first outback Family adventure

Submitted: Wednesday, Feb 01, 2012 at 11:16
ThreadID: 91593 Views:2685 Replies:9 FollowUps:2
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Hi all
I am about to take my family on our first outback adventure and am very excited but at the same time very nervous, I have had many years of experience camping, and driving on bush tracks, but have never undertaken something like this. Any advice or suggestions would be appreciated.
This is roughly what I intend to do:
Toowoomba, Longreach, winton, Lark Quarry.
Winton to Alice via the Plenty Hwy.
Alice to Uluru via hermansburg, ormiston gorge, and kings canyon.
Uluru to oodnandatta via finke, mt dare, and Dalhousie Springs.
Oodnadatta to marree(oodnandatta track), marree to Birdsville (birdsville track).
Birdsville to innaminka, cameron corner (maybe), and home via st george.
Vehicle: Hyundai terracan 2.9 CRDi, heavy duty shocks, air bags, slight lift, dual battery, bull bar.
Towing an "off road extreme" CT (1200kg).
Planning to set off in June, and have 4-5 weeks to do it in.
Also, people say its too crowded in Central Aus in June, how crowded ?, does that mean we wont find accomidation in camp grounds, or will there be bumper to bumper on the outback roads.
Nervous Dave
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Reply By: patsproule - Wednesday, Feb 01, 2012 at 11:24

Wednesday, Feb 01, 2012 at 11:24
How old are your kids? While I want mine to see the country when travelling, the best investment I bought was an in-car DVD player. We dont use it all the time but it's good for when the "are we there yet"s start coming.

Other tips - plan plenty of stops and give them time to run around when stopping. Dont feed them heaps of sugar in the car. Do some research on the places you are visiting ahead of the trip so that you can tell them info about where they are and what happens there. But otherwise kids are very adaptable. Stop worrying and get out there!

AnswerID: 476571

Reply By: Robin Miller - Wednesday, Feb 01, 2012 at 11:50

Wednesday, Feb 01, 2012 at 11:50
Hi Dave

Don't know size/age of family but I'd give everybody some clear responsibilites such they get involved.

Places like Alice can get booked out if school holidays or big events , check these but otherwise it won't be bumper to bumper.

Robin Miller

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Reply By: Member - John and Val - Wednesday, Feb 01, 2012 at 12:07

Wednesday, Feb 01, 2012 at 12:07
Hi Dave,

You will have a great time, its normal to be a bit nervous if going out that way for the first time, but there is really not too much to be concerned about, especially if you are well prepared.

A couple of points - Lark Quarry is currently closed while the building over the dinosaur tracks is repaired. Also if you are planning to go Innaminka to Cameron Corner via Bollards Lagoon, that track is closed too. Other than that everything you have listed is via formed roads although these may become corrugated.

It does get busy in the centre during the winter, but once away from Alice you really wont notice much. Its certainly not bumper to bumper. There will be enough traffic to be reassuring if anything goes astray. Would pay to book in advance into a CP in Alice Springs.

Try not to rely too much on electronic aids to keep your kids entertained - get them to keep a diary/scrapbook to encourage them to take note of what they are experiencing. Use the travelling times to tell stories, sing songs, play games etc and the time will fly by.


J and V
"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted."
- Albert Einstein

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Follow Up By: vk1dx - Wednesday, Feb 01, 2012 at 14:21

Wednesday, Feb 01, 2012 at 14:21
I know that Val and John are keen photographers so I will tag onto their theme of a scrap book. These cameras will be a great aid to the scrap book.

Something for the kids. But I do not know their ages. If they are old enough you can give them an inexpensive camera each.

Try these:

I only picked these as an example. There are more and also new ones. Just an idea. These cameras are second hand but cheap and easy for the kids to run. If you want new then you can search as only you knows their budget. Have you got something that they can view them on at night and maybe store them away until after the trip.

They use a SD card and have USB interface to download or transfer photos with.


FollowupID: 751692

Follow Up By: Member - Duncs - Wednesday, Feb 01, 2012 at 19:46

Wednesday, Feb 01, 2012 at 19:46

Like others I am not a fan on electronic entertainment.

I started travelling when my now 19 yr old son was 4months and never used a DVD or the like. He still comes out bush with me. As do my girls now 23 and 18.

The best thing we ever came up with was on the Cape York trip, the kids were 11, 7 and 6. We had the kids count water crossings. We defined what counted and every time I approached water on the road we reminded the kids about the count. They debated if this one counted then argued over what we were up to before agreeing on the number. We were away 8 weeks and barely had an argument.

On another trip my son worked out that red dirt ment we were on the top of a hill and grey dirt ment we were down low. Just from looking out the window.

Your trip looks great take some warm bedding as it can get cold out that way overnight. I would book something in Alice but wing the rest.

FollowupID: 751714

Reply By: Member - Mark (Tamworth NSW) - Wednesday, Feb 01, 2012 at 13:06

Wednesday, Feb 01, 2012 at 13:06
Can be done easily over 4-5 weeks with that set up.

