Savannah Way - Burketown - Borroloola with onroad caravan????

Submitted: Thursday, Mar 15, 2012 at 23:05
ThreadID: 92541 Views:10830 Replies:8 FollowUps:5
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Hi, we are planning our 14 week trip around Oz (not long enough, I know, but all we can do at the moment). We are going to be in Lawn Hill NP in 2nd week of July. Was wondering what our chances are, if any, of going from Lawn Hill to Burketown & onto Borroloola with our 4WD but towing a standard on road Jayco? I know it often depends on the road conditions at any given time but should we factor in this part of our journey as a maybe or discount it altogether & just go via Mt Isa & Tennant Creek? Any ideas would be much appreciated. Cheers Rachael
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Reply By: Member - lyndon NT - Friday, Mar 16, 2012 at 09:03

Friday, Mar 16, 2012 at 09:03
14 weeks will allow you to do HALF, so pick a half of the country and enjoy. Lawn Hill is awesome, allow 4 days there, no less, lots of walks in the 5 km range.
I have been there more than once the same for B/Town, unless the roads have just been graded you may well damage your van. Sadly you will find many of the best places to visit are best visited without an "onroad van" Maybe a tent is an option?

Good luck

Lyndon
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Reply By: Member - John and Lynne - Friday, Mar 16, 2012 at 11:29

Friday, Mar 16, 2012 at 11:29
Going to Booroola that way would almost certainly cause damage to your van.
Also there is currently (as far as we know) no fuel available on that road.
You could go to Barkly Homestead from Cammoweal and then up to Cape Crawford and take a day trip to Boorooloola area. At that time there will be helicopter flights into the Hidden City.The road from Cape Crawford to Daly Waters is Ok with some good camp spots.
We agree that in 14 weeks you will not see much except the road in front of you. Halve the trip distance and enjoy it more. The rest will be there for the next trip. If you overdo this trip you will never want to do another one!
We have met too many people having a boring and miserable trip because they are doing nothing but drive. What looks doable on a map while you are comfortably at home can be a lot harder in reality. There is too much to see and do to just whizz around for the sake of cicumnavigating the continent!
Enjoy planning your trip- but be realistic about what you wish to achieve. Lynne
John & Lynne

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Follow Up By: Member Andys Adventures - Friday, Mar 16, 2012 at 12:53

Friday, Mar 16, 2012 at 12:53
The road from Cape Crawford to Daly Waters is a bit rough at the moment, as it has had quite a bit of rain on it and has a few pot holes. This road is also one lane, but as Lynne said nice camp spots.
Andy
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Reply By: Joshane - Friday, Mar 16, 2012 at 15:35

Friday, Mar 16, 2012 at 15:35
Hi Rachael

Although we didn't go onto Borroloola, we did travel from Lawn Hill to Burketown towing an onroad van (14ft millard), in September last year.

We found the road to be much better than we expected, although you still have to take your time and drive with care. We found the worst section was the road from Lawn Hill to Gregory Downs...that was atrocious and I wouldn't recommend towing an onroad van along there.

Keep in mind that when you are travelling on these roads, that going short distances can take you all day. This could have an impact on your trip as you don't have alot of time.

If you still decide to go this way, wait until you are a bit closer, and then give the local Police a call to get the road conditions in the area.
Safe travels!
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Follow Up By: Steve M1 (NSW) - Friday, Mar 16, 2012 at 17:27

Friday, Mar 16, 2012 at 17:27
yep - it's often quicker to go the long way around - and no damage either.
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Follow Up By: Steve M1 (NSW) - Friday, Mar 16, 2012 at 18:20

Friday, Mar 16, 2012 at 18:20
of course, we all know conditions and maintenance vary a lot and different people have different views on what is "atrocious". eg: I have never known the Lawn hill road to be anything but decent whereas the Savannah is often/usually rough. (not disputing Joshane) With that in mind, I'd be giving somebody in Burketown, Borroloola, Normanton and Doomadgee a call until you are clear enough. It only takes a phone call for on the spot advice.
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Reply By: anglepole - Friday, Mar 16, 2012 at 15:57

Friday, Mar 16, 2012 at 15:57
Hello Rachael

Give the visitor centre in Katherine a ring before you set off on the Savannah Way they are pretty switched on there.

