Mereenie Loop Rd and Namatjira Drive in Falcon?

Planning a 3 week trip to NT in June/July. I will be traveling in Falcon wagon AU 2002, I have extra strong springs in the back to lift it up a little, and I will be towing my dad’s ultimate camper trailer.
One part of the trip I am planning is from Ayers rock to Kings Canyon ( Luritja Rd - Ernest Giles Rd) then to Goose Bluff and Redbank Gorge (Mereenie Loop Rd and Namatjira Drive) and then to Alice.
My question is, will I run into problems on the Merrenie loop road and Namatjira Drive.
Now I have traveled a lot (if anybody seen Top Gear Bolivia challenge, I have done those roads for 15 years in 2wd but not in a Falcon, but in VW) on bad roads (in South America and Caribbean), but with smaller 2WD and without trailer. And I know how destructive corrugation can be, however my main worry is mud and sand; are there any sand dunes or deep sand on that road? I gather it is fairly dry on June/July so mud should not worry me right? I have seen all the pictures published on Google Earth, and the roads seem fairly OK, except for potholes and corrugation. Are there any steep climbs with loose sand along the way?
Any suggestions or tips would be greatly appreciated

Thanks
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Reply By: Motherhen - Thursday, Feb 04, 2010 at 21:10

Thursday, Feb 04, 2010 at 21:10
When we went through in 2008, no sand problems on the Mereenie Loop; just the corrugations. Nothing we needed 4wd for. Namatjira Drive is bitumen.

Motherhen
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Follow Up By:- Thursday, Feb 04, 2010 at 21:24

Thursday, Feb 04, 2010 at 21:24
Thanks, that is good to hear, but from the pcitures and maps, it seems that Namatjira is not bituman, I think the bitumen ends at Glen Helen
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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Thursday, Feb 04, 2010 at 21:50

Thursday, Feb 04, 2010 at 21:50
When we got there 2008, we were pleased to find bitumen which we hadn't expected. Except for a couple of short patches, black all the way to Mereenie Loop.

Mh
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Follow Up By:- Thursday, Feb 04, 2010 at 21:52

Thursday, Feb 04, 2010 at 21:52
Sounds good then :-), thanks again
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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Friday, Feb 05, 2010 at 00:56

Friday, Feb 05, 2010 at 00:56
Happy to be of assistance, but can you give yourself a name please? It is a bit hard talking to a "name not found".

Mh
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Follow Up By: LoveEmptyRoads - Friday, Feb 05, 2010 at 08:48

Friday, Feb 05, 2010 at 08:48
Ok, sorry did not notice that it did not take the name
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Reply By: Willem - Thursday, Feb 04, 2010 at 21:33

Thursday, Feb 04, 2010 at 21:33
Nah, yer'll be riht...the locals drive those roads every day in Falcons


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Follow Up By: Off-track - Thursday, Feb 04, 2010 at 22:57

Thursday, Feb 04, 2010 at 22:57
The Yuendumu Flagon Wagon.
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Follow Up By: Rockape - Friday, Feb 05, 2010 at 08:43

Friday, Feb 05, 2010 at 08:43
I think Willem will back me up,

it has to be a red falcon station wagon or a red Pajero
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Follow Up By: Willem - Friday, Feb 05, 2010 at 16:35

Friday, Feb 05, 2010 at 16:35
Or a Red Nissan.....LOL



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Reply By: Rangiephil - Thursday, Feb 04, 2010 at 22:05

Thursday, Feb 04, 2010 at 22:05
Yeah, you actually have the Alice Mercedes . Parts are readily available at the side of the road or at Hermannsberg etc although EA-EB etc seems most popular.

I was there in Setember 2008 and the bitumin had just been extended from Glen Helen to the Loop . On the Hermannsberg rd it went to Hermannsberg.


My only advice would be to take spare centrebolts for both the car and the trailer and check the centrebolts and tightness of the U bolts at regular intervals. The common failure seems to be broken centre bolt,springs move, tyre grabs guard, main leaf breaks, axle swings 90degrees.

Make sure you have good shocks and rest them every now and then.

