Brisbane to Kimberley via Ularu

Submitted: Sunday, Feb 07, 2010 at 09:52
ThreadID: 75839 Views:5293 Replies:6 FollowUps:7
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Hi Everyone, my first post. Am planning to travel to The Kimberley beginning of April
Wanting to get feed back from experienced travellers who have travelled this route (or legs of this route):

Travelling west to Windorah then taking the Diamantina Development Rd to Bedourie then on to Boulia to the Donohue Hwy / Plenty Hwy to Alice Springs to Uluru. Hubby is thinking of a short cut from Uluru to Kings Canyon then to the Tanami Road (not sure about this) to Northern Hwy > Fitzroy Crossing > Windjana Gorge Rd > Gibb River Road > Kununurra an back via the bitumen if time permits going to Kakadu (have 10 weeks) long service leave from work.

Our main concerns are the channel country crossing, the simpson desert, Tanami and Gibb River Road.

any advice regarding road conditions, fuel stops, overnight camps would be appreciated.
We have a diesel Maverick towing a camp trailer.

Regards Kim
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Reply By: Willem - Sunday, Feb 07, 2010 at 10:10

Sunday, Feb 07, 2010 at 10:10

April May might be a tad early for the Kimberley op check on road conditions as you ytravel. It depends entirely how much rain has fallen durihng the WET

Channel Country should be OK by April. Roads are pretty good gravel or bitumen

You will only skirt the Simpson Desert taking the Donoghue and Plenty Hwy's. That road is OK as long as you drive to conditions and carry enough fuel from Boulia to Jervois Station(first fuel stop along the way)

From Kings Canyon you can take the Mereenie Loop Road to Hermannsburg or turn off just before and go to Gosse Bluff, Tyler Pass and then Haasts Bluff to Pupunya Road. Then turn right along that road towards Tanami Road. Once again check the distances for your fuel usage. Probably easier to go via Alice Springs from KK

The Tanami Road should be OK but may be severely corrugated in places and this apllies to the Gibb River road as well

You may check out Road Conditions through this site


AnswerID: 403062

Follow Up By: kimlee - Sunday, Feb 07, 2010 at 10:21

Sunday, Feb 07, 2010 at 10:21
Thanks Willem for your very promp reply, Will be keeping fingers crossed that it is not to early for the Kimberlys. We have a long range tank, but will be working out the km between fuel stops taking into consideration the road conditions for fuel useage,

FollowupID: 672559

Reply By: Member - Chris D (Newcastle) - Sunday, Feb 07, 2010 at 10:15

Sunday, Feb 07, 2010 at 10:15
Hi Kim,

Your plans look great, just be aware that rain will cause havock with some of the outback roads you will travel, especially Plenty Hway, around Alice, Tanimi and in the Kimberleys. If there is rain just before your trip amend your route to stay on the tar. If it rains while on the road, stop and wait until the road dries out, may take a few days or a week.

I am sure you will have no issues in the Channel Country and unless you head south of the Plenty Hway you will have no issues with Simpson D. As for the Tanami and GRR, slow and steady is the best advice. These roads are dirt and gravel and if not graded recently can be rutted.

When travelling these roads speaking with travellers from the opposite direction is usually a good source of advice.

One place to stay is Gem Tree on Plenty Hwy. When at Ularu, if you are there a few days try heading west along Docker River Rd for about 30-40km from Olgas, then make your way back towards Olgas and Ularu as the sun goes down towards the horizon, magnificent.


AnswerID: 403064

Follow Up By: kimlee - Sunday, Feb 07, 2010 at 10:27

Sunday, Feb 07, 2010 at 10:27
thanks Chris
Almost forgot about the Olgas. comunication is one of the areas I am still checking out, and am bogged down with narrowing the places we want to see so any info on the best spots would be great.

FollowupID: 672561

Reply By: Member - John and Val - Sunday, Feb 07, 2010 at 11:06

Sunday, Feb 07, 2010 at 11:06
Hi Kim,

Sounds like a great trip. Remember that Jervois on the Plenty Hway only takes cash.

Recommended Kimberley and top end reading/info can be had from here. Also check out the blogs of others (ourselves included) who have been there in the last year or two for tips on great places to visit, campsites, road conditions etc.


J and V
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AnswerID: 403071

Follow Up By: kimlee - Sunday, Feb 07, 2010 at 11:39

Sunday, Feb 07, 2010 at 11:39
Thanks Val
Will add a note into my travel log in regard to Jervois only taking cash, that is a thing not many of us carry these days with all the plastics taking over. Will check out the blogs,
FollowupID: 672566

Reply By: Member - Jon W (Toowoomba QLD) - Sunday, Feb 07, 2010 at 12:30

Sunday, Feb 07, 2010 at 12:30
Hi Folks,

My wife & I did a very similar trip at the same time of year in 2006 in a 3.0 L Patrol towing a CT. A couple of thoughts and suggestions.