This road varies from dam awful to good depending on when the grader has been there.

As has been said elsewhere, watch out for dirty fuel. Best fill up at a large National Brand servo
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Reply By: rumpig - Friday, Mar 16, 2012 at 18:54

Friday, Mar 16, 2012 at 18:54
as you have said , road conditions at the time will play a massive part in the outcome, but if they are anything like they were last year when we went through that area, there will be not alot left of your van at the end of the trip. we were at the end of the dry season, and the corrogations we experienced at that time were some of the worst i have driven (especially between Hell's Gate and Booroloola), it certainly tested out our offroad camper trailer.
no way in the world would i take a onroad van along that route, i'd certainly want a really good offroad van to even consider taking it along there if the conditions turned out to be similar to what we experienced on our trip.
AnswerID: 480562

Reply By: scoots68 - Friday, Mar 16, 2012 at 21:31

Friday, Mar 16, 2012 at 21:31
Thanks everyone for your replies. I think we will just stick to the highway & go back to Mt Isa from Lawn Hill & then across & up to Katherine on the highway. We don't have any great desire to go to Borroloola area this trip, just thought it might be a bit of a different way to get to Katherine if it was possible. We are taking our tent so will park the caravan in some places & go off road where we can.
AnswerID: 480578

Follow Up By: Member - lyndon NT - Saturday, Mar 17, 2012 at 16:23

Saturday, Mar 17, 2012 at 16:23
You are assuming you can get into Lawn Hill, check the road conditions first, I have been on that road more than once and have seen it in a condition that will almost certainly cause damage to an on road van.
Tent?
Now is the only time you own
Decide now what you will,
Place faith not in tomorrow
For the clock may then be still

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Reply By: Kris and Kev - Saturday, Mar 17, 2012 at 10:13

Saturday, Mar 17, 2012 at 10:13
Rachael,
You could always free camp at Camooweal, then take Tablelands Highway north at Barkly Homestead and free camp at Brunette Downs and then head up to Borroloola, all bitumen road. We took that way in 2010 (via Lawn Hill) due to the Savannah Way from Burketown being closed.
Kevin
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Follow Up By: Member - Richard H - West NSW - Monday, Mar 19, 2012 at 08:27

Monday, Mar 19, 2012 at 08:27
Camooweal is good for free camping, though the sites along the Georgina River can get a bit crowded in the season.

The Tablelands Highway is bitumen, though pretty narrow, and if you meet anything coming the other way, you need to get off, particularly if it's a road train.

The rest area at Brunette Downs is quite good, it's large and you can get back off the road a bit, but the next one north is small and very close to the road.

You can stay at Cape Crawford, but ensure that you have sufficient fuel to go from Barkley Homestead to Borroloola or The Stuart Hwy. When I was last at Cape Crawford they had run out of diesel. I think that place has the distinction of being the most expensive fuel retailler in Oz at present.

Some years ago I drove, no towing, from Borroloola to Normanton. The road in the N.T. varied, but as we got closer to Qld. it deteriorated to the point that we had to really slow down. Once we hit the border it was like a new road as the road gangs had been working.

I feel it's the luck of the draw.
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Reply By: Kris and Kev - Monday, Mar 19, 2012 at 09:10

Monday, Mar 19, 2012 at 09:10
Yes, do not fuel up at Cape Crawford. We thought we would top up just in case and the diesel was $1.99 a litre and when we got to Borroloola it was $1.75! A rip off as the tankers drive past there to get to Borroloola. Also interesting that at Cape Crawford I mentioned to the Irish girl serving how dear the fuel was and she just snarly replied, 'well you are in the middle of no where.' As I said, up the road it was a lot cheaper. Kevin
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