Central Binns Track camping options?

Submitted: Monday, May 21, 2012 at 17:51
ThreadID: 95713 Views:2785 Replies:3 FollowUps:11
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Hi all
For those of you who have been along the central part of the Binns Track (north of the Plenty Hwy to Davenport Ranges), what would be the chances of finding a reasonable overnight camping spot along the road if you needed to?
Thanks,
John
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Reply By: Member - Michael John T (VIC) - Monday, May 21, 2012 at 21:04

Monday, May 21, 2012 at 21:04
Hi John,

We traveled this great track in 2008, and camped a couple of nights before reaching the Davenport Ranges, the first night just after visiting Box Hole meteorite crater along the track, and the second after turning off the Sandover Hwy along the graded dirt road section (east side) in a large area used by previous road makers. There are plenty of options along the way but be aware that the northern section prior to reaching the Sandover Hwy becomes fairly stony and enclosed with low scrub (wattles) and then opens up as you pass the near by Community followed by a well formed road into it. From memory this is not all that far after crossing the Bundy River (dry), that is the last 46 klms.

I have posted a blog on this trip, "Darwin via the Dirt" (part 4 The Binns Track). It may be of some use.

You will enjoy the drive.

Regards

Mike.
We retired to travell
It's time to go again...

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Follow Up By: Member - John R (cQld) - Monday, May 21, 2012 at 22:23

Monday, May 21, 2012 at 22:23
Hi Mike
Thanks for the info, and the link to your blog - most interesting reading. The post from Lex below is a bit of a concern, though.
Cheers, John
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Reply By: Lex M - Monday, May 21, 2012 at 21:24

Monday, May 21, 2012 at 21:24
Don't know when you're planning on going there, but we we've been researching this area and a local ranger advised that the road from the Sandover to Davenport is currently in very bad condition and effectively closed.
The NT road conditions showed roads closed last time I looked.
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Follow Up By: Member - John R (cQld) - Monday, May 21, 2012 at 22:13

Monday, May 21, 2012 at 22:13
Hi Lex
Can't see anything about a current road closure for that section on the NT roads site. Could you provide more information, please?
Cheers, John
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Follow Up By: Lex M - Monday, May 21, 2012 at 23:48

Monday, May 21, 2012 at 23:48
Last looked at it two days ago and report said closed Murray Downs/Elkedra junction to hatches creek.

No longer says that. Sorry for causing concern.
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Follow Up By: Member - John R (cQld) - Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 08:57

Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 08:57
No problem, Lex
The NP report still gives the Hatches Ck area as closed, but that was last updated 1 May. No doubt the closures were due to the 60mm of rain at Tennant Creek just before Anzac Day.
We have some local phone numbers, and shall check these out before we go. I'm expecting fairly poor road conditions.
Cheers, John
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Follow Up By: Great Divide Tours - Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 13:06

Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 13:06
I drove this section of the Binns track last August, here is what I found.
Plenty Hwy to near Derry Downs, road was wide gravel in good condition (depends on when the grader went through of course) a single vehicle should easily find a few spots to camp, try Galah bore, it came up on my HEMA Navigator about halfway along this section, just keep well back from the actual bore and yards as the cattle come in to drink in the evening.
When we approached Derry downs a Binns track sign pointed off to the left into a very rough low range 4Wd track which basically diverted you away from the station front yard, the 5 or so k diversion took us nearly an hour, it was rough and very slow going and tight. This came back onto the aforementioned good road just past Derry Downs and away we went again on an easy dirt road to the Sandover Hwy. Due to a fuel shortage at Gem Tree at the time we had to stop in at Ammaroo station to purchase fuel for some of the vehicles, this was not a problem with the local station. The road from Ammaroo to Murray downs was again a wide dirt road there were signs of mining activity along it, so it was in pretty good condition. However, at the time (August 2011) the scrub either side of almost its entire length had been burnt out in the past week, l expect there will be a lot of new growth now, but this could make finding a camp along here, if needed, a bit difficult. When we reached the road to Hatches Creek it had a road closed sign on it. This was despite the fact l had checked that it was open only a few days earlier. After speaking with National Parks and then the local Police via sat phone l was informed that the road was indeed open and that they had just failed to remove the sign. So always check is the motto. At the time the road through Hatches Creek to Policeman's Waterhole had just been graded and was in good but dusty condition. This was a contrast to 2010 when this was a slow high range 4wd track. There are some nice individual camp sites besides billabongs on this road but you can't beat Policeman's waterhole, it is superb. Hope this helps, just bear in mind that these roads will change each year and unless someone who has driven it in the past month reports here, you need to take all advice carefully. If I'm allowed to say this, my new book, Vic Widman's Classic Outback Tracks covers the Davenport Ranges and the road to Murray Downs in detail.
Vic
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Follow Up By: Member - John R (cQld) - Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 15:18

Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 15:18
Thanks for the great info, Vic. Hopefully the rain won't have affected things too much. If we can get to Murray Downs then there are other options for getting to Davenport Ranges.
Don't have Galah Bore on either the Hema or Natmaps, but the Hema map has the Derry Downs diversion.
Cheers, John
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Follow Up By: Member - Michael John T (VIC) - Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 17:50

Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 17:50
John,

Sorry it was 2010 that we traveled it (not 08) and the track was cut up and washed out some what but easy careful driving, I hope it isn't too well made for you. The Galah Bore would be the large tank in my photos with stock yards close by but yes a good camp site and is situated between McDdonald Downs out station but well before Derry Downs. Track conditions obviously change some what from year to year.

The roads into the Park were closed a couple of weeks before we left as well but were open by the time we arrived , there are a few places on the NP track that you share the creek with the track so that would explain the reason for closure after rain. The track into the second camp area Whistle Duck Creek comes off a well formed road and the track in was quite good when we were there. If the other section is closed make sure you visit Whistle Duck Creek at least, you can even get in from the hwy on the good road .

NB Not long before Policemans Water Hole there is a 4WD track to Frew River Camp, it is 4Wd and slow so best if you are towing to ignore it and do it separately the next day as we did - it is worth doing and taking your time, it says 2 hours we took over 3 1/2 hrs and had a ball, rough and stony but great scenery.

Hope it all works out.

Mike.
We retired to travell
It's time to go again...

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Reply By: 353 - Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 15:14

Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 15:14
Hi John
In relation to camping spots between Alice and the Davenports, there are a couple of new options. Amberlindum Homestead is now open for travellers and is located on the Gardens Road, not far along the Binns Track from Arltunga. It is a great location and I can highly recommend it. Another spot that has just opened up is Mount Swan. Is is on a short diversion od the Binns Track north of the Plenty Highway. The diversion has recently been signed and includes Tower Rock, where you can also camp, and again, highly recommended. A Google search on these should give you some more info.
I would be interested in your feedback when you get back. We developed the Binns Track around 5 years ago and are always very keen to get travellers inpressions, and what improvements can be made.
Regards - John Stafford
Tourism NT
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Follow Up By: Great Divide Tours - Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 15:40

Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 15:40
Hi Mr Stafford, just wnated to let you know that the Binns Track is spectacular and you and the NT Govt should be applauded for your approach to the needs of 4wdrivers. Thank you
Vic
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Follow Up By: Member - John R (cQld) - Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 20:33

Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 20:33
Thanks, John
Could be an interesting detour. I assume you can't just keep going north past McDonald Downs to eventually rejoin the Binns track at Irrultja?
Cheers, John
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Follow Up By: 353 - Wednesday, May 23, 2012 at 09:08

Wednesday, May 23, 2012 at 09:08
Thanks Vic. It's great to get good feedback. There is always room for improvement, and there is a couple of new tracks in the pipeline. Good to see you getting up here, we'll have to catch up for an ale when you're in town next.
John, the detour leaves the Binns Track at Mt Swan and then re-enters the track at the old McDonald Downs Station. It's not a long detout, only about 35km's from memory, but it is worth doing to see Tower Rock. Have a great trip, and feel free to give me a yell if you need any more on the ground intel.
Cheers - John
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Follow Up By: Member - John R (cQld) - Wednesday, May 23, 2012 at 17:48

Wednesday, May 23, 2012 at 17:48
Thanks, John
We'll check it out.
Cheers, John
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