Article Comment: Savannah Way

Submitted: Wednesday, May 01, 2019 at 09:36
ThreadID: 138253 Views:1260 Replies:8 FollowUps:5
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Hi guys, me and my boyfriend want to drive up to Darwin and we had a couple of questions since we’re not very experienced 4x4 drivers.
- We’ll be leaving mid May, is this a good time to travel? How will the “river” crossings be? Do we need a tarp in front of the car? We have a Mitsubishi Triton 2016 without a snorkel.
- Is there a better route instead of taking the Savannah Way? Isn’t there a “safer” highway leading all the way up to Darwin. We’ll probably be leaving from Port Douglas. Maybe this is a stupid question but I’m not from here. We would much rather not risk it and take the highway instead of the 4x4 Savannah Way since we’re not as experienced.
- Once we get to the border: do we need to get rid of all our fresh produce?
- We don’t have a hard cover for the tub of the car. Should we worry about people stealing our supplies? We have our valuables such as money etc in the cab of the car but should we worry about the water or fuel not being locked inside?
- Is it neccessary to bring a satellite phone? Or is there something a bit cheaper we can use instead? We’re planning on buying an extra Telstra sim for more coverage since we’re both with Optus. This way we have 2 providers. Whichever works best.
- We will pretty much rely on other vehicles to get us out if we were to be stuck. Should we get an electrical winch?
Other notes: we will be taking our time. We just want to be as safe and prepared as possible and not rush things. We have 2 jerry cans of extra fuel and 2 with extra water. We’re travelling with a rooftop tent and we have 1 extra tire.
Thank you :-)
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Reply By: RMD - Wednesday, May 01, 2019 at 10:01

Wednesday, May 01, 2019 at 10:01
Naomi
Along the way there are bridges and so you won't be crossing through rivers, many small hire cars travel it daily. Once you get to the Stuart highway it is normal travel.
Yes, you will be out of phone contact sometimes. I would use a UHF radio with a good aerial for general road condition reports and for emergency use to contact others particularly when going over narrow causeways and a road train may appear. Not healthy! A map of repeaters is available for such times and emergencies.
A magnetic base aerial may serve you well.

A lockable box in the tub would be good to have.
You mentioned Extra water. What is the normal amount you have, if that 40L is the extra?
Unless driving into boggy areas, unwise, you shouldn't need a winch at all.
If worried about valuables, I wouldn't leave money or valuables in the vehicle, they will disappear if someone enters the vehicle. Backpack pocket for money/valuables/licence/cards etc, ie, with you all the time.
AnswerID: 625272

Follow Up By: Naomi J - Thursday, May 02, 2019 at 10:30

Thursday, May 02, 2019 at 10:30
Thank you for all the usefil tips! Will look into the radio.

What’s the best thing to do when you see an approaching roadtrain? Pull over?

Yes we have 40L extra water and 40L of extra fuel.
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FollowupID: 898929

Follow Up By: Zippo - Thursday, May 02, 2019 at 14:35

Thursday, May 02, 2019 at 14:35
When you see an approaching road train:

on single lane bitumen (eg Barkly RH to Cape Crawford/Heartbreak Hotel), pull right off and stop, letting them stay on the black stuff. If they move off at all they have a sh1tload of tyres flicking rocks, look after your vehicle.

on unsealed roads they will always be flicking rocks, so move as far left as you can, and the slower you go the less impact velocity they have when they hit your paintwork/windscreen/headlights.

on bitumen, just position so they can stay on the sealed bit, for the same reason. You'll soon get the hang of how much they want/need/will_take before they feel inclined to move onto the shoulder.
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FollowupID: 898940

Reply By: Athol W1 - Wednesday, May 01, 2019 at 13:18

Wednesday, May 01, 2019 at 13:18
Naomi
One of your questions is 'is there a 'safer' way', the answer to that depends on your off road, or remote dirt road, ability.

If you want the 'safe' way that is on sealed roads all the way then from Port Douglas head for Atherton, Ravenshoe, Mount Surprise, Georgetown to Normanton (so far it is the road that you intend to travel, the Savannah Way), then head south to Cloncurry, Mt Isa, Camooweal and Barkly Roadhouse, turn north to Cape Crawford and The Heart Break Hotel, then west to Hi Way Motor Inn (this last section is part of the Savannah Way), and from there you are on the Stuart Highway to Darwin.

An alternate to this is to continue west at the Barkly Roadhouse to Three Ways and then turn north for Darwin.

All of this route is sealed 'all weather' road, although some of it is only single lane sealed.

