West MacDonnells NT

Submitted: Saturday, Aug 30, 2008 at 00:41
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We are heading west in a couple of days time. For those who have been there (thanks Wherrol for your tips) is there anywhere not suitable for our rig? We intend heading out Namatjira Drive seeing whatever we can go to, then Gosse Bluff, APlam Valley, Mereenie Loop, Kings Canyon and Kathleen Springs, Luritja drive to Lasseter Hwy, then Uluru / Kata Tjuta and on to WA.

All hints, including best fuel stops, camp stops from those who have been through appreciated.

Giles weather statiojn - what day best to visit?

Thanks

Motherhen
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Reply By: Pixellator - Saturday, Aug 30, 2008 at 01:48

Saturday, Aug 30, 2008 at 01:48
Greetings Motherhen

Sounds like you're back on track after your forced delays. Still you could be stuck somewhere that's not much fun.

We visited Giles Weather Station back in November 06. They launch a weather ballon each morning ( I think it's 9.00am) and make visitors most welcome with a tour of the facility. Check the times when you arrive at Warakurna. It can be confusing because they work on SA time. The 'caretaker' guy, Dave had been there for ages, and was vey hospitable and a wealth of knowledge. Phone 8956 7358.

We were also lucky enough to visit the community, and see a few special spots including Gerard Gorge, and the top of the hill up in the Rawlinson ranges behind the community.

Enjoy...
BobH
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Follow Up By: Motherhen & Rooster - Saturday, Aug 30, 2008 at 08:08

Saturday, Aug 30, 2008 at 08:08
Hi Bob

With all systems intact, we spent a few days in the East MacDonells then went to Chambers Pillar, with the intention of staying at Rainbow Valley the next night. However we ran into a thunderstorm and the nearby roadhouse told us it was forecast to rain for four days, and we should NOT attempt to go to Rainbow Valley. Went back to Alice to get laughed at when i said it rained. They had about six drops only. Thought we might go as a day trip tomorrow - but it is now rather warm and very humid and feels like rain - forecast for tomorrow is showers! Darn. A real contrast the freezing nights and bitterly cold windy days we had here last week. We hope to head west on Monday, but maybe a bit later if weather delays our day trips from here. Yet to count the screws holding the water tanks after the Chambers Pillar road!

Mh
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Follow Up By: Pixellator - Saturday, Aug 30, 2008 at 09:45

Saturday, Aug 30, 2008 at 09:45
Motherhen...
Did you take the BT into Chambers Pillar? I can't imagine how you'd negotiate those sand dunes, letalone the steep hills (?) closer to the Pillar.

BobH

PS have posted a photo of the Giles info sign at Warakurna in my Pictures file. Blowed if I can figure out how to put a photo into a post!
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Follow Up By: Motherhen & Rooster - Saturday, Aug 30, 2008 at 22:03

Saturday, Aug 30, 2008 at 22:03
Hi Bob

Yes, we went all the way. The Patrol may have been a bit taxed towing the BT over that hill (although it managed all those hills in Tassie), but with the F250 it was a breeze. Road in was awful in patches, but no problems encountered at all.

Still deciding where to go over the next couple of days, with a bit of rain around us (but none here yet). Taking the opportunity to burn photos to dvd and do some washing.

Mh
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Reply By: Boystoy - Saturday, Aug 30, 2008 at 04:53

Saturday, Aug 30, 2008 at 04:53
Hi Mrs Hen,

We did most of this in 2006. We stayed ay Glen Helen, had lunch at Gosse Bluff. You could possibly camp there, we just stopped for lunch. Stayed at Hermansburg in the 'lock-up' caravan park. Took the BT to Palm Valley & on advice left it at the car park, about 4km from Palm Valley. Would be a challenge to take the BT this last bit. There is also a camping area off the road before you get to the car park, but we didn't check it out.
Missed the Mereenie loop, a I was a bit unwell that day. Kings Canyon caravan park is owned by Voyagers Resorts, I if you have been to any of their facilities, the attitude of "them & Us" prevail, I believe they think caravans are a necessary evil. If we went there again, I would stay at Kings Creek Station on the way to Kings Canyon, much more freindly. On the GCR there is a nice bush camp just the other side of Docker River, set among Desert oaks.We stayed at each of the roadhouses on the GCR & found the last one Tjukayirla the best. (got the spelling from my coffee cup)

