Driving up to Lake Eyre

I am driving up to Lake Eyre in 1st week of July. I will be driving a Holden Captiva & have never driven a 4 wheel drive before. Are there any special tricks I should be aware of when driving a 4 wheel drive. Also I am seeking advice as to weather it is better to enter Lake Eyre from Marree or William Creek. Any advice will be greatly appreciated.
Paul & Helen Brennan.

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Reply By: Mick O - Tuesday, May 10, 2011 at 18:46

Tuesday, May 10, 2011 at 18:46
I put the answer below on the blog you posted last week. I think Nick b has left a response as well.

"I too am heading up that way in July. I have actually just returned having driven the full length including the “old” section which hits the Stuart at Granite Downs. The road is in good condition and will present no problems to your captiva. The trap for young players is in not reducing tyre pressures once you hit the dirt. The conventional wisdom is a reduction of 10% to 20% down from your bitumen road pressures. (This should be when the tyres are cold so if you’re running 36 on the bitumen, I’d be at 30=-32 for the dirt). Also slow down and drive to conditions. Watch for the dips and creek crossings.

The route up through Leigh Creek, Maree William Creek is great. The Flinders’ presents a great stop off opportunity for a camp along the way (Try Akraman camp site on the ABC range). There is just so much to see and do. Great camp facilities at Coward Springs and several of the sidings at Curdimurka and Beresford have been restored and can be used to camp in (make sure you collect your own firewood before hand though).

Lake Eyre flights from William Creek, a feed at the pub, same with Oodnadatta (try the Oodnaburger). The whole route is steeped in history with the Ghan etc and many of the ruins of the old sidings and fettlers camps make great overnight camp spots. The bridge and creek at Algebuckina are worth a look and it’s a good camp spot but the mozzies are atrocious at present. There is the old telegraph station at Old Peake that is apparently interesting. I’ve not been there but intend to have a look this trip.

If you turn onto the abandoned top section of the track just near Mount Herbert north, there is a large lagoon sheltered by a sand hill only about 600 metres in. Another possible campsite. Do the whole length and enjoy it. You’ll only need 4x4 if it starts raining heavily while your out there. Its a good and safe run just let those tyres down a bit and slow down and enjoy.

If you see the silver “Tuck Truck” out there, make sure you say hello. I’ll be in a convoy with a dark grey Lawn Rover III, a white Prado and a silver Nissan Patrol. Should be on the track about the 3rd July – 5th July.

Cheers Mick"
''We knew from the experience of well-known travelers that the
trip would doubtless be attended with much hardship.''
Richard Maurice - 1903

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Follow Up By: Member - nick b - Tuesday, May 10, 2011 at 21:13

Tuesday, May 10, 2011 at 21:13
Yer my blog was basically watch out for the WOLLIES that don't slow down when passing you from opposite way showering you with rocks , as the road is very good some like to travel quite fast .
Cheers Nick b

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Reply By: Sand Man (SA) - Tuesday, May 10, 2011 at 18:58

Tuesday, May 10, 2011 at 18:58
Hi there,

No special tricks required.
I assume you have the CX which a is an all wheel drive rather than four wheel drive.

For your needs, the all wheel drive will handle the dirt track quite well and the Captiva has reasonable under body clearance.

Just drive at a speed that is comfortable for the conditions at the time.
If the Oodnadatta Track is dry, there will be no problems, just watch out for washouts, etc. where water may have previously crossed the road.

As outback road conditions may vary considerably from time to time, keep your eye on SA Gov. Outback road Conditions which will give you accurate information on road conditions and if in fact they are open or not.

I have only accessed Lake Eyre from the Halligan Bay track which is close to William Creek. This is a unique drive, ending up at the Lowest point below sea level in Australia.

Enjoy your trip.


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Reply By: Member - Phil G (SA) - Tuesday, May 10, 2011 at 19:47

Tuesday, May 10, 2011 at 19:47
Most likely problem with your Captiva will be tyres. I'm assuming yours has the standard 17" or 18" low profile tyres. I'm also assuming you have the spacesaver spare. You need to beg, borrow or steal an extra fullsize spare tyre or two because there's no way you'll get a Captiva tyre out bush.

The oodnadatta track has a lot of coarse, sharp gravel which can easily pierce tyres through the tread. Its most likely if your vehicle is heavily laden, tyres are worn greater than 50%, if you travel at greater than 80kph or if you run too high pressures. When I've taken similar size vehicles up the Oodnadatta track, I usually reduce pressures to around 24/26 psi - same as Adam Plate from oodnadatta Roadhouse will recommend.

The most serious problem is rolling the vehicle. It commonly happens on these tracks because people are inexperienced, travel too fast, especially around curves, and their vehicles are overladen and top heavy.

Thirdly, have a look under the front of your vehicle and see how low the engine sump and auto transmission pan is - make sure you avoid hitting these!

Enjoy your trip!

AnswerID: 453885

Reply By: Fab72 - Tuesday, May 10, 2011 at 20:10

Tuesday, May 10, 2011 at 20:10
Hello Magpie,
We too have a Captiva. We have the CX with 17 inch wheels, diesel. Late last year we did the full length of the Birdsville track and went through to Windorah and Longreach after having a good play in the Simpson desert.

Things to watch.....
Tyres.... we dropped ours down to 32 at Lyndhurst, then down to 28-30 at Marree. Keep the speed down to around 80 and you should be OK.

Under body..... say good bye to the plastic shield thing that is under your sump. Despite our best attempts, slow speeds and lots of caution, the hump between wheel tracks eroded the shield down.

Gravel rash ..... the plastic "flares" and body side mouldings will get an absolute hammering from the gravel your tyres kick up.

On the up side..... a very under rated vehicle. Handles the loose stuff with ease. Keep the traction control on and mud and sand will go almost un-noticed. In mud, the tyre treads fill up real quick but with a balanced level of momentum, you'll get through it.

In sand....don't expect the tyres to bag out much, because they wont. However, the relatively light vehicle mass and the more than impressive AWD set up will get you over most dunes you may come across.

Take things steady and you'll be right. Enjoy.

AnswerID: 453888

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