Boulia to Alice Springs WHICH WAY ?????

Submitted: Wednesday, May 02, 2012 at 16:29
ThreadID: 95316 Views:4507 Replies:10 FollowUps:10
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Hi All
I am taking my family to Alice Springs via Boulia from Toowoomba QLD. We have a terracan 2.9 CRDi with heavy duty suspension, mild lift, snokel, dual batteries, etc, towing a full off road CT (1200kg), we have extra fuel and water and a fully self contained.
Is it worth saving 600kl and do the Plenty hwy, or should we just stay on the tar and go via Mt Isa, camoweal, and Tennant Creek.
We will be coming home via Oodnandatta track and Birdsville track so we will be seeing enough dirt roads on the way home.
Is the Plenty as bad as it sounds, and is there much to see along the way.
Your opinions would be apreciated.

Cheers
Dave
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Reply By: MEMBER - Darian, SA - Wednesday, May 02, 2012 at 16:58

Wednesday, May 02, 2012 at 16:58
The run west of Mt Isa is very boring in my view (except for Camooweal) - I'm yet to do the Plenty (weather ruled it out for me last year) but from all reports it is a very interesting tour overall. Your hardware sounds to be suited ok for that region - why not check here just before the decision needs to be made. Also, "local knowledge" in Boulia might be hard to beat as the best source of up to date info.
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Reply By: Member - hopbush - Wednesday, May 02, 2012 at 17:41

Wednesday, May 02, 2012 at 17:41
Your car sounds fine, but If you do the Plenty make sure you have spare spares or at least adequate tyre repair gear and compressor. The Plenty highway can be tough on tyres, but otherwise a good but lonely outback drive, just take it easy and get a last minute road report before you leave.
Tony
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Reply By: Fred G NSW - Wednesday, May 02, 2012 at 17:45

Wednesday, May 02, 2012 at 17:45
G'day Dave. A friend of mine came across west to east the weekend before last, in a mazda 4wd, and he reckons it could be done by the family commodore at the moment, as lots of grading has and was taking place. He said the country was beautiful, lush and green as you would expect after all the rain. They went west via the Barkley two weeks earlier, and said they really enjoyed the run back across the Plenty. He also said there was fuel available at Tobermorey, where they filled 2 jerry cans.
Maybe ring the Police at Boulia ??

Fred.
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Follow Up By: Fred G NSW - Wednesday, May 02, 2012 at 17:51

Wednesday, May 02, 2012 at 17:51
Just had a thought. They left from and returned to the Gold Coast, via Toowoomba. The driver of the Mazda, who is my mates cousin, lives on the Gold Coast, and I am sure he would be only too happy to speak with you if you want.
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Reply By: Member - Graeme W (NSW) - Wednesday, May 02, 2012 at 17:46

Wednesday, May 02, 2012 at 17:46
Hi Dave,

I came across the Plenty last year towing my van and thought it wasn't too bad. Certainly more interesting than going via the tar in my opinion.

Graeme


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Follow Up By: Fred G NSW - Wednesday, May 02, 2012 at 17:53

Wednesday, May 02, 2012 at 17:53
Graeme, I asked Ross that very questions re suitability for a caravan, and that's where the family commodore comment came up. Looks likes now is a good time.
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Reply By: Member - Tony V (NSW) - Wednesday, May 02, 2012 at 17:51

Wednesday, May 02, 2012 at 17:51
David,

Personally I would do the Plenty Hwy, there is not too much to see unless you want to explore, but its a journey worth doing.

I would stop at Jervois Homestead and I would give them a call prior to leaving as they are close to half way and know the road.

Just take it easy, drop your tyre pressures a (including camper) and drop your speed, example 25 psi and max of 80kms (if not slower). Hart Range is worth a look, then there is Gemtree.

It one to tick off your bucket list, now if your in a hurry, take the tar,

If you want an interesting trip you could cut through the Gemfields and onto The Gardens Road or there's always the Sundowner Hwy.....

Good luck with your plans....

AnswerID: 484821

Reply By: KevL64 - Wednesday, May 02, 2012 at 18:40

Wednesday, May 02, 2012 at 18:40
Coincidentally, the wife and I will be taking the same trip in late June leaving from just outside Toowoomba at Murphy's Creek.
I'l be in a grand Vitara with a Trek Kudu offroad camper.

