Sydney > Darwin Return in 19 Days. Madness?

Submitted: Wednesday, Mar 25, 2009 at 20:39
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Hi Guys,

I have been reading these forums for a few months and reading a heap of great advice. It actually helped me decide on a '97 NP Pajero TD. I love the 4WD and went down to Ulladulla for the weekend to give it a run.

Three mates and I have taken 19 days of leave for July and will be departing from Sydney. I would love to do the following route. Head clockwise from Sydney to Broken Hill to Coober Pedy then to Birdsville then Ayers Rock-Kings Canyon and up to Kakadu. Then head home along the East Coast.

I realise it is possible to do the 9,000 odd kms but will it be enjoyable. I have read a lot of trek notes where you can spend days travelling less than 100km. Is the trip a good idea or is it madness? Has anyone done this amount of driving on a holiday?

Thanks for your help!

Cheers
Frank
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Reply By: Sir Kev & Darkie - Wednesday, Mar 25, 2009 at 20:43

Wednesday, Mar 25, 2009 at 20:43
If you do the trip then I reckon you'll need a holiday to get over your holiday ;)

Cheers Kev
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He was presented with a difficult decision: push on into the stretching deserts, or return home to his wife.

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Follow Up By: Frankie Paj - Wednesday, Mar 25, 2009 at 21:14

Wednesday, Mar 25, 2009 at 21:14
Haha that's exactly what I'm worried about!
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Follow Up By: ozwasp - Thursday, Mar 26, 2009 at 03:04

Thursday, Mar 26, 2009 at 03:04
I agree

Your trip will end up being a few thousand kilometres longer with detours too.

Fly up and hire a 4wd around Darwin - it'll work out cheaper and you'll see more

The one thing I've learnt is that you can't do everything on one trip

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Reply By: Member - John and Val W (ACT) - Wednesday, Mar 25, 2009 at 20:55

Wednesday, Mar 25, 2009 at 20:55
Have you been to any of those places? Others would take months to do what you propose. Even if you stopped at Alice Springs (is that what you meant by Birdsville?) you could spend a couple of weeks exploring that area alone - east and west Macdonnells, Mereenie Loop etc. Why spend all that fuel going as far as Darwin when you wont really get much value from it, at least not in terms of really seeing what the country has to offer.

Cheers
J and V
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Follow Up By: Frankie Paj - Wednesday, Mar 25, 2009 at 21:18

Wednesday, Mar 25, 2009 at 21:18
That's why I have asked the question as I believe I'm being greedy and trying to see too much. Interested to see if anyone has done such long distances and had a great time doing it!

Thanks for your feedback.

Frank

PS. In regards to Birdsville I was only using that town to give an idea of my route.
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Reply By: Top End Explorer Tours - Wednesday, Mar 25, 2009 at 20:56

Wednesday, Mar 25, 2009 at 20:56
To be honest, that would be a complete waste of time, effort,fuel and money.

9000 km at the very least 9 days driving.

A minimum of 5 days to do Ayers Rock-Kings Canyon etc properly .

A minimum of 5 days to do Kakadu properly.

Now what else were you going to do???????

Cheers Steve

AnswerID: 356181

Follow Up By: Frankie Paj - Wednesday, Mar 25, 2009 at 21:24

Wednesday, Mar 25, 2009 at 21:24
Thanks Steve. I really wanted to get up to Kakadu but it may not be feasible in 19 days return. If i was to only go as far North as Alice it would cut the km's down dramatically.

That said I'm still unsure if 9,000km of driving is a waste of time. It could be a good trip to decide where I want to return when I have months not days to travel.

Frank
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Follow Up By: Top End Explorer Tours - Wednesday, Mar 25, 2009 at 21:41

Wednesday, Mar 25, 2009 at 21:41
Hey Frankie

I did 2 trips in consecutive years, one was 14000 in 6 weeks, the other was 12500 in the same time, both with a 2 week stay with Mum and Dad in Cairns.

The first was the 3 of us and sort of a Recon for further trips, and the second was a Father and Son trip, we enjoyed both but we were rushed at the end of the day.

Do yourself a favour plan a trip to the top end, bring a boat and enjoy what we up here take for granted.

