Canning Stock Route & Camper-Trailers

Submitted: Friday, Oct 03, 2003 at 21:35
ThreadID: 7590 Views:9160 Replies:10 FollowUps:7
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Hi all,
A few months ago I posted a query about taking a CT on the CSR and received a number of replies generally to the effect that "you won't make it", and "you'll wreck the trailer" and "you'll wreck the CSR for others", and others in that vein.
Well, no doubt those replies were very well-intentioned, but nevertheless they were wrong.
We returned tonight from a 3-month trip to WA which included the CSR, and we had zero trouble taking our Kimberley Kamper up the track.
For anyone else contemplating taking a CT on the CSR, but apprehensive because of the ubiquitous comments like "you won't make it" and "you'll wreck the track for everyone else", following are some comments from someone who has taken a CT on the CSR, versus well-intentioned armchair experts who either haven't done so or made a mess of doing so.
You'll need a suitable and well-prepared car (mine is a #80 LC, petrol, with rear diff lock), a suitable and robust camper-trailer (eg, a KK), drop your tyre pressures (we ran 18 Front, 24 Rear and 18 KK), and take the sandhills slowly (we approached at 10-15kph and let the car crawl over the dunes). Result: no damage to tyres, to shocks, to springs and certainly no damage to the track (and a smooth ride for the passengers). We never looked like getting stuck and in some respects the whole trip was an anti-climax, there's so much hype as to how hard it is.

In my opinion the damage to the track is the result of excessive tyre pressures and/or excess speed. Many times we'd hear on the radio "... righto Fred, have another go and give it all you've got." Some of the approaches to the dunes looked like the East-West runway at Sydney airport, and the mind boggles at the prospect of hurling (hurling, not hurtling) a 2-3 ton vehicle at the dunes. No wonder they're chopped up.
The bottom half was more interesting than the top half: very colourful with all the wildflowers blooming, much more wildlife, the dunes were more interesting than the "flattish" country, and there was more water in the wells etc.
The Bungles were fantastic (the helicopter trip is out of this world), Cape Leveque was lovely (as usual), and so were the Karijini and Millstream NPs. Could rave on for ages.

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Reply By: Member - Richard- Saturday, Oct 04, 2003 at 01:04

Saturday, Oct 04, 2003 at 01:04
Well done and well said.

AnswerID: 32739

Reply By: JohnH - Saturday, Oct 04, 2003 at 18:05

Saturday, Oct 04, 2003 at 18:05
Common sense is an amazing thing. Shame they don't sell it hey. Can't blame the poor buggers though. I just hope these peopl listen to the advise of others (within reason). I am really glad you had a great trip. I know the type of country. The isolation is auxillerating (spelling?).


AnswerID: 32768

Reply By: Shaker - Saturday, Oct 04, 2003 at 19:01

Saturday, Oct 04, 2003 at 19:01
A friend of mine did the CSR twice with a well set up Dingo CT. Only problem he had was the electric brake mechanism rattled itself to pieces!
AnswerID: 32773

Reply By: Big John (QLD) - Saturday, Oct 04, 2003 at 20:22

Saturday, Oct 04, 2003 at 20:22
We arrived home yesterday after doing the Kimberleys, Canning, Gun Barrel, and Simpson (French line) also towing a KK Camper with a 100 series TD. Aso traveling with us was a Ultimate camper being towed by a 100 series V8.
What you say is exactly true, we tackled the dunes the same way as you, except we ran a little less preasure 18 psi front and 20 psi (hot). We did no damage to the dunes and in most cases rolled the sand flat leveing the dunes in better condition than we found them. Both campers performed great with no problems with either of cars or campers. The Cooper ST's on camper and car were also great, not one flat.
Unfortunatly people are treating all trailers the same and do not realise that there are now trailers that will handle these conditions and tow so well you don't even know that thay are there. As you would have seen there were abandened trailers on the Canning but all were very poor home built trailers ( one had a 50 x 50 tube draw bar and another had a 50 x 50 angle iron draw bar) these trailers compair to a KK like a billy cart to a Land Cruiser
I have just finished buffing out the scratches from the car and can not believe that they all buffed out.

Life Style Video Productions have made a Video of our treck down the Canning and this should be available for sale be Christmas.

