Tanami track

Submitted: Saturday, Oct 26, 2002 at 00:00
ThreadID: 2223 Views:2247 Replies:7 FollowUps:2
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Hi, I am looking for current information regarding Tanami track, especially if it is suitable to tow an off road camper trailer. I am planning to travel to Ningalloo Reef from Brisbane (next winter) and it appears that crossing the “red centre” could be an option. My main concern is how bad are the corrugations. Any info would be greatly appreciated.
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Reply By: ExplorOz Team - Michelle - Saturday, Oct 26, 2002 at 00:00

Saturday, Oct 26, 2002 at 00:00
George,I may as well answer this - corrugations should not really be your main concern because they are simply what travelling on dirt roads is all about. If you are planning a trip then you must expect varying degress of corrugations and anticipate this starting with the vehicle you drive, how you pack it, its suspension, the tyre pressures you run, the speed you drive etc.Corrugations are often impossible to avoid because of the terrain where roads are cut making them impossible to grade them out totally. Generally, corrugations are caused by a combination of how wet the road was during the last rain and if much traffic went over it while it was wet causing ruts. Then how does the road handle the traffic load when it becomes dry (eg. do the large wheel ruts disintegrate and get smaller causing corrugations or do the ruts become major furrows?) The Tanami in particular varies significantly from year to year and even from week to week because it is now subject to grading from time to time. Any road that is graded of course can be perfect one day and bad the next so it depends when you time it. The Tanami is generally an easy track these days during the dry season, but will still get wet at the top end during the wet season so it depends how close to the end of the wet you are travelling. At the start of the season the track can be impassable at Sturt Creek, but is a concrete causeway so unless the water is flowing fast, then its a straight forward crossing. It can also get a bit boggy around the area with other low creeks on the approach. However the rest of the track is almost a highway and is NO PROBLEM TO A SOUND 4WD, TOWING A SOUND "OFFROAD" TRAILER. It's a great shame that I just haven't been able to publish our Trek Note yet for the route (after field research on the track last season) but I will endeavour to publish this before Xmas. You will be far better off working towards having your vehicle well prepared to handle the varying outback conditions rather than worrying about corrugations - its hardly worth discussing if you are driving a 4WD. You should not assume that the factory makes a 4WD for real travellers who carrry a tonne of load plus a trailer. If you check your vehicle manual or even look at the load rating stamped on the car chasis you will see that the car has been setup for only passenger and basic load weight. That's why you must invest in good suspension - the bonuses are that your tyres will wear better, you vehicle will handle better, and you will have a more comfortable and safer ride and you can just ride over those corrugations that are a fact of the Australian outback! Take a look at how we setup our vehicle in the Vehicle Setup Feature for an idea of how involved we recommend you prepare your vehicle for travelling.
AnswerID: 7884

Reply By: royce - Saturday, Oct 26, 2002 at 00:00

Saturday, Oct 26, 2002 at 00:00
G'day George. About 6 years ago my wife and I and two teenage children towed an offroad trailer loaded high, with a 1981 Subaru. The road had not been graded since rains and we had to detour in spots. We had to head north to Lajamanu because of floods in WA. With all that though, we had almost no problems. As long as you have plenty of spares and in particular tyres, food and water, it's pretty safe, all the better if the road has been graded though. One hint though TAKE FLY NETS. Cheers Royce
AnswerID: 7885

Reply By: joanne - Saturday, Oct 26, 2002 at 00:00

Saturday, Oct 26, 2002 at 00:00
We come down the tanami in july 02. it was good in most places but a few rough patches W.T. side. the road to wolfe Creek was worse. we tow a coromal magnum rally xc camper and had no problems. Just watch your fuel . Drive to suit conditions and you'll be fine.
AnswerID: 7888