I've been across the Barkly highway a couple of times in each direction. The only thing you'll miss is the exorbitant price charged for fuel at Barkly Homestead. While fuel will be dearer along the Plenty, at least it's remote and they have an excuse.

From everything I've read all the tracks that your planning are easily traversed unless it rains. Then all bets are off.
Take your time and watch your tyre pressure.

Kev
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Follow Up By: Fred G NSW - Wednesday, May 02, 2012 at 19:47

Wednesday, May 02, 2012 at 19:47
Kev, why is the Plenty more remote than Barkley Homestead ?? I thought Barkley very reasonable price wise, with all it has to offer, considering the location, remoteness, cost of putting up staff, cost of maintaining a sensational caravan/camping park, roadhouse with excellent restartaunt, etc etc. not to mention those huge generators to run the place. If you can drive from Cammoweal to Tennant Creek along the Barkley, without having to replenish, then the Plenty shouldn't pose a problem either.
Don't quite get yourpoint/criticiscm.

Fred
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Follow Up By: KevL64 - Wednesday, May 02, 2012 at 20:18

Wednesday, May 02, 2012 at 20:18
Fred.
When I was last out there in 2010 fuel at Barkley was $1.86. It was $1.48 in Tennant Ck and $1.54 in Cammoweal. Even Eppenara station on the way to Davenport ranges was only $1.90.
As my original post says, I thought they were charging an excessive price for fuel purely on the basis that for some travellers there was no choice. I did have a choice.

They are not alone though. The Threeways was 20C/L dearer than Tennant Creek, just 25km south. Now it's probably not worth it to travel the 50km round trip for 20c/l but why is there such a difference? Because they can!

As to why the Plenty is more remote than the Barkly?
One is a 2 lane bitumen major highway connecting Brisbane and the East coast to Darwin. There is a significant amount of traffic. The other is a gravel/ dirt/ sand road connecting cattle stations. Of course, walk 100m off the Barkly highway, turn around twice and you'd be hard pressed to tell the difference. :)


I pay what I have to pay for petrol. I expect to be paying well above $2/L on my trip. I'm prepared to pay a premium in remote and isolated places to cover increased costs and the convenience factor. That doesn't mean I enjoy extortion though.
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Follow Up By: Fred G NSW - Wednesday, May 02, 2012 at 20:38

Wednesday, May 02, 2012 at 20:38
Kev.....in all my trips across the Barkely, which started around about 1955, I am yet to see anyone standing on the roadside near the Barkley H/S pointing a gun at you demanding you pull in and part with your cash for supplies.
Extortion is a very harsh word, in fact the act of it is a felony in this country. Punishable by penal servitude..hmmmm.
I still don't get the difference in remoteness in your explanation ? The klm's to major centres are not so different, although the scenery might be.

Fred


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Follow Up By: KevL64 - Wednesday, May 02, 2012 at 20:50

Wednesday, May 02, 2012 at 20:50
Fred,
At what point would you consider then that a service station is price gouging? $5/L $10/L perhaps?
I was simply stating an opinion that in my opinion they were taking advantage of travellers and that the price charged in no way reflected the true costs.

As to your second concern:
What would YOU describe as remote?
I simply don't consider Barkly homestead to be very "remote" by "my" definition.
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Follow Up By: Fred G NSW - Wednesday, May 02, 2012 at 21:07

Wednesday, May 02, 2012 at 21:07
Lucky for all it is only as you say, "Your Opinion."

And BTW you're entitled to that.

I don't still get your point though. In one moment you say you are happy to expect to pay to pay in excess of $2 p/l then pay out on the BHS charging $1.86 p/l.

"I simply don't consider Barkly homestead to be very "remote" by "my" definition."

Why not?

Are you aware of the costs of getting supplies out there?


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Follow Up By: Bob Y. - Qld - Wednesday, May 02, 2012 at 21:10

Wednesday, May 02, 2012 at 21:10
Kev,

Gotta side with Fred on this price issue. The only reason fuel seems dear at Barkly Homestead, is because people who are used to paying city prices, are able to access the area, because of the quality of the highway. Was still under $2/L, just before Easter, and we are paying nearly $1.60/L here in Winton.

Remember they are pumping about 500L of diesel into their gen sets everyday, and they have to pay for that. Can't comment on wages etc there, but they run a staff of maybe 10 - 12, and provide accomodation for them too.

Would suggest their fuel comes from Darwin too, so this puts a premium on it straight away.

