Towing a Caravan from Cooper Pedy to Maree via the Oodnadatta track

Submitted: Tuesday, Jan 11, 2011 at 10:38
ThreadID: 83591 Views:9039 Replies:7 FollowUps:5
This Thread has been Archived
We're in the midst of planning and preparing our 2004 Coromal Lifestyle 605 caravan for a mid year trip (July) to Uluru, Alice and surrounds. The trip will commence in Central Victoria and head to Port Augusta via Mildura, Burra and Peterborough then from Port Augusta to Cooper Pedy then straight up the Stuart Hwy. However, we are contemplating returning home by turning off the black toip at Copper Pedy and taking the Cooper Pedy / William Creek Rd to William Creek, then down to Maree, Leigh Creek, Hawker, Mildura then home.

Has anyone travelled our proposed route recently, and is it advisable to tow a 2004 Coromal Lifestyle 605 Caravan on these tracks ?? - The tow vehicle is a 2005 3lt Patrol.
Back Expand Un-Read 0 Moderator

Reply By: beergutz - Tuesday, Jan 11, 2011 at 11:33

Tuesday, Jan 11, 2011 at 11:33
Might be worth having a look at
they list a 1800 phone num for road conditions & give an e mail address
so you may be able to get a locals advice.
Planning similar trip in same time period but we are coming Brisbane,Birdsville track,Oodnadatta track,Ayers rock area and return to Qld via Plenty highway
if road & weather conditions allow.
AnswerID: 441467

Follow Up By: beergutz - Tuesday, Jan 11, 2011 at 11:52

Tuesday, Jan 11, 2011 at 11:52
just thought i should mention that i am not taking my caravan on this trip,willl
take soft floor camper trailer -- campApack ,grunter.
FollowupID: 713548

Reply By: MEMBER - Darian, SA - Tuesday, Jan 11, 2011 at 12:35

Tuesday, Jan 11, 2011 at 12:35
You need this advice in July - the outback is 'dynamic' as far as conditions go and current road conditions mean little in your planning. Given stable weather until July and that the road maintenance people are able to do their usual excellent preparation of that road, it should be a straight forward outback drive. The main exception is probably that of tyres - while most of that road is at times very smooth, some sections are quite stony and passenger class tyres are at risk - your hardware and tyres should be able to withstand 'a bit of rumble' in places.
AnswerID: 441471

Reply By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Tuesday, Jan 11, 2011 at 14:24

Tuesday, Jan 11, 2011 at 14:24

It is far too far out to make any calls on track conditions, it will all come down to mother nature.

Most times the track is usually in good condition and can vary from perfect, corrugated, slow and muddy or closed.

Do not discount the track at this early stage, but take note of track conditions closed to the time.

Keep the link below:

This is always kept up to date and will be your best friend before you leave.


Smile like a Crocodile

Lifetime Member
My Profile  My Blog  My Position  Send Message

AnswerID: 441483

Follow Up By: Member - Richard C (ACT) - Tuesday, Jan 11, 2011 at 17:30

Tuesday, Jan 11, 2011 at 17:30
I did that trip in a Subaru towing a camper trailer a few years ago.

No real problems but had to bash a few mounds down with the shovel to get over them as clearance was not good.

We did come across a guy who got bogged and when we got to him he was winching hiscamper out of mud but I think there was a bit of user error in that. The same guy had spent 3 days at Coward Springs waiting for roads to open.

Over all a fairly easy trip so what you want to do is possible

BUT.. that was then and it will depend on the road conditions at the time. We asked at the tourist office at Cooper Pedy what the road was like and found them very helpful.

Hope the weather changes and you have a great trip.

Also make sure your back window is covered with something - we had ours broken by a stone that bounced off the stone guard on the camper.

FollowupID: 713578

Reply By: Member - Jeff W (QLD) - Wednesday, Jan 12, 2011 at 12:04

Wednesday, Jan 12, 2011 at 12:04
G'day SRH,

We towed a goldstream offroad camper from dalhousie springs through william ck marree and up the Birdsville back in may 2010. The only issue we had was the 25mm of rain that fell while we we're in william ck for 2 days waiting to fly over the lake. The rain made the track south extremely slippery and I definitely wouldn't be towing a van down there if they get any amount of rain on the track even if it's open as it was when we went. Like has been said before if you run decent rubber and manage your tyre pressures to help absorb some of the bumps and rocky sections and just take your time, after all your on holidays, you shouldn't have to many problems.

I would recommend some rear window protection to stop rebounding rocks even if you do have a stone deflector. A lesson learnt the hard way.

Happy travels.

AnswerID: 441566

Reply By: Member - SRH - Wednesday, Jan 12, 2011 at 16:10

Wednesday, Jan 12, 2011 at 16:10
Thanks to all that have replied and provided good advice regarding checking the track conditions closer to the date of departure using the SA Gov and the Pink Roadhouse websites and contact numbers.

Jeff, I note your recommendation for some rear window protection to stop rebounding rocks even though I do have a stone deflector on the front of the van. What sought of materials would you suggest I use as a window protector ??

