Advice on remote travelling.

Submitted: Friday, Feb 10, 2006 at 16:44
ThreadID: 30652 Views:2516 Replies:9 FollowUps:17
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Hi all,

My gf and I are in the preliminary stages of organising our first "big trip". The plans are (at this stage) EXTREMEMLY rough but for anyone who's interested, as follows:

Leave Brisbane head west to the Carnarvons, north to the Gemfields (near Emerald) to visit family and friends, down to Birdsville (exact route not sure) down the Birdsville track to Port Augusta(ish) then basically from Adelaide to Melbourne to Sydney then up the coast back to home sweet home.

We have set aside 8 weeks for the trip with a view that it will take us 6 weeks but we may find areas where we want to stop for a while. most of the time I reckon will be spent in VIC as I've been told that there's deadset heaps to see.

Where was I? Right so basically my question is: We are going by ourselves (ie one vehicle & CT) and while I've done plenty of outback driving before, I wouldn't call much of it "remote" What are everyone's thoughts on doing the Birdsville section of the tour with only one vehicle? Is it stupid? Will it be easy as? etc etc?

Thanks!

Scoey.
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Reply By: Footloose - Friday, Feb 10, 2006 at 17:02

Friday, Feb 10, 2006 at 17:02
If you use a bit of common sense and keep the speed waay down, in the right suitably set up vehicle it's a breeze.
But...any trip can bite. Wrong weather, mechanical difficulties, a moments innatention and ...well you can guess.
AnswerID: 154335

Follow Up By: Scoey - Friday, Feb 10, 2006 at 17:18

Friday, Feb 10, 2006 at 17:18
I guess that's the attitude I've taken so far. Plan as much as you can in terms of vehicle set up etc and hopefully you'll stand the best chance of the trip not going pear shape but you're right that's always a possibility!
Thanks for the advice!
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FollowupID: 408320

Reply By: Member - Oldplodder (QLD) - Friday, Feb 10, 2006 at 17:05

Friday, Feb 10, 2006 at 17:05
You mean going down the Birdsville highway?
It may be dirt, but when dry and not too chopped up after rain, it is a good run.
Few gibbers around Birdsville, just air down a little.
Have been that way a few times by ourselves.
Plenty to see to.
AnswerID: 154338

Follow Up By: Scoey - Friday, Feb 10, 2006 at 17:16

Friday, Feb 10, 2006 at 17:16
Yeah probably, on the maps I have it's called the Birdsville track and it goes from Birdsville south to Marree. We were gonna take the Outside track. Running a '94 80 Series on 33" Goodyear MT/R's. From what I can see most people run them at 28 to 30psi on gravel but I don't really want to get into a debate over tyre pressure right now! haha!
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Reply By: JW - Friday, Feb 10, 2006 at 17:18

Friday, Feb 10, 2006 at 17:18
Scoey,
It will only be stupid if you don't treat the outback with respect. Having only one vehicle is not a problem as your proposed route will be well travelled during the cooler months.
Have you thought about UHF comms to talk to roadtrains about overtaking, hiring a satphone, getting hold of a small EPIRB, a second spare for the 4WD (I assume), compatability of CT and 4WD wheels, fuel capacity, availability of ULP or autogas if relevant, water capacity, spare radiator hoses if yours are not in good condition, spare fuel and air filters, spare miscellaneous items such as fuses and bulbs, a good compressor, a tyre repair kit and a good First-Aid Kit?
It would also be wise to have your car fully serviced just before departing. You may need to book some services during your trip as well given the distance you are intending. Time for these needs to be factored into your itinerary.
How are your trailer bearings?
Sounds like a nice trip. Enjoy it by being well prepared.
Regards
Jon W
AnswerID: 154339

Follow Up By: Scoey - Friday, Feb 10, 2006 at 17:23

Friday, Feb 10, 2006 at 17:23
Hi JW,

That's definately the attitude we're taking. My truck is a '94 80 Series with UHF and 2nd spare. We're gonna hire a Satphone and we're yet to purchase the CT. I have thought of most of the things you mentions but there's efinately a few there that I hadn't so I'll add them to my checklist!