Cheers Steve.
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Reply By: Robin Miller - Wednesday, Mar 25, 2009 at 21:12

Wednesday, Mar 25, 2009 at 21:12
Frank, I guess I often go for the drive, not the destination and so 9000km in 19 days isn't a lot espically when the journey could be mostly on good roads.

There is certainly many many places you could spend a lot of at on your journey , but we also like the snapshot of a changing enviroment when you put down 1000 + kms a day, espically if it helps one decide on where you might spend more time next time around.

I think it will be a great adventure, and you will create memories that can last a lifetime.
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Follow Up By: Member - Vivien C (VIC) - Wednesday, Mar 25, 2009 at 21:32

Wednesday, Mar 25, 2009 at 21:32
Robin,

Like you, I think the adventure of driving and seeing the ever changing view is worth while. It's a different kind of trip from the stop, camp, explore variety. There's room for both kinds of journeys and experiences.

My Dad is 82 and last year he and my brother went from the Mallee of Victoria to Longreach, Winton, Hughendon, Townsville, Mackay, Emerald and home....in about 10 days. Dad loves driving and so does my brother. They had a really good time.

Its horses for courses this travelling thing. What seems like lunacy to some is pleasure to others.

Go for it and enjoy Frank. You'll see lots of great country and you can always go back to spend more time at the places you liked another time.

Viv

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Follow Up By: Frankie Paj - Wednesday, Mar 25, 2009 at 21:37

Wednesday, Mar 25, 2009 at 21:37
That's keeping the 9,000km trip alive Robin! haha. I also love to drive but have never attempted anything on this scale. Thanks for putting a mark on the tally for the trip!

I also appreciate what the other guys have been saying in that I will be whizzing past a lot of great places!

Frank
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Follow Up By: Frankie Paj - Wednesday, Mar 25, 2009 at 21:43

Wednesday, Mar 25, 2009 at 21:43
Thanks Viv! I hadn't heard any stories of people doing large amount of km's in short periods of time. It is great to see there are people like your Dad out there doing what I would love to do, maybe it isn't so crazy after all!

Frank
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Reply By: Off-track - Wednesday, Mar 25, 2009 at 21:23

Wednesday, Mar 25, 2009 at 21:23
Mate, if that is all the time you have then it's better to see some of the country than not at all.

Very possible and easily achieved but of course you will not be able to spend too much time in one spot.

I was once in a similar predicament - 3 weeks to drive from Adelaide to Adelaide...with Ayres Rock, Alice, Katherine, Broome, Tom Price, Exmouth, Monkey Mia, Perth, Margaret River, Albany, Esperence, Kalgoorlie and Pt Augusta in between. On my own.

Sure it was a long way in a short time but I saw much more of this country than I would have if I had stayed at home. It served its purpose as a recce for future trips and dont regret it one bit.
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Follow Up By: Frankie Paj - Wednesday, Mar 25, 2009 at 21:56

Wednesday, Mar 25, 2009 at 21:56
Thanks mate, that is the kind of attitude I'm trying to approach the trip. Your trip sounds great. I will need to hit the West Coast next trip!

You are correct, whatever I do it will be better than sitting on the lounge!

Cheers
Frank
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Reply By: Lotzi - Wednesday, Mar 25, 2009 at 21:56

Wednesday, Mar 25, 2009 at 21:56
G'day Frankie

With the leave that you have, have a ball.
Mate before you do anything, get the Paj serviced and make sure that the timing belt is ok, they are a good vehicle.