Maybe buy a sheet of perspex/cardboard and cover the tailgate window of the Falcon.
Regards Philip A
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Follow Up By: LoveEmptyRoads - Friday, Feb 05, 2010 at 09:17

Friday, Feb 05, 2010 at 09:17
Thanks for the tips, my South American Explorer (VW Brasilia) had problems with accelerator cables, and carburetors falling off (had two one for tow cylinders), once the whole back wheel (including brake drum) overtook me, however it was very simple car to fix in a bush – wires and tape would usually do the trick (based on VW beetle), so I am not sure how Falcon will fare on lousy roads.
Regards
David
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Reply By: get outmore - Friday, Feb 05, 2010 at 04:27

Friday, Feb 05, 2010 at 04:27
back in the "good ol days (not) " these 4wd only tracks were our normal roads we travelled in kingswoods,falcons and valiants . they didnt close the roads if 1/4 of a mill fell 200ks away

so yea basically thats a highway compared to what usedto pass as a road

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Follow Up By: LoveEmptyRoads - Friday, Feb 05, 2010 at 09:32

Friday, Feb 05, 2010 at 09:32
Yep I know all about real roads, here are some pics from some of my trips when I lived in South America in my good old VW. Now days everybody has 4x4 to go shopping. Unfortunately in all 15 years I was in SA I had no 4x4, but I could get to most places :-). Just deep rivers, deep mud and deep sand were bit of a problem.


















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Follow Up By: Fred G NSW - Friday, Feb 05, 2010 at 10:12

Friday, Feb 05, 2010 at 10:12
Great pics there mate...

Sensational....Thanks for sharing.

Fred.
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Follow Up By: Kanga1 - Friday, Feb 05, 2010 at 14:02

Friday, Feb 05, 2010 at 14:02
Hi there what kind of car is THAT, I want one, just the job for the the wifes shopping or the French Line. LOL. Cheers, Kanga1
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Follow Up By: LoveEmptyRoads - Friday, Feb 05, 2010 at 14:14

Friday, Feb 05, 2010 at 14:14
VW brasilia,
I have modified it a bit, it has seats from old Toyota, the front is lifted a bit too, some welding reinforced the chassis when started to crack (driving or rather jumping on rocky roads does not help). Easy to fix and cheap to maintain. It had no heating which was only a problem high in the mountains when I had to scrape the ice of the inside of my windscreen before the sun came out and temperature went over zero again. Speed was about 80Km/h max, then it became rather unstable due to the modifications I made to it, but even before those it would never go past 100km/h. I love the car, it is still parked in a garage in Bolivia, I have no heart to get rid of it.
My was bit more scarce 4 door version with two carburetors


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volkswagen_Brasilia
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Follow Up By: Rockape - Friday, Feb 05, 2010 at 18:23

Friday, Feb 05, 2010 at 18:23
Thanks for the photo's, they are magic.

Have a good one
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Follow Up By: Rockape - Friday, Feb 05, 2010 at 18:41

Friday, Feb 05, 2010 at 18:41
Thanks for the photo's, they are magic.

Have a good one
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Follow Up By: get outmore - Wednesday, Feb 10, 2010 at 19:14

Wednesday, Feb 10, 2010 at 19:14
Thats great really shows the kids that think they need 6 inches of lift and 40 inch tyres just to drive up and down the powerlines at the back of perth something
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Reply By: Member - Mark (Tamworth NSW) - Friday, Feb 05, 2010 at 08:00

Friday, Feb 05, 2010 at 08:00
G'day

We did it last year in a Pajero towing a Kimberl;y Kamper without blinking.
I would drive the Meerenie Loop in an AU (that's our second car) but only if there was just one passenger and not towing anything and driving at 50km/hr

Absolutely no way would I drive it towing something as heavy as n Ultimate or Kimberly. Can it be done, yes if you go slowly enough, but you'll pay for it one way or another.

What's the tow ball weight of an Ultimate, 100kg? You won't need any spares for the Ultimate but it will put enormous strain on the Ford
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Follow Up By: LoveEmptyRoads - Friday, Feb 05, 2010 at 09:35

Friday, Feb 05, 2010 at 09:35
Hmmm. well I think I will risk it, I have only one car and most likely only one chance to get there so I will take it easy adn go for it.
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Reply By: Member - Bucky - Friday, Feb 05, 2010 at 08:35

Friday, Feb 05, 2010 at 08:35
You will be ok Mate !

Falcons are basically the only vehicle " the brothers" use

there should be heaps of spares, up that way too !

