Old Smith Highway History

Submitted: Saturday, Apr 08, 2006 at 13:13
ThreadID: 32677 Views:1618 Replies:1 FollowUps:4
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If anyone knows some knowledge of this road I would be interested in getting information on the Old Smith Highway,It was the road Cobb&Co Coaches used between Mt Isa and Cloncurry,I have travelled the track , it is very rugged country and had shift a lot of duco scratching sticks and branches ans knock down the big Spiders hanging across the track [and there was no shortage of them.] You might have to consult your elders on this one.
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Reply By: David from David and Justine Olsen's 4WD Tag-Along - Saturday, Apr 08, 2006 at 18:36

Saturday, Apr 08, 2006 at 18:36
I haven;t travelled that one, but know he country it goes through. if there is as much watle as I think there is, it would be a lot like the Wiso from Tennent Ck to Lajamanu. Took us 4 1/2 days to go from Kalkarinji to Tennent Ck via that route :-)

Will consult the elders :-)
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Follow Up By: Member - Doug T (QLD) - Saturday, Apr 08, 2006 at 22:50

Saturday, Apr 08, 2006 at 22:50
Thanks David
I did manage to find some info from a woman today who is related to the little one in the URL i have included , The little one would have been her Aunty and her sister is still alive here in Mt Isa .And we think we got it tough....NO not after reading this

Very sad this David
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Follow Up By: David from David and Justine Olsen's 4WD Tag-Along - Saturday, Apr 08, 2006 at 23:10

Saturday, Apr 08, 2006 at 23:10
Yes those stories tell just how hard life was in those days
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Follow Up By: fredd - Monday, Apr 10, 2006 at 20:06

Monday, Apr 10, 2006 at 20:06
hi david and justine
is wisco the track shown on hema etc australian road atlas that goes via duck ponds. if so im going along it next august-2007-with 4 or so well prepared vehicles-patrols and cruisers.
what can we expect? will it take 5 days?
what permits are required?

thanks for any info you can provide

FollowupID: 421133

Follow Up By: David from David and Justine Olsen's 4WD Tag-Along - Tuesday, Apr 11, 2006 at 20:39

Tuesday, Apr 11, 2006 at 20:39
I spoke to people up that way a few months ago. They said that since we went thru (first car all the way thru in almost 2 years) the community people have been travelling it and the wattle is therefore not as bad. Not as bad is however a relative term. It would be possible now, as far as I have been told to travel from Kalkaringi to Tennent Creek in something like 2 1/2 maybe 3 days. Unfortunately I can't show you the photos I have, because my computer is in the workshop and my laptop which I am using now can't read DVD (thats what I store them on).

Anyone if it is anywhere near as bad, and it may well be after the rains- since the wattle grows thickest on the road which is lower than the surrounding country- you can expect your paint to be very very very badly scratched. You will need to fold your mirrors in to avoid damaging them, and in the worst 90k or so, you will need to travel at 4 to 5 kph maximum. You may also lose indicators and such if you don't take it easy.

The police at Lajamanu will strongly discourage travel, but will let you through if your level of experience and preparation satisfies them. If you have a brand new plastic 4wd then expect them to say no as well. You absolutely MUST seek permission from the police, and they will tell you a rescue is OUT OF THE QUESTION, as they nearly destroyed their vehicle rescuing a car that suffered 8 flat tyres.

You should carry at least two spares, be equipped with lots of mushroom plugs and string plugs and radial patches and tubes and you should expect typical desert fuel consumtion from Lajamanu onwards. Navigation is extremely difficult if the track is overgrown. If so, you will not find the find the turn off near the duckponds. You will therefore need to be very confident at GPS nav. We were navigating by GPS alone at that point and needed to check against the map at lots of places to confirm we were tracing correctly. One tip, if you drive thru the Duckponds township (abandoned), you have missed the turn-off.

If it is clearer, it wont be as difficult obviously, but it will destroy your vehicle's paint and tyres if you don't take it easy and probably will do so even if you do.

Not sure of your wattle country experience, but one tip that is invaluable is to NOT drive over the shoots or stumps. So if a wattle bush/tree has fallen down over the road, drive over the fallen branches rather than over stumps which may look like a clearer track.

Also beware hidden termite mounds on the track.

It is from memory 295k from lajamanu to Tennent Creek and over 150k is through thick wattle. From Kalkarinji to Lajamanu is reasonable gravel road typical of the Tanami.

Good luck, and I hope the track is clearer now.


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