The Madigan Line (East to West) in 2019 - Seeking Info & Advice

Submitted: Monday, Aug 06, 2018 at 09:00
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We're planning a trip in 2019 to go along the Madigan Line and was hoping to gain some information from fellow travellers who have done this track before. The Plan is to head out to Birdsville and then head out along the QAA line. Not sure at this stage whether we will turn off and head up to follow/find camps 22 to 16 where it joins the Hay River Track. It seems that I will need to make contact with Adria Downs Stn from what I have read, so I don't know how favourable they are to letting travellers cross up that way these days. I believe their phone number is (07) 4656 3321 (is this the correct number?)

If we manage to get permission, then we will more likely head up that way following the madigan line otherwise we will head out along the QAA line and up the Hay River and go west from there....
My question is to those that have done this trip before - What is it like travelling East to West (difficulty wise) compared to West to East? I believe that the track these days is quite obvious due to the amount of traffic it receives now, so I was wondering how difficult it is compared to say the French Line?

Currently there is 2 vehicles ('97 80series Cruiser; '09 Defender 110 wgn). I'm hoping some other friends eventually say "yes" to make the numbers of 3 or 4 vehciles in total but I'm not holding my breath.

Distance wise, I believe it is around 900kms to Alice Springs or 800kms to Mt Dare (please correct me if I'm wrong). So enough fuel will have to be carried to cover that distance. Taking my family with me and carrying all the gear/food/water/fuel will more than likely make our Defender quite heavy which I know is not ideal but I think if I work on around 17ltrs to 20ltrs/100km that should be close to the mark (btw: none of us are towing). The 80's I would assume would be similar, maybe slightly higher (his 80's is the HDFT factory Turbo version), but from previous trips with him, it seems to get reasonable economy. I realize we will to factor in a safety margin as well.(I was wondering if there is fuel available either at Finke or New Crown Stn?)

What sort of things should I also be catering for with this type of Trip? We will be sleeping in pop-up tents so flat areas will be req'd to camp at, so how "common" is there areas where u can easily cater for up to 5 pop-up tents? Is there more suitable or marks spots where most people camp at?

I'm still researching and gathering as much info as possible, so I appreciate any help in this area that u can give :)

Cheers..... RobM
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Reply By: Les - PK Ranger - Monday, Aug 06, 2018 at 09:39

Monday, Aug 06, 2018 at 09:39
Yes, that is their phone number, but give Adria Downs an email, works well apparently . . .
Don & Judy Rayment -

Unless there is something very unusual going on with stock, you will get the ok to go up from Eyre Creek junction (or bypass if wet) and do from camp 22 onwards counting down the camps.
With Annandale ruins, and some very picturesque counbtry to the vorder, it is well worth while.
I think camp 18 was a favourite of mine, was our last camp heading east a couple of years ago.

Madigan permit clc online application . . .

Madigan is WELL travelled now and the track very obvious, easily followed on any of the navigation maps showing the camps / track.
Camp 2 is now off limits as it detours through the range from Marshall Bluff, but you then go north to camps 3, 4, 5 are still ok before heading east again.

It is very much like French Line crossing now but you will have a few dunes that could prove difficult, we often looked back and thought, that'd be a tough dune going the other way.
Sometimes, you may find it easier (or may need to) to make your own track over some of these, it's not hard to go a hundred meters ans find the right terrain to amble over, pressures of 12 or so might be needed travelling that way.

If you've done the SA lines like French, I would allow for that 900km Mt Dare (Finke has fuel but a little closer, only 20km in it I think ? Not much anyway, and the sop is open irregular hours, check Hema maps for info / phone) . . .
New Crown (or Andado - Peter) may have fuel, their number is in the book, but it's only 29km from there to Finke anyway.

Witht the family aspect of the trip, you should plan to go lightweight, really cull the gear list as much as possible !

I would take a few lt/100 more over a normal crossing fuel use, and add a decent safety margin in case detours are needed, or the going is harder than expected.

Pretty much all camps are on very flat claypans so the 3 second tents are ideal, or swags on stretchers / under awnings, etc.
Most cams are fairly large, or not much further is there is a crowd, or the 'wrong' crowd.
There are many dune corridors to camp in too, but most camp at the Madigan camp markers.

Do it mid year if possible to avoid heat, flies, and much safer for being drier too.

2 vehicles would be ok, lots do it solo, 4 vehicles is ideal in case of breakdown etc for logistics / knowledge / labour pool.
Take a sat phone (or hire Birdsville, return Mt Dare), at the very least a personal PLB is very prudent.