All simple economics I'd say. Supply and demand, if you don't need it, don't buy it. BUT plenty do, as i've seen regularly over the past couple of years. Especially those boat towing fellars, heading up the Tableland H'way, towards Cape Crawford.

Remote??? If one had a severe medical condition, like life threatening, I'd call it very remote. Even if you're well, it's still remote. Ask all those unfortunates who continue to roll their vehicles, as they travel the Barkly.

Whoops, sounds like I'd better do the washing up.....

Bob.

Seen it all, Done it all.
Can't remember most of it.

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Follow Up By: KevL64 - Wednesday, May 02, 2012 at 21:30

Wednesday, May 02, 2012 at 21:30
Thanks Fred for allowing me an opinion. Lucky me.

You posted:

"Lucky for all it is only as you say, "Your Opinion." "

I find that comment offensive and arrogant. You have no knowledge of myself or my travels.

I fail to understand your opposition to me having an opinion. I can only assume you have an affiliation with Barkly Homestead?

So, from now on should I check with you before I form an opinion?

I'll certainly think twice before offering any comment on here again.

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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Thursday, May 03, 2012 at 00:20

Thursday, May 03, 2012 at 00:20
When looking at the prices charged in remote or outback areas, consider more than just the freight. They have to cover their costs and try and make a profit with a small number of customers per day, whereas a city fuel outlet may have three pumps going most of the day. The more people bypass them because of cost, the greater the chance they will close. Many outback roadhouses have been closed over the past say 40 years.

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Reply By: Bob Y. - Qld - Wednesday, May 02, 2012 at 20:46

Wednesday, May 02, 2012 at 20:46
Dave,

Reckon you'll have no trouble with your vehicle & trailer on the Plenty, as long as you take your time. It's not as bad as some reports would make it. It's just that's it's a long way, and the few rough sections might influence some people's views.

Wife & I went over the Plenty last August, from Winton to Yulara, and back up the Sandover to Camooweal. There were a few short sections of corrugations, the worst near Jervious, but we spent most of the trip looking for the rough stuff, but never saw any. There is nearly 200 kms of bitumen between Boulia and Stuart H'way, so this reduces the dirt/gravel section.

We camped just out of Boulia, at start of the Donohue, and then stayed overnight at Gem Tree, which was good....but pretty cool. Scenery around Harts Range is to die for, also back near Tarlton Downs. Saw plenty of animals & bird life but you might need to watch for cattle west of the border, as some of the scrub runs right up to road verge.


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Make sure you stop at Jervious, and get an ice cream in a cone. We also bought a couple of their stickers. Can get fuel there, as well as camp for night, if you want.

Nothing wrong with the route over the Barkly either, but adds a lot to your trip, and drains the wallet a bit too. The Sandover is a good trip, more sandy than the Plenty, but less interesting terrain. Maybe another time?

Enjoy your trip,

Bob.
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Can't remember most of it.

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Reply By: Gado - Wednesday, May 02, 2012 at 23:44

Wednesday, May 02, 2012 at 23:44
Hello Dave

We did that run via the Plenty last June in our Terracan towing a camper. No problems at all, just lower the tyres a bit and take it easy. Much more interesting than the bitumen and towards the western end there are quite a few different ways to get to Alice Springs if you have some time.

Check road conditions before you set out - they will close the road if there are any problems with flooding etc.

Cheers, Gado
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Reply By: Member - Richard W (NSW) - Thursday, May 03, 2012 at 06:22

Thursday, May 03, 2012 at 06:22
David,

Agree with doing the Plenty.
First time I did it was in 97 in a Tarago on the Bourke Outback Treck. Vehicle only just made it as it was far too low and the road hadn't been graded for some time. Done it a few times since in a 4WD with no dramas. As said Jervois is a good camping spot.
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Reply By: Rod - Thursday, May 03, 2012 at 21:54

Thursday, May 03, 2012 at 21:54
On our Brisbane-Ayers Rock trip 2 years ago we went over on the Plenty and came back via Tennant Creek and the Isa. The Isa is longer but time wise much the same unless there's headwinds on the highway.

The Plenty was quite good on the way over. We had an awful lot of rain whilst in the centre and decided it may have been too chopped up to come back that way.

Yes the Western end of the Plenty is pretty around Harts range, but no more scenic at the eastern end that the highway through the Isa.
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