Tanami in a Jayco 'Offroad' Camper trailer?

Submitted: Saturday, May 30, 2009 at 18:33
ThreadID: 69344 Views:4273 Replies:10 FollowUps:4
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I understand the Jayco's aren't for the rough stuff, but would it be realistic to take one along the Tanami?

We will probably be there- conditions permitting- late March-April.

2 adults, 2 kids, 2 dogs, NM Pajero (petrol+LPG) + Jayco Outback Eagle or Swan.

Any thoughts/ suggestions much appreciated from a newbie to all this.
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Reply By: Member - Footloose - Saturday, May 30, 2009 at 18:46

Saturday, May 30, 2009 at 18:46
Conditions along the Tanami vary from as smooth as a baby's bottom through to impassible and as rough as...
People will tell you it's a piece of cake...if the grader has been on it then it is. But if it's had water or heavy traffic on it (and you can almost bet on that one), than toss a coin ...or take a longet but smoother route.
AnswerID: 367645

Follow Up By: Motherhen - Saturday, May 30, 2009 at 19:16

Saturday, May 30, 2009 at 19:16
I don't think they will be grading the WA side, which is the worst part.


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Reply By: Motherhen - Saturday, May 30, 2009 at 19:15

Saturday, May 30, 2009 at 19:15
It is 2000 kms of mostly corrugations and the damage is cumulative. I would not recommend taking the risk with your rig and a young family. If something goes wrong, it could cost you many thousands of dollars to have your rig recovered.

Check out thread 65571. Lots of information there (even if it did get a bit contentious in places).

Friends went through last month for the third time with their heavy duty off road van, and said

"Yesterday I read back over my diary from the last trip along the Tanami Track and I said in it that we could not imagine doing this track again yet here we are just two years down the track and on it yet again. I know why we said we did not think we would be doing it again, it has not changed from the last time, and it is still soooo bloody rough. It is a shocker. (Husband) got under the car and the (caravan) this morning to check nothing had shaken loose and all is well. So that is a real bonus. It is a wonder anything is still joined together."

(Names removed to respect their privacy)



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Reply By: Member - John and Val W (ACT) - Saturday, May 30, 2009 at 19:33

Saturday, May 30, 2009 at 19:33
As said by the experienced people above - the Tanami is variable, all depends on graders v's traffic and rain. The Tanami use to be one of those iconic tracks which it was nice to have "done". Don't think that applies any more; much of the time it's simply a couple of thousand km of corrugations (worse on the WA end), and seemingly endless low scrub. An experience, yes, but not one to recommend. Suggest ask this question closer to departure time, and expect to use the bitumen alternative.



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AnswerID: 367655

Reply By: ozwrangler - Saturday, May 30, 2009 at 20:24

Saturday, May 30, 2009 at 20:24
I really had no idea what it might be like.

Thankyou very much for the helpful info!
AnswerID: 367668

Reply By: Kim and Damn Dog - Saturday, May 30, 2009 at 20:42

Saturday, May 30, 2009 at 20:42

I’d be having a real think about taking that sort of camper trailer along the Tanami during the period you’re talking about.

Grading is usually done when there’s a bit of moisture in the ground, so I reckon you’ll cop a rough trip in March/April.

On the positive side, the fly's will be down right friendly.


AnswerID: 367672

Reply By: Member - AJB (VIC) - Saturday, May 30, 2009 at 20:54

Saturday, May 30, 2009 at 20:54
Well although everyone says it can't be done, we have done it several times in the mid and late 90's with an off road eagle. We were living on the Tanami road at the time and towed the Jayco out there, down to Alice, back to Billiluna via Mulan and around Lake Gregory and all over the area. The only damage was a couple of broken cupboard hinges and I left the table set up once and the leg wore a hole in the vinyl floor covering. The tow vehicle, Rodeo dual cab. had its canopy rear glass smashed by rebounding rocks and that was it.
The rules are, It is not what you tow that matters, it is how you tow that matters. Also what is rough for some is nothing for others. Driving the tanami is a doodle most of the time. Drive it in the Wet season rains at night then it is fun and it is about 1000 kms with about 130ish single bitumen. The road is generally better on the NT side, better maintained for mines etc, and the majority of the road is NT.
If I was you, would I do it? Yes but with the ability to get myself out of trouble if it happens and we should all do that wherever we go.
AnswerID: 367675

Follow Up By: Kim and Damn Dog - Saturday, May 30, 2009 at 22:03

Saturday, May 30, 2009 at 22:03
Gidday AJB

It surprises me a bit you say that. The Tanami is no doodle when it cut’s up rough, nor is the track around Lake Gregory a walk in the park, particularly when Sturt Creek is running strong.

In the June/July season the road can be heavily flooded in some areas if there’s good rain. Even local drivers have trouble keeping the car on the road (let alone a van).

