Brisbane to Uluru via Innaminka and Flinders Rangers

Submitted: Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 12:23
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We're heading off at the end of June for a month to Ayres Rock, with our 3 kids and the camper trailer (don't panic, if you are planning the same trip, they're good kids who are used to camping and travelling). We don't really like big 4 type camp grounds and prefer to stay in more natural settings/national parks and would like to stay in bush camps where possible on this trip. While I probably have a 1000 questions, I'll try and limit it to those about road conditions and camping....

Most people seem to have caravans, how do those who have camper trailers go when bush camping. Is it more difficult or frowned upon to set up a camper trailer than just roll up in the caravan?

We are looking for camping recommendations for theThargomindah/Noccundra area; Innaminka (there seems to be quite a few and they all seem nice), the Wilpena Pound area and the Painted Desert off the Oodnadatta track.

Is fresh drinking water available in Innaminka. We have a 70l water tank, and also an extra 40L's, but I'd feel better knowing that we don't have to get from Thargomindah to Arkaroola with out fresh water.

Is it OK to camp at the Montecollina Bore with a camper trailer and can we swim in it?

What are the road conditions on the Strezlecki and Oodnadatta likely to be in July (tricky question I know!) - there is a big difference travelling 300kms at 50kms/hr than travelling 300km's at 80km/hr with kids in the car. While they are very good and experienced travellers, planning plenty of rest stops is essential.

We'll hopefully be coming back via the Plenty highway, we've heard some conflicting things about this route. I've tried to ring the tourist office in Boulia and will ring the council but it would be good to hear from people who have travelled it with a trailer.

Also, we would like to buy a second hand uhf radio, any recommendations?

That's all I can think of for now,

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Reply By: Rangiephil - Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 13:58

Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 13:58
Fiona, I have an off road camper trailer and can maybe make some observations, although I haven't got first hand knowledge of the whole route you are taking.
My wife and I camp outside of caravan parks whenever possible , although we tend to go to one every so often to have a shower. Showers in bush camps are pretty inconvenient and a waste of water. However we do not camp at roadside rest stops ( popularised by Camps 5) mainly because of the FILTH and lack of security.

I note you want water at Arkaroola. Well when I was there the only water AFAIK ,is the stuff you buy in the mini market in bladders. Their other water is bore water and you will see its mineral content by the stalactites in the showers.LOL You can buy water at Coober Pedy from a council coin pump which is very cheap. ( reverse osmosis but still may give tummy probs)

My advice is to keep a separate source of water only for drinking and replenish it from either known low mineral sources or buy some at supermarkets. You do not use much, in our case only about 2-4 litres per person per day (plus beer and soft drinks). We did three months in the Kimberleys and there and back without a tummy upset.
Wilpena Pound- there are some bush( national parks) camps in the gorges which looked good but we stayed at Rawnsley Park. It is a caravan park but pretty casual and you can bush camp if you like.
Painted Desert - Hmm . You would have to like wind. And it is desolate. we stayed in Coober Pedy for the experience but the caravan park was nothing to write home about. You can camp at ABC bay , but you would have to LOVE desolation and wind.
A good camp on the way is Coward Springs but take the citronella and Desert Dweller as legions of flies are replaced by legions of mossies on sundown.

Innaminka common is quite nice except you may be kept awake all night by thousands of Corellas arguing. It is underwater at present. they have coin showers there, which hopefully will be in operation. I am sure you can buy water at the store but doubt there is much reticulated water, but I havent been there for many years.
The Strezlecki should be OK as the Santos trucks use it and there are now many bitumin passing areas ! It can get VERY corrugated and beware of road crews unlike my wife who didn't slow down when I said don't go behind the water truck, and she did a half spin which is unpleasant with a camper trailer.

I did the Oodnadatta last year and could sit on 80Kmh nearly all the time with tyres down. It was great then but who knows now.

