Suggestions please!

Submitted: Monday, Feb 22, 2010 at 08:20
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Howdy, my husband and our two kids aged 7 and 5 are heading off in July for our long awaited trip to the top end and back. We are leaving from Maitland and heading asap to Darwin, then across the top over to Cooktown. Was after a bit of info on what route to take up (any suggestions of places to see etc) and what the roads and facilities are like across the top via the Savannah Way. Any thoughts would be appreciated as i am just looking for a place to start. Woo Hoo we are all so excited.. Cheers Kristy :-)
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Reply By: Member - Oldbaz. NSW. - Monday, Feb 22, 2010 at 08:38

Monday, Feb 22, 2010 at 08:38
Hi Christy, I can appreciate your exitement over your trip. Maybe if you tell us what sort of vehicle & your camping status..eg towing a thumping van or a tent,
we may be able to better offer suggestions. cheers...oldbaz.
AnswerID: 405318

Follow Up By: Kristy.B - Monday, Feb 22, 2010 at 13:06

Monday, Feb 22, 2010 at 13:06
Thanks oldbaz, I was actually thinking that I should have included that information when I was on my way to work this morning. We are driving a Prado and towing a Jayco swan. Cheers Kristy
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Follow Up By: Member - Oldbaz. NSW. - Monday, Feb 22, 2010 at 17:36

Monday, Feb 22, 2010 at 17:36
How long have you got???....very important,should have asked before.....oldbaz.
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Follow Up By: Kristy.B - Monday, Feb 22, 2010 at 18:31

Monday, Feb 22, 2010 at 18:31
We are hoping for a full 4 months but at this stage it will be at least 3 1/2 months. I should have mentioned in my previous reply that we have an outback swan and expect to take it off road so that we can make the most of it.

Cheers
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Follow Up By: Member - Oldbaz. NSW. - Tuesday, Feb 23, 2010 at 11:44

Tuesday, Feb 23, 2010 at 11:44
Kristy, you have plenty of time to see the Centre, Top End & back through QLD.
While I see nothing wrong with Norms track, might I suggest you have time to be
a bit more expansive, particularly as you have expressed interest in getting a bit "Offroad". Try this on for size...Denman,Cassilis,Dunedoo,Dubbo, Cobar,
Bourke, Wanaring, Tibooburra,Innaminka,Birdsville, Maree, Oodnatatta, Uluru,
Kings Canyon, Mereenie Loop to Alice. Katherine. Turn right at Pine Creek, Kakadu,
Darwin. South to Daly Waters, east to Borroloola, Doomadgee, Lawn Hill, & then
your choice back through Qld. Might sound a long trip (it is) but quite easily done
in your time frame. Anyway..food for thought. plenty of good info on this site,
& google is your friend...happy planning..........oldbaz.
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Follow Up By: Member - Oldbaz. NSW. - Wednesday, Feb 24, 2010 at 14:58

Wednesday, Feb 24, 2010 at 14:58
Kirsty, I forgot to tell you about what I think is the best trip planner on the net....
Go to www.goseeaustralia.com.au & select the Trip Planner on the left. Enter
your start & finish towns & you will get a map, directions, distances & travelling
times. Dont go too far in one step, no more than a days driving. Enjoy & let me
know what you think..cheers....oldbaz.
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Follow Up By: Kristy.B - Monday, Mar 01, 2010 at 13:37

Monday, Mar 01, 2010 at 13:37
Thanks heaps for your suggestions oldbaz

Lots of planning to do now. Also thanks for the tip re:- goseeaustralia.com.au.

Will let you know once we have decided..

Cheers
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Follow Up By: Member - Oldbaz. NSW. - Monday, Mar 01, 2010 at 14:53

Monday, Mar 01, 2010 at 14:53
No worries, Kirsty, planning is half the fun. You are welcome to email me if you
wish...bmedway@bluemaxx.com.au. We lived in Maitland once upon a time...
when a man named Armstrong walked....... etc. cheers...oldbaz.
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Follow Up By: Member - Oldbaz. NSW. - Monday, Mar 01, 2010 at 14:56

Monday, Mar 01, 2010 at 14:56
Sorry,....keep getting your name wrong....Kristy....seniors moments....oldbaz.
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Reply By: Fab72 - Monday, Feb 22, 2010 at 12:51

Monday, Feb 22, 2010 at 12:51
Maitland NSW or Maitland SA?
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Follow Up By: Kristy.B - Monday, Feb 22, 2010 at 13:08

Monday, Feb 22, 2010 at 13:08
Maitland NSW
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Reply By: Member - Norm C (QLD) - Monday, Feb 22, 2010 at 19:02

Monday, Feb 22, 2010 at 19:02
Kristy, if the target is the Top End, with the trip up being just that, a trip, avoid the coast. I'm very familiar with the SE Qld to NT run, we do it regularly. As for route, perhaps up the Newell to Goondiwindi, then Miles, Roma, Augathella, Blackall, Bacaldine, Longreach, Winton, Mt Isa, Tennant Creek, Darwin.

