Driving in summer through the red centre

Submitted: Monday, Aug 02, 2010 at 20:54
ThreadID: 80479 Views:4678 Replies:12 FollowUps:2
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I was wondering if some people could give me some advice on a trip I am planning in Dec/Jan this year.
I have been 4wding for over 30 years but this is the first time I've attempted something like this. I'm planning on going from Brisbane to Perth via Charleville, Birdsville, Boulia, Alice Springs, Uluru, Kaltukatjara, Kalgoorlie, then finally Perth.

I have purchased a brand new 09 dual cab, tray back Hilux earlier this year and have slowly been doing it up. Raised about 50mm all round, bull bar, driving lights, dual batteries, snorkel, UHF and CB radios, standard GPS (and working on a laptop based GPS system with all maps and breadcrumb capability), 80 litre water container with pump under the tray, Coopers AT tyres on standard 16 in rims, and yet to put on the winch and long range fuel tank and roof top tent. Naturally there are other things to get like a fridge, high lift Jack, spare fuel/water, spare parts, tools, etc.

My question is around driving through the centre in the summer. I have been told that it will probably get a bit warm but I'm going to my sisters place for her birthday which is in Jan and thought it'd be a good idea for a bit of a look through the centre.

Any advice would be welcomed, including "don't do it coz it's too hot!!"
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Reply By: Ozrover - Monday, Aug 02, 2010 at 21:02

Monday, Aug 02, 2010 at 21:02

Yep it gets hot but we regularly get Euro' travellers coming through here all through summer as it's their winter & they don't seem to mind it too much.

Needless to say you still need to take all the necessary precautions for remote travel.

i.e. Water, food, reliable vehicle, communications, letting someone know where you are, as well as many other things that I'm sure you'll soon get told about.

AnswerID: 426012

Reply By: Joe Grace Doomadgee - Monday, Aug 02, 2010 at 21:38

Monday, Aug 02, 2010 at 21:38
make CERTAIN that you have a good air cond and cooling system to cope, days are hot, no question about it but nights can be really nice and you will have electricial storms around you so an awsome time to travel but you most probally will get cut off with rain, keep checking ahead and if you cant get a clear ok on road conditions just dont go, you can get cut of in some spots for 2-3 months as that time is the start of the rains ....
We have worked out along the Tanimi over the wet and up north remote for the last 7 wets, AWSOME time of the years......
Get a good SLR camera with heaps of memory and bats...
AnswerID: 426019

Follow Up By: Joe Grace Doomadgee - Monday, Aug 02, 2010 at 21:40

Monday, Aug 02, 2010 at 21:40
mmmmm a roof top tent in a lightining storm, glad it is not me, spent a night in the camper in a big storm, never again ...... (in Jan)
FollowupID: 696577

Reply By: mikehzz - Monday, Aug 02, 2010 at 23:13

Monday, Aug 02, 2010 at 23:13
I was at Uluru in Jan a few years ago, 46 degrees at 8:30 pm. We were tenting and really needed a powered site to run a fan. Still I'd rather be doing that than not doing it. Extremes make for memorable experiences. Take all the safety precautions though and good trip. Mike
AnswerID: 426031

Reply By: oztours - Tuesday, Aug 03, 2010 at 08:40

Tuesday, Aug 03, 2010 at 08:40
we did the centre in dec jan 04 and it was hot!! But still a fantastic time to see the country.. just take care - make sure air con and cooling system are tops!! and water heaps and heaps
AnswerID: 426048

Reply By: brushmarx - Tuesday, Aug 03, 2010 at 09:39

Tuesday, Aug 03, 2010 at 09:39
We did your same trip last Christmas.
Left Boulia a week after big storms went through, but had no trouble, just a few patches of water and mud, but overall conditions were good.
The day temperatures were around the high 30's into low 40's, and night temps high 20's to low 30's.
A 12 volt fan in the CT gave enough cooling for sleep, but without the air movement, it would have been very uncomfortable.
We sat in the Ayers Rock Caravan Park as the cyclone wet the rock, and the CT nearly blew apart, and we packed it up in the middle of the "eye" and slept in the car.
The next day we left Ayers Rock to go west, expecting pretty bad conditions, but the road was damp but good.
Temperatures kept up in the high 30's during the days, and the air con worked fine.
We read all the warnings, and accepted that heat may prove intolerable, and checked the forecasts, planning to cancel the Ayers Rock to Kalgoorlie route to go via Ceduna and The Nullarbor.
We called the stations before leaving Ayers Rock, and got updates on the road, and took what seemed to be a minimal risk.
Most of our travel over the more remote areas were within a few days of cyclonic rain, and that may have reduced the temperature, but it was all within the advertised averages.
Overall, conditions and temperatures were acceptable, but I guess everyone has different levels of acceptance.
We had no real choice in what time we went, and cooler months would probably be better, but we would do it again if no other choice was available.
I guess it all depends on the weather this year compared to any other time.
Plan for a bail out route if conditions are more severe than expected.
Christmas is a quite time to travel, and we went some days with only seeing one or two other vehicles, and they were often locals in old Falcons, so don't expect of people offering help if anything happens.

