Perth - Perth via Great Central Road/Darwin/Kununnura/Derby/Down Coast WA

Submitted: Thursday, May 24, 2012 at 15:58
ThreadID: 95773 Views:2980 Replies:4 FollowUps:3
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Hi Everyone, Im new to the forum but have been reading and stalking the forum for sometime now.

My husband and i are looking at doing a big trip next May/June or possibly July from Perth to Perth via the Great Central Road to Alice Springs up to Darwin then accross back into WA through Kununnara, Derby and down the coast back to Perth.

I have a few questions:

What is the Great Central Road like? Is it do-able in a ford falcon type vehicle or ute?

How long do you think it would take comfortably to do this trip and see most of what there is to see? Keeping in mind we have done Derby to Perth before...

We were considering hiring a 4wd but the cost to do so for the 5+ weeks we were thinking it would take is just too expensive. The other option was to buy a cheap $4-6k 4wd and do it in that....thoughts?
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Reply By: Member - DingoBlue(WA) - Thursday, May 24, 2012 at 18:49

Thursday, May 24, 2012 at 18:49
Great Central Road is an easy run and good most of the time and can be travelled in a normal vehicle. Probably a good idea to change the shocks in case of excessive corrugations. Just need to check road conditions before you go. I think a week or maybe a few days extra to Alice would give you plenty of time on the Great Central but cannot comment on Alice to Darwin. The trip back could take anything from 3-5 weeks depending on what you want to see. The Gibb River road can take 3 weeks by itself. From Derby back to Perth is pretty mind numbing but I guess if you go into Exmouth (Ningaloo) and Shark Bay etc. you could break it up abit.
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Reply By: Member - Shell P (W.A) - Thursday, May 24, 2012 at 19:26

Thursday, May 24, 2012 at 19:26
Hi Minty 123,
We recently crossed The Great Central Road ( Landcruiser 200 towing Spinifex Caravan) It took us 3 days leaving from Kalgoorlie & finishing T Ayers Rock. We thoroughly enjoyed the drive seen plenty of Camels & the weather was perfect. It was pretty rough on the Laverton side & when we crossed into NT but otherwise pretty good.
If you like go into our profile & checkout our blog - post - Great Central Road
Cheers Shell
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2010 Spinifex Off-Road Van
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Follow Up By: Minty123 - Thursday, May 24, 2012 at 20:00

Thursday, May 24, 2012 at 20:00
Wow, thankyou for the blog info. Will get hubby onto the ipad soon to check that out.

Is 4wd really the only way to cross the GCR?
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Follow Up By: Member - Shell P (W.A) - Thursday, May 24, 2012 at 20:14

Thursday, May 24, 2012 at 20:14
Hi Minty,
as mention before - good shockies & tyres & drive to the conditions. We only seen 1 car, 1 motorbike & the rest were 4wds.
cheers, Shell
Dave & Shell
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Reply By: Motherhen - Thursday, May 24, 2012 at 22:27

Thursday, May 24, 2012 at 22:27
Hi Minty

The Great Central can be pretty rough, and it is littered with car bits as a testament to its reputation. The NT side can get quite sandy, and just before we went through, there were tales of people finding a road train bogged in the centre of the road. It was graded a few days before we went through, but a week later people were complaining again. An easy and nicer, although more remote, drive is the Gary Junction route from Marble Bar to Alice Springs. We did not need to engage 4wd and were towing. Due to a lot less traffic it is only corrugated near the communities. It does need a special permit, and this can take up to three weeks, unlike the one day ones (if applying on line) for the Great Central WA and Great Central NT. Click on the permits hyper-link for more information on these permits.

I have blogs from 2008 and 2009 of our trips through the Great Central, Gary Junction and Gibb River Roads, as well as around Alice Springs, and Alice Springs to Darwin and all we saw along the way. Click on My Blogs near my signature.

Thoughts on buying a cheap 4wd? Don't risk it. A breakdown in a remote area can cost mega-dollars.

If you look at my blogs and are interested in the places we visited, feel free to ask further questions, particularly about time frames, as we spent three and half weeks in the Gibb River Road (but this included Mitchell Falls and Kalumburu), several weeks based in Kununurra (including some time on maintenance and waiting for our needs to be freighted), five weeks in and around Alice Springs, and the following year six or seven weeks Alice Springs to Darwin and return to Mataranka (including Kakadu on way north and Litchfield on return South). This also included some down time. If you have to wait for parts in outback areas, it can take a week or two.

I strongly recommend you take only one bite at a time, with five or six weeks, aim to see one section such as the Kimberley. What you are proposing we sort of did one year over four months, and the following year as part of a five month trip.

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Reply By: Member - Dukalook - Thursday, May 24, 2012 at 22:59

Thursday, May 24, 2012 at 22:59
Hello Minty

We are planning to do the same trip in reverse and have allowed 3 months. That doesn't include anything but overnight stops between Perth and Broome. We have done the Gibb River Road before and will only be looking at places we missed last time or that we particularly want to see again. Depending on your interests and what you have seen before, you could easily spend 4 months on this trip, although the lack of a 4WD will be a significant limitation in the Kimberley. Maybe you should look on the trip as a bit of an exploration. If you want to see more you could always return with a 4WD at a later time.

If you have already done Derby to Perth via the coast, you might want to consider returning via the Great Northern Highway, especially if you haven't seen Karijini and Millstream before. We enjoy stopping off at a few of the stations along the route too.

Cheers,
Dukalook
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Follow Up By: Minty123 - Sunday, May 27, 2012 at 13:23

Sunday, May 27, 2012 at 13:23
The only dirt track we were wanting to take was GCR the rest will be highway up to Darwin and across to Broome we wanted to take the highway rather than gibb river road. Because we both work we can only have 5 weeks off at a time so are limited on that side of things. It will still be a great trip especially since we have done the derby to earth route before.
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