Help needed planning 3 month outback trip in July 2011

Submitted: Monday, Apr 04, 2011 at 12:25
ThreadID: 85423 Views:2945 Replies:5 FollowUps:0
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I have just joined this forum after reading the travel tips from the experts over the last few months. We are planning a 3 month trip into outback Qld, NT and possibly eastern Kimberlies if we get time. We are leaving on the 2nd July - there will be myself, husband and 3 children aged 10, 8 and 5 yrs. We will be driving a Ford Territory AWD and towing a Goldstream Storm off-road camper trailer. We realise that our camper will be able to go more places than our vehicle will unfortunately. My main questions concern the type of roads our vehicle will be able to handle. We have a couple of route options and I have been looking at the Plenty Hwy, Tanami Track and Oodnadatta track as possible roads we may be able to take to save time. Are these roads suitable to our Ford Territory considering that it will hopefully we dry at our time of travel? Also wondering about the Birdsville Track as that may be an option also. We haven't got a finalised route yet due to the fact that I am unsure on what roads we will be able to travel on. Any tips/suggestions would be wonderful. Thank-you in advance.
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Reply By: Member - John G- Monday, Apr 04, 2011 at 14:32

Monday, Apr 04, 2011 at 14:32
G'day Jacaluke

From experience and observation, and assuming dry weather, I reckon both the Oodnadatta and Birdsville Tracks are do-able in the Territory. I don't have any experience of the other tracks/highways to which you refer.

AnswerID: 450310

Reply By: MEMBER - Darian, SA - Monday, Apr 04, 2011 at 14:56

Monday, Apr 04, 2011 at 14:56
If you could get light truck tyres for the Territory, then the BV and Oodnadatta roads will probably be quite ok (if graded for the winter season - BUT that is by no means assured this year - rain has had a big impact in the region and the road gangs will have heaps to do). Clearance is not usually an issue for them, but the small to medium stones can play havoc with lower panels and the 'passenger class tyres' - the tyre shoulders are usually far to thin.
As for the Plenty and the Tanami - lengthy stretches of corrugations will most likely be encountered (the shockers will be tested) - and ground clearance issues may well emerge too - the Tanami especially can be a brute at times, even for vehicles more suited than the Territory (hey - going via Katherine has plusses, despite the distance). Crikey - what a trip - the kids will have a great time - mum and dad might too :-o).

AnswerID: 450313

Reply By: Member - Salt grinder - Monday, Apr 04, 2011 at 18:39

Monday, Apr 04, 2011 at 18:39
Welcome to theforum, and I might add "welcome to the outback". This is where you begin to see the real outback . . . . great country.
The boys above quite correctly eluded to the road conditions, things do change from year to year and there has been a big wet. Due to this fact, it's a good idea to contact the local shires who are responsible for grading, closing and generally managing the roads. This will help you finalise your direction, travellers along the way will tell you what the roads are like up ahead. Also, circumstances sometimes warrant checking with local councils as you proceed, for the latest roads updates.

The roads you are talking about are all good dirt roads when they have just been graded. Corrugations are what can drive you balmy, besides playing havoc with your suspension (and the vehicles). Quality All-Terrain tyres are worth the investment, also on the trailer, consider it a must have.

Managing tyre pressures is the next advice. Once you hit the extended dirt roads knock the pressure down by 10psi (carry a good gauge), it gives a better footprint on the road surface and softens the road impact on the suspension. Raise the pressure again once you back on the long black stretches.

Speed, especially with a trailer needs to be checked, it takes longer to stop on the dirt, and many a fast 4WD has come to grief on corrugated bends in the road, you bounce sideways. Remember the tyres bouncing means your only in contact with mother earth half the time.

Stay away from the very outside edges of the dirt as there can be big sharp rocks or dead tree stakes waiting to rip the sides out of your tyres.
Also, the tread on AT tyres is pretty chunky which means you have less rubber on the bitumen, not too bad when dry but give yourself more space from the guy in front when it's wet.

And finally, probably not a bad idea to throw in a spare front and rear shock absorber, just in case, or upgrade all 4 before you go.

Take your time, wind down the windows and enjoy the real Aust. It's a big beautiful country. Safe travels.
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AnswerID: 450337

Reply By: Member - John G- Friday, Apr 08, 2011 at 10:03

Friday, Apr 08, 2011 at 10:03
G'day again Jacaluke

The advice about tyres, tyre pressure (check the Oodnadatta Pink Roadhouse website), and suspension is all spot on. We actually played tag with a Territory pulling a camper trailer from Birdsville to Marree, and that was stock standard with normal tyres, but tyre failure is not worth the risk.

Our son has a Territory and is planning to borrow our Jayco Outback for a short bitumen-only trip. Have you done any suspension modifications to your's to manage towing your Goldstream?

AnswerID: 450668

Reply By: Jacaluke - Friday, Apr 08, 2011 at 21:21

Friday, Apr 08, 2011 at 21:21
Hi John G,

We have not made any mods to our Territory to tow our Goldstream other than have electric brakes fitted to our vehicle and an Anderson plug fitted also which was included by the manufacturer when we purchased the camper.

Can you tell me a bit more about the Oodnadatta Track? Does it save much time? We are looking at going from Uluru to Flinders Ranges and then heading home to Kingscliff via Dubbo and thought that would be the best route.
AnswerID: 450731

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