Regards
Athol
AnswerID: 625279

Follow Up By: Naomi J - Thursday, May 02, 2019 at 09:18

Thursday, May 02, 2019 at 09:18
Thanks Athol. This route sounds great! Definitely going to check it out.
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FollowupID: 898928

Reply By: Kenell - Thursday, May 02, 2019 at 08:29

Thursday, May 02, 2019 at 08:29
Hi Naomi,
The actual Savannah Way does indeed have river crossings on it. They are not all bridged. Having said that they shouldn't be a challenge for your chosen vehicle. Last year when I travelled it in July the section between Hells Gate and Borroloola was corrugated and certainly wasn't suited to low clearance vehicles. One river crossing approach required caution (mainly on the western approach) but the water when you got down to it was only wheel height ie 500mm. There are lots of travellers on the route so whilst I am an advocate for sat phones you won't be on your own for long. Tyre pressure management can help on the rough bits so carrying a portable compressor might be a good idea. As for security, that is the issue with utes. We heard stories of people losing stuff but didn't suffer any losses ourselves. I don't think it matters much where you travel, anything left unattended and accessible while you walk into a waterfall or stop at a cafe etc is considered fair game. The actual Savannah Way is an adventure and you sound like you are up for that. The alternative suggested by Athol is an easier drive and plenty to see also - it is where the 2wds and hire cars go.
Safe travels.
AnswerID: 625289

Follow Up By: Naomi J - Thursday, May 02, 2019 at 10:35

Thursday, May 02, 2019 at 10:35
Thank for the reply, appreciate it. Yeah we just bought a tarp for situations like that. Really don’t want to wreck the car. Especially since this month might be a bit unpredictable (end of wet season).

We got a compressor. What would the pressure of the tyres normally be on corrigated roads?

Thanks again!
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FollowupID: 898930

Follow Up By: Frank P (NSW) - Thursday, May 02, 2019 at 11:01

Thursday, May 02, 2019 at 11:01
"What would the pressure of the tyres normally be on corrigated roads? "

You'll get varying opinions on that. Depends on a few thibgs like vehicle weight, tyres, suspension, severity of corrugations etc.

My BT50 has a GVM upgrade and is heavy, about 3 tonne, with light truck all-terrain tyres. Normal highway pressures for me are 40 PSI front, 45 rear (cold).

Light corrugations I would reduce to 30/34 cold and max speed 80. (Not continuous 80, a max of 80). I monitor the pressures as the tyres warm up. I allow about a 4PSI increase. Any more, I increase pressure or reduce speed. This technique is not universally accepted but works for me.

Heavier corrugations I'd reduce to maybe 26/30 and max speed 70, monitoring tyre pressures as above.

In the worst corrugations I've ever experienced on the Rudall River Road in the Rudall River NP last year we ran 20/24 and 20KPH.

In all of the above we were towing a 2200kg hybrid camper/van so had to consider that in choosing speeds. Roughly the same tyre pressures in that as well.

Kenell's advice in the next Reply below this is good. Much of the above is derived from experience and making appropriate adjustments as he suggested.

Cheers

1
FollowupID: 898931

Reply By: Kenell - Thursday, May 02, 2019 at 11:03

Thursday, May 02, 2019 at 11:03
Naomi,
Tyre pressures imho is a matter of suck it and see. Lots of people have a view on this and I struggle to understand how they reach hard and fast rules. In my experience the vehicle/tyre/load/driving habits (speed)/road condition dictates the pressure. A driver can generally get a feel for what is best. Still, good to check the tyres regularly for heat etc and adjust accordingly.
AnswerID: 625291

Reply By: Athol W1 - Thursday, May 02, 2019 at 14:17

Thursday, May 02, 2019 at 14:17
Naomi

When involved with the 4wd movement, and at the club level, I used to recommend tyres be set at about 75% of highway pressure for dirt and corrugated roads, and about 50% for sand driving. This was only a base figure to start with and work from there.

As for maximum speed then that was the same as the tyres, ie 75% tyres then 75% max speed.

Hope this helps.
Athol
AnswerID: 625298

Reply By: Peter_n_Margaret - Thursday, May 02, 2019 at 16:59

Thursday, May 02, 2019 at 16:59

We were there in mid April and it was still closed due to rain from the wet.
Michelin data on tyre pressure reductions, my pics.

The important bit is to ensure that they are not overheated (which happens very easily) and will destroy the tyre from the inside very quickly.
Cheers,
Peter
OKA196 motorhome



AnswerID: 625305

Reply By: Member - Suitcase (QLD) - Thursday, May 02, 2019 at 20:13

Thursday, May 02, 2019 at 20:13
Naomi

" Is there a better route instead of taking the Savannah Way? Isn’t there a “safer” highway leading all the way up to Darwin. We’ll probably be leaving from Port Douglas. Maybe this is a stupid question but I’m not from here. We would much rather not risk it and take the highway instead of the 4x4 Savannah Way since we’re not as experienced. "

The safest way from Port Douglas is .. Down The Highway to Townsville then turn right and take another highway across through Mt Isa to NT. At Three Ways turn right and take another highway to Darwin. It's all big bitumen highway. Couple of hundred Km between the most remote fuels stops. You could do it in a Hyundai Getz.

Have a "Safe" trip
Suitcase
Prado SX and a little van

Member
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AnswerID: 625311

Reply By: friar - Thursday, May 02, 2019 at 21:51

Thursday, May 02, 2019 at 21:51
NaomiJ,the road out through Mt Garnet,Mt Surprise,Georgetown,Croydon ,Norminton,Cloncurry,Mt Isa,all sealed, less traffic than the Bruce Highway,possibly shorter than through Townsville.
John



AnswerID: 625313

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