Cheers
Bucky
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Follow Up By: LoveEmptyRoads - Friday, Feb 05, 2010 at 09:35

Friday, Feb 05, 2010 at 09:35
OK!!!
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Reply By: Alloy c/t - Friday, Feb 05, 2010 at 10:28

Friday, Feb 05, 2010 at 10:28
Dont forget to buy your permit to travel the loop , it is very important , the permit funds the signage on the loop that states "please respect our land by not littering" , you will then laugh or cry at the mountains of red[midstrength] or green[ vb] cans lovingly left at the roadside.
Ford Falcon do it easy brother , falcon like eagle we got in Australia , we got no lion like dem holden fellows recon.
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Follow Up By: LoveEmptyRoads - Friday, Feb 05, 2010 at 10:53

Friday, Feb 05, 2010 at 10:53
Yes it is all very logical, I will drive up (I will be coming from VIC) from Ayers Rock to Alice to get the Permit so that I can drive back down to do it, excellent idea. It must have taken a whole committee couple of weeks to come up with that one. And I hear that you cannot even stop anywhere, do you get a fine if you stop in other then the designated area?
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Reply By: Motherhen - Friday, Feb 05, 2010 at 13:05

Friday, Feb 05, 2010 at 13:05
Hi Love Empty Roads

Nice pictures and nice to have a name for us to address you with L.E.R. Sure we used to do most of our travelling on worse roads before 4wds were common. Most people are only using 2wd on the 4wds anyway.

You will see more of the locals with Landcruisers than sedans these days, but there are sedans around Hermannsberg, and the well used area to the west of Hermannsberg is the worst patch, and the softest. Don't try pulling off the road along this stretch with a 2wd.

It shouldn't take much time getting to Kings Canyon. We went from Hermannsberg after spending a few days at Palm Valley which is worth a visit if you have time. However it took us all day as we helped people who had broken a spring on their camper trailer limp in. The camp ground at the Kings Canyon resort is very nice, and looks across to the range. The resort has recently changed hands so cannot comment on new management. Don't leave anything outside your rig, as the dingos will take it - even in the day time. They took our sullage hose from the sullage pit, but it didn't come free from the caravan.

Mh
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Follow Up By: LoveEmptyRoads - Friday, Feb 05, 2010 at 14:18

Friday, Feb 05, 2010 at 14:18
Hi Motherhen,
I do not blame the locals to have landcruisers (if you can afford them) I am sure they come essential now and then, what I dislike is to see a huge 4x4 in the city, that is driven once a year (if) 100 km along some gravel road and then it is pronounced as a great adventure.
There were plenty of those in South America, driven in the city to show off, and actually never made it to the bush.
If I would have landcruiser (two door) or at least Hilux, then there would be no stopping me :-) except for the wet.
Anyway, you mention Palm valley, looks good, but I gather that is one place where Falcon does not get to get, right?
One more question, I was thinking maybe of a small detour to Hassts Bluff – is this “falcon” road or need 4x4,
Thanks
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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Friday, Feb 05, 2010 at 15:38

Friday, Feb 05, 2010 at 15:38
Hi Love Empty Roads

Palm Valley is not as bad as your photos! We had no trouble getting in to the camp ground, although the track does cross the river bed a couple of times it was quite firm when we went there. This may change if the river has flowed. From the camp ground to the Valley of Palms needs high clearance. We had a few anxious moments with the length of the F250. However you can take an easy 4 km along the creek bed from the camp ground. There is still quite a walk along the Valley. The other walks go from the access road in.

Haast Bluff shouldn't present a problem if you come off the Tanami - others may have been that way to confirm. We came in from the West, and turned south to pass Haast Bluff which would be no problem for you, but the continuing road to meet the West MacDonnells road had a few rather sandy patches.

You will pass Gosse Bluff as you approach the Mereenie Loop. The access track to that probably would not be suitable for your Falcon. This impact crater has an interesting history of discovery as no meteorite fragments were found.

Mh
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Follow Up By: LoveEmptyRoads - Friday, Feb 05, 2010 at 20:16

Friday, Feb 05, 2010 at 20:16
Hi Motherhen,
What is the access track to Goose Bluff like? Sandy?
Cheers
LER
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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Friday, Feb 05, 2010 at 20:41

Friday, Feb 05, 2010 at 20:41
Hi LER

I don't recall it being sandy, just a pretty rough track, maybe a bit of high clearance needed. I wouldn't take a sedan on it.

