Central Aus in January?

Submitted: Friday, Sep 14, 2012 at 17:34
ThreadID: 98020 Views:1848 Replies:11 FollowUps:13
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Hi all.
I'm planning a trip up the Old Ghan Railway Heritage Trail from Adelaide to Alice Springs, then to Uluru and surrounds in early Jan. There will be two cars . In my research I have found mixed opinions about travelling that area in the middle of summer.

My question is; has anyone does this trip, or a similar one in the summer months?? I know a lot of people are put off by the heat. We don't mind the heat, and will do most things in the cooler morning hours.

This is the only time we can get time off, so it's then or never.

Any comments wound be appreciated, cheers.


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Reply By: Priscilla G - Friday, Sep 14, 2012 at 18:06

Friday, Sep 14, 2012 at 18:06
Presume you will be carrying plenty of emergency communication gear.But remember this can be extreme heat, for you & vehicles & it lasts all day.
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Follow Up By: Steve H16 - Friday, Sep 14, 2012 at 19:08

Friday, Sep 14, 2012 at 19:08
I will hire a sat phone. Cheers for the reply
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Reply By: lostinwauchope - Friday, Sep 14, 2012 at 18:10

Friday, Sep 14, 2012 at 18:10
Hi Steve,
did this trip in august this year , walked around the base of Uluru 10 am
31.5 c would hate to try it in January ? . found this on the BOM site
January 2011
Yulara swelters in record heat wave
On the 27th, Yulara broke its highest temperature record when it reached a daytime maximum temperature of 46.3 ° C, only to break this record again the following day with 46.4 ° C. This new record falls just 1.9 ° C shy of the Northern Territory maximum temperature record. Yulara recorded an average maximum temperature of 40.9 ° C. Between the 14th and the 30th of the month, there were 17 consecutive days above 40 ° C including 11 consecutive days above 42 ° C.

the road from finke to alice would be slow going in the hot sand and hard on your vehicle. cheers Ron
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Follow Up By: Steve H16 - Friday, Sep 14, 2012 at 18:46

Friday, Sep 14, 2012 at 18:46
Thanks for the reply Ron. Do you think Chambers Pillar is worth travelling that stretch of track?
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Follow Up By: lostinwauchope - Friday, Sep 14, 2012 at 19:55

Friday, Sep 14, 2012 at 19:55
Hi steve,
yes it was worth the trek in , just take it easy some section of the track has some very sharp gibber stones the last couple of ks have some small dunes to climb over. if time permits the desert park in alice is worth it as well as the west macdonald ranges cheers Ron
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Reply By: mikehzz - Friday, Sep 14, 2012 at 18:11

Friday, Sep 14, 2012 at 18:11
My kids and I did it about 6 years ago. It was still 47 degrees C when we were watching the sun go down at the rock. We had a great time and would do it again. Sometimes the extremes are better than the bland normal. I would suggest some sort of fan in the tent/camper/van because night time was the hardest :-)
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Follow Up By: mikehzz - Friday, Sep 14, 2012 at 18:19

Friday, Sep 14, 2012 at 18:19
....the 47 was on the car read out and obviously not accurate but it was mighty hot :-)
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Follow Up By: Steve H16 - Friday, Sep 14, 2012 at 18:51

Friday, Sep 14, 2012 at 18:51
Good to hear the heat didn't ruin the trip especially with kids! Thanks for the fan tip. Will definitely have to invest in a tent fan. Cheers for the reply
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Reply By: JTD - Friday, Sep 14, 2012 at 18:12