1. If you would like a copy of our itinerary you are more than welcome to it. If you provide an email address I will fwd it to you.

2. If you would like to save some time and kms, I would suggest bypassing Windorah and Bedourie and going Charleville - Winton - Boulia. Now, in Apr 2006, the Georgina R was in flood and this cut the Donohue Hwy and Bedourie was isolated also. By ringing Glenormiston Station we were able to get a heads up on the fact that the road was definitely impassable and so went to plan B which was Mt Isa - Barkly Homestead - Three Ways -Alice.

3. When we finally hit the GRR, we went west to east. Now it was only just opening up after the wet. Each day on ABC radio, the driver of the GRR Bus would call in to give a report on the water depth at the Durack and Pentecost Rivers. The reported depths started at about 1 m but gradually fell each day to 600 mm at our times of crossing which was managed quite comfortably.

4. The condition of the GRR varied considerably from 80 kph 2wd to 1st gear H 4wd crawls over exposed large gibbers.

5. Are you including The Bungles? Well worthwhile if you are that close.

6. Have you considered joining Top Tourist and BIG 4. You will recoup your memberships easily with discounts.

7. The conditions on the Tanami varied greatly also. I think I recall seeing on this forum that Rabbit Flat was closing. If it is still open in Apr, you will need to check the opening times.

Enjoy your trip. We did 21000 km in ten weeks.

Hope this is of some use.


Jon W
AnswerID: 403084

Follow Up By: kimlee - Sunday, Feb 07, 2010 at 15:03

Sunday, Feb 07, 2010 at 15:03
Thanks Jon
a copy of your itinerary would be great, not sure how to send you my email address as I am only a visitor to this forum.

We were thinking about going the Diamatina development Rd as my hubby used to work in the channel country area in his youth,

If we have to follow the bituman it will be tham a matter of doing a plan C:

Yes we will be taking in the Bungles, and consider joining the Top Tourist and Big 4
Thanks Again great advice


FollowupID: 672597

Follow Up By: Member - Jon W (Toowoomba QLD) - Sunday, Feb 07, 2010 at 15:17

Sunday, Feb 07, 2010 at 15:17
Email me at
FollowupID: 672601

Reply By: Barnesy - Sunday, Feb 07, 2010 at 13:17

Sunday, Feb 07, 2010 at 13:17
As others have said the conditions of the Tanami and GRR are dependant on rains during the wet season. I would especially check the Tanami because if you are stuck there for a week or so, or had to turn back because the road was blocked, it wouldn't be much fun. At least if you are stuck on the GRR there will be things to do and other people around if you get into trouble.

Last year the Tanami was actually officially closed on the WA side right up until mid April due to wet season rains.

If the GRR is passable April/May it is the best time to go. Early in the season there won't be many tourists yet and there will be plenty of water around. But the road won't have been graded yet, but it's a small price.
AnswerID: 403094

Follow Up By: Barnesy - Sunday, Feb 07, 2010 at 13:18

Sunday, Feb 07, 2010 at 13:18
Forgot to say, make sure you get to Purnululu NP (Bungles) whilst you are over there.
FollowupID: 672590

Reply By: gelatr- Sunday, Feb 07, 2010 at 22:19

Sunday, Feb 07, 2010 at 22:19
Hi Kimlee,

We did pretty much the identical trip last Sept/Oct except we went from Winton to Boulia. I found the Plenty Hwy to be pretty rough (corrugations), I even wondered if they owned a grader in NT at one stage.

I did the short cut from Uluru to Kings Canyon and on to the Tanami. I found the tracks between Kings Canyon and the Tanami track pretty good. The country was also very picturesque - well worth the trip. The Tanami was quite good on the NT side but slow going on the WA side.

As far as the Kimberley was concerned it was easy going on the Gibb River Rd. The Rd to Kalumburu was just graded so it was excellent. The road into Mitchell Falls wasn't great, but it was still well worth the trip.

None of the roads you have mentioned as concerns are difficult from a 4wd perspective, they just get badly corrugated. As long as you drive to the conditions and carry enough fuel you will be fine.

Having said all of this I did the trip towards the end of the dry season so I can't comment on what the conditions in the Kimberley will be like during April/May.

We had a fantastic trip and I am sure you will have a great time.


AnswerID: 403185

Follow Up By: kimlee - Monday, Feb 08, 2010 at 06:41

Monday, Feb 08, 2010 at 06:41
Thanks Geoff

All I have read has me asking the same re a grader, Have been working out all the KM between towns etc, we have a long range take so should be ok, willl still carry some fuel.Mitchell falls isone of the places I have my must see list.


FollowupID: 672687

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