Enjoy the trip, would love to do it again

Neil
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Follow Up By: Pixellator - Saturday, Aug 30, 2008 at 05:53

Saturday, Aug 30, 2008 at 05:53
When we arrived at Tjukayirla at 5.10pm, we found everything locked up, despite the info from our maps stating 6pm. A big sign states a $20 opening fee, but don't be deterred, it only applies to fuel sales.
Just phone up the roadhouse (from the other side of the door!!!) and they will open the chain to let you in to the campground.
Good showers/toilets, power available until the generator's turned off. A good spot.
BobH
(g'day Neil, glad to hear your Cape trip went well. You'll recall meeting us just outside Mareeba)
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Follow Up By: Motherhen & Rooster - Saturday, Aug 30, 2008 at 08:01

Saturday, Aug 30, 2008 at 08:01
Hi Neil - Do Voyages slug you a Park Pass fee at Kings Canyon like they do at El Questro & Uluru?

Mh

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Follow Up By: Motherhen & Rooster - Sunday, Aug 31, 2008 at 06:31

Sunday, Aug 31, 2008 at 06:31
Hi again Neil

I note from your 2006 report of your Great Central Road trip a spot

"About 95 km from Warburton, we found a good camp site about 500m from the road on the RHS. It has toilet, shelter & tank water."

Was this 95 kms East of Warburton (or West)? I don't think it would fit our schedule, as we want to tour Giles Weather Station, but would be handy to pencil in just in case. As it is 500m from road, was it signed as a rest area?

Thanks

Mh
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Follow Up By: Boystoy - Monday, Sep 01, 2008 at 08:37

Monday, Sep 01, 2008 at 08:37
Hi chooks,

Can't remember charges at Kings Canyon, got a bit second hand on the climb, long story will recall if we ever meet.

Camping spot was west of Warburton. We found it easily, but I can't recall if it was signposted.(bugger getteng old)

Neil
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Reply By: Wherrol - Saturday, Aug 30, 2008 at 07:22

Saturday, Aug 30, 2008 at 07:22
Hi Motherhen,

Glad to hear you are back on the road.

We are jealous and want to go back!!!

Enjoy.

Cheers

Allan and Sharon
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Follow Up By: Motherhen & Rooster - Sunday, Aug 31, 2008 at 02:21

Sunday, Aug 31, 2008 at 02:21
Hi Allan & Sharon

You have many more good trips yet to come with your BT

Mh
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Reply By: BT Dreaming - Sunday, Aug 31, 2008 at 08:40

Sunday, Aug 31, 2008 at 08:40
Hi Jim and Judy, there is a great camp site listed in Camps Australia 4. It is called Neil Hargrave Lookout and is number 38 in the CA4 book. It is described as being 107km W of Alice Springs or 24km E of Glen Helen, 800m N of the highway. The turnoff signpost appeared to have been removed when we stayed there back in June (just the vertical post was still in evidence) but the lookout is up on top of a ridge and there is a Telstra phone tower just near the lookout on the top. The road exits on your left (if you are heading west) and turns fairly sharply uphill but it is not too steep for your outfit. There is a circular turn around up the top so you shouldn't have any trouble. From the top there is quite a spectacular view of the MacDonnells including Mt Sonder towards the west. The GPS coordinates are 23 45 05 S; 132 54 14 E.
Serpentine Gorge is worth a visit but parking at the car park is a bit tight; however, we managed to park by reversing into the bush just before the car park entrance.
Hope your trip continues to become more trouble-free.
We have just landed in Tom Price after spending time at Millstream and before heading into Karijini.
Cheers
John and Rose
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Follow Up By: Motherhen & Rooster - Sunday, Aug 31, 2008 at 19:55

Sunday, Aug