Tanami Track update

Submitted: Tuesday, Jul 11, 2006 at 10:44
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We have just completed a run across the Tanami Track from Alice Springs to Halls Creek.
For newcomers (like us) there is 183km of bitumen from Alice Springs to within 5km of Tilmouth Well, followed by about 900 km of brown stuff to Halls Creek, with four short black top sections (total 26km) between Tillmouth Well and Rabbit Flat. The conditions up to Rabbit Flat are mild (roadtrain type) corrugations and highway-grade gravel. Approaching Rabbit Flat the conditions become better as being recently graded.
From Rabbit Flat to Tanami Mine conditions also good, but at this stage we unfortunately had caught up to the grader. From here things get progressively worse as you approach the WA border. There is a nasty SLOOOW section of about 80km of bad corrugations, which are about 900mm between peaks and 100-150mm in height.
(We are travelling with tyre pressures of 26psi all round for the LC100 and the 20' BT)

After the WA border conditions improve with about 40km of highway grade, up to the area where the Tamami Track became the Tamami Canal earlier this year. Some major repairs are being carried out on one section, but shortly after, there is a worry-some section. The Tanami track looks more like the sandy bottom of the Finke River, and has a long single lane parallel detour of several kilometers in length. This detour is a trench about 600mm deep, and if you were to meet someone coming from the opposite direction it would be impossible to pass, and someone would have to back up.
Following the detour, there are a lot of wash-aways with half the road still useable.
Clearing the washaways, the conditions are generally good, but with the odd patch of slow-down corrugations to the Billiluna turn-off. From here some high grade reconstruction for 50km or so, is great. This is followed by deteriorating conditions and becomes stoney and a bit rough from Wolfe Creek Crater turn off to Halls Creek.

In sumary, the track is acceptable with exception of the 80km before the WA border. Take it slow & enjoy the journey.

Camps: After about two weeks in Alice Springs area, Tilmouth Well Roadhouse is great place to unwind from the Jayco-packed caravan parks of Alice. Tilmouth Well is an Oasis with grassed sites, and a great restaurant. We were given keys to gates on their Napperby Station property to visit Lake Lewis, normally a salt lake, but now spectacular and still half filled following rains earlier this year.
We also visited their mini Ayers Rock, and mini Devils Marbles. They don’t encourage mass tourists, but individuals are OK. Highly recommended.
We next camped at Mt. Doreen. There is a turn off to the right just before the “twin boob” top of Mt. Doreen. If you see a truck stop on the RHS, you’ve missed the turn off by 2km. About 1km down the track you pass the ruins of the old homestead, and another km takes you to a dam & good camping.
About 100km further on is Renahans Bore, also good camping.
Rabbit Flat has camping, no facilities (except for a long-drop) @ $3.00 per person.
If you need diesel its` available at $2.20/litre.
There are few camp spots between Rabbit Flat and the good camping at Sturt Creek. We found a small camping spot (OK for 3 or 4 vans) about 100km past the WA border at Selby Hills. If time permits, travel the extra hour to Sturt Creek.
Wolfe Creek Crater camping ground is your next choice before the final run to Halls Creek.
There are probably other camp sites along the track, but not too obvious for newchums.

A little bonus along the Tanami is GSM mobile phone coverage at The Granites Mine. The only coverage GSM or CDMA between Alice and Halls Creek.

No dramas with the BT, only the mounting screws coming out of the microwave and having it fall off the frig. OK after a little bit of panelbeating, plus we have a small ding in the frig door and a small ding on the vinyl floor.

Hope this info on the track is helpful for other travellers in the near future.

We head for the Gibb River Road and Kalumburu in a couple of weeks, after Bungle Bungles and Kununurra.
Any recent info on the GRR would be appreciated.

Enjoying the trip

Neil and Pat
A Bushtracker (or BT) is a "Boys Toy"

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Reply By: Sundy & Cyclone - Tuesday, Jul 11, 2006 at 18:27

Tuesday, Jul 11, 2006 at 18:27
Enjoyed your detailed info of the Tanami Track. We are at present in Cairns visiting the grandchildren but are about to depart for more peaceful surroundings, ie the Gibb River Rd thru to Broome and as far down as Barn Hill, returning via the Halls Cr Rd but undecided as to go down the Tanami as we had no idea as to what to expect. We are now contemplating maybe going that way so that we are not going over roads already travelled. Thanks, maybe we might meet out there somewhere. Tony & I always get excited when we meet another Bushtracker, Safe travels.
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Reply By: Fosssil - Tuesday, Jul 11, 2006 at 18:35

Tuesday, Jul 11, 2006 at 18:35
WoW....Great effort....well done!!!