Friday, Sep 14, 2012 at 18:12
Hi Steve,

My wife and i did it in Early Jan 2010 with two other couples, three seperate 4wds each towing a camper trailer. We were told the same thing..'what are you thinking?', 'what are you doing out here?' But same reason...spur of the moment and only time off that suited everyone. Guess what????.....it was hot!!! Of course it was hot but we all dont mind the heat and we covered a lot of kms so we were in the car alot (with a/c of course). We started in melb, first night port augusta, was quite fresh. Then coober pedy...a different planet! Then onto uluru for 2 nights before kings canyon for a night. Then down the stuart onto the oodnadatta and stayed at william creek for the night. From there it was cameron corner then mildura and home. nine days, 6500kms!!! Yeh it was a trip on the run but loved every minute of it! The weather was quite mild until we got to william creek and cameron corner where things were pretty remote and the bugs and heat at night got to some. We had a lot of late arrivals and early pack ups so we avoided alot of hard work in the wrong time of day. We were never in the one place for long enough to get cooked by the heat. To be honest, ive felt the heat more on the murray at xmas time (albeit with water nearby). The best part of travelling this time of year is you have everything to yourself because all the 'smart' travellers are at home in their a/c! BTW, my wife was 4 months pregnant and said she loved every minute of it! Enjoy
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Follow Up By: Allan B (Member, SunCoast) - Friday, Sep 14, 2012 at 18:40

Friday, Sep 14, 2012 at 18:40
"BTW, my wife was 4 months pregnant and said she loved every minute of it!"

Not going there!!!!!! lol


Cheers
Allan

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Follow Up By: Steve H16 - Friday, Sep 14, 2012 at 19:05

Friday, Sep 14, 2012 at 19:05
Sounds like you had a great time. We will have a similar 'whirl wind' trip. About 13 days. So we will be spending a fair chunk of the day in a/c most days.
Did it rain at all? I've heard that's another thing that can put a spanner in the works.

Thanks for your reply, I was starting to think I may have had to leave it for retirement, which is at least 30 years off.
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Follow Up By: JTD - Friday, Sep 14, 2012 at 19:43

Friday, Sep 14, 2012 at 19:43
Allan...hahaha, nice!

Steve, Had no rain at all, clear skies. Bit blowy at uluru. That particular year they had a huge amount of rain in the month leading up to our trip and we thought it was going to throw a spanner in the works but the roads came good by then. The desert was magical with all the color from the rain and there was water flowing in all the usually baron crossings through the oodnandatta etc. The locals kept mentioning that we didnt know how lucky we were to see the desert as we did. Hadnt been like that for years apparently. Lake eyre was full of water and life! Probably still is???
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Follow Up By: Ross M - Friday, Sep 14, 2012 at 20:08

Friday, Sep 14, 2012 at 20:08
JTD
Did you mean, "barren" by any chance?, possibly a "Baron" crossing would be found close to a "Kings Canyon".
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Follow Up By: JTD - Saturday, Sep 15, 2012 at 07:40

Saturday, Sep 15, 2012 at 07:40
I'm sory Ros, I sinceely apolagize
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Reply By: Member - Phil G (SA) - Friday, Sep 14, 2012 at 20:02

Friday, Sep 14, 2012 at 20:02
We were crazy enough to do the odd summer trip over the years too - but as long as you can provide your own shade and keep the fluids up, its all OK.
One suggestion is to to take a 500ml spray bottle - a few squirts cools you off pretty well. And take a fly net.
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Reply By: Bob Y. - Qld - Friday, Sep 14, 2012 at 21:09

Friday, Sep 14, 2012 at 21:09
Steve,

The things you need to "worry" about before leaving would be the integrity of your vehicles(cooling systems and tyres @ 100%), ample water & rations, and as Phil said some shade.

If you don't happen to have one of those folding annexes on the side of the "cars", then what about a couple of those cheap tarps, so you can rig a shade over, or beside the vehicle, in the event of a breakdown or similar. Lack of shade when it's 45 deg plus, can be very stressful. Take some electrolyte, in case some of you get dehydrated, say changing a tyre, or whatever.

If you're doing a lot of clicks in a hurry, just watch out for the afternoon session, say midday to 3pm, when the ambient heat is greatest, and the glare adds to the fatigue factor. Not hard to nod off, or lose concentration.

The weather could be anything, as well as hot. As someone else said, it had rained prior to their trip, and they had a magic time. Heavy, monsoonal type rain is unlikely until after mid January, but you could strike heavy isolated thunderstorms, which drop anything from 50-150mm in only a couple of hours. When I'm worried about the weather, I regularly check the BOM site, on my mobile, and get the SAT map, and/or radar for the areas I'm in, or heading too. This technology is available to anyone, so why not use it.

And be flexible. If you hear that it has rained at Chambers Pillar, then you could stay on bitumen, and go straight to the Rock. Magic sight to see rain cascading off the Rock. As said by someone get going early, so you can get some good photos, in softer light(and cover plenty of k's). Can tell you from experience, that midday shots are over exposed for a reason.....'cause that's how bright it is normally!!!