Hope this helps.
Regard sPhilip A

AnswerID: 417378

Follow Up By: Fone - Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 14:46

Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 14:46
Thankyou for the info about the water, clean water rather essential....

I should say that we aren't completely opposed to camp grounds, just not what we would prefer when there are other options around. By the time we get to Uluru and Kings canyon we will think a camp ground is the best thing ever - hot showers, running water, power (though we don't have anything that needs power, I'm sure we'll love it anyway).

We really don't want to spin the trailer, 1 of our kids is just a tad cautious and would probably apply for adoption if we did that.

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Follow Up By: Rangiephil - Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 15:52

Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 15:52
Fiona, On any of the roads you have listed you do not really need a UHF CB unless to talk to the truckies and arrange for a pass. ( or want to listen to station chatter which can get a bit Fffeee for young ears.)

I found them very accommodating and happy to let me pass , as I would just say no hurry but if you can let me by I would appreciate it.

IMHO , if you are talking a HF radio , then to me they are like the morse sender, and you would be better off hiring a sat phone or getting one of the low cost emergency beacons now available.

All the roads you have listed will have quite a bit of traffic in winter so there is little danger of dying of thirst, UNLESS you go out into the painted desert for miles( which you would have to do if you wanted to get out of sight of the road). Even then a burning tyre would attract attention. ABC bay is remote but even there I think there would be some people around looking for /at water.

IMHO you should take a week's worth of canned food because even on the roads you have named you can get stuck if it rains. I do.
Regards Philip A

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Follow Up By: Rangiephil - Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 16:00

Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 16:00
BTW get Ron Moon's excellent book on the Flinders Ranges.
And also the NRMA or equivalent books on caravan parks. You may need the numbers in it to book .
Also make sure you have a Telstra next G phone with a blue tick and preferably an outside antenna. NO others will work in the bush and even they will not work except near towns.
Regards Philip A
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Follow Up By: Fone - Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 16:33

Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 16:33
Thanks Philip, I hadn't thought about the swearing on the radio. We'll be meeting up with some friends at Arkaroola and we thought it would be handy to have a radio to talk to each other. We had a satellite phone for a trip a few years back, it never seemed to work, so I was put off them.

On the last trip we did, I think I was over taken by more road trains, than I overtook (not sure if that is a word). They seem to fly along bitumen roads. It took us a while to get used to them and they are one of my least favourite things about travelling on the remote (and narrow) roads.

We have an RACQ camping book and I'll try to find the one on Flinders Ranges, they sound fantastic and I know we aren't going to do them justice in the time we have (4 to 6 nights).

Actually, do you think it is worth spending an extra few nights around Arkaroola than Innaminka. We have 6 or 7 nights before we need to be there, and were planning on spending 3 or 4 nights getting from Bris to Innamincka, then 2 nights there, then 1 night getting to Arkaroola. The kids will cope with a couple of longer days earlier on if it is worth spending more time at Arkaroola.


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Follow Up By: Rangiephil - Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 17:04

Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 17:04
That is a bit hard to answer.
There is not a heck of a lot at Inniminka except the dig tree and the restored hospital. It is only a pub/store and the hospital, nothing else , when I was there anyway. I hate to admit that was about 15 years ago. I think 2 nights would do it

Arkaroola is a nice but expensive resort. There are several walks and 4WD tracks and radium springs if you want to glow.

The resort has a "sit in back of Landcruiser " only trip to Skytop??or whatever but AFAIR this $80 per head which I thought was a bit hot, but I gritted my teeth. they have an observatory/telescope that is good on a clear night. Again 2-3 nights would suffice to me.

