CSR and Kidson Track in May/June: UHF Radio question

Hi @ll,

my name is Juergen, 4WD tourist from Germany. Together with three friends I am planning to travel the Canning Stock Route from 25th of May. We have done quite a few of Australias fasziniating 4WD tracks before (e.g. Simpson via French Line, Rudall River/Talawana Track/Windy Corner, Gunbarrel, Anne Beadell Highway) and will travel well prepared. However, there is discussion going on in our group if we should equip the vehicles with built-in UHF radios with 5 W output, which are offered by the car rental company, or if we shall stay with handhelds with 2 W output. My feeling is that the handhelds won't give safe communication over the dunes. Has anybody in the forum used handheld UHF radios along the CSR and can give me some feedback if they are sufficient? I am also thinking about communication with oncoming traffic. I prefer hearing people in the radio before I bump into them head-on. ;-)

After finishing the CSR, we are thinking about going down the Kidson Track/Wapet Road, then heading on to Windy Corner via the Gary Highway and then towards Newman via the Talawana Track. I have done the Talawana Track to Windy Corner last year, but I don't have much information on the Kidson Track/Wapet Road. Has anybody recently travelled this road and can give me some feedback? How long does it usually take to go from Sandfire Roadhouse to Kunnawaritji? I know that this is weather dependant, but I would like to get an idea if we could make it within three days.

Thanks in advance for your valuable feedback,

Greetings from bloody cold and boring Dortmund/Germany to beautiful Oz,


German by Birth - but Aussie by Heart!
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Reply By: Wayne (NSW) - Thursday, Mar 26, 2009 at 06:18

Thursday, Mar 26, 2009 at 06:18

I would go for the 5 watt in vehicle UHF plus take the 2 watt hand held UHF.
I take the hand held when ever I am out of the vehicle and exploring the surrounds.

If you can get up high enough you might be able to pick up other vehicles if the UHF is set on scan.

What you can also do is set the 5 watt UHF on scan, so that you should be able to pick up on coming vehicles, and use the 2 watt for communication between the vehicles in your convey.

The touring season has only just begun for that part of Australia but the Kidson/ Wapet road should be good. 3 days should be alright for travelling time.


AnswerID: 356230

Follow Up By: Member - Kiwi Kia - Thursday, Mar 26, 2009 at 06:48

Thursday, Mar 26, 2009 at 06:48
Hi Juergen, I do the same as Wayne, one radio on scan and the other on a channel that the group use. As to the difference between 2 & 5 watt I find the 2 watt is all that you really need.

FollowupID: 624237

Reply By: Willem - Thursday, Mar 26, 2009 at 07:16

Thursday, Mar 26, 2009 at 07:16

It is about 660km from Sandfire RH to Kunawarritji

Kidson/Wapet is overgrown in some places and washed out in others but you could keep up 60 to 80km/h in places. Four days would be a good leisurely drive. There is drinking water at Razor Blade Bore and also near the Wapet/Punmu Road intersection

AnswerID: 356239

Reply By: Member - Mick O (VIC) - Thursday, Mar 26, 2009 at 08:15

Thursday, Mar 26, 2009 at 08:15
Hello Juergen and welcome back. I am very keen to hear how you trip in 2008 went. From memory you were doing Rudall River and heading down the Gary Hwy. How did it go?

I would definitly have the 5W units installed. Communications on a trip like the Canning are incredibly important and the hand helds will often only give you "line of sight" comms with fellow travellers. Safety, particularly where on coming traffic is concerned, is paramount and the best radio is the safest bet.


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trip would doubtless be attended with much hardship.''
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Follow Up By: farmer112 - Friday, Mar 27, 2009 at 03:49

Friday, Mar 27, 2009 at 03:49
Hello Mick,

the tour to Rudall River NP and especially down the Talawana Track to Windy Corner was a hell of a fun.

We went to Desert Queens Bath and camped near to Duck Pool. The next day we gave it a try to travel to Hanging Rock. However we gave up after having a flat and after adding some scratches to the rental car. We went in for some 35 or 40 kilometres. ;-)
But I am sure I will give it a second try, when I am back in the area with more than one car.