It is a good run.
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Follow Up By: RobMac (QLD_Member) - Monday, Aug 06, 2018 at 15:56

Monday, Aug 06, 2018 at 15:56
Thanks Les, much appreciated....
Back in '94 a mate we were travelling with at the time took us up past the old ruins of Annandale to Kudderee Waterhole to camp. There was a good amount of water in the waterhole as well. I never realised at the time that where we camped was actually Camp.20 and also that we must of past or came close to Camps 21&22. I actually had never heard of the Madigan line back then, so it would be good to retrace our steps from back then too....
If I remember correctly we never crossed big red but rather headed north then west towards the waterhole...
Cheers..... RobM
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Follow Up By: Les - PK Ranger - Monday, Aug 06, 2018 at 19:52

Monday, Aug 06, 2018 at 19:52
Owen Correa markers were dated July 1994, so you may have been in the area about the time he was marking those camps Rob.
Or, you simply missed it at camps 20 etc.

That's a good waterhole, I imagine most of the time there is water in there, seems permanent.

You can go through via Big Red this time I guess, it's something to do at least once.
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Reply By: mechpete - Monday, Aug 06, 2018 at 13:20

Monday, Aug 06, 2018 at 13:20
hey Robmac
we travelled the Madigan Line in june from west to east
only as far as camp 17 as we though it was closed in the QLD
section , the track is not like the French or QAA its not as defined or worn
but is very clearly easy to follow . Its a lot slower travelling than French line
,the dunes aren,t as tall an closer together an a lot rougher ,
we averaged about 10 /15kph . all the camps are nice an flat plenty of room for
a group ,not much wood , no water so going without a shower for several days
my GQ td42 averaged high 17s l/p 100ks , 100 series fully loaded averaged high 18s an Tritan averaged high 15s .no tyre issues make sure you secure your water containers ect as lot of the dunes are so rough the tritan has its back wheels in the air numerous times because of the speed needed to crest them
very enjoyable trip though ,did not see anybody on the Madigan
cheers mechpete
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Reply By: TrevorDavid - Monday, Aug 06, 2018 at 20:18

Monday, Aug 06, 2018 at 20:18
Hi RobMac

Just got back from a West to East crossing.
It’s very well defined now, the approaches were quite badly chopped up.( both sides) the sand was firm-ish although I think earlier x-ings may have found it a bit softer.
As with anything sand, tyre pressure is the key, had 15 in mine as soon as we hit the dunes.
Only used three gears 2,3 & 4th Low..found the approaches to chopped up for any real speed.
East to West will probably be a tad more difficult.
I just posted a trek with a few notes. Type in....Madigan Line Warrnambool to Warrnambool if you wish.



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Follow Up By: RobMac (QLD_Member) - Tuesday, Aug 07, 2018 at 16:48

Tuesday, Aug 07, 2018 at 16:48
Hey Trev,
Thanks for that Info. I've downloaded your tracklog and from that I can see that it took u roughly 8 nights from Mt Dare to Birdsville (708kms) with an average speed of 18kms/hr and a little over an average of 5hr40min "Driving Time" per day..... Very helpful info.... thanks
Cheers..... RobM
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Reply By: Bob Y. - Qld - Monday, Aug 06, 2018 at 20:39

Monday, Aug 06, 2018 at 20:39

We did Madigan W-E in both 2016 & 2017. Didn't do Camps 2,3 or 4 either year. Did the Hay from Camp 16 to QAA Line in '16, and Camps 17-22 last year. Kudderee Waterhole was dry, but there still a bit left in the Annandale 'hole.

Am in awe of some of the eastern approaches of sandhills especially around Camps 8 & 9, and to a lesser extent from Camp 20 to 16. Travellers, in their wisdom, have put a few bends in the slopes, making it more difficult for E-W travelling. People manage it so low tyre pressures definitely help.

Plenty of good camps, though some of them don't always mesh with when you might want to camp. I'd take some firewood, as the increased numbers doing it would be depleting what little wood is out there.

In 2016, I used 129L & in 2017, used 117L, in a 2015 Landcruiser s/c V8 ute with alloy canopy., over 3.5tonne, from Mt Dare to Birdsville. Took 4 spare jerrycans but didn't need then. A Dmax extra cab ute, with alloy canopy, travelled with us in '16 and only used about 165L for the entire Birdsville-Mt Dare-Birdsville trip!


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Reply By: RobMac (QLD_Member) - Tuesday, Aug 07, 2018 at 02:19

Tuesday, Aug 07, 2018 at 02:19
Tyres.... Do most people take 2 spares only or 2 spares + tubes, etc?

How often to people get flats "if" sticking the main track?

Interesting fuel figures people have gotten coming from West to East. I'm assuming more will be used heading in the other direction but I'm also mindful of room and weight as there will be 5 in the Defender plus all the gear. I'm hoping to carry about 180ltrs of usable fuel under the car and was thinking of taking 2x25ltr plastic Fuel Jerries on the roofrack, totalling 230ltrs. Not sure if that would be enough to get us to Alice or whether we would have to turn south to top up @ Mt Dare....
My '09 Defender Puma's economy offroad is a bit unknown at this stage but my old Defender Tdi300 gets fairly good economy offroad. Worst I got with it was in the 17 bracket towing a CT through the Vic High Country on some seriously steep/rough tracks....