I suggest you spend extra time in the Flinders and go down to Quorn. Pitchy Richy railway, good pubs, nice non regimented caravan park with isolated non power sites down one end, 4 good pubs, great walks at Dutchman's Stern and Devils Peak if you are game, and a drive to a gorge with rock wallabies.
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Follow Up By: Fone - Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 19:07

Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 19:07
Thanks Philip, we might just spend the extra night at Arkaroola, I just looked at the map and Quorn is an extra 100 or so Km's each way from Wilpena - I think I have to draw a line somewhere (I remember knocking some people a few years ago for driving all the way out to Winton and beyond and then not taking the 100km detour to Lark Quarry - maybe it was just a step too far for them, we've decided not to go to Coober Pedy either).

It probably would be nice for the kids to have 3 nights without moving anyway.

FollowupID: 687526

Follow Up By: Baz&Pud (Tassie) - Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 19:40

Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 19:40
Haven't read all the posts, but if going to Arkaroola on the way there you pass the to Weetootla Gorge, my suggestion would be to camp there and do a day trip to Arkaroola.
I have been to Arkaroola a couple of times and subject to creating a storm it doesn't do much for me other than for the Sky Trek trip.
In relation to UHF radio, you appear to only want it for communication between yourselves and friends, why not purchase a hand held one.
You will love the Flinders, we always seem to end up in the Parachilna Gorge, will be there in weeks, bring it on.
Go caravaning, life is so much shorter than death.

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Follow Up By: Fone - Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 20:00

Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 20:00
Wow, Baz, thanks for that, it sounds wonderful - I have searched for Flinders/Arkaroola etc and only ever find the 1 camp ground, typed in Weetootla Gorge and found a wealth of information. Guess you just need to know the right places. Which makes this website so wonderful.


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Reply By: Member - Fred B (NT) - Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 13:59

Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 13:59
Hi Fiona,
can't help you with the road and camping info, but I would suggest to you that a new UHF radio isn't that expensive compared to 2nd hand. You will also have the warranty to go with it.

If you meant HF radio, then thats a differnt matter and the costs vary greatly dependent upon your set and antenna of choice. There are reputable sellers of 2nd hand Hf radios around.
Fred B
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Reply By: olcoolone - Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 14:04

Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 14:04
Most of the roads you are travelling on are bitumen or good hard capped dirt roads.

The roads in QLD are OK, the NT very good and SA???.

The road conditions can change overnight so even a good road can become slow going.

The Plenty has had graders and road crews working for about the last 2 months, the NT side is good and capable of 110Kph, there is about 30K of road works but the QLD side is still slow in place, we spoke to a couple at Jervois station about 2 weeks ago who damaged their camper trailer on the QLD side when they had to swerve suddenly to avoid a star dropper placed in the middle of the road supporting some rocks (no warning signs).

They destroyed a tyre, rim and punched a hole in the front of there ultimate when it jack knifed......these people were experienced long distance travellers.

Jervois Station has good camp grounds or you can camp along the Plenty Highway, in Alice Springs you might want to check out G'day Mate caravan park.

In June the Plenty Highway about 80K west of Jervois may have a lot of road train activity due to a lease holder loosing his lease and having to move 10,000 head of cattle......130 double decker triple road trains is on order.

At Uluru you have no real choice but to camp in the caravan park unless you can out of town.

Innaminka has good camping at the Common, Montecollina Bore is a shade but plenty of parking and heaps of sand, may be better to find somewhere on the Arkaroola road as you turn of the Strez.

There are plenty of places to camp on the Strez and Oodnadatta track but if staying in Coober Pedy it may pay to stay in the caravan park as they are having a lot of trouble with transient aborigines from the YPA lands.

In the Flinders don't stay at Wilpena Pound (Wilpena I think means DOG), stay at Rawnsly Park down the road....much better.

Water is available at most towns.

If you camp in towns it pays to camp in the caravan park as the locals can become a problem.

Sorry for not being in order.

AnswerID: 417380

Follow Up By: Fone - Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 16:49

Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 16:49
Thank you, I really appreciate the info about the Plenty, it is very hard to find. The RACQ website has no info at all, nor does the local council one.

Hopefully by the time we get there, all of those roadtrains would have passed, as I told Philip, they aren't my favourite part of travelling.