Mh
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Follow Up By: Steve - Friday, Feb 05, 2010 at 21:50

Friday, Feb 05, 2010 at 21:50
MH,

did you take your BT to the camp ground alright? Is it mainly just rocky or ramp-over problems?

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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Friday, Feb 05, 2010 at 22:26

Friday, Feb 05, 2010 at 22:26
Palm Valley Steve?

Palm Valley was very easy to the camp ground when we went in 2008. No trailers to be taken beyond that with very good reason.

Mh
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Follow Up By: equinox - Friday, Feb 05, 2010 at 22:31

Friday, Feb 05, 2010 at 22:31
LER,

The track into Gosses Bluff is quite rocky - However I managed to get my small front wheel drive Toyota Corolla in all the way in 2004. You should have no dramas with a bigger sedan.

Cheers

Eq.
Looking for adventure.
In whatever comes our way.

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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Friday, Feb 05, 2010 at 22:35

Friday, Feb 05, 2010 at 22:35
Well if Equinox got there in a Corolla, you should be able to do it in a Falcon LER. I doubt that the track would have changed that much since 2004.

Mh
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Follow Up By: Steve - Friday, Feb 05, 2010 at 23:00

Friday, Feb 05, 2010 at 23:00
yep, sorry, Palm Valley - thanks MH.
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Follow Up By: LoveEmptyRoads - Saturday, Feb 06, 2010 at 19:28

Saturday, Feb 06, 2010 at 19:28
Ok I will probably leave the trailer down and drive up in a falcon and take it from there
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Follow Up By: Hairy (NT) - Sunday, Feb 07, 2010 at 14:14

Sunday, Feb 07, 2010 at 14:14
I was out at Palm Valley a couple of weeks ago....I wouldn't hesitate taking a 2wd and trailer in these days up to the camp ground . As long as you put your wheels in the right place you shouldn't have a problem. I did it years ago in a lowered Bedford van with a camper trailer and made it al-right, and the road was a lot worse then too.

Cheers
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Follow Up By: LoveEmptyRoads - Wednesday, Feb 10, 2010 at 17:53

Wednesday, Feb 10, 2010 at 17:53
Hairy,
You convinced me, i will try to drive to the campgraound with the falcon and the trailer, anybody thinks that it is a bad idea?
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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Wednesday, Feb 10, 2010 at 22:17

Wednesday, Feb 10, 2010 at 22:17
I'm sure you will have no problems getting to the camp ground LER.

Mh
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Follow Up By: LoveEmptyRoads - Wednesday, Feb 10, 2010 at 22:39

Wednesday, Feb 10, 2010 at 22:39
Ok will do, now I have to plan the other bits around Katherin and Kakadu :-), I only wish I had three month and Lancruiser :-(.
No offense MH, but at one stage I worked in mines in Bolivia (admin job in the city, but I had to visit them now and then), some of these were on raugh roads. The vehicles used in the mines were landcruiser pickup (terrrible ride, bad for your spine, especially if empty), and they would just keep going and going (and these guys would drive them like there was no tommorrow). Then we got a new Canadian director and he decided that Fords are the way to go, within six month they virtually fell apart. Back to Toyota we went. From my Bolivian experience I can tell you there is nothing like Toyota, then far second is Patrol and then the rest of the japanese bunch and then somewhere far far behind are the american cars (Fords, jeeps and chevrolets)
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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Wednesday, Feb 10, 2010 at 23:34

Wednesday, Feb 10, 2010 at 23:34
Hi LER

I totally agree with you. We have had lots of Landcruisers, and the models without coil springs (like our utes) are not good for my husbands bad back. We purchased a Patrol wagon, which gives a good ride. We went to a seminar today in the Patrol today - almost four hours driving there and return, and no discomfort, whereas this morning just feeding the sheep with the Cruiser my husband complained about his back.

We got the F250 because legally our Patrol auto gearbox wasn't rated to tow our caravan when loaded. the F250 lacks the finish of the Cruisers and Patrols, but is a very comfortable ride, as well as being more than adequate to tow our caravan, including on sandy tracks. Ours is the South American built model for the Australian market.

The main drawback with Landcruisers in Australia is that the body rusts out, and we don't even live near the coast. Transfer cases and gearboxes also let them down.