Thanks for the tips! ;-)
Scoey
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Follow Up By: JW - Friday, Feb 10, 2006 at 17:32

Friday, Feb 10, 2006 at 17:32
Scoey,
When you do buy your CT, if you can't match the wheels exactly, at least get hubs on the trailer with the same stud pattern. Gives some piece of mind knowing that the trailer spare will provide you with an emergency short term spare for the 4WD.
Another excellent investment is a cargo barrier. Makes packing so much easier and safer.
Jon W
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Follow Up By: Scoey - Friday, Feb 10, 2006 at 18:08

Friday, Feb 10, 2006 at 18:08
Jon,
Most of the CT's I've looked at will build the trailer to suit the cruiser wheels and track width if we go new, but if 2nd hand is the go then that'd be something that'd i'd be looking for.
Cheers
Scoey
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FollowupID: 408335

Follow Up By: beachbum - Friday, Feb 10, 2006 at 18:49

Friday, Feb 10, 2006 at 18:49
Hi Scoey and lots of advice on Comms,trailer, tyres etc but you also asked of possible route. Give a thought to heading to Alpha, T/L to Blackall via Yalleroi, free camping at Blackall in the reserve and hot showers and toilets just off the main Street. from there to Isisford where tourists are encouraged to camp on the banks of the Barcoo and again hot showers in the middle of town provided by the local council. From there west to Stonehenge and south to Jundah and Windorah or alternately go south from Isisford to Emmet, T/R and down via Yaraka, Welford Lagoon and then to Widorah and on to Birdsville. We have done these runs a number of times and enjoyed them all. Have a great trip and just take care.
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Follow Up By: Scoey - Friday, Feb 10, 2006 at 19:40

Friday, Feb 10, 2006 at 19:40
Cheers beachbum, your suggested route sounds like it's worth checking out! My gf reckons it's obvious that you've been travelling with a wife or gf yourself - with the mention of the hot showers! ;-) Hey they sound good to me too! Thanks for the advice!
Scoey
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Reply By: Gossy - Friday, Feb 10, 2006 at 17:37

Friday, Feb 10, 2006 at 17:37
can be tough on tyres if you don't treat them right. Lower the pressure as the roads are quite rocky. Multiple benefits:
1. Nicer ride
2. Look after your suspension and car a bit more
3. Less chipping on tyres therefore saving you money!

I carried some spare tubes incase I needed them to limp home. I found a brand new landcruiser stuck on a side track up there. Road tyres ripped to shreds and left to die. A huge sign on the road made out of rocks and toilet paper saying "help need tyres" (I guess for planes to see). Hate to think how long it took. A small note on the windscreen said that they got a lift to Birdsville.
so bottom line is have communications and look after your tyres
AnswerID: 154342

Follow Up By: Scoey - Friday, Feb 10, 2006 at 18:11

Friday, Feb 10, 2006 at 18:11
bloody hell! Scary! Would love to invest in a HF set but i think for our first few trips the budget won't stretch that far. We'll probably hire a Sat Phone and obviously carry as much survival gear as we can (practically) in the event that everythign else goes bad!
Cheers Gossy!

Scoey
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Follow Up By: Mike DiD - Friday, Feb 10, 2006 at 18:34

Friday, Feb 10, 2006 at 18:34
As an ABSOLUTE MINIMUM, spend $250 on an EPIRB.

A Satphone will cost you up to $200 per weekto rent.

Mike
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Follow Up By: Scoey - Friday, Feb 10, 2006 at 18:48

Friday, Feb 10, 2006 at 18:48
Oh ok! I didn't think they'd be that affordable!? Will look into it! Thanks Mike!
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Follow Up By: Crackles - Friday, Feb 10, 2006 at 21:33

Friday, Feb 10, 2006 at 21:33
Come on Mike. Surely you're not suggesting the first thing to buy is an EPIRB;-) As an absolute minimum if you can't afford decent tyres, suspension, communication or maps. As an absolute minimum if you can't be bothered learning navigation, driver training & bush mechanics well..........just spend $250 on an EPIRB & have the Tax payer come and search for you when it turns pear shape. (Sarcasm)
An EPIRB is not a preparation for a trip, it's a cheap way out for the ill prepared.
Cheers Craig.............
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FollowupID: 408375