Good to know about Montecollina, we'll stop to let the kids stretch their legs, look at the birds and move on to another spot. The original plan was to head straight from Inn to Ark but we have an extra couple of days now, so were thinking of extra spots to stop.

Thanks for the advice, I think Alice is the only town that we are staying in (unless Kulgera is a town) and we most definitely planned on staying somewhere recommended there.


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Follow Up By: olcoolone - Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 17:27

Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 17:27
No Kulgera is not really a town but they have a HUGH clean smooth parking area at the roadhouse, or travel about 5 kilometers up the Finke road and camp along there by the big rock outcrops.

In Alice it pays to book in advance.

If you want to go to Ayres Rock you could go via the Mereenie Loop Track and visit Palm Valley and Kings Canyon, the road is sealed except for about 100K thats not to bad....well worth it but you have to get a permit from Hermannsburg for access to Palm Valley (very very nice camping spot) and you will get your camper trailer through no problems (ignore the extreme 4x4 signs at the palm Valley turn off).
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Follow Up By: happytravelers - Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 19:50

Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 19:50
olcoolone, thanks for the good info, we're also planning to travel the Plenty in June and take note of your advise regarding the road trains moving cattle. Do you have any more info on this? where are they moving the cattle to and from and which sections of the road are we likely to encounter them.

Many thanks Jon

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Reply By: Mikee5 (Logan QLD) - Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 15:11

Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 15:11
Hi Fiona,
You can camp for free across the road (track) from the Noccundra Hotel, on the banks of the river. There are free hot showers at the pub. You can then drive from there to Cameron Corner and out to the Strzelecki Track at Merty Merty. We took our caravan that way. Or you can back-track from Noccundra a bit and go direct to Innamincka along the Adventure Way.
There is also a good free camp at Bollon again free hot showers in town not a long walk.
I suggest you buy Camps 5. It is abook full of free and low cost camp sites.
AnswerID: 417387

Follow Up By: Fone - Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 19:08

Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 19:08
Thank you, I was hoping someone would confirm that there was camping in Noccundra. We've read alot about the pub, but not about camping (just 1 reference).
FollowupID: 687527

Reply By: Rod - Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 16:43

Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 16:43
I too have 3 kids, a CT and don't like Big 4 style caravan parks. We bush camped at Rawnsley park in the Flinders. Could walk to the flushing toilet and fill up water there for our bush shower yet be bush camped around our own campfire. The main campground had the washing machines etc.

The Pound was too crowded to camp but not far to drive.

Don't forget Jervois Station on the Plenty is cash only for fuel.

AnswerID: 417396

Follow Up By: Fone - Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 16:54

Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 16:54
Thanks Rod for the cash tip - I hadn't thought about that yet (i'm sure I would have - eventually). Actually cash will probably be the norm for most places. Do you know if we can get any at Innaminka or Arkar/Wilp P or will we have to wait until we go through to Leigh Creek?
I can ring Arkaroola again to check.

FollowupID: 687493

Reply By: Member - Mark (Tamworth NSW) - Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 17:48

Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 17:48

I haven't read all the replies but here are our comments
Innamincka town common was great, we actually paid a few $s and stayed down the Ck a bit where there was a long drop and less crowded. We paid for drinking water (bore water was a bit ordinary) but it was OK for washing etc...

Montecollina Bore when we were there it was a cold day with a gale, with poor access to the water which memory says was high in sulphur and the country side was a moonscape from rabbit erosion 80 years ago. We pushed onto Arkaroola

We really liked a bit of civilisation at Arkaroola after a while roughing it.
Coober Pedy is a buy water pl;ce, but to fill up 60L will cost you very little. For the Painted Desert, you need to stay at Arckaringa (spelling?) station for a minor fee they provided rubbish drop off, good showers and toilets.
Dalhousie springs is a great place to swim, but rough as guts road in and even more so out (direct road to Mt Dare).
Strezleki track when we did it a few years ago was a super highway (dirt) due to Moomba Gas fields. Even the Oodnadatta track last year was in great shape.