I'll get there someday, or die wanting to.

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AnswerID: 426052

Reply By: carlsp - Tuesday, Aug 03, 2010 at 10:17

Tuesday, Aug 03, 2010 at 10:17
you did not mention spare parts. Hoses etc.

One thing most people do not do is take a diagram of the pattern for the spagetti drive belt. Either take a digital picture of it or write the pattern in the workshop manual /user guide. Most of the time they do not show you how it goes on. It might sound easy but try it with a hot engine and covered in dust. Check that the tensioner is not ceased up before you leave and adjust it. (not certain if the hilux has a auto tension).

Have a good trip
AnswerID: 426056

Reply By: Robin Miller - Tuesday, Aug 03, 2010 at 10:42

Tuesday, Aug 03, 2010 at 10:42
Hi Kevin

Forget the red centre we lived thru Melbournes heatwave last year with 3 days of over 43c before the big temperatures hit and our home air-cond died on day 1 so we slept in our Patrol (has bed in it).

What worked for us was one of those cheap ($14) 30cm 240 volt fans which we ran off one of those $25 inverters in a can. (draws 3 amp from battery)

Took stand off fan making the whole thing portable (maybe a box fan would have worked as well), and hence was easy to setup even at coffee stops.

But having a simple effective fan operating from the car for day or night use made things so much more comfortable , it even gives mossies and to a lesser extent the flies something to think about as they have trouble flying in wind.
Robin Miller

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AnswerID: 426059

Follow Up By: Robin Miller - Tuesday, Aug 03, 2010 at 10:59

Tuesday, Aug 03, 2010 at 10:59
Sorry, Steve - not Kevin
Robin Miller

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FollowupID: 696622

Reply By: Member - Duncs - Tuesday, Aug 03, 2010 at 11:32

Tuesday, Aug 03, 2010 at 11:32
People live and work in all the places you have mentioned all year round.

Robin mentions 3 days in a row over 43C I have lived through 14 days in a row over 45c, yeah its hot but if you exercise a little common sense you get by. During that hot summer builders still worked on roofs, road gangs repaired roads, farmers did all manner of jobs, life goes on, I personally moved 9 ton of sand using a shovel and a wheelbarrow.

Wear natural fibres not synthetics, drink lots of water and enjoy the real Australia.

AnswerID: 426061

Reply By: Fab72 - Tuesday, Aug 03, 2010 at 12:59

Tuesday, Aug 03, 2010 at 12:59
Recommend good communications gear. Tourists and travellers are few and far between in the warmer months which means help takes longer to arrive.

Besides the obvious increase of water required per person, per day, Excellent communications are the next biggest must have.

Enjoy.... For the record, I actually prefer the summer travel over the winter months.

AnswerID: 426064

Reply By: D200Dug- Tuesday, Aug 03, 2010 at 17:33

Tuesday, Aug 03, 2010 at 17:33
Unless it was necessary I would avoid travel in that area at that time of year.

If you are going then make sure your tyres are in good condition as road surface temps get extreme.

Fluid intake is vital it is recommended to drink equaL amounts of flavored "Sports" drink and water. drinking only water may reduce your electrolyte levels and only sports drinks also causes problems.

Have backup plans, have an emergency plan, always stay with your vehicle if you do break down.

Sunscreen, fly repellant, long sleeved sun shirt and trousers good shoes incase you do need to walk any distance and you should be OK.

Camera and enjoy yourself.

Don't be in a hurry to get anywhere leave at least a few days spare for delays and interruptions to your trip
AnswerID: 426085

Reply By: Member - Mfewster(SA) - Tuesday, Aug 03, 2010 at 20:21

Tuesday, Aug 03, 2010 at 20:21
As long as you personally can deal with high temperatures, you will be fine if you take the advice already given on gear. Having camped up there at that time of tjhe year, I'd take a mozzie dome and sleep in that at night rather than the camper trailer. Unless you get it windy and dusty (which it can be, and when you will want the trailer) letting all the air possible through a dome ( or don't bother with the dome if conditions allow) is cooler at night.
AnswerID: 426105

Reply By: Member - Steve J (QLD) - Tuesday, Aug 03, 2010 at 21:27

Tuesday, Aug 03, 2010 at 21:27
Thanks to everyone for their views. It's quite obvious that meticulous planning is the key to a great trip. I've planned most of it, including taking spares which I didn't mention on the initial forum, and it's included most of what has been mentioned here.

However there have been some great ideas particularly around the communications, a fan for the nights and making sure the car is in tip top condition, which is why I bought a new car.

Once again, thanks for all the tips and ideas.

AnswerID: 426111

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