Perth to Cairns

Submitted: Thursday, Jul 28, 2011 at 00:24
ThreadID: 87825 Views:2939 Replies:5 FollowUps:4
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my girlfriend and I are planning to drive from Perth to Cairns travelling on outback tracks, I would appreciate some advice.

We are planning on driving along the Gun Barrel Highway then heading to Alice Springs with maybe a (massive) detour to Coober Pedy. Then take the Tanami Track to go past Wolf Creek and the Bungle Bungle range. Then up to Darwin, visiting the Kakadu National Park and then driving the Savannah way to Cairns. Any advice/suggestions about this?

We are planning on going at the start of October and I think it will take about a month, is this realistic/ a good time to go?

I am looking at getting a Land Cruiser Troopy, I reckon I can work out what I need to take by looking on the web but if anyone’s got any suggestions I would appreciate it.

How long roughly should it take to drive the Gun Barrel highway and the Tanami Track?

From looking on the net I think we will be doing the most difficult part of our trip first; as I have never done any 4X4 driving before I thought it would be a good idea to do some practice trips that aren’t so extreme before, maybe over weekends. Does anyone know of any good trips in the Perth area we could do?

Also, is there any places to find other people that are planning similar trips so we could go in convoy to look out each other?

Thanks in advance for any help you can give us.
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Reply By: Member - Captain (WA) - Thursday, Jul 28, 2011 at 01:04

Thursday, Jul 28, 2011 at 01:04
We have just completed the Great Central Road (Gunbarrel Hwy) from Perth to Uluru (Ayers Rock) and Kings Canyon. Here is a link to my blog on what conditions you may encounter. This time of year is supposed to be dry, but well as you can see it was far from that!

Uluru & Kings Canyon Blog

The biggest issue is how quickly conditions can change. One day its an easy, but remote, trip. The next its a challenging 4WD adventure!



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Follow Up By: The Explorer - Thursday, Jul 28, 2011 at 12:22

Thursday, Jul 28, 2011 at 12:22

GCR and Gunbarrell Hwy are two differents roads that share only a small section in common (around Giles). Its a bit unclear if Autominable Snowbot wants to actually do the Gunbarrel Hwy or has confused the names. The GCR is a generally well maintained outback road and the easiest and most commonly used route. My understanding is that to travel the Gunbarrel Hwy you need at least two vehicles in convoy or a permit will not be issued.

I sent one final shout after him to stick to the track, to which he replied “All right,” That was the last ever seen of Gibson - E Giles 23 April 1874

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Reply By: Member Andys Aussie Adventure - Thursday, Jul 28, 2011 at 06:26

Thursday, Jul 28, 2011 at 06:26
You might want to join a 4x4 club that can run you through driving and recovery methods. As for how long it takes, how long is a ball of string. That will depend on road cond, how long you stop and look at the country side etc etc etc.

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Follow Up By: Bill BD - Thursday, Jul 28, 2011 at 11:47

Thursday, Jul 28, 2011 at 11:47
I agree. There are things you need to know that you won't learn just driving yourself off road. My employer put me through a 2 day offroad driving course, which was excellent. A 4x4 club would also be useful. There is no shortage of gravel offroad driving (of varied difficulties) between Dwellingup and Waroona. I am not sure what would really prepare you for up that way though. Research thoroughly.
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Reply By: Member - Richard L (WA) - Thursday, Jul 28, 2011 at 13:41

Thursday, Jul 28, 2011 at 13:41
Firstly there is no way you could do that trip in a month. To see all the highlights betwen Perth and Alice would take at least 3 weeks to a month.
Honestly that whole trip to Cairns is quite an exercise especially if you have not done much outback travel before. Alice to Darwin taking in the bungles is minimum 3 weeks. There is a lot of planning required for food, vehicle maintinence, communications,fuel supplies I could go on but you could easily plan this trip by using all the trip prep notes and track notes on this site.