Uluru, you have to stay at the resort camping ground, but at Kings Canyon make sure you stay at Kings Ck Station instead of the resort. Never heard anyone say otherwise, nothing wrong with the resort, but at the station you get real local Aussies who know the area as opposed to European backpacking staff.
Be prepared for temperatures down to -3, as we found last July.
Alice Springs region, stay at Ormiston Gorge NP, not at Glen Helen "resort", Plenty of gorges and waterholes, but they will be far too cold for swimming. Make sure you do the 8km Pound walk at Ormiston, better for the kids than more well publisised Simpsons Gap or Stanley Chasm.

Last year we found the Plenty Highway a 80-100km/hr affair (we were passed by vehicles doing >100km/hr), don't know how it is chopped up by good rains this year.

I found none of the dirt roads (except Dalhousie region) any worse than dirt roads in NW slopes & Plains of NSW.
While you are at Boulia, consider going down through Diamantina Lakes NP (need to watch fuel) instead of bitumen straight to Winton. Our kids loved swimming there last year in July when the days were in high 20's (too cold for me though).

4 weeks, barely/ justlong enough to do what you are planning. We crammed it into 3 weeks last year without the Innamincka/ Flinders leg which we did a few years ago.

You & the kids will have a ball, but remember to schedule in some rest/ going no where days.

AnswerID: 417407

Follow Up By: Fone - Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 19:23

Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 19:23
Well I think you have confirmed that we'll just head straight down from Innamincka to Arkaroola. I think I'd rather drive a bit further and spend 3 nights, than stay somewhere not so nice just for the heck of it.

Mark, you weren't supposed to go suggesting new places, I've been wearing blinkers while planning this, only looking at our proposed route so that we don't get distracted or detoured - as you say, a month isn't long and I feel like we are already doing an awful lot of km's. I'd heard of Dalhousie, but was refusing to look it up as it was off the road - now I think it looks lovely and would be quite a treat, though the bumpy road in isn't that tempting. Hmm, wonder where we could find a day and the desire to drive those extra miles....

We have 3 or 4 nights in the MacDonnell ranges, it looks incredible and I am looking forward to that region more than anywhere. On that note though, is it worth staying in Alice at all? We will need to replenish supplies but that is about all, unless there are more things worth seeing than I've found.
We are planning on staying at Gemtree, on the Pleny Hwy, for a couple of nights and do the fossicking tour.

Thanks again,

FollowupID: 687530

Follow Up By: Member - Mark (Tamworth NSW) - Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 20:10

Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 20:10

IF you are going to the Painted Desert and Oodnadatta, you "can't not go" to Dalhousie Springs and let the kids swim in 37C water. Last July I found it very busy in their camping ground and pushed onto Mt Dare (pub as well). Dalhousie is probably a 2 hour deviation + time you stop there.

I just spent a week camping & bushwalking in the West Mac ranges after visiting them last year. If you want the kids to burn off some gas you can send them on the 15km return trip up Mt Sonder from Redbank Gorge, the views are special.
I have never been to Hermannsburg, Palm Valley and or Boggy Hole that others talk about.

If you were planning 3 days in the West Macs, spend a full day & 2 nights at Ormiston. Each other gorge, Glen Helen, Redbank, Serpentine, Ellery Big Hole, Simpson's, Stanley Chasm etc... is slightly different, but you have limited time, so you just have to choose one or two and do them properly without rushing.

People who have had more time than I and have driven the East Mac ranges say they preferred the East over the West Mac., so perhaps only spend 1 day in West Mac (+ travel time) and miss Palm Valley and spend a day or 2 in the East Macs, which you can do from Alice. I never made it to the East Macs. Kings Canyon and station is worth at least 2 nights.