Big John.
AnswerID: 32779

Follow Up By: Lockie - Saturday, Oct 04, 2003 at 22:07

Saturday, Oct 04, 2003 at 22:07
G'day Big ohn,

wouldn't mind getting one when it's released - can you let me know where they are going to be sold?

FollowupID: 23444

Follow Up By: Member-The Camel(Vic) - Sunday, Oct 05, 2003 at 03:42

Sunday, Oct 05, 2003 at 03:42
Gidday Big John, glad to hear that you had a great trip, I was
interested to know having read in previous posts that your L/C
has been tweaked, how did the vehicle perform, were there any
fuel consumption/overheating issues or the like. Regards to all
FollowupID: 23453

Follow Up By: Big John (QLD) - Sunday, Oct 05, 2003 at 21:36

Sunday, Oct 05, 2003 at 21:36
The video is being made by Lifestyle Video Productions and their web site is or Email If you give them a call and give them your details they will send you a copy when the have it finished. Also get a copy of their Cape York video it's great.

The power up was the best money I have spent, no problems at all. There was no sign up any temp rise , not even on the day that was 42deg. , not as much could be said for the Waco Fridges on the trip.
Fuel consumption was,
1. Highway and good offroad, (fully loaded with Camper, 265lts fuel and 180lts water) 18lts/100. (V8 used 24lts/100)
2. Offroad in sand dunes on the Canning and Simpson, 20lts/100. (V8 used 30lts/100.)
3. Normal round town (no load) 14lts/100. (V8 used ?)
TheTD Cruiser well out performed the V8 Cruiser which was loaded exactly the same. Credit must go the both cars as the weight af the campers and equipment was over 2 ton and both car still out performed several of the other cars not towing trailers.

Big John
FollowupID: 23478

Follow Up By: Lockie - Sunday, Oct 05, 2003 at 23:23

Sunday, Oct 05, 2003 at 23:23
Thanks for that, Big John, I'll certainly be doing that.

All the best,
FollowupID: 23489

Reply By: Greg - Sunday, Oct 05, 2003 at 11:55

Sunday, Oct 05, 2003 at 11:55
I am generally against towing trailers in remote areas where the road conditions are extreme but after reading this I am at least heartened that someone knows what they are doing because my experience is that only a very small percentage do and this is where the problem is. Having towed trailers in difficult terrain and the Canning is generally not difficult, I am still against it and would also argue that the effort required for a little extra comfort is not worth it.

Tyre pressures have the biggest influence and diff locks certainly make a big difference particularly if crawling up a dune. At the end of the day it all comes back to driver experience and prior knowledge of the track but even then the best drivers get it wrong occasionally. A well built trailer is essential and the less weight in the vehicle and trailer the better.

Congratulations for doing the right thing I hope all the other so called experts out there take note of what can be done with a lot of common sense and experience.
AnswerID: 32807

Reply By: Willie - Sunday, Oct 05, 2003 at 21:30

Sunday, Oct 05, 2003 at 21:30
Hello DickyBeach,
Yes I was one of those detractors who advised against taking a trailer on the Canning. From what I had seen of trailers being towed on the Canning I still stick to my original post that I think that it is inadvisable. BUT I am glad that you had a successful trip and no problems as you were well set up with the proper equipment and the proper tyre pressures. The Canning is a fantastic drive although for me, once is enough!
WillieNever a dull moment
AnswerID: 32841

Reply By: landie - Monday, Oct 06, 2003 at 13:18

Monday, Oct 06, 2003 at 13:18

Thanks for the informative post. We have a well prepared Defender (diff locks etc) and a KK trailer. We had been considering the merits of taking / not taking it.

What was your total fuel consumption for the CSR?

Do you have any other information prepared on the trip you did?

