Road Conditions!!!! How long is a piece of string?

Submitted: Thursday, Jan 07, 2010 at 18:41
ThreadID: 74969 Views:2914 Replies:7 FollowUps:11
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I started this topic because I wanted to get some idea on the quality or otherwise of one of the roads that considering taiking on a trip that I'm currently planning. Looking up the desired destination in a popular camping guide, access over my chosen route is described as "rough dirt track". Now this got me thinking, what's someones rough dirt track might be someones reasonably good access road. My question is- How do people classify their roads.
Ie Give a name and your classification.
I'll start
E.G.
Gibb River Rd. -Good outback road well maintained.



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Reply By: Member - Graham H (QLD) - Thursday, Jan 07, 2010 at 18:48

Thursday, Jan 07, 2010 at 18:48
Well when I was in Karajini I remarked to the tour driver how bad the corrugations were.

he said these arent bad it was graded 3 weeks ago.

I asked when will it get done next , he reckoned not for a couple of months.

So the day after the grader went through it could be described as a good gravel road well graded.

3 weeks late it was good gravel road with some bad corrugations.

6 weeks later the corrugations probably could be described as horrendous


What I am getting at is that it depends entirely dependant on when you go.

What may be great this week possibly wont be in 2 weeks time.



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Follow Up By: Member - Allan B (QLD) - Thursday, Jan 07, 2010 at 18:52

Thursday, Jan 07, 2010 at 18:52
Then perhaps it could be "Unsealed road, subject to corrugations and loose stones"?

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Allan

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Follow Up By: Member - Graham H (QLD) - Thursday, Jan 07, 2010 at 19:02

Thursday, Jan 07, 2010 at 19:02
To keep things short that would apply to most of them wouldnt it.


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Follow Up By: Member - Allan B (QLD) - Thursday, Jan 07, 2010 at 20:30

Thursday, Jan 07, 2010 at 20:30
Yep, and that's how most of them are.

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Allan

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Reply By: Michael ( Moss Vale NSW) - Thursday, Jan 07, 2010 at 18:56

Thursday, Jan 07, 2010 at 18:56
Is it all that important?? It should be part of the challenge and adventure.. Just take the roads as they come.. Michael
Patrol 4.2TDi 2003

Retired 2016 and now Out and About!

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Get out and do something instead!

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Follow Up By: long haired nomad - Thursday, Jan 07, 2010 at 19:30

Thursday, Jan 07, 2010 at 19:30
Yes Michael i totally agree with you.
So much has been written about the Gibb River Road over the last few years, stories like, its a car wrecker , tyre shredder, shockie buster etc etc.
Ive travelled over it for the past 5 years in a row, 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009, and each time i did it in both directions, with 3 trips to Mitchell Falls. Usually as soon as it opens before the grader has gone through. And i done it four times in the 1990's. And not once have i had any mechanical problems at all.
All you have to do is DRIVE TO THE CONDITIONS. Its as simple as that. Forget about reducing tyre pressures, ive always run highway pressure never had a puncture in 25 years of outback travel.
The only thing that will cause you problems is the river heights mainly the Durack and Pentecost Rivers and thats only early in the season and tour buses. They own the road if you didnt know or they like to think they do.
But like Michael said, its all part of the adventure and drive to the conditions.
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Follow Up By: Member - Timbo - Friday, Jan 08, 2010 at 14:10

Friday, Jan 08, 2010 at 14:10
I agree - some people seem to think they should be able to drive everywhere at 110km/h (or more) like they do on the freeway. Of course those people will find a lot of dirt roads to be "horrendous".

When I travelled GRR in May 2007, it was very smooth apart from the occasional section that had washed out since the grader went through. We even saw a 2WD Magna that made it east as far as the Durack River! :-)
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Reply By: Fatso - Thursday, Jan 07, 2010 at 19:01

Thursday, Jan 07, 2010 at 19:01
There would be an Australian or maybe an international Road Condition Rating System in place for sure.
Just about everything you can think of has a rating standard that applies to it. Roads would be no different.

Can anyone find it?
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Follow Up By: disco driver - Thursday, Jan 07, 2010 at 19:52

Thursday, Jan 07, 2010 at 19:52
No, but here's my assessments of the various road types in Australia.
Toll and Freeways.....Mobile Vehicle parking areas
Major Highways.....Blacktop, drivable in any roadworthy vehicle
Secondary Highways..... Blacktop, most vehicles can travel on these
Connecting Roads.... Blacktop, not suitable for anything overwidth or low ground clearance
Minor roads..... Blacktop, not suitable for most vehicles.
Major Gravel roads.... Suitable for most vehicles especially immediately after grader run, may deteriorate with corrugations becoming severe after heavy traffic.
Minor gravel roads.... Generally badly corrugated but can be OK immediately after a grader run. Not suitable for small city type vehicles, some softroaders or most caravans
Good Track..... Rough natural surface, drivable by all 4wd's, off road caravans and camper trailers, may require some 4wd driving.
Poor Track.... Extremely rough natural surface, drivable by serious 4wd's and well designed off road campers, much 4wd driving.
Cross Country..... Remote areas, no clearly discernable track, Scrub intrusion onto trackline, extreme conditions with high risk of vehicle damage. Not suitable for solo excursions with out considerable experience.

Of course adverse weather conditions can cause flooding, washouts or dust problems at any time.

If Government funding is increased all but Toll and Freeways may improve just a little bit, but don't hold your breath on that one.


Disco.
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Reply By: Notso - Thursday, Jan 07, 2010 at 19:52

Thursday, Jan 07, 2010 at 19:52
Going along with my theory that there are no "Bad Roads" in Aus, then all roads should be labelled as good, providing you drive to the conditions!!!