Depending on the season, by the latter part of the year there are many sections which will rattle teeth out. So the road shouldn’t be considered as a walk in the park.

Certainly the majority of people have a good run, without incidence and nobody is suggesting it can’t be done. But as I said previously, it needs to be travelled with caution. Footloose has probably descibed it better than me.

PS Are you the fella who was working out of Billiluna for a while?


FollowupID: 635308

Follow Up By: Member - AJB (VIC) - Sunday, May 31, 2009 at 10:47

Sunday, May 31, 2009 at 10:47
Yes thats me Kim. The same one who was going there with you a couple of years ago but your work got in the way. I'm going there on Tuesday! The Tanami is a maintained dirt road. The maintenance may leave a little to be desired but it is a long dirt road. I think there were only a couple of occasions where it was a little difficult and that was after severe rain and the road closed shortly after. The problem is that the road is graded so often that when it rains, the road is lower than the country side so it becomes a creek in places.
Driving on it and all roads simply requires attention and travel at the neccessary speed. The vehicle needsto be in good cndition and you need to have a plan to get yourself out of any situation.
I think the Tanami is a doodle. You dont. I dislike driving on the Monash and find city driving more demanding. You may find that easy! We are all different.
FollowupID: 635355

Follow Up By: Member - AJB (VIC) - Sunday, May 31, 2009 at 19:18

Sunday, May 31, 2009 at 19:18
And kim the reason we went around lake gregory, probably 20 odd times, was because the Sturt was too high on the Tanami. Therefore we were avoiding the flood water. The station tracks around Lake gregory are pretty easy. The locals use commodores and Mitsubishi Express Vans on them. We dont take a compass bearing and drive in that direction and say bad luck what is in between. We also don't roar thru the place like we are in a bull catcher.
Keeping the car on the road, most get into trouble when they head off the road because there is water on it. The roads generally have a firmer base than the surrounding countryside and i have pulled many back onto the road because they have done that. How many times have we travelled the Tanami (all or part of)? Probably 40 or 50 or 60 times maybe more. Did about 60,000kms on one ute out there and then more in the troopy. Big K's but lots of work related travel and big k's on every 3rd weekend (3 weeks on 1 weekend off roster). That was generally a trip to Alice or kunnunurra or Broome if we felt like a swim.
What a life it was!!!!
FollowupID: 635415

Reply By: Member - Nick (TAS) - Sunday, May 31, 2009 at 09:33

Sunday, May 31, 2009 at 09:33
Its all to do with speed.If its rough and corrigated, go slow to reduce any possible damage.
We will be coming back along the Tanami in August(3rd trip along it) as I really thing the highway is so boring and take rough off road tracks every time.First trip took three days, it was very bad and corrigated so we went slow- no damage.Next time we did it in a day and a half, very good with only a couple of rough spots, again no damage.
I carnt say if your van would make it but driven to the right conditions it should.
AnswerID: 367717

Reply By: Member - Oldbaz. NSW. - Sunday, May 31, 2009 at 09:35

Sunday, May 31, 2009 at 09:35
We travelled the Tanami in early April in 07 towing a C/t & had no trouble at all.
Sure it can be corrugated in parts & the last 50k on the WA side was 30kph
stuff. Getting up to date info can be difficult & it may well be closed that early
in the season. No one in Alice was very helpful so ring the TilmouthWell Road
House before you leave. There seems to be a trend on the forum to advise
against the Tanami but I still believe it is an iconic journey, an excellent short cut, & ,if done slowly you will not find it difficult. In 07 it could have been done
in any 2wd sedan. Ensure you have adequate fuel & take your time & you will
find it a rewarding experience. We first travelled it in 1990 & it wasnt much
different in 07. By the way, it is not 2000k, more like 1100, & can be easily
done with one overnight camp......oldbaz.
AnswerID: 367718

Reply By: Leroy - Sunday, May 31, 2009 at 09:39

Sunday, May 31, 2009 at 09:39
We went up the Tanami towing an offroad trailer at the beginning of last month (April). The NT side is better than the WA side and the WA side prob was rougher towards the end. Some sections were being worked on ie graded and a new bridge constructed but in all you could tow your camper if you drive to the conditions. I don't know that I would risk the damage on that sort of camper personally but generally I thought the road was a lot better than I was expecting.

AnswerID: 367720

Reply By: wild dog - Sunday, May 31, 2009 at 16:05

Sunday, May 31, 2009 at 16:05
I don't know how relevant the following info is as it was in 2000 that I worked in Kununnurra as a mechanic. Maybe the road has been sealed since then.

A customer had bought an " OFF Road" CT especially made in Adelaide for off road conditions. When he finally arrived in Kununurra both shock absorbers had been destroyed and the mount on the left side was broken.
The road at that time was atrocious and he was lucky to get there without breaking a spring.

As for thoughts/ suggestions, as one reply states sometimes the slower pace means a quicker result with less expense and trouble.
AnswerID: 367780

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