To stay in Alice or not?
Don't rule out your kids wanting a bit of civilisation and "staying put" time. What is there to do, to be honest our 13-16 yo kids had a ball at Mac Ranges Caravan Park playing on the play equipment. In addition they have something on every night, talks by local identities, bushmen etc. etc.. The Old Telegraph station has been made a lot more interesting more "pioneer life" to see. There are numerous Art galleries, but not really kid friendly. There is also RFDS and School of the Air, as there is in Longreach. You may need to get some repairs to your vehicle or CT.
We found 2 days was enough though.

Diamantina Lakes isn't much of a detour, you can put it together with the dinosaur country west of Winton or take the back roads into Longreach. Longreach is probably 2 days with RFDS, school of the air, Qantas museum & Outback Hall of Fame.

Give the kids jobs to do in setting up and closing down camp, it occupies them, they feel as they are contributing to the show and gives you a bit of a break.
FollowupID: 687541

Reply By: Michael ( Moss Vale NSW) - Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 18:00

Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 18:00
Hi Fiona,
On the subject of UHF radio. I survived on a couple of 1 watt Uniden hand helds for 10 years. I have only in the last 18 months, bought a GME vehicle mount. If you are using just car to car, a handheld is fine and usually very clear within a short distance, up to a few ks apart, even with a 1 watt unit. If you have a pair of them you can use them for parking caravans and campers and for giving directions to your driver if you need to walk in front of your vehicle in difficult terrain. I'm not really sure there is a lot of value in a vehicle mounted unit other than slightly better range and and maybe a little more convenient over a 5 watt hand held. Michael
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AnswerID: 417409

Follow Up By: Fone - Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 18:57

Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 18:57
Thanks for that Michael, we had a pair of hand helds a few years ago, they were great and then one of the kids dropped one in the creek.
I didn't think they would be good enough and would much prefer to invest in another pair (this time with wrist straps), they are vey handy on our land.

FollowupID: 687523

Reply By: Holiday Hound - Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 21:24

Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 21:24
We did a trip around LaKe Eyre from the direction of Brisbane, last September.

You can set up at Monetecollina Bore- there were several caravans set up there as well as 1 c/t. There are picnic tables and a drop toilet. Re swimming in the bore- there is only a small area where the spring comes out which is the hot part-its like quick sand around the edges...learned that the hard way. Its nice for a o/n stop, but not much around and exposed.

Innaminka- you have the Coongie Lakes which are magnificent. Its a slow old trip out there especially if the road is wet. Its quite corrugated. The solitude and the river and lake are exceptionally pretty. A few sights on the way. I would stay two nights out there. Also new drop toilets there. There is also the dig tree and Burkes grave. Some nice walks and relax. The pub is great as is the newish restaurant. We got stuck there in the big dust storm.

Arakoola is fantatsic. We stayed for three nights. Its a long way down the track from Innaminka- but we came from Maree direction. There are lots of walks to do at Arakoola and 4wd tracks you can take. There are maps at reception avail. Lots of organised tours you can hop on as well. There is an observatory with viewing etc at night- but may not be suitable depending on the age of your kids. The restaurant provided us with waaaay too much food and wine- but I wasnt complaining at the time! We stayed in a nice motel style room to have a break from camping. I would love to go back.
We came in from Parachina via Blinman(v nice) and then a LONG, CORRUGATED, big stones/rocks, road past Balcanoona. I believe the better way is via Copley.Leigh Creek has everything if you need to stock up.
The tiny shop at Arakoola is very limited.

Re the water- as were were camping, we had bottled water for drinking. We had approx 40l. But we kept topping up wherevere we went( Innaminka, Cameron Corner etc). We used the great shower facility at Innaminka.

We had a uhf radio - a GME 3440. Our aerial did break off in the corrugations on the way to Akaroola though! It was a relief to be able to contact someone on the Strezlecki track in the middle of the dustorm. We also had a sat phone.
AnswerID: 417447

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