Heh don't get me wrong what you are planning is a great trip and something you will thoroughly enjoy....but you can't rush a trip like this or you will be dissapointed and miss a lot of things. I would be looking at 3 MONTHS to do this trip. Most important is your safety you have to remember that you are travelling some very remote country so self sufficiency and good communications are essential......MOST IMPORTANT WATER SUPPLIES

The other thing to consider is time of departure. October is getting a bit late.Temperatures in the inland are starting to increase and it can you extremely hot, I would be starting a trip like this no later than August.

Do your planning using available info on this site and you will have a great time

All the best
AnswerID: 461152

Reply By: Motherhen - Thursday, Jul 28, 2011 at 15:42

Thursday, Jul 28, 2011 at 15:42

Taking a month would not give you time to go and see the places you are passing.

On our last big trip, we went via the Gary Junction Road as we had been through the Kimberley, Tanami and Great Central as well as touring around Alice Springs (five weeks just for that) the previous year. The Gary Junction is the better route. Abandoning plans to do the Savannah way and having to leave out going to northern Qld due to weather heating up and time frames, we went via the Barkly to Qld, taking us from mid June to end of August just to reach Qld border. This did involve a total of three weeks down time, but this needs to be allowed for because even if something simple breaks, there is a big wait for parts. You also need to allow for days to do the laundry and go shopping occasionally. From Alice Springs we went up the Stuart Highway, sightseeing along the way. over a week seeing just the basics in Kakadu, on to Darwin the three days seeing Litchfield on the way back, before heading towards Qld. We did not rush, but rarely stopped just to relax, moving on most days. Being set up for independent camping, we just stop when were are ready.

You can cover large distances if you have to get from A to B in a hurry, but it is a waste of time, nerves and fuel to rush through and miss wonderful places to see along the way. For examples of our time frames when in holiday mode not 'we've got to get to the far coast in a few days' mode, read our Time Frames. Leaving off the Tanami and back into WA detour may make a more realistic trip. Plan the Kimberley for another year.


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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Thursday, Jul 28, 2011 at 15:47

Thursday, Jul 28, 2011 at 15:47
I concur with Richard about the time of year. By September it was getting too hot in north Queensland and the seasonal holidayers were moving south. We also chose to follow the weather and head south. August in Cairns was beautiful (another year also). August in Alice Springs the year we toured Central Australia was interspersed with some cold weather, but really heated up come September.


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Reply By: Autominable Snowbot - Saturday, Jul 30, 2011 at 16:26

Saturday, Jul 30, 2011 at 16:26
Thanks for all the replies; it’s given me a lot to think about.

I think I do mean the Great Central road.

Timing is a bit difficult as the earliest we can get away is mid Sept and we are only in Oz for 1 year so no chance of doing it next year. From your advice I am now thinking about skipping the GCR and driving on main roads going up the west coast to the Kimberly and really taking the time to enjoy it; hopefully it won’t get too hot. Again maybe attempting the Savannah Way if it isn’t too hot. We are them heading down the east coast to Melbourne, maybe there is some good roads we can go on which will be better in the spring/summer, I’ll have a search for those. Ii would mean leaving Alice Springs and Coober Pedy for a later date, maybe going on a road trip from Melbourne; I’ll check the forum to see if anyone’s wrote about doing a similar thing.

I think the driving course is a good idea (fun too.) There are plenty about, does anyone have any recommendations?

I’ve been looking at Hilux Surfs does anyone know whether this is a good choice?

Captain, I can’t access your blog.

Thanks again everyone the advice is very helpful.
AnswerID: 461336

Follow Up By: Member - Captain (WA) - Saturday, Jul 30, 2011 at 17:25

Saturday, Jul 30, 2011 at 17:25
Hmm... not sure why the link didn't work, but click on the "my Blog" tag next to my rig pic below. Then click on the Uluru & Kings Canyon blog to see some pics of the variable road conditions. If you haven't done any 4WDriving before, then its probably not the best place to start - though its certainly not a hard road if the conditions are good.


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