What's the average number of days people take to do the full length of the Madigan Line? 5 or 7, or less or more?
Cheers..... RobM
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Follow Up By: Les - PK Ranger - Tuesday, Aug 07, 2018 at 09:51

Tuesday, Aug 07, 2018 at 09:51
I usually take 2 spares, just in case Murphy strikes badly, it never has yet :)
One underneath in its spot, and one up front of roof rack, middle of vehicle wheelbase, and over a roof bar.

Most times a tyre plug kit will get you out of trouble, and allow you to keep going.
The trick is finding out you have a problem early, this is where a TPMS (tyre pressure monitoring system) is really worth its weight in gold.

Mostly people will get stakes going up corridors to camp, or taking alternate routes if needed, the track is relatively clear of them.
Keeping a good eye out when doing this helps, but stakes are sometimes good at hiding away.

Yes, you will have a big load, and east to west doing some of the larger dunes with more weight after hitting the dune fields, but that is a fair way.
I would take 225lt (my 2 vehicle tanks + 2 x 20lt jerrys) as I know this would be very safe.
So your 230lt is not a bad idea, you will use more fuel going that way.
(Why do it this way ? Why not reverse your route and go west - east ?)

If taking 2 jerrys on roof, just watch weight up there (especially with 2 spares), on big trips I take 2 jerrys of fuel in the back, not possible with your wagon and load.

You can get fuel at Santa Teresa community, about 80km short of ASP going up Binns Tk (Old Andado Tk on some maps).

We did Madigan in 6 days west - east, I would plan 7 days going the other way to make it more relaxing and take the pressure off with terrain challenges.
But of course each day out there is another day of food, water, beer etc for our party = more starting weight.
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Follow Up By: Bob Y. - Qld - Tuesday, Aug 07, 2018 at 20:19

Tuesday, Aug 07, 2018 at 20:19
We always take 2 spares, as well, Rob. That desert country doesn't stake too many tyres, unless, as Les said, you're driving off road. Travel to & from the desert are where the possible tyre problems may be. You could save some weight, perhaps, by taking a tyre case only as a 2nd spare, but then you'd need tyre levers, and a bead breaker, so weight savings might only be minimal.

Using jerrycans on the roof rack is a good argument for using 10L 'cans. If you're past the "6 feet tall 'n bulletproof" age, then manhandling 20L off, or on the roof, are conducive to potential back problems.

On both our trips we finished in Birdsville about midday on the 6th day.


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Follow Up By: RobMac (QLD_Member) - Tuesday, Aug 07, 2018 at 22:36

Tuesday, Aug 07, 2018 at 22:36
Thanks Les and Bob....

Yes I guess we could reverse our direction of our Trip but the Madigan Line was one of the main reasons + to visit the Rock b4 they offically stop people climbing (something the missus/kids want to do) then time depending, we planned to head back across the French/WAA line and hopefully weather & time dependent head down the Warburton Trk across to Walkers Xing and then onto Coognie Lakes b4 making our way home. If to reverse the direction and leave the madigan to the end, it could potentially add a bit more stress with time constraints, etc.

I've crossed the Simpson from East to West way back in the early '90's b4 it really became a popular xing and we never had issues with the steepness of the dunes, there was a few that took a couple of goes, so I'm thinking the Madigan dunes would be similar to back then ??

I'll give some thought to which direction we take but it will depend on the weather and whether tracks like the Walkers & Warburton, etc are open or closed at the time...

On a side note: With Permits, do u have to give exact time/dates or can they be approximates?
Cheers..... RobM
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Follow Up By: Les - PK Ranger - Wednesday, Aug 08, 2018 at 08:33

Wednesday, Aug 08, 2018 at 08:33
Madigan permit is dated, you put on there what dates you think you'll be doing it.
It wouldn't matter too much if you were a few days either side though.
See permit requirements here . . .
CLC permits
You usually get the permit / map sheet etc emailed to you shortly after emailing that in.
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Follow Up By: Les - PK Ranger - Wednesday, Aug 08, 2018 at 08:42

Wednesday, Aug 08, 2018 at 08:42
Oh, and seeing as you are doing SA return, you will of course need a DPP, pricey for one run back, but you can renew for the following 2 years at a discounted rate, still exy for out there 4 or 5 days, but in the scheme of overall trip costs not untenable.
My first permit and follow up 2 years I did something like 6 crossings.

I see the DPP appliction page is different now . . .
SA DPP page

You now have to tick parks you intend to visit ??
How silly.
You can use it for a year in all those parks, so just tick them all as you'll be visiting a few of them anyway.

This won't apply to most of your camping, but I really don't think much of the parks cop out on policy "Who will police campsite bookings?"
Their short answer is no, they won't police if someone else is in your paid spot :/
DPP information
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