Planned 2009 Kimberleys Trip via Alice

Submitted: Sunday, Jan 18, 2009 at 09:48
ThreadID: 65225 Views:3228 Replies:12 FollowUps:8
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Hi all,

On (around) June 4 2009 we're planning to head from Perth via Great Central Road to Uluru, to Alice, to Kakadu, to Litchfield, to Kununurra, Gibb River Road, Mitchell Falls, Bungles, Broome, Levique, Karajini, maybe Ningaloo - all flexible depnding on how we go. We intend to try this in about 6-7 weeks.
There will be Mike, Amanda and 2 kids, 5 & 7 towing an Australian Offroad Odyssey Signature Camper.
Any takers?

Mike & Amanda
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Reply By: Peter_n_Margaret - Sunday, Jan 18, 2009 at 11:42

Sunday, Jan 18, 2009 at 11:42
In 6 or 7 weeks?
You did mean 6 or 7 months didn't you?

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Follow Up By: HSEQ - Sunday, Jan 18, 2009 at 11:55

Sunday, Jan 18, 2009 at 11:55
Hi Peter,

Thanks for your reply and forgive my poor grammar.
We are leaving Perth on June 4 and will return around July 14. Roughly 6 weeks of traveling.

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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Sunday, Jan 18, 2009 at 13:53

Sunday, Jan 18, 2009 at 13:53

As Peter indicates, there is a lot to see. We spent over four months last year doing similar in reverse, but taking in a lot less. That way we got to see the Gibb River road and surrounds in June before the masses carve up the roads, and while there was plenty of water in the falls. Apart from a two week stay with our son along the way, we didn't do any touring on the way as we have been into the Pilbara a few times before, driving fairly long days until we got to the GRR.

We spent over three weeks along the GRR, and in total nine weeks in the Kimberley (included Purnululu, Halls Creek and Keep River NP just into the NT).

We didn't have time for Kakadu, Litchfield etc; that will have to be another year, so we went to Alice via the Tanami and spent around five weeks seeing things around there, going home via Uluru and the Great Central Road.

If you have only six or seven weeks, pick Central NT or the Kimberley. With children, you will also not want to do long days driving.

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Reply By: Member - Andrew (WA) - Sunday, Jan 18, 2009 at 14:01

Sunday, Jan 18, 2009 at 14:01

Mate, The trip you mention will be a great adventure but making it a 6 week trip will not make your journey an enjoyable one. You'll laterally have to set-up and break camp on a daily basis. Your itinerary will be a shocker.

I guess it depends on what you like but I like to be able take things at a steady pace. You know, spend a lazy 3 days in one spot instead of 2 . Stuff like that. If you have six weeks, do either the NT or WA component. Not both.

Anyway, have a great trip what ever you do. I'm jealous!
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Reply By: HSEQ - Sunday, Jan 18, 2009 at 14:28

Sunday, Jan 18, 2009 at 14:28
Hi Peter, Margaret and Andrew,

Very much appreciate your thoughts and advice.

We realise it is a long way, however being business owners we are restricted to how much time we can take.

Our thinking is that we have to get up there anyway (from Perth) and so it will be long driving anyway. We were at Coral Bay and Exmouth in August so can afford to miss these stops.

Instead of driving up and back along a similar route, we thought we would make the trip up the centre as an alternative route. The distances aren't too widely different. Going the inland route is a means to an end, the Kimberley being the main objective. However whilst on the way we will spend a couple of days at Litchfield and Kakadu.

As I say the alternative is to drive up the west coast and back down again, or else inland via Meeka.

Thank goodness for the built in rear DVD players and the PS2 - the kids will be fine with Ben 10 and Dr Who.

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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Sunday, Jan 18, 2009 at 17:31

Sunday, Jan 18, 2009 at 17:31
Mike, You have no choice on the road to Broome, at least not after the Boreline road which heads north from Marble Bar - another must see place - and comes out near Sandfire, otherwise there are lots of different routes. The Ningaloo coast is wonderful, but overall the inland highway is more scenic and interesting than the coastal highway. We have done five or more trips to the mid west and or Pilbara and each time have travelled on mainly different roads. If you haven't seen Karajini, that is another top of the list place in the Pilbara. Really if you haven't been there before, you could spent seven week and find yourself still in the Pilbara.

The Kimberley is a complete loop - GRR and highway. There is so much to see in the GRR area, and with the type of roads, we found 100 kms per day was all we wanted to travel, and it took us to the next feature.

I see the advice coming through loud and clear from others here - your suggested trip won't fit the time frame. Maybe it will if you do nothing but drive, but there is so much to see and you would see only the side of the roads. A waste of fuel, time and exhausting. Take a smaller bite and enjoy the holiday.