All the best
Lotzi
AnswerID: 356207

Follow Up By: Frankie Paj - Thursday, Mar 26, 2009 at 18:44

Thursday, Mar 26, 2009 at 18:44
Thanks Lotzi, I did get the Paj serviced after I picked him up. He has 170,000km on the clock and the mechanic said it was in great nick. (The Paj was once a Sydney Water fleet 4WD)

It does raise a good point though that I need to learn the basics of what is under the hood. My mechanical skills are limited at best. I believe they have a timing chain not belt but that is just from something I have read!
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Reply By: WayneD - Wednesday, Mar 25, 2009 at 22:02

Wednesday, Mar 25, 2009 at 22:02
Drove from Broome to Sydney in 5 days and was buggered. Saw very liitle of the country, just long days of driving. Getting to Broome was a different story. Drove to Broken Hill, Adelaide and put the car on the Ghan. Had a relaxing trip to Darwin while someone else drove then took 2.5 weeks to get to Broome.
Taking time is a luxury that we dont all have, but I think in the end you will have covered a lot of Klm's that will be a blurr both in sight and mind.
AnswerID: 356208

Reply By: Member - AJB (VIC) - Wednesday, Mar 25, 2009 at 23:01

Wednesday, Mar 25, 2009 at 23:01
Two things. 1/ Often it is the journey that is enjoyable/memorable not the destination. 2/ Road trip with mates, do it while you all can.
AnswerID: 356214

Reply By: Wherehegon - Wednesday, Mar 25, 2009 at 23:08

Wednesday, Mar 25, 2009 at 23:08
Went from Sydney to Perth and back in 8 days back in 1990. Spent 2 days there. Only went as friends had come from overseas but couldnt make it to Sydney so I went there to see them. It was cheaper at that time to drive then fly but I would never do it again. Saw nothing except tar as I didnt have time to stop anywhere during the days and see anything (except servo's). I have been back since and stoped at some of the places I took note of and did it over 4 weeks. These days though there is so much info available from websites like this one and others that you can plan what you want to see before you leave home. Would save you a big rushed trip and then having to backtrack there again so you can see it properly next time. I love driving myself but would not do the klms you are saying in the time you have allowed but thats me... All the best either way and if you do go I hope you have a safe and enjoyable trip......WHG
AnswerID: 356215

Reply By: bgreeni - Thursday, Mar 26, 2009 at 00:36

Thursday, Mar 26, 2009 at 00:36
If you really push it you can do Sydney - Darwin in 3.5 days (1.5 to Port Augusta, 1 to AS, 1 to Darwin so return trip is 7 days leaves 12 days for site seeing - Time to do Ayers Rock and Kakadu. Go for it.
AnswerID: 356227

Reply By: Ace000 - Thursday, Mar 26, 2009 at 07:20

Thursday, Mar 26, 2009 at 07:20
Pretty much all been said. To me there are few experiences that match a road trip that commences pre-dawn each day and allows you the privilege of watching the dawn break over a new landscape for days on end. These moments are precious and get stored in our knowledge bank for future reference, that's when we return to smell those special roses that are there for us. Plan it well, get your fuel stops mapped ( check open times) and your vehicle A1 and enjoy, enjoy. enjoy...envy you
AnswerID: 356240

Reply By: MrBitchi (QLD) - Thursday, Mar 26, 2009 at 08:44

Thursday, Mar 26, 2009 at 08:44
Road Trip..!!!! ;-)
AnswerID: 356255

Follow Up By: Trevor R (QLD) - Thursday, Mar 26, 2009 at 14:32

Thursday, Mar 26, 2009 at 14:32
John, you forgot to tell Frankie to put his landing gear down and lights on about Katherine so Darwin airport sees him coming, will be flying too low for radar visual hehehehe.

Frankie, the open speed limit has been abolished in NT so this may alter your expected travel times??? I had the most fun a bloke can have in the NT many years ago when I come up behind and proceeded to o/take a police car coming into Alice Springs at about a dollar forty or fifty. That's all gone nowadays though.

Frankie, if you think you can do it then that's up to you but I would look for a shorter route.

Safe travels where ever you end up.
Trevor.
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Follow Up By: Frankie Paj - Thursday, Mar 26, 2009 at 18:39

Thursday, Mar 26, 2009 at 18:39
Hahaha Trevor I don't think I want to push the Paj much past 110km/h! By that stage he is already revving pretty high!
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Reply By: Member - Oldplodder (QLD) - Thursday, Mar 26, 2009 at 10:19

Thursday, Mar 26, 2009 at 10:19
Just did a trip to Darwin last August in the 96 TD paj.
Based in Brisbane, and did 9500k in 5 weeks.

19 days might be pushing it, even for a paj.