Follow Up By: Scoey - Saturday, Feb 11, 2006 at 00:13

Saturday, Feb 11, 2006 at 00:13
Craig, I'm not sure who you're having a go at here. Mike or me? You can safely assume that my rig has decent tyres (Goodyear MT/R's) suspension (OME) and as stated above. long distance comms and detailed maps. You can also rest assured that I will be doing all the preparation possible before this trip so your tax dollars should be safe. We all have to start somewhere however and if a $250 investment is all it takes for me to carry an EPIRB then really, that's not bad advice for some piece of mind. If on the other hand you were having a go at Mike then I think he was just trying to give some advice. Have a bit of a poll for all the Forumites who have EPIRBS in their rigs... I reckon you'll find it;s the blokes(and ladies ;-)) who have been travelling for ages with VERY well set up rigs that are more likely to have them! Thanks anyway but! Scoey.
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Follow Up By: Mike DiD - Saturday, Feb 11, 2006 at 05:14

Saturday, Feb 11, 2006 at 05:14
"Come on Mike. Surely you're not suggesting the first thing to buy is an EPIRB ;-) " (I did note the smiley)

You could buy the strongest tyres, biggest winch etc in the world. Or you could buy a 30 yr old two wheel drive with regrooved tyres.

EITHER WAY, you can still be stranded in remote areas - flooding, bogged, breakdown, rollover, animal strike.

If you set off an EPIRB a search will started within a few hours - if you don't have an EPIRB the search may not be started for a week. I f you have an EPIRB they will find you in half a day - without an EPIRB there is a good chance they will NOT find you while you are still alive.

There are countless cases where people who were well prepared - or badly prepared - dying in remote areas.

Having been involved with Search & Rescue organisations for the last 35 years, I am concerned by the number of cases of walkers close to major cities, who got lost without an EPIRB, and who are found purely by good luck (rather than due to a large or a well managed search)

On re-consideration, I am SERIOUSLY suggesting that the FIRST Thing you buy if travelling in remote areas is an EPIRB. What you have left after that massive $250 investment - you can allocate to tyres, water tanks etc.

Mike
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Follow Up By: Mike DiD - Saturday, Feb 11, 2006 at 05:38

Saturday, Feb 11, 2006 at 05:38
"just spend $250 on an EPIRB & have the Tax payer come and search for you when it turns pear shape. (Sarcasm) "

- WRONG, ask anyone in a Search & Rescue organisation. The correct answer is -

"just spend $250 on an EPIRB and SAVE the the Taxpayers huge amounts of money by avoiding a huge (occasionally unsuccesful) search, when it turns pear shape (which despite the best of equipment and plans, it can do)."

Mike
NSW Volunteer Rescue Association
NSW Rural Fire Service
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FollowupID: 408392

Follow Up By: Mike DiD - Saturday, Feb 11, 2006 at 06:35

Saturday, Feb 11, 2006 at 06:35
Australia has led the world with initiatives that reduce road fatalities -
- Compulsory Seat Belts
- Enforcing Alcohol limits.

If we extend the "EPIRBs are dangerous" philosophy, then let's extend this by lobbying the government to ban Car Insurance.

Can you imagine how safely everyone will drive, when they have to accept that when they have a prang, they will have to pay the whole lot, rather than being bailed out by the safe (no-accident drivers).

;-)

Mike
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FollowupID: 408393

Follow Up By: Crackles - Sunday, Feb 12, 2006 at 14:42

Sunday, Feb 12, 2006 at 14:42
Scoey. I'm certainly not having a go at your preparations for the trip, to the contrary as it seems you have many of the bases covered already. Your assumption though that those "who have been travelling for ages with VERY well set up rigs that are more likely to have them" is not really the case in my experience. Despite extensive remote area trips with many experienced groups, no one I travel with has seen the need to carry an EPIRB rather instead relying on their own communication, first aid & emergency gear so they can get themselves out of trouble, or if it's serious have direct communication with emergency services so there is no delay & wasted recourses in a large search.
Even though I don't personally see an EPIRB as a necessary option for a 4x4, (more for remote bushwalking & boats etc) I'm certainly not saying don't carry one, just don't think you can skip any of the other preparations cos you have one.
Cheers Craig.............
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FollowupID: 408509