After fixing the tyre in Cotton Creek (and catching a second flat, lots of nails and screws on the streets and especially in the workshop) we continued on the Talawana Track. About fifty or sixty kilometres after leaving the CSR, we met two nice Aussies who were travelling the Talawana with a Hino truck with trailer. Imagine that! They had supplies for a geosurvey camp, and their boss had told them that the Talawana track is the shortest way to get to Kiwirrkurra from Newman. We travelled together during the next three days to Kiwirrkurra, changing four tyres on the Hino and repairing/patching two of them. The screws were very tight, and the tyres refused slipping of the rim. We had some really nice exercices in bush mechanics and loads of fun. Camped at Whau Whau Bore (not without a nice excursion to Veever's Meteorite Crater) and at Jupiter Well.

50 kilometres or so before Kiwirrkurra we met Russel and Rose, who were on their way to Alice Springs with their camels. Very nice people.

After one day off in Alice we returned to Sandy Blight Junction and drove the Sandy Blight Junction Road - a beautiful experience, one of the most beautiful of Len's many bomb roads. After that it was down the Great Central Road and back to Perth again.

All in all another great outback experience. I will try to send you some pictures by email during the weekend.

Thank you very much once more for your great help in the preparation of this adventure. We really enjoyed it!


FollowupID: 624536

Reply By: Peter McG (Member, Melbourne) - Thursday, Mar 26, 2009 at 10:15

Thursday, Mar 26, 2009 at 10:15
Hi Juergen

You have already got the right advice.

Having met several German tourists in hire vehicles without any radios fitted let me say how good it is to see you doing this planning. We'll be out the same way between July and September.

After meeting an elderly Austrian couple in a Maui Troopy just north of Well 36 on the CSR in 2007 as we came over a set of dunes and discovered that they had no radio at all and were not interested in communicating with other cars, I called Maui when I got home and pointed out the necessity for all cars to have a radio on these tracks for their own safety and the safety of other cars.

Have a great trip.

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Reply By: Stu & "Bob" - Thursday, Mar 26, 2009 at 10:48

Thursday, Mar 26, 2009 at 10:48
G'day Juergen,

In all your deliberations on UHF for short range comms, please don't overlook the need for long range communications if you run into trouble or have a breakdown.

Both HF radio and Satphone can be hired for the duration of you ramblings through this great country, and I would strongly suggest that one or both of these be aquired for your trip.

I can recommend this guy as an honest and thorough person, who won't send you bush with questionable equipment.

HF and Satphone Hire

AnswerID: 356298

Follow Up By: farmer112 - Friday, Mar 27, 2009 at 04:00

Friday, Mar 27, 2009 at 04:00
Hi Stu & "Bob",

thanks for your advice, regarding HF radio or satphone. We will carry an Iridium satphone with us. I have made very good experience with this equipment during my former outback trips, e.g. in the Simpson Desert and on the Talawana Track to Windy Corner.

Harry and me are volunteer firies, therefore we are very keen on safety. We will carry all necessary recovery gear, as well as advanced first aid equipment, and lots of other equipment, not to forget the garden sprays as additional fire extinguishers for the case of a spinnifex fire under the car.

But thanks for the advice! Many people from Europe don't think about the dangers of outback travelling in Oz and travel without vital safety equipment. I do my best to propagate the idea of safe outback travelling in our German Australia forums. As Harry and I have visited many full-time and volunteer fire and rescue people in Oz, we have been told many, many stories of unprepared outback travellers.


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Reply By: Motherhen - Thursday, Mar 26, 2009 at 18:24

Thursday, Mar 26, 2009 at 18:24
Is there a specified channel for announcing approaches to dunes on the Canning?


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Follow Up By: Stu & "Bob" - Friday, Mar 27, 2009 at 08:50

Friday, Mar 27, 2009 at 08:50
The recommended channel as dictated by Halls Creek Shire Council is Ch 40.
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Reply By: Bob of KAOS - Thursday, Mar 26, 2009 at 22:47

Thursday, Mar 26, 2009 at 22:47

the Kidson is just a big dirt Autobahn.

Sandfire to Kunawarritji is an easy two day drive.Image Could Not Be Found

AnswerID: 356468

Reply By: farmer112 - Friday, Mar 27, 2009 at 03:18

Friday, Mar 27, 2009 at 03:18
Hi @ll,

thank you very much for your valuable help, regarding UHF radios on the CSR. That just underlines my own opinion, hopefully I can convince my mates to equip both cars with built-in UHF radios.

We will at least equip one car with built-in UHF radio to be able to scan for oncoming traffic.

Also thank you very much for the feedback on the Kidson Track. Sounds good!



German by Birth - but Aussie by Heart!
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