Follow Up By: Old Soldier - Sunday, Oct 27, 2002 at 00:00

Sunday, Oct 27, 2002 at 00:00
I think that Joannne has hit the nail right on the head with her last sentence. Drive to suit the conditions. That advice is on signs all over the outback and is bloody good advice. If people heeded it there would be less incidents and damage to vehicles. I think we have all seen the clowns who just have to impress us with how fast they can drive their 4WD through dry rocky creek beds &c. I know I have, and they certainly don't impress me. Good advice Joanne.
FollowupID: 3657

Reply By: George - Sunday, Oct 27, 2002 at 00:00

Sunday, Oct 27, 2002 at 00:00
Thanks for all replies. Just to clarify the matter (Michelle) I do have some experience in off road and dirt road travels and I am quite familiar with the corrugations. Nevertheless, unlike some of the more serious 4wd enthusiasts I prefer to limit my off roading to the absolute minimum and I hope I am not offending anyone but the outback itself does not appeal to me very much. If my destination is accessible only through the 4wd track I will take it but if an alternative more comfortable access is available, even if somewhat greater distance have to be travelled, that will be my choice. I have an aftermarket (fairly stiff) suspension in my Pajero and we (especially my teenage son) will “feel” every corrugation. Accordingly if I were faced with the prospect of 1000 kilometres or so of heavily corrugated road I would look for an alternative route. If the Tanami track comprises mostly good dirt road with few rough patches as suggested then I will consider it very seriously and will try to get some information regarding grading times from the respective road authorities to try for optimum conditions.
Thanks again and best wishes to all
AnswerID: 7901

Follow Up By: Cameron - Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00

Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00
for what it is worth we travelled up the Tanami july this year (then the Gibb and came back thru central qld, all up ~15000km, ~4500 on dirt) with two other trailers, a Track on its million dollar suspension, and a Southern Cross on straight leafs, ours on independent airbags, without ant troubles. Agree with all comments, it is a little bumpy, but hardly what i would call badly corrugated. We were expecting the worse just across the border in WA and slowed down to about 80km, most of the time was 90-100+ depending on our fuel load. We even got mobile phone (Telstra) coverage near the gold mine, scared the hebbies out of me when message bank went off!!!. Having said all this we met a guy in Alice Springs who was heading to Broome the long way, even though he had an off raod trailer, did not like the dust and corrugations, The bottom line is preference I guess, but dont let the road scare you, it is not the horror track it used to be (or wasn't when we travelled) Happy Travels
FollowupID: 3709

Reply By: John Sullivan - Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00

Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00
George, I think you say it all in your comment, "Aftermarket (Fairly stiff) suspension". If your suspension was set up properly it should /would be fairly soft, soaking up the corrigations. Try Rancho 9000 adjustable shockers, set on 1, great for corrigations. Travelled Tanamia, Gibb River Rd etc in July, August 2002. John
AnswerID: 7946

Reply By: Gordon - Wednesday, Oct 30, 2002 at 01:00

Wednesday, Oct 30, 2002 at 01:00
George, my wife and I travelled Brisbane to Halls Ck in June 2002.Boulia to the Stuart Hwy on the Donaghue / Plenty is a worse road than the Tanami track.

If you want to avoid a minimum of 3 days of dirt roads then go on the black-top all the way - Mt Isa to the Sturt Hwy then north to Buchanan Hwy and Northern Hwy. That is by far the quickest smoothest route.

Alternatively, limit your dirt roads to the Tanami Track by going via Mt Isa to the Stuart Hwy and then south to the Tanami track.

For our trip, the Tanami track was a very good road from Alice to well past the Granites mine because of contiuous grading funded by the mining companies. Then it was pretty good with the odd rough patch - it can get washed out though near the WA border.

Tanami Issues: Plan petrol stops in advance. Beware road trains. Little change of scenery. O/nite at or near Rabbit Flat - very few other places to camp.Quarantine station on entering WA - no fruit, veges, nuts, honey. Worth doing - once. Regards, Gordon.
AnswerID: 8032

Reply By: George - Friday, Nov 01, 2002 at 01:00

Friday, Nov 01, 2002 at 01:00
Thanks for further input, especially Cameron and Gordon as this was the kind of information I was looking for.
My regards to all,
AnswerID: 8091

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