Great Central Road NT

i'm planning a trip for 2020 to WA mainly for the wildflowers. Had thought of travelling across on the Great Central Road which I did 3 years and it was OK. A few reports suggest the road has deteriorated badly, especially on the NT side. Does anyone have any recent experience of the road? Also is Docker River open or not. Thanks for any help.
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Reply By: Life Member - Duncan W (WA) - Friday, Oct 18, 2019 at 14:33

Friday, Oct 18, 2019 at 14:33
Hi Georgie in July this year the WA side from the Sandy Blight Rd west was in many parts better than a bituminous highway. There are now 3 sections that are sealed. Around Warburton and Tjukayirla each section is about 15km or so long.

We ended up driving the entire section from Warrakurna to Laverton in the day it was so good.

Changes month by month so we may have struck a really good period. Better off asking the question again in July/August next year.

The NT side is always notoriously atrocious.
Dunc
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Reply By: Member - McLaren3030 - Friday, Oct 18, 2019 at 15:01

Friday, Oct 18, 2019 at 15:01
Hi Georgie,

Have to agree with Duncan, it is a bit early to be asking about the GCR for a trip in 2020. The road is graded from time to time, and as Duncan mentioned, more of it is being sealed. We travelled the road in 2017, the area around Giles & Docker River were pretty bad, but a month later the grader was out. Better to ask again about a month out from your trip. There are also a couple of Web Sites you can look up that has this sort of information, if you google “outback road conditions” it will take you to the various State & Territory Road departments.

Macca.
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Reply By: Rob A2 - Saturday, Oct 19, 2019 at 12:58

Saturday, Oct 19, 2019 at 12:58
We did it in early September and overall it was fine but the closer you get to the NT the rougher it gets. Allow 3 days and plan around your fuel range

As well ensure you have your permits. Ours were checked twice

Rob
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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Saturday, Oct 19, 2019 at 14:15

Saturday, Oct 19, 2019 at 14:15
Hi Rob

We have travelled it a number of times and never asked for permits, even though we had them.

I even asked the Police in Laverton about them, and they said they have their work cut out on their things, let alone the time for checking permits.

Where were you asked to show your permits?


Cheers


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Follow Up By: Rob A2 - Saturday, Oct 19, 2019 at 14:42

Saturday, Oct 19, 2019 at 14:42
To clarify the issue of permits came up in two separate conversations with locals both on the WA side of the GCR. The conversations were quite interesting and wide ranging and were focussed on getting our thoughts and feedback on a number of issues. So I found nothing wrong with being asked a question along the lines of "So how did you find the online permit system to use and could it be improved?" As I had raised several issues for improvement at Laverton VIC when we visited there and found them well received I thought nothing of it and still don't.
We've travelled the GCR around 6 times over the last few years and have found the communities we have spent time in to be interested in looking at ways to try and slow travellers down and have them spend time in the galleries and other places of interest.

We also had our permits checked whilst travelling the RioTinto Rail access road to Python Pool. Again we have done this trip several times and only ever been stopped for a chat but that has the same intent especially if its one of the security utes. Still nothing about such actions has ever concerned me as we always do the right thing

Rob
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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Saturday, Oct 19, 2019 at 16:19

Saturday, Oct 19, 2019 at 16:19
Yes know where you are coming from there.

One of the trips I hope to do next year is out that way again, and one section that we hope to do was previously out of bounds, but now open to the public which is good news
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Follow Up By: Rob A2 - Saturday, Oct 19, 2019 at 16:28

Saturday, Oct 19, 2019 at 16:28
Hope it all goes well we are avid readers of your trip reports

Rob
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Reply By: Ozi M - Saturday, Oct 19, 2019 at 17:58

Saturday, Oct 19, 2019 at 17:58
I had my permits when I went east to west and they checked them at the Uluru gate before allowing me to proceed without paying.
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Reply By: Macquarie - Sunday, Oct 20, 2019 at 23:21

Sunday, Oct 20, 2019 at 23:21
We travelled the GCR from West to East in May this year. Our vehicle was a Ford Ranger towing a Sunland Patriot caravan.

The roads were summed up by a West Aust local before we left Leonora who stated that ".. the West builds roads and the NT grades swimming pools.' And we found that to be a fair description, with the West Aust road built up, often with a clay cap, while generally on the NT side the road was just graded dirt with the road surface lower than the surrounding countryside.

The first 100km of the road east from Leonora is travelled by heavy vehicles to and from the new Gruyere Cosmo Newbury gold mine and we found that section of road to be rougher than the sections from Cosmo Newbury east to the NT border.

With lowered tyre pressures we had no real trouble with the corrugations, generally doing about 45-60kph. We passed one road team maintaining the road in WA.

By contrast the NT section of the road especially east of Docker River was terrible with severe corrugations and it was obvious that no grader had been near the road for quite some time.

Regarding fuel it should be noted that while there are four fuel roadhouses (Tjukayiria, Warburton,Warakuma and Docker River) it is not guaranteed that all will have fuel available. On our trip there was no diesel fuel available at Warakuma and the roadhouse operator was only hopeful at best that they would be resupplied within 48 hrs. The lesson being to refuel at each availability rather than assume you will be OK until the next roadhouse.

We took three and a half days for the journey and while we had the required permits we were never queried about them



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Reply By: Member - Bruno F - Friday, Oct 25, 2019 at 16:56

Friday, Oct 25, 2019 at 16:56
Came through 14th to 16th and found NT section a bit worse than WA. Tyre pressures and speeds down (100 series 'cruiser towing Tvan). No dramas. Watch for camels near Warburton later in the day.
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Reply By: Member - GeorgieM - Tuesday, Oct 29, 2019 at 10:53

Tuesday, Oct 29, 2019 at 10:53
Hi everyone. Thank you for your advice and information. As suggested, I'll ask again next year before we begin the trip. Cheers GeorgieM
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