Travelling theTanami Road

Submitted: Wednesday, Jan 30, 2008 at 17:40
ThreadID: 54044 Views:2227 Replies:13 FollowUps:0
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Hello travel guru's,

can anyone give me some advice on travelling the Tanami Road. I am leaving Karratha late February to drive to Alice and would like to go via the Tanami Road. I drive a Honda CRV and will be towing a trailer with my extra gear in it. From what I can gather the road is well graded, thanks to the mines. Has anyone been down it lately or travelled it during this very hot time of year?.

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Reply By: Member - Royce- Wednesday, Jan 30, 2008 at 17:59

Wednesday, Jan 30, 2008 at 17:59
Someone who has travelled the Tanami in the last week or so might be able to give you an update. Even after grading, lots of sections can be challenging.

We travelled it a good few years ago with an off-road trailer behind a 1984 Subaru wagon. Did the trip with lots of challenges along the way because it hadn't been graded.

It was flooded on the WA side so we had to travel up the Bucanan Hwy. Deserves a whole chapter in my book. [If I were ever to write one.]

Take all standard precautions and you should be okay.

Have fun.
AnswerID: 284552

Reply By: Member - Chris R (NSW) - Wednesday, Jan 30, 2008 at 18:05

Wednesday, Jan 30, 2008 at 18:05
We travelled March 2007. Verrry hot. So would be concerned about the work you are asking the CRV to do.

Road generally good - but...
There was one 150-200 metre stretch of 60-70cm deep water with no signage. Suspect this might be impassable to you if encountered

I have only travelled it the once.

AnswerID: 284554

Reply By: Greg - Wednesday, Jan 30, 2008 at 18:09

Wednesday, Jan 30, 2008 at 18:09
Graders are currently out that way at the moment. Contact the roads dept. (On the NT side)

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AnswerID: 284555

Reply By: Wayne (NSW) - Wednesday, Jan 30, 2008 at 18:17

Wednesday, Jan 30, 2008 at 18:17

Have a look at this site

Tanami Track

Fuel could be a problem, it would pay to ring the roadhouses before you go to find out if they are open and what are there opening times are.

The track can vary week to week and going this time of year the locals will not expect too much traffic. They will not expect to see you, so you will have to watch for them.

The good mine section of the track is not all that long, but be on the look out for mine vehicles.

AnswerID: 284557

Reply By: MEMBER - Darian (SA) - Wednesday, Jan 30, 2008 at 19:39

Wednesday, Jan 30, 2008 at 19:39
Yep - check road conditions with local authorities before you go down there - it is the wet season and rain can seriously disrupt the Tanami - even if the road is classed as "good", it will still most probably be endless corrugations in most parts, with some stony sections too - in the heat, those corrugations will test your suspension. When I came down there 2 years back, fuel top ups were possible at Billiluna, Rabbit Flat, Yuendumu and Tilmouth Well far as I recall - assume nothing - phone them and sort out times etc. Re the mines... yes they are there, but you may see no evidence of those people on the track itself - some of the featureless road distances can be great, and it is a desert ! Call me an over cautious city slicker, but with safety in mind, we had an extra spare wheel, sundry spares, long distance comms, lots of water and company.
AnswerID: 284565

Reply By: Hairy (NT) - Wednesday, Jan 30, 2008 at 20:24

Wednesday, Jan 30, 2008 at 20:24
Unless you have another vehicle with you or have plenty of bush expieriece and are prepared for a challenge I would play it by ear.
The road could be in great condition 1 day and impassable the next. Rain is always possible this time of the year and the Tanami usually catches out some poor unexpecting tourist.
Make sure your car and trailer are up to scratch and you carry plenty of food and water ( at least enough for a week ) and let someone know where you are going and when your are expected to arrive.
Make plans about what you will do "if" you breakdown because if you leave your car in some places you can almost guarantee it wont be there or any good in a day or so and a recovery will cost a fortune.
I'm not trying to scare you away but be prepared and have an alternative route.

AnswerID: 284576

Reply By: Member - Kim M (VIC) - Wednesday, Jan 30, 2008 at 21:24

Wednesday, Jan 30, 2008 at 21:24

The Tanami is a bit of a dirt highway these days when in good condition, but can get a bit corrugated in sections.

Forget about the coppers or Council. Call into Billiluna and ask them about the road conditions. There's usually a few Aboriginals hanging around to talk to as well.

As one respondent said, the Tanami is prone to flooding in a good year. If the Sturt Ck floods the road will be closed, and you'll have to take the scenic bypass.

I might add that it's a boring short cut.



AnswerID: 284605

Reply By: Sand Man (SA) - Wednesday, Jan 30, 2008 at 22:29

Wednesday, Jan 30, 2008 at 22:29
When we were up there 4 years ago, we were planning on travelling the Tanami but due to rain in the area the Track was closed.
From memory the Track can be closed to vehicles above a certain weight to help protect the surface, but in some circumstances the Track is closed to all traffic until it dries out.

Always check with the local police.


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AnswerID: 284624

Reply By: Steve63 - Thursday, Jan 31, 2008 at 11:48

Thursday, Jan 31, 2008 at 11:48
At this time of year the road conditions on the Tanami can change very rapidly. It just has to rain and all bets are off. It won't matter how well it is graded if it has had 40mm of rain dumped on it and a few road trains driven over it afterwards. Suggest you contact roads dept just before leaving. If they are forcasting any sort of rain or there is a cyclone off the west coast I would consider going another way.

AnswerID: 284692

Reply By: Member - Oldbaz. NSW. - Thursday, Jan 31, 2008 at 17:42

Thursday, Jan 31, 2008 at 17:42
Travelled it in April 07, Most of it was good, some currugations of course, & last 50 k ,or first in your case, was bloody rough, but
doable with caution. I dont believe your CRV with a trailer would
have any problems, providing it is in sound condition. You must
make sure of your fuel requirements as already mentioned. Road
closures are the provence of Halls Creek Shire. They have a website but dont update it regularly, ring them direct a few days
prior to your departure & keep up to date. Cops in Alice didnt
know if it was open or not. Tilmouth Well Roadhouse knew & were helpful, but you are nearly at Alice by then. I dont believe the road surface will worry you, drive to the conditions. Rain is
the problem, watch local forecasts. Easily done in 2 days, so
good luck, I reckon its a great drive......oldbaz.
AnswerID: 284760

Reply By: Lyds- Thursday, Jan 31, 2008 at 22:16

Thursday, Jan 31, 2008 at 22:16
we tried to do it a couple of years back, but decided against it after not getting a straight answer from anyone on its condition following some rains.

The WA folks only advise you to the border, and likewise from the NT side. I hope its different now.
AnswerID: 284851

Reply By: Richard W (NSW) - Friday, Feb 01, 2008 at 08:06

Friday, Feb 01, 2008 at 08:06

I did it in July 2007 and conditions varied quite a bit from good to very corrugated. IMHO you will need decent suspension on your camper and drive to the conditions. I'm doing it again in June but will be moving quickly so will not take my camper.
As others have said about flooding and fuel at this time of year.
AnswerID: 284877

Reply By: Hairy (NT) - Saturday, Feb 02, 2008 at 00:06

Saturday, Feb 02, 2008 at 00:06
Its raining in Alice now and has done for a good part of the day.The Tanami might have got heaps ......or none at all.
Like I said earlier plan an alternate route and check before you go ...and be prepared
AnswerID: 285050

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