Follow Up By: Crackles - Sunday, Feb 12, 2006 at 14:54

Sunday, Feb 12, 2006 at 14:54
EPIRB’s are dangerous” Let me check Mike………………. Nope….I don’t seem to remember even remotely suggesting that in my followup.
What I did have issue with though was the priority you’ve given them by “SERIOUSLY suggesting that the FIRST Thing you buy if travelling in remote areas is an EPIRB” I personally see it the exact opposite. 1st I plan a trip, acquire the necessary skills, prepare the car then lastly put contingencies into place to cover the “what ifs”. For some people that may be an EPIRB, for me despite many remote trips I haven’t seen the need for one yet choosing instead to get ourselves out of trouble or avoid it in the first place.
“There are countless cases where people who were well prepared .........dying in remote areas.” For a moment there I thought you were an EPIRB salesman closing a deal :-)) Can’t say I’ve heard of any well prepared four wheel drivers dying in the last few years but feel free to expand with some specific details. (even 1 case will do) It’s not that I don’t believe you just you seem to be exaggerating again. Countless= Endless, infinite, untold. (Macquarie Dictionary)
Cheers Craig……….
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Reply By: Member - Frank - Friday, Feb 10, 2006 at 20:14

Friday, Feb 10, 2006 at 20:14
I allways travel alone maybe a passenger

rule try to be prepared to fix what you can if you can change or get someone to do for you, fan belts, spring leaves ect and or tyres make sure you carry the parts or tools to do it or have it done

I deal through 4 wheel drive systems in sa he knows and does all work and services I can not if I need anything I can contact him from anywhere in oz and it will be sent by fastest carrier pidgon

I allways carry 10 kilo bay of rice and flour when in desert or any place where can get caught by rain or breakdown, lasts forever while waiting for road to dryout much better than wreaking vechial

when alone resist the temtaion to rush about just poke along quitely and even tires will love you (always handy to have extra tyre cases tie them anywhere)

remember; you will always carry too much gear until you need it one day
AnswerID: 154371

Reply By: Mulga Bill - Friday, Feb 10, 2006 at 21:55

Friday, Feb 10, 2006 at 21:55
Yep - I'm with the all of the "cautious contributors" above - you will be travelling in some quite remote areas on the way into BV, let alone down the track to Maree - bad recent weather aside, the gravel roads should be no problem (with moderate driving and the aforementioned softened tyres). These drives never quite seem "that remote" while you are touring happily along, but I'm sure the distances to help seemed doubled when something goes bang and you roll to a stop. I always take comfort in having good long distance comms, plenty of water and tucker, shelter and the right spares. The water, the comms and the second spare mentioned above are the biggies for me.
AnswerID: 154388

Reply By: Crackles - Friday, Feb 10, 2006 at 22:01

Friday, Feb 10, 2006 at 22:01
Scoey the route you're going is very straight forward & certainly not what one would call "remote". In the tourist season you wouldn't need to wait much more than 15 minutes for another car to come along. To put things in perspective I've had a mate travel up the Birdsville track, accross the Cordillo road to Innaminka & down to Tiboorburra in a Holden Commodore. 1 car on your own is not an issue although a few extra spares probably should be carried to be self sufficient. You don't mention the month you were going but obviously summer should be avoided.
Decent tyres, good mechanical preparation & taking your time will contribute to a hassel free trip. Have fun :-)
Cheers Craig.........
AnswerID: 154390

Reply By: Member - Andy Q (VIC) - Saturday, Feb 11, 2006 at 11:49

Saturday, Feb 11, 2006 at 11:49
G'day Scoey, sounds like you have all the advice you need(and more), I'll not add any more. Have a great time, just don't 'overload' yourselves
andy
ps just watch out for idiots on the road!!
AnswerID: 154437

Reply By: Gossy - Monday, Feb 13, 2006 at 09:08

Monday, Feb 13, 2006 at 09:08
100% agree on the EPIRB. I don't have a HF radio either (expensive!), but I do carry a CB and an EPIRB. I even carry an EPIRB when bush walking in the Adelaide hills. Just the other night on the news they had a story of a guy who got a snake bite and the EPIRB saved his life.
AnswerID: 154672

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