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Reply By: Member - Lance S (VIC) - Sunday, Jan 18, 2009 at 14:38

Sunday, Jan 18, 2009 at 14:38
HSEQ, we are leaving June 25 for 8 weeks from Melbourne to Alice, Tanami track, bungle bungles, Broome, CL, GRR for 4 weeks, Mitchell falls, EQ, Kununurra, home, its a bit earlier than you but might see you up there somewhere, and the opposite direction.


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Follow Up By: HSEQ - Monday, Jan 19, 2009 at 09:11

Monday, Jan 19, 2009 at 09:11
Hi Lance,

Thanks for your email - we will leave Perth around 4 June and return home mid July. After receiving all these emails telling me I've got rocks in my head, I 'm reviewing routes and itinerary just to check I'm not a fruit loop.
Hope we bump into each other - we will be on UHF (and HF) and will be driving a white LC200 with Australian Offroad Camper - Mike,Amanda, Jack and Kate.
Hope you have a fantastic and enjoyable trip and will keep an eye out for you!

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Reply By: Peter_n_Margaret - Sunday, Jan 18, 2009 at 16:11

Sunday, Jan 18, 2009 at 16:11
Seriously Mike, cut the itinerary in half, or less.
Our first trip to the Kimberley (from Adelaide, via Alice and the Tanami) was 6 weeks. We intended to visit Darwin and come home via the Centre.
That 6 weeks was not long enough to to see Kalumburu or the Mitchell Falls. We came home via the Tanami, because that was the shortest route.
Second trip to the Kimberley was 12 weeks via the Gunbarrel and Pilbara. Still did not get to Darwin.

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Follow Up By: HSEQ - Sunday, Jan 18, 2009 at 16:18

Sunday, Jan 18, 2009 at 16:18
Hi Peter,

Thanks again - my point is you can't cut the itinerary - you have to get there!

Perth to the Kimberleys AND BACK!

Perth to the Kimberleys via Port Hedland OR Perth to the Kimberleys via Alice Springs and Darwin is not too different in kilometres.

So why not go one way there and a different way back?

A lot of WA can be flat, repetitive and boring scenery so why not vary it? The trip distance will not change much either you see what I mean?

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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Sunday, Jan 18, 2009 at 18:59

Sunday, Jan 18, 2009 at 18:59
Mike, it is your tour, but from Boreline to Roebuck Plains is probably less than 400 kms, and that is about the only duplication you need to have. There are plenty of choices, particularly if you don't mind getting off the bitumen.

Why not go straight to the Kimberley at a comfortably fast rate (leaving other places in the Mid West and Pilbara for another year), then tour the GRR in an enjoyable fashion, and see how much time left when you get to Kununurra. If you assess that you then have plenty of time to go on into the NT, take a run to Purnululu for a couple of days and either go back and stay on the bitumen, or go to the NT via Old Halls Creek and the rougher Buntine Road.

Bear in mind that travel on the dirt roads around Alice Springs and in particular the Great Central Road will not be fast trips. Do not travel at night.


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Reply By: get outmore - Sunday, Jan 18, 2009 at 16:19

Sunday, Jan 18, 2009 at 16:19
ive done a simular trip in 6 weeks.
probabally was about a week short but still got to see pretty much everything and yes there was a bit of time to smell the roses.

skipped the keep river and gregory NP and would have liked to spend another day in the East macs and another 2 days in teh west macs but thats about it.

i would have had a couple more days but i got help up in kununarra with a lost eftpos card

----------- the big HOWEVER is that i was by myself in a campervan. so no setting up camp - no keeping evryone else happy
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Reply By: Peter_n_Margaret - Sunday, Jan 18, 2009 at 20:41

Sunday, Jan 18, 2009 at 20:41
Mike, it is not the transit ks that are the issue, it is seeing stuff when you get there.
You could drive Perth, Alice, Halls Creek in a few days, but seeing the Kimberley, or Kakadu or any of the other feature areas, is not about driving the Ks, but about walking into the gorge and having a relaxing swim in a magic place with the kids for an hour.
That takes all day!

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Reply By: Kanga1 - Sunday, Jan 18, 2009 at 23:15

Sunday, Jan 18, 2009 at 23:15
Hope you enjoy your trip, you are right about the difference in Ks its about 200 Kms further from Kununurra to Perth via the Tanami and Alice and GCR, than it is to Perth via Port Hedland etc, However to really do that part of the NT alone never mind Litchfield and Kakadu deserves perhaps a bit more time than your itinery will allow to make it worth going into the NT at all. We travelled through the Pilbara, Broome, Cape Leveque, GRR, Munja, Kununurra, during June and July 2008, 8 weeks and I would like to go back to the Kimberly again this year to see the bits that we missed! Anyhow, happy trails.
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Reply By: Member - AJB (VIC) - Monday, Jan 19, 2009 at 08:40