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Reply By: Trevor R (QLD) - Thursday, Jan 07, 2010 at 20:19

Thursday, Jan 07, 2010 at 20:19
If one can pull a caravan down the "rough dirt track" how bad can it be? What rough dirt track are you talking about and I almost bet someone has dragged a trailer of some description up or down it and in that case just drive to the conditions presented to you with a well equipped, good touring rig then you should have few difficulties.

GRR- point in question, too numerous caravans on it each year to call it anything else other than a "good outback road".

Cheers, Trevor.
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Follow Up By: Inland Sailor - Thursday, Jan 07, 2010 at 20:42

Thursday, Jan 07, 2010 at 20:42
The road in question is the alternative access to Millstream Chichester N.P. Via Pannawonica. Its in Camps 5 that this route is described as a "rough dirt track".

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Follow Up By: equinox - Friday, Jan 08, 2010 at 00:50

Friday, Jan 08, 2010 at 00:50
Ahh...I did that one early last year - Good dirt track!!!



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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Friday, Jan 08, 2010 at 00:59

Friday, Jan 08, 2010 at 00:59
Was certainly a good road when we went through (years ago), but bear in mind Camps 5 is aimed principally at caravaners, of which the majority have "best not to take off the bitumen at all" models, so the comment may be valid in context.

Mh
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Follow Up By: Trevor R (QLD) - Friday, Jan 08, 2010 at 08:33

Friday, Jan 08, 2010 at 08:33
I trust this answers your question Inland Sailor.

Regards, Trevor.
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Reply By: Motherhen - Friday, Jan 08, 2010 at 00:42

Friday, Jan 08, 2010 at 00:42
Certainly all subjective Inland Sailor, and can change by the day; smooth the day the grader goes across and terrible one week later.

Some years ago when my city born and bred nephew got his first 4wd, and was looking for 4wd adventures as he followed the coastline in progressive holidays. His 4wd guide showed some dirt roads as hard 4wd tracks. He commented to me "They would probably assess my driveway as difficult and yours as severe". Maybe the author went across these after a lot of rain when they could be rather different, or maybe he thought he was talking to city drivers with less experience than my then teenage nephew.

We have met campers that have been on a dirt road saying it was terrible and the worst road of their trip, on a road that we found good. One of these my husband had particularly enjoyed as he could look at the scenery instead of all eyes on the road for ruts and bull dust holes. We can only compare when their trip was made at a similar time to ours - although the few days gap could have made quite a difference. Another of these was the GRR - our assessment was mostly good, because we were early in the season and the graders were still working in some places. A week later with seven days of the July rush out there, another caravaner told us it was the worst road he had ever been on. Certainly the conditions had changed due to volume and speed of traffic, but the other person also admitted not having done a lot of dirt road travel.

So to answer your question - a few examples of the more well known ones we went on and as we found them 'on the day':

GRR good.Kalumburu road good where graded, but slow; where not graded - extremely slow (stone base not corrugations).

Tanami WA side; Nearest top Halls Creek very good because they were re-aligning the road and it was mostly new or freshly cut detours. However someone who went through through 12 months after us found that section the worse of the whole road. Track into Wolf Creek Crater; corrugated. Rest of WA Tanami to NT border with the exception of a few kms at a mine site - terrible. NT side of Tanami pretty good, but underlying corrugations most of the way which adds up to a lot of corrugations. The area around the mines were good as they had graded - whereas a couple of months earlier someone rolled their caravan along this same stretch after hitting a rut hidden in bull dust in a badly corrugated patch.

Mereenie Loop, annoyingly corrugated although graded a week or so prior.

Road to Chamber Pillar; South road good, road to the Pillar after Maryvale the worst of the trip (sandy patches and corrugated patches).

Great Central Road NT side good - the grade had just been through. The WA side; variable from good to badly corrugated.

Gary Junction Road; Quite good, although corrugated in patches, nothing severe.

Road from Stuart Highway (near Wauchope) to Davenport Ranges - good; hard and stony. Section (part of Binns Track) south from Epenarra Station to the Old Police Station Waterhole turnoff - sandy and not the easiest for towing.

As were are towing, we will assess roads more harshly than if we weren't.

Most inland roads are corrugated, and as the grader skims and leaves the base corrugations, it is only days before it changes back to the corrugated road.

Most of the others we have been on fall somewhere in between - nothing really nasty, just a road to take it easy on. We have been on far worse corrugations, but when on shorter sections it is not so significant.

Some of the hardest to tow on (with our long tow vehicle) were roads including highways in north central Qld - bitumised but with subsidence causing the rig to 'rock' - worse than driving on corrugations.

Motherhen

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Follow Up By: Member - Min (NSW) - Friday, Jan 08, 2010 at 11:41

Friday, Jan 08, 2010 at 11:41
Motherhen,

I was very interested in your assessment which seemed to me spot-on. And I agree wholeheartedly with your last paragraph - just because a road is bitumen doesn't mean it's a good to drive on.

As for well used roads such as GCR and GRR etc. you just have to wait and see when you get there. All depends on when the grader last went through.

Min
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Reply By: long haired nomad - Friday, Jan 08, 2010 at 20:57

Friday, Jan 08, 2010 at 20:57
I remember the very first trip to the Kimberleys we made. We pulled into Turkey Creek about 1am to fuel up and heading into The Bungle Bungles. The chick filled the Hilux asked were we were heading,i said the Bungles. She said were mad, it'll take you about 2.5 to 3 hrs to get in at this time of night very rough she said. It took me 45 minutes from the highway to the rangers hut. The good thing about traveling at night is you can see headlights coming miles away.
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