDonnell Ranges then via Meerinie Loop to Kings Canyon.
Again, maybe time is an issue for you.

I like taking one slow route to (or from) a destination, the other leg can be head down / bum up on a bitumen route.

Depending on what route you end up doing, I would ensure you have a good mobile on telstra plan (still scattered coverage, but best out there), a decent handheld UHF (unless one is fitted to the vehicle already), and carry a plb.

Without further info on your time available, it's hard to proceed with further advice, but planning is well worthwhile and maybe almost as much fun as the trip itself.
AnswerID: 612674

Follow Up By: Member - Robert1660 - Sunday, Jul 23, 2017 at 22:18

Sunday, Jul 23, 2017 at 22:18
I fully agree with Les. The Stuart Hwy is fine for a fast trip but having just done the trip from Kulgera to Pt Augusta I suggest that should you have time there are much more interesting ways to travel. The Flinders is outstanding. The Oodnadatta Track has lots of interesting historical points of interest. Woomera and Roxby Downs, William Ck, Farina, Arkaringa etc etc are all worth considering. As mentioned The Binns Track is a good alternative to Alice Springs or even Kulgera via Finke.
Of course once off the blacktop more vehicle preparation is necessary but not excessive. Light truck rated tyres would be a first choice and a willingness to lower tyre pressures on the dirt. Night travel is to be strongly discouraged.
We find that it is important not to try to do too much so careful planning is worthwhile. Remember also that it does get very busy around Alice and Uluru so some pre-booking is good insurance.
Enjoy your trip. There is some great country out there.
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Follow Up By: Les - PK Ranger - Sunday, Jul 23, 2017 at 22:31

Sunday, Jul 23, 2017 at 22:31
Yes Robert, when I read the OP remark "I have been 4WDing a lot before" I figured it's be an awful waste of that drive going the blacktop . . .

Ok, there will be a little dirt roads on Kangaroo Is, but apart from possibly some dirt on station stay near Kings Canyon, it's all sealed.

Oh, and noted Kings Canyon Holiday Park on the OPs map, I really suggest just east of there staying at Kings Creek Station, it is really down to earth and good value.

I think a lot of this will hinge on time constraints, and whether the OP is returning direct to Brisbane, it could be the aim of this trip is to drive the Stuart Highway in full, which would eliminate those other route ideas.
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Reply By: Sigmund - Sunday, Jul 23, 2017 at 16:27

Sunday, Jul 23, 2017 at 16:27
Check with vehicle transporters - it may have to be empty for shipping.
AnswerID: 612677

Reply By: Sigmund - Sunday, Jul 23, 2017 at 16:29

Sunday, Jul 23, 2017 at 16:29
Bull bar? No. Drive in daylight hours. And if you hit anything solid the airbag will blow and you won't be driving any further anyway.
AnswerID: 612678

Reply By: Member - Outback Gazz - Sunday, Jul 23, 2017 at 17:13

Sunday, Jul 23, 2017 at 17:13
Drive carefully

Don't stress about anything

Have fun
AnswerID: 612680

Reply By: MUZBRY- Life member(Vic) - Sunday, Jul 23, 2017 at 17:23

Sunday, Jul 23, 2017 at 17:23
Looks to me like a bit of a Sunday drive with a couple of sleeps. As far as i know it is all sealed road, just as a matter of interest, i drove 90% of that trip in 1971 in a mk3 zephyr and had no problems then . Give it a go ,it is an all easy drive .
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AnswerID: 612681

Reply By: Member - Mark (Tamworth NSW) - Sunday, Jul 23, 2017 at 20:03

Sunday, Jul 23, 2017 at 20:03
If you are doing exactly that route and not driving for a couple of hours after sunrise and stopping a couple before sunset, you can do it in a "mini minor" , it's all bitumen.
A 2nd battery /power supply set up is required if you intend to run a fridge for more than 12 hours after stopping.
All those extras are handy if you intend to hang onto that vehicle for several years and do multiple camping trips into the future.
Camping style (roof top tent/ swag/ camper trailer/ tent) is personal preference, that route looks like you could do it all in motels if you wanted
I have a roo bar, as I drive in roo areas at night (slammed on the brakes @ 100km/hr only last night and just clipped one near Walcha).
Extra fuel isn't needed if you study the maps where fuel stations are and refuel appropriately . Uninformed backpackers do it all the time in far less reliable vehicles !
AnswerID: 612683

Reply By: Peter_n_Margaret - Sunday, Jul 23, 2017 at 22:18

Sunday, Jul 23, 2017 at 22:18
50 years ago in August this year, Margaret and I did this trip (and back) in 3 weeks in a 1963 Mini 850 with a roof top tent, a jerry and 2 spares on the pack rack and no fridge or even an esky or a bull bar or a snorkel in sight.
The Stuart Highway between Pt Augusta and Alice was about as corrugated as the eastern end of the Anne Beadell is now and about a third of the highway between Alice and Darwin had reverted to gravel.