Mh
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Reply By: LoveEmptyRoads - Saturday, Feb 06, 2010 at 20:53

Saturday, Feb 06, 2010 at 20:53
I am not sure if I am going of the tangent a bit here, but going through my old photos just made me try to show off a little and share the nice places I have been in Bolivia with my VW,a and brings tears to my yes when I remember the exact spots and circumstances. Anyway here they are

This is just after I have changed the floor (yes you can buy new floor sheets)



I have also painted some bits and pieces nice blue - that air filters with the carburetors are the week link, they keep falling off on corrugations



It has been modified to be as high as it can gets





This is a road in the vicinity of lake Titicaca – highest lake in the world 3800m - failry rocky ride, I hsve driven it with a hired Patrol and one has to go really slowly otherwise you get spinal injuries, with the VW one can just fly over it.




Driving along a old inca trail with Lake Titicaca in the background



On a local ferry on the lake Titicaca



Going up to Chacaltaya, the highes sky lift in the world (5300m) That is the club house in the background, unfortunately the glacier melted away and there is no more skying there.



Road up to Chacaltaya



At the top of Chacaltaya with the left overs of the sky run - car has problems with power at 5300m, as there is very little oxygen



Going up into the Andes in vicinity of La Paz (Capital of Bolivia)



Few hundred meters higher up, at close to 5000m, very little vegetation, just rocks and clay, nut much of a road either



The road (or track rather) gets worse, a car has not passed here for a while



View from the highest point of the road (the track can be seen folloing the ridge line)



Another venture high into the moutains around La Paz, exploring some roads, this is end of one.



Another track leading to old mine - altitute around 4000m



End of yet another track, top of a ridge line at 5000m, the landscape is just fantastic. Got to the snow again - mind you La Paz is at latitute of 16 Deg 30' S which is bit more north then Cairns, but because you get so high you get snow in these moutains.







Bush camp near a town called Cochabamba, Bolivia



On a way to a Carrasco NP which is down in the lowlands water from here drains to Amazon



Driving through the southern some what arid lowlands north of the city of Santa Cruz, reminds me bit of Africa, even though I have enver been there.





took a while to get these out of the road



Did not have to cross a dry creek this time !!




Exploring some dry hills around locality of Samaipata (huge indian fortress listed as unesco herratege site)





Some emergency repairs - lsot some nuts and gearbox got loose



Got stuck in a sand again, crossing a river bank, took me a whiel to dig msylef out and winch myself out with a small hand winch. Used that log as an anchor (i tried the tire first, the winch can be seen next to the stick)
Amboro National Park near Santa Cruz




Hit a deep hole, going too fast and my steering rod got bend, needed to take it apart and use a hammer to get it back into shape. In my VW it is under the fuel tank, which is in the front, so that had to get out too, took only couple of hours.
Amboro NP




Back on the blacktop, and going to fast (80km/h) lost a whole wheel including the brak drum, the central nut hodling the wheel to the axel came off. Found the wheel in the bushes, then managed to hammer the whell back in the position, adn got a spare nut.




This is a pit stop in Santa Cruz after I have returned form the eastern amazon (some the pictures from that trip are in the previous post), after couple of thousands kilometers on a bad roads I hsve lumbered back to Santa Cruz, and had major repeiars done on the engine (changed cylindes and valves) but






Oh well I love (and sometimes hated) that car
Hope I am not offending anybody by posting these photos here even though they have nothing to do with the subject of the original psot


[
AnswerID: 403001

Follow Up By: Off-track - Saturday, Feb 06, 2010 at 23:02

Saturday, Feb 06, 2010 at 23:02
Absolutely nothing offensive there mate. Now THAT is the spirit of adventure that most here aspire to but few rarely see.

Very interesting.

Keep the pics coming!!!!
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Follow Up By: Steve - Sunday, Feb 07, 2010 at 03:05

Sunday, Feb 07, 2010 at 03:05
some fantastic stuff there mate - keep it coming and any tales of your trips would be interesting.
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Follow Up By: cycadcenter - Sunday, Feb 07, 2010 at 03:16

Sunday, Feb 07, 2010 at 03:16
KEEP THE PICS COMING.

This would have to be one of the BEST if not the best pictorial posts I've seen on the site.

Bruce
San Diego CA
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Reply By: Hairy (NT) - Sunday, Feb 07, 2010 at 14:24

Sunday, Feb 07, 2010 at 14:24
Gday,
No problems mate.
After looking at your photos, I reckon you would be able to get a 2wd through Boggy Hole! ( a VW that is......dont know about a ford!) lol

Cheers
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