Good road, not too much traffic and some great country towns along the way. If you are set up for 'free' camping, ie don't need power, have enough water and perhaps don't need a toilet, there are some great free and cheap camp spots along the way. Also some great history of our country.

Your kids should love Litchfield, great swimming spots and no crocs.

Across the Gulf, I'd go back down to Daly Waters and across to Borroloola - the road via Roper Bar is often very rough. Once you leave Borroloola, you will quickly come to the end of the bitumen. The road can be rough, but should be OK. Drive to the conditions, take your time and drop tyre pressure about 10 PSI and you should be OK.

Lawn Hill is well worth the diversion. Beautiful spot.

My Kimberly Blog covers part of this trip.
Kimberley Blog

When you travel, we will be at King Ash Bay (40 odd Km from Borroloola). Not a bad spot to relax for a couple of days before hitting the Gulf.

You should love the trip. The kids are a good age to remember the adventure too.

Norm C
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Follow Up By: John and Lynne - Tuesday, Feb 23, 2010 at 16:57

Tuesday, Feb 23, 2010 at 16:57
The road east from Borroloola is very rough and there is no fuel nowdays at Hell's Gate - the Roadhouse is closed. The road from Daly Waters to Borroloola is good with much less traffic than the Stuart and some good campspots. We stayed at Heartbreak Hotel Campground at Cape Crawford and were very comfortable. The CP at Borroloola is very expensive and minimum - has apparently been for sale for years.
With your rig and kids with you we suggest you do a day trip to Borroloola (don't miss the museum) from Cape Crawford then go south to the highway (a decent road) and across to Qld (great camping just out of Cammoweal), Mt Isa etc. You can easily head north to Karumba and the Gulf and across the Savannah Way - which is a great trip. Don't miss Cobbold Gorge and fossicking at Mt Surprise - lot's along that way for the kids to enjoy if you take the time.
You will have no trouble filling 4 months! Lynne
John & Lynne

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Follow Up By: Kristy.B - Monday, Mar 01, 2010 at 13:43

Monday, Mar 01, 2010 at 13:43
Thanks guys

How rough are we talking in relation to the road east from Borroloola?

Kristy
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Follow Up By: John and Lynne - Monday, Mar 01, 2010 at 14:01

Monday, Mar 01, 2010 at 14:01
Kristy
We didn't go that way two years ago as we had been advised in the STRONGEST way that it was VERY rough at that time and we saw a couple spending several days trying to clean up and repair all their gear after that trip - every box etc and all their bedding was full of dust.

Up there a lot depends on how long and severe the Wet season is and whether or not the roads are graded before you reach them. Conditions on dirt roads are very variable.

Contact the police station at Borroloola and the NT Roads Dept for up to date road info and advice in relation to your equipment and experience. If the advice is "Don't Go" take it. It's no fun breaking down out there, especially with kids on board. There are plenty of other great places to go. Lynne
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Follow Up By: Member - Norm C (QLD) - Monday, Mar 01, 2010 at 18:11

Monday, Mar 01, 2010 at 18:11
Kristy, it is impossible to give advice on how rough the road will be. It can vary very quickly. We went across this road in July 2006, which was a very big and late wet season. For weeks beforehand, we were warned the road would be impassable. It turned out to be in very good condition. Most of it had been recently graded. There were still a lot of wash outs where caution was needed, but with care, there was no problem. Three weeks earlier, perhaps it would have been a different story due to ruts and wet areas. Three weeks later and corrugations would have been forming.

With a rig not designed for rough roads (an assumption, I'm not familiar with the Swan and if you have 'toughened' it), you would need to hit the 'sweet spot' to be sure of no difficulty. This is remote country and recovery is very expensive. I would not be taking a CT or van across this road unless it was designed for rough conditions. Though many people have done it successfully with 'on road' rigs. Depends on your experience, preparedness to travel very slowly to drive to the conditions when necessary and your willingness to suffer the high cost of failure (recovery cost).

When we did this road (on the way back from Gibb River Road, Kalumburu etc) we had a Hilux and Odyssey Off Road Camper. We now have a 79 Series Toyota and Kedron van - I'd happily take them on this road and will be doing so this year, following our visit for fishing at King Ash Bay (near Borroloola).

Norm C

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Reply By: Haddo - Monday, Feb 22, 2010 at 20:09

Monday, Feb 22, 2010 at 20:09
Be sure to drop into Bitter Springs thermal pools near materanka and our kids loved leichfield. Have fun
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