It can probably be driven now in 3 days and there is hot coffee and meals available every couple of hundred km.

Just go.

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Reply By: Nomadic Navara - Monday, Jul 24, 2017 at 09:18

Monday, Jul 24, 2017 at 09:18
I'm not sure where you live. Is it Brisbane or Adelaide? If it is Brisbane then prepare your vehicle exactly the same as you would for a trip to Rockhampton. The road to Darwin is similar to the 2 lane bits of the Bruce Hwy. The maximum fuel stop distance will be around 300 km so the only need for extra fuel is if you are the type who forgets to fill at regular intervals or provide emergency fuel for other like minded inattentive drivers. If you live in Adelaide then ditto for a trip to Melbourne.

Your vehicle is well fitted from standard to drive the side deviations that have been recommended. My stock standard Navara has been along them. The only need for upgrading your vehicle is if you are going to do heaps of extreme off road driving where you are deliberately going to stress your vehicle.

Taking extra fuel so you can bypass high priced fuel stations is not worth the effort unless you are going to fit an auxiliary tank and use its capacity frequently.
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AnswerID: 612686

Reply By: Member - Cyberess - Monday, Jul 24, 2017 at 11:39

Monday, Jul 24, 2017 at 11:39
Should be a top trip ;) and a Ford Ranger MK II will do that easily -- I own a Ford Ranger MK II and I know how good they are :)

O.K. just some of my opinions about your list

- Roof top tent (advice appreciated, thinking of a cheap kings to not have to worry about it)

I don't like roof top tents, as they make quite tricky to base camp, even just staying a a area for 2 days, you will have to pack up the roof top tent every time you move the vehicle, and that's a pain. If you are running out of room, a roof rack and a large lockable top box works really well, make packing up easy. For a tent, the modern instant tents work well, and I like using stretchers, but test the stretchers in the camp shops to make sure that it's a quick and easy to pack up stretcher -- A good idea for your trip base camp at a Jabiru caravan park for about 3 to 4 days -- I can recommend Kakadu Lodge caravan park, and do day trips to Jim Jim and twin falls, Yellow Waters dawn sun rise river cruise -- you see if you were to do that dawn cruise, you would be packing up the roof top tent in the dark just so you could drive you to the destination of the Yellow Water cruise.

- Dual battery
- Regulator to run the fridge when not driving

Yeah dual battery is a good idea, depending on what your doing for your future, a portable setup may be good idea with a DC to DC charger, I am not sure what you meant by regulator, may be a low voltage cut out or something.

- Carry extra diesel (do you really need a long range tank?)

Not that necessary for the trip that you have planned

- Are bull bars really useful?

Yes, yes and yes, I did hit a kangaroo on my last trip going from Darwin to Port Macquarie, it actually hit and damaged the caravan, it's could have been the radiator and no it does not set off the airbags as someelse has suggested, there is just some many animals on the road and judging by the amount of road kill on the road, I would certainly recommend a bullbar. If you are shopping be a bullbar, get one with rated recovery points built in.

- Given all the dust, should I add a snorkel?

Snorkel is a nice thing to a have for a piece of mind, but not that necessary -- I would certainly add bullbar before the snorkel

I do have a write up about how built up my Ford Ranger PX MK2 for touring at might be a good read up and how I have setup my dual batteries and the long range tanks etc.
AnswerID: 612687

Reply By: RichieK - Monday, Jul 24, 2017 at 11:42

Monday, Jul 24, 2017 at 11:42
Not even a gravel road on that route, so dust shouldn't be an issue? Plenty of fuel stops, but a Jerry can could be a good backup. The scenery for much of the SA part of the highway isn't too remarkable, so as others have stated, diverting to the Flinders is highly recommended if time permits. The Painted Desert (east of Cadney Park) could also be a great side trip. Flinders/Oodnadatta/Painted Desert would be a trip to remember for decades. I can't wait to get back..
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