Three major bits of advice are have near new tyres, not to rush as you have plenty of time and reduce tyre pressure when on dirt. Two web sites to use for advice are the Pink Road House and Mt Dare Station. Just Google them.

We did it a few years ago in July school holidays, the most crowded time of all. Major centres like Alice, Mt Isa, Coober Pedy &Longreach were busy but I wouldn't say crowded as a coastal CP in summer. There are plenty of spots to bush camp
We had no problems by booking ahead and we found the CP were obliging if we needed to vary arrival departure dates provided we told them in advance

There are numerous blogs and forum threads if you just use the search function you will discover a treasure trove of information at ExploreOz.

With the exception of roads within NP, I found the dirt roads were far better than I expected.
AnswerID: 476580

Reply By: Member - Graeme W (NSW) - Wednesday, Feb 01, 2012 at 14:15

Wednesday, Feb 01, 2012 at 14:15
Hi Dave,

Alice Springs will be very busy around the 10 of June due to the Finke Desert race. It would be difficult to get into a caravan park during race week without booking well in advance.

When you’re out near Hermannsburg, Palm Valley is well worth a visit. There’s an excellent campground with hot showers and a couple of walks to do.

From your route I assume you’ll go through Boulia. The Min Min Light Encounter at the Tourist info centre is very good.

Lake Eyre 2011

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Reply By: MEMBER - Darian, SA - Wednesday, Feb 01, 2012 at 17:26

Wednesday, Feb 01, 2012 at 17:26
Looks like a great trip to me (I've been to those places, some 2x, and they are either great or wonderful, in the right weather :-o). Most importantly, you have enough time available to enjoy it - finding somewhere to camp should be no real problem in general, and the roads will probably just be carrying the usual moderate tourist traffic levels - not a problem for the thoughtful outback driver !
Getting in quite early in the afternoon improves your chances of a place in any of the busy towns and popular camps - Ormiston G for example - quite limited places there (but oh.... what a place... 9 days on our last stay) . For the busy towns, there is usually an overflow opportunity of some sort just on the edge of town, especially suitable for campers not needing power.
Your hardware sounds highly suitable - along with the gear to help you survive adverse weather (eg.....stranded for days by rain - can happen any time, anywhere) with a family in tow, long distance communication options would be on my list. Have a great time.

AnswerID: 476591

Reply By: mikehzz - Wednesday, Feb 01, 2012 at 18:38

Wednesday, Feb 01, 2012 at 18:38
Take an extra spare tyre, no need for an extra rim. Do sunset on top of Big Red. Its only half an hour out of Birdsville :-) Leave the trailer in Birdsville of course. Sounds great. Cheers.
AnswerID: 476598

Reply By: Carreen - Wednesday, Feb 01, 2012 at 21:41

Wednesday, Feb 01, 2012 at 21:41
Hey Dave,
My children are 25, 22 and 18 and we have taken them camping since they were toddlers. All of them love the bush and have transversed this great country of ours and learnt many things. I am a teacher and I believe getting out there with the children sharing experiences, talking, laughing builds lasting impressions and relationships and helps them with their school work as they have a real understanding of things like telegraph stations instead of reading about them in a book. We went with another family to Kings Canyon and were very strict about the children walking with a parent between them and the cliff drops. Not the place for children to run around or up to edges to have a look.
Now days we have to gather them from different states to get in a family camping trip so lucky you-enjoy!
AnswerID: 476619

Reply By: Ross M - Wednesday, Feb 01, 2012 at 22:52

Wednesday, Feb 01, 2012 at 22:52
With 5 adults you will be cosy in a Terracan.
When travelling from Hermansburg to Kings Canyon you will need to buy a Mereenie loop road pass because you are crossing Aboriginal land.
This road is really smooth just after the grader but can be very rough and corrugated.
This will give your suspension a very good work out with 5 on board.
Travel much slower, you see more, on this section to Kings Canyon with your tyre pressures lowered eg 35psi down to 28 or even less. On the trailer too.
Lots of camper trailers have broken axles off on this road. Yes, wheel goes walkies suddenly and ruins your holiday. Seen it happen to a Jayco OFF ROAD camper. They had to tow it 30 km with only one wheel to the KC resort campground. About $1000 in total extra cost and just on 1000km extra to go back to Alice and return with bits repaired. + 3 days off the holiday.

Because you have airbags to hold the load up the suspension will not be as compliant as it is unloaded and little bag pressure.
So make sure you have a good quality compressor with you to re inflate tyres when onto the smooth stuff again.

If you have a trailer plug and anderson plug ensure it is retained if either plug falls out. The terrain just wears them away very quickly. I have replaced a number of these for people who thought it couldn't fall out and drag.
Just use an ockie strap around them and the A frame.

Ask people at petrol stops and cvan parks etc what the accomodation is like near where you intend to go. Most are happy to tell you the situations and the good and bads.
RegardsRoss M
AnswerID: 476628

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