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Reply By: Freewheelers - Tuesday, Jul 11, 2006 at 23:03

Tuesday, Jul 11, 2006 at 23:03
Excellent report - keep 'em coming

Cheers, Deb
Stephen & Deborah

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Reply By: Noosa Fox - Wednesday, Jul 12, 2006 at 02:59

Wednesday, Jul 12, 2006 at 02:59
Thanks for the report Neil. We will be travelling down that way early September.

We plan to meet up with another WA owned BT around Derby at beginning of August and do the Gibb River Road and Kalumburru so may meet up on the track. Have heard that Old Mornington Station is no longer worth the 200 km each way to get into, and that they save the good areas for high paying cabin custumers, not us caravanners. Others may be able to give up to date report on it.
Enjoying the friendship of BOG members

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Reply By: Turist - Wednesday, Jul 12, 2006 at 03:59

Wednesday, Jul 12, 2006 at 03:59
Brian we have camped at Old Mornington both when it was a cattle station and after the Poms bought it and converted it to a sanctuary.
The gorges are accesable to all persons that camp there. Fishing banned now though that the poms own it.
Problem is that they closed the grassy campground by the creek and built cabins on it for the $$$$ tourists.
The campers are now relegated to a dustbowl about 800 metres from the bar/restaurant.
Food prices excessivly high in the restaurant. Can't bring your own drinks and alcohol expensive.
Amenities were filthy when we were there last year.
Staff attitude was lousy.
In my opinion no longer worth the extra 200k, 60 of which was terrible, nearly all vehicles suffered at least one slashed tyre, including us.

I think that the more accessible gorges will keep you happy, in particulat Bells and Windjana.

"Do It While You Can"
Nobody is getting any younger.

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Reply By: Silver Fox - Wednesday, Jul 12, 2006 at 09:32

Wednesday, Jul 12, 2006 at 09:32
Started the GRR on 7th June from Kununurra end. Pentecost Rv.was approx 30cm and no bother. Road condition was quite ok mostly. There was a steady traffic flow of predominately hire 4x4s. Some are bloody dangerous. Camped at Durack Rv first night in the road workers old area above the crossing. The water in Durack Rv. was slightly deeper but no difficulty if driven slowly, (big rocks). Some road works and corrugations which require a slow (30 -40) speed. Washouts were bad. One always needed to be vigilant. Met one BT who knocked the alignment out on his van. Got to Drysdale River Station that night. Good amenities there and can leave the BT there if Mitchell Falls is a goal. It was for me and very much worth the effort. However one could get a BT further to King Edward River crossing where the camp sites are great. Moving on to the rest of GRR. From Kalumburu Rd turn off it was generally ok. BUT always look out for the unexpected washout or "dip" signed or sometimes NOT signed. There was one somewhere around Leopold Ranges which was a killer. Met another BT which almost lost their steps. It was diabolical as was a deep but short "trench". I encountered many creek crossings which had water due to the 50% more than average rainfall this season. An eagle eyed navigator is a good asset. The whole GRR experience was every bit as rewarding as I had been told. Asking every one in every camp re road conditions ahead is helpful. Happy BTing.
AnswerID: 568837

Reply By: Grumblebum & Dragon - Wednesday, Jul 12, 2006 at 10:29

Wednesday, Jul 12, 2006 at 10:29
Nice report Neil and Pat,

One should be able to find campsites closer to the Halls Creek end. 22 kms in from the turn-off from the Great North Highway there is a track of to the south. 6 kms down this there is a dam from an old gold mining operation. Have camped there in pre BT days when chasing gold in the area.

Nearby tracks leading north should also reveal good overnighter spots

Also for those in the region the Duncan Highway which runs between Halls Creek and Savannah (Victoria) Highway just east of the WA/NT border post. This road is a little longer than boring straight up the highway to Kununurra but has some great spots and campsites. I did a report published in the March edition of Caravan world.

There are good campsites around old Halls Creeks as well

Any owners wishing to get a copy send me a member message

Cheers John
AnswerID: 568838

Reply By: Oldperc - Thursday, Jul 13, 2006 at 20:59

Thursday, Jul 13, 2006 at 20:59
Neil and Pat
We see your heading up to Kalumburu.
If you get to stay at Drysdale Station (as most do) would recommend highly the flight out of Drysdale up to Mitchell falls. The flight takes you over Prince Regent Nature reserve and Bonaparte Archipelago as well.
These are areas you will never get to see on the ground and one gets to appreciate the enormity of the Kimberleys.
More than worth the $220 each we paid and we'd suggest the 6.30am flight.
Enjoy the area

David and Ann
'I'am so proud of you poppa'

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