Monday, Jan 19, 2009 at 08:40
OK this is what we do at times like this. We have been to many places and going to them again or somewhere new often involves travelling over the same vast areas again to reach our destination and the unused route home. So I set off alone a few days early and do some serious K's and the family jump on a plane a week later and meet me and we cruise home. They love it as it is almost an instant holiday and they jump on the plane with hand luggage! I like it because I love the journey more than the destination if that makes sense. In your situation I would head off to Darwin from Perth alone, that'd take about 3 -4 days, and meet the family in Darwin and cruise home. Do the central road, Alice, Uluru another time like when heading to Qld and then they can fly home from Cairns or something.
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Reply By: HSEQ - Monday, Jan 19, 2009 at 09:06

Monday, Jan 19, 2009 at 09:06
Thanks for everyone's advice, and perhaps we do need to review the itinerary and methodology.
I can see everyone is keen to share their vast knowledge and experiences and what we can learn from this is that everyone is different with different ideas and needs.
I first started traveling at age 11 in the Middle East with my parents and since then have spent 18 months on a motorbike/ tent traveling Europe and Africa, around Australia and Tas twice, US, Canada, Hawaii, SE Asia, NZ by either shanks, bus, train, car, motorhome, tent, 4WD and so on.
In this time I've learned how to plan trips to meet my needs AND that you DO need time to smell the roses and get to that magic wine o'clock.
Our thinking for this trip is that we are using an Australian Offroad Camper with quick awnings that takes around 5 minutes to set up and 10 minutes to break camp (short term). We have identified about five key areas that we would like to spend extended time at i.e. Karajini, Mitchell, El Questro etc. We will drive directly to these spots (main objective) and if we can vary the route, either WA or NT, all the better, as has already been said - it is the journey not the destination.
Say 5 days up and 5 days back = 10 days - Leaves 32 days for our 5 spots + travel in between (most of these are located in the sameish geographical area). Planning flexibility will mean that if one spot wows us, we stay, if one is unpleasant we leave. When it is time to go home we go!
So thanks again, I'm impressed with everyones desire to tell us how it should be done, please remember the original post was to see if anyone else is traveling around that time.

Thanks, Mike.

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Follow Up By: Member - vivien C (VIC) - Monday, Jan 19, 2009 at 09:23

Monday, Jan 19, 2009 at 09:23

Just go and enjoy. You've got a good idea of what you can manage and cope with. It's true everyone who writes in wants to help you but some people have the luxury of more time than others.

As for the things that you will miss this time...well just catch up on them on your next trip.

Before our kids left home we only ever had four weeks and we packed a lot of great trips into those four weeks over the years. The travelling never bothered us as we enjoy driving, the kids were good travellers because they'd done so much of it and it was a great family time to be in the car playing games like I Spy etc. The kids remember those trips vividly and are very proud and thankful that they got the chance to see so much of Australia.

So, I say just do the trip you've planned and enjoy

Best wishes

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Reply By: jezza68 - Monday, Jan 19, 2009 at 14:20

Monday, Jan 19, 2009 at 14:20
Can I suggest you leave the Kakadu/Litchfield section off?
You could leave Perth and travel to Alice via GCR/Gunbarrel, Uluru,Kings canyon, West Macs, Alice,Tanami, Wolfe Creek, Bungles, Kununurra, GRR, Wanjina Gorge, Tunnel Creek, Fitzroy, Gieke Gorge, Derby, Broome Leveque, 80 Mile Bch, Boreline Rd, Marble Bar, Nullagine, Newman- Karajini, Mt Augustus, Murchison Beef Rd to Perth. The only double up on tarmac will be 40kms to Fitzroy and 32km Broome Rd.

Then when you get the opportunity, do the Litchfield/Kakadu thing via some favourite places you have seen on the previous trip.
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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Monday, Jan 19, 2009 at 17:00

Monday, Jan 19, 2009 at 17:00
Very much the reverse of what we did in our four plus months, except we skipped Broome, Cape Leveque and the Pilbara (but did stop for two weeks).

We hope to see Kakadu and some other gems of the NT this winter.


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Reply By: HSEQ - Wednesday, Jan 21, 2009 at 08:53

Wednesday, Jan 21, 2009 at 08:53
Thanks again for everyone's advice.

Amanda has all the magazines, books and Hema Maps out busily plotting your suggestions.
We have listed the prime places we'd like to spend time at like Karajini, Mitchell, El Questro etc and will calculate how many evenings sitting in the camp chairs watching the sunset with an ale or two we want.
A few nights on the beach north of Broome at Coulomb Pt will be mandatory (too far north for the rangers to check?). Does anyone know if this area is safe to swim in June?
What about Cape Leveque - is it worth going up there? We are travellers that like peace and quiet - 'far from the madding crowds', and really enjoy a quiet beach.
Just waiting for some quotes to upgrade the suspension on the LC200, a new snorkel, diff breather extension and we'll just about be ready.....

Thanks again...


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