We lived on the Diamantina for over 20 years, and put up with a lot of extreme summer heat. Anyone can handle a couple of days of it, but when you get weeks of above 45 deg heat, every day, that really saps the energy out of you. But then we've had the odd, very odd, Christmas where we didn't run an aircon for over a week.

Hope you have a good trip, and you might be able to write a blog about it. Am sure you'll have a memorable time,

Bob.

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

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Follow Up By: Steve H16 - Sunday, Sep 16, 2012 at 11:17

Sunday, Sep 16, 2012 at 11:17
Some great info, thanks mate.

I have a ford maverick which I have been preparing for the trip over the past few months. I have a side awning and a spare canvas tarp to add for shade. Have recently replaced the radiator and pretty much most of the cooling system.

We will take the 4x4s for pre trip inspections a few weeks before we go.

Cheers Bob
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Reply By: Motherhen - Friday, Sep 14, 2012 at 23:46

Friday, Sep 14, 2012 at 23:46
Most of the big walks such as the rim walk at Kings Canyon, the climb at Uluru and the Valley of the Winds walk at Kata Tjuta are closed when it is hot, so bear that in mind if you wanted to do any of these walks. After a very cold August and first week of September in and around Alice Sprigs in 2008, second week in September onwards it was hot for us. We started the walks very early in the day to avoid the heat. I don't think i would cope in summer.

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Reply By: grunta1970 - Saturday, Sep 15, 2012 at 05:13

Saturday, Sep 15, 2012 at 05:13
Hello all. I did the Great Central Road, Uluru, Alice Springs, Kings canyon etc on my motorbike in Jan this year. I was told by all the 'experts' that it was crazy, too remote, too hot and potentially wet. With decent preparation and some common sense it turned out to be a fantastic ride. Hot at times sure, but i dont mind the heat. The big bonus was that there were few tourists around.
Just do it.
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Reply By: Member - Boobook - Saturday, Sep 15, 2012 at 06:22

Saturday, Sep 15, 2012 at 06:22
I did it last year, luckily most of the trip was around 29 - 30 and it was great, however there were a few days in the 40 Plus which made doing any walks hard.

I would not do it again even though we loved it and it rained while we were at Uluru. Also Uluru is closed in the summer months for climbing most of the time, It sometimes opens but you have to be ther pre dawn to take the chance that it will open.
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Reply By: MEMBER - Darian, SA - Saturday, Sep 15, 2012 at 09:31

Saturday, Sep 15, 2012 at 09:31
If I wanted a Red Centre experience at that time of the year, I'd have the long distance comms as you say, heaps of water and temporary shade (poles and a tarp - just in case)..... and I'd stay on the sealed roads and hang around the main populated centres. To go out on the remote roads I think you need to be very confident that you can withstand a worst case scenario - vehicle breakdown (no AC), no shade and pizza oven like temperatures for as long as it takes help to arrive.
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Follow Up By: Bob Y. - Qld - Saturday, Sep 15, 2012 at 11:42

Saturday, Sep 15, 2012 at 11:42
".......and pizza oven like temperatures......."

No doubt only Pepperoni pizzas available too, Darian???

Bob.

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

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Follow Up By: MEMBER - Darian, SA - Saturday, Sep 15, 2012 at 13:31

Saturday, Sep 15, 2012 at 13:31
Forgot to say.... a couple of Red Centre trips back (we love the place).... we were at Yulara in camper trailers and spent most of the day sweltering with 40C + under tarps .... feet in tubs of water and drinking lots - did our treks early and late in the day..... a walk around the rock just before sunset was in 38C. That was April !... January is another dimension.
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Reply By: Allan B (Member, SunCoast) - Saturday, Sep 15, 2012 at 10:58

Saturday, Sep 15, 2012 at 10:58
Hi Steve,

Having lived & worked in the outback (Woomera, Cooper Basin) there is no way that I would go there in summer if I didn't really have to.

Scorching temperatures in the forties, glare and shimmer of the landscape and flies by the zillions! And that's on a good day!

"Don't mind the heat"? You had better LOVE the heat! You will get it in plenty. Day and night.

Cheers
Allan

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