We did Mt Isa in 2 days, then eased off.
Had a week around Kakadu (short time version), a bit of Litchfield, few days in Darwin, and a couple of weeks to get home via Savannah Way.

Did have a trip to central Oz a few years ago, via the plenty.
7800k in 5 weeks.

Why not just central Oz?
AnswerID: 356288

Reply By: Hairy (NT) - Thursday, Mar 26, 2009 at 10:32

Thursday, Mar 26, 2009 at 10:32
Gday,
Why dont you just shorten your trip?
Sydney to Kakadu?
Sydney to Central Australia?
But not both......


You could do what you suggested...but like everyone has said...youll be knackered when you get home, and youll want to do it all again because you wont have time to see half of it.

Good luck
Cheers
AnswerID: 356293

Reply By: Frankie Paj - Thursday, Mar 26, 2009 at 18:36

Thursday, Mar 26, 2009 at 18:36
Thanks to everyone for your replies! I'm leaning towards still doing a road-trip with quite a few kilometers but may start to turn the Paj around once I hit the middle. Kakadu might have to wait until I'm in between jobs. (I only have 9 more years until long service.;) )

You have all given me a lot to ponder!

Frankie

AnswerID: 356389

Follow Up By: Bob of KAOS - Thursday, Mar 26, 2009 at 23:03

Thursday, Mar 26, 2009 at 23:03
I have no problem with long trips such as proposed.

What I have done a few times is have the car trucked home from Broome, Alice. To me time is critical. If you flew home from Darwin it would give you an extra four or five days to get there.

I find the drive home the dreariest part of the trip.

Flights are so cheap, and fuel so pricey, when you factor in the value of your time away from work, and depreciation on the vehicle, it becomes a very sensible proposition.

Bob
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Reply By: Member - Vivien C (VIC) - Friday, Mar 27, 2009 at 07:25

Friday, Mar 27, 2009 at 07:25
While the kids were still in school we used to take them away a week either side of the school holidays...so total four weeks.

The first big trip we did was home (Northern Victoria) to Longreach, Mt Isa, Kakadu, Darwin, Katherine, Tennant Creek, Alice Springs, Ayers Rock, Coober Pedy, Oodnadatta Track, Wilpena Pound and home. We thought we had a marvellous time. We didn't feel rushed, we saw heaps of great things and enjoyed the lot.

Now, listening to all the advice on the forum, it seems that we didn't have a good time at all. It seems we were too rushed, sat in the car all day, didn't stop to smell the roses and would've arrived home exhausted.

Strange, that's not how I remember it at all and neither do my kids.

Nowadays, its just the two of us travelling and we have a lot more time. We have been back to many places several times, spent time in places that weren't accessible to travellers on our first trips and now we can spend more time just "being there" not travelling through.

I think travelling is something that only you can decide what you can handle. If you've got four weeks and want to do a big trip, then go, do it. You'll see more than if you sat at home and wondered. You'll be there with your kids when they see all these amazing sights and the bonding that you do as a family will be invaluable.

Sure, we'd all like more time to "smell the roses" but if all we've got is four weeks we shouldn't limit ourselves nor be deterred by others. We should decide what we want and have a go.
If we don't like it, then we won't do it again...if we do then it will be the beginning of many great adventures.

Viv
AnswerID: 356515

Follow Up By: Member - Vivien C (VIC) - Friday, Mar 27, 2009 at 07:40

Friday, Mar 27, 2009 at 07:40
In your case Frankie...if all you've got is 19 days, decide what you want to do and go for it.

Viv
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Reply By: Pezza (Bris) - Friday, Mar 27, 2009 at 15:26

Friday, Mar 27, 2009 at 15:26
Umm, just interested in the exact route you intend taking to go from Coober Pedy - Birdsville - Kings canyon ? and if it along a road called "the french line" then do you have any idea of the terrain you will be travelling over ?

IMO, if this is going to be a 'holiday' then go to Alice via Coober Pedy, spend a week in the MacDonall Ranges and The Rock with a leisurely trip home.
Then next time you can go straight to Alice and start 'holidaying' from there as you will have seen ALL of it to there.

Cheers
Pezza
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