AnswerID: 32875

Follow Up By: Member - DickyBeach - Monday, Oct 06, 2003 at 13:46

Monday, Oct 06, 2003 at 13:46
My #80 was a thirsty beast and between Wiluna and Well 33 where we refuelled (a reliable, dry, community well managed by a couple of dedicated white people - and I'm not being racist here) I averaged 3.0 k/L, BUT
(1) I mostly used low range to crawl over the dunes to (a) ensure I got over easily and didn't have to reverse the KK down a dune and (b) didn't chop up the dunes in the process, and
(2) as we were away for 3 months we were heavily laden: Engel 60L fridge, 100L of onboard water (27L under the left sidestep and 70L in Engel tank behind the rear seats), food well in excess of CSR needs (wife must've thought there were no other shops outside of Sydney), extra spare tyre, carried 430L of petrol and so on.
Our travelling companions - #100 TDI also with Kimberley Kamper and similarly heavily laden averaged about 50% better.
So, to specifically answer your question I used 360 Litres petrol.
Actual driving time Wiluna to Halls Creek was 100 hours.
Lost count of the corrugations at 100 million.
Hope this helps - contact me on if you want further information.
FollowupID: 23512

Follow Up By: Graeme- Tuesday, Oct 14, 2003 at 15:46

Tuesday, Oct 14, 2003 at 15:46

I was with Dickybeach and another car on this great trip. I have a 100s t/d cruiser and keith has a traytop Defender which he set up with a bed,kitchen,storage etc - no trailer.My average fuel cons. was 4.3Km/l and Keith averaged around 6km/l. We took a trailer because we were going to be away for 3 months, and felt we might not have our wives for company if we camped all that time! As Dickybeach said we were a little hesitant, and made a joint decision to allow plenty of time, drive slowly and allow plenty of rest days. We also found that because of the extra weight on the tow hitch, which caused the car to bounce a little more than normal, we were not able to keep up with Keith, even though he was not driving fast. Taking a purpose built trailer such as a KK kept the wives happy, forced us to drive a little slower, with the end result that we had no damage to our vehicles, went over the dunes with relative ease, and had a great time.

FollowupID: 24237

Reply By: Member - Melissa - Tuesday, Oct 07, 2003 at 13:06

Tuesday, Oct 07, 2003 at 13:06

Good to hear you had a great trip. I know 2 people who have towed trailers up the CSR (a KK and Camprite TL8) and neither had any problems. We're hoping to do the CSR with freinds in 2 or 3 years. This mate has already done the CSR many times and reckons we'd have no problems towing our purpose-built offroad trailer. Even so, with so many people advising against trailers it does raise doubts in our minds so I'm happy to hear otherwise. I'm starting to get the impression that with the popularity of the CSR is not nearly as difficult a trip as many of us believe???

:o) MelissaPetrol 4.5L GU Patrol &
Camprite TL8 offroad camper
AnswerID: 32979

Follow Up By: Member - DickyBeach - Tuesday, Oct 07, 2003 at 14:20

Tuesday, Oct 07, 2003 at 14:20
Thanks Melissa,
The trick is to drive to the conditions.
As the conditions require low(er) tyre pressures then drop them - as previously stated I ran on 18/24/18 and our travelling companions (also with a KK) and #100tdi ran likewise.
As the conditions (and common sense) say to take the dunes quietly then do so - as stated previously we approached at 10-15kph and let the cars' automatic gearboxes do the work.
I frequently engaged low-range to be sure because I was petrol, while our companions, with their tdi's grunt, mostly went over in high-range albeit using the diff-locks whenever appropriate.
You have to ask yourself whether those advising against trailers have tried with trailers - ie, do they really know what they're talking about.
Good Luck, you'll enjoy it and it's not as hard as it's hyped up to be if you have the right vehicle, the right sort of camper (eg, suspension) and the right approach to driving in such conditions.
FollowupID: 23585

Reply By: Frank from Adventure Camping and Off Road Trailers - Wednesday, Oct 08, 2003 at 13:16

Wednesday, Oct 08, 2003 at 13:16
Well done DB ,
To many times I hear the same old story no you can't take a trailer here or there .
I recently read an article that said that the Merinee loop road from Kings Canyon to Alice Springs was not suitable for camper trailers . A friend of mine managed to drive his VK Commodore through here without any dramas at all so yes you do have to considor where some of this information is coming from ?
Buy a quality camper trailer and you will have no dramas getting into most places as you mention tyre pressure and driver knowledge is definately important .

Happy Travels & keep on towing .
AnswerID: 33115

Reply By: Member - Cocka - Wednesday, Oct 08, 2003 at 18:18

Wednesday, Oct 08, 2003 at 18:18
You tell'm luv.

Well said Dick.Carpe Diem
AnswerID: 33152

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