I've also noted the suggestions regarding the tire pressures for the Patrol and Van -- In the past I have run the tires on the car at 24-26lb and the Caravan at around 28-30lb -- I'd appreciate any comments on using these tire pressures (I'm running BFG A/Ts all around)


AnswerID: 441586

Follow Up By: Member - Jeff W (QLD) - Thursday, Jan 13, 2011 at 11:02

Thursday, Jan 13, 2011 at 11:02

For your back window it can be as simple as some thick cardboard and heavy duty tape or, if you can find them, I have seen in a mag somewhere a fittied mesh screen that is spaced off the back window and secured to the car.I haven't been able to find them since getting home but must admit I haven't looked to hard either.
Another way to stop stones is to install a large full width heavy duty mudflap all the way accross. you can get these that fix to the tounge of your tow hitch and will also protect the paint work on the rear of the Patrol and front of the trailer.
You will be amazed at where these rocks will get to.
We had some come out from the steer wheels of the car forwards and rebound off something come up and hit the windscreen not another vehcile in site. I am still baffeled at the physics behind it.

I ran my tryes on 100 series Landcruiser at 28psi on the front about 30-32 on the rear (to accommodate the extra weight of trailer and gear) and 28 on the trailer running bridgestone duelers A/T all round and never put a mark on them. As always have a look when you set your pressures and apply some common sense there is never an exact setting when comparing vehicles too many variables.

FollowupID: 713774

Reply By: Member - SRH - Thursday, Jan 13, 2011 at 11:16

Thursday, Jan 13, 2011 at 11:16
Thanks Jeff

I'll start doing a little research into the options available to protect both the Patrol, and the caravan from the attack of stones -- I've started to look at ways I can protect the wiring and pipework under the van.

And thanks to the info on the tyre pressures you used.

AnswerID: 441658

Follow Up By: Neil B (Vic) - Thursday, Jan 13, 2011 at 12:13

Thursday, Jan 13, 2011 at 12:13
Hi there,
Your question has prompted my first post here. I was going to write a blog or similar regarding the pitfalls of traveling this type of road with a poorly prepared van but this seems to be an appropriate place to mention it.

We just came back from a trip up and down the Oodnadatta track over the Christmas period. As previously mentioned the roads will be very different in July but I think it is still relevant to recount our experience as you mentioned protecting wiring and pipework.

Having recently bought a "semi off road" van and a landcruiser ute we decided on a short shakedown trip just to see how it all went. Following a hasty decision to extend our trip considerably we ended up traveling to William Creek to fly over Lake Eyre. it was on the Oodnadatta track between Marree and William Creek that we realized that perhaps we should have prepared better. The stony road surface really played havoc on the underside of the van - taking out taps and bungs on the water tanks and all of the grey water piping, as well as the electric brake wiring on all four wheels.

We were lucky to be in striking distance of Coober Pedy where I was able to find enough bits and pieces together and spend several hours under the van to enable us to continue the trip.

Now, before our next trip I will be preparing a little better. Including the following...
1.Rock Tamers and/or heavy mud flaps on the towing vehicle
2. Additional rubber flaps in front of the plumbing on the van
3. Fit metal guards under all plumbing - particularly where hoses connect to water tanks and where taps and connectors are situated.
4. Ensure all electric brake wiring is protected by split plastic tubing.
5. Take steps to better seal identified dust entry locations.

In hind site, although the track was in reasonable condition, it became evident that a "semi off roader" is going to take a beating driving this sort of track. Particularly things shake loose and get damaged.

Oh and another bit of advice - even if the track appears to be in good condition, even in hot dry weather like it was on our trip, there can be a large number of washouts that are not always marked and are near impossible to see until you are on them. We found this particularly between Oodnadatta and William Creek.

We had a great trip with only some relatively inexpensive repairs. hope you have a great time!

FollowupID: 713781

Reply By: Member - SRH - Thursday, Jan 13, 2011 at 12:50

Thursday, Jan 13, 2011 at 12:50
Hi Neil

Thanks, you have given me some more to think about in getting the underneath of the van ready for the trip which includes a possible list of spares and equipment to carry in case of the inevitable happens.

What sought of "semi off road" van did you tow ? and what tire pressures did you find worked well ?

AnswerID: 441666

Follow Up By: Neil B (Vic) - Thursday, Jan 13, 2011 at 13:20

Thursday, Jan 13, 2011 at 13:20
It was a 21 foot 2006 Roma Elegance with simplicity suspension & 6" lift (hence the "semi off road" designation). While cleaning out the dust over two days it was obvious to me that it was never meant to handle outback roads and I suspect most modern caravans except the 3 or 4 true offroaders would be similar. Not unhappy I bought it though - can do a lot of minor repairs on the money saved not buying a full offroader (actually there is no way I could afford a true offroader anyway).

I didn't change tyre pressures because I didn't consider the road surface warranted it. Perhaps with more experience I may have done things differently but for most of the trip the surface was loose but only gravel, dust or small stones which I didn't think were a danger to the tyres. A lower tyre pressure may have reduced the amount of vibration though.

In your list of spares, take a pack of those interlocking foam matts and a 100 pack of long cable ties - I found them excellent at protecting the jerry rigged repairs on the plumbing. They were nearly shredded by stone damage when I got home but my repairs were intact and I had done a LOT of gravel road miles after the repairs. I had cut them in half and hung them in front of the plumbing, as well as tying them up directly under the plumbing.

FollowupID: 713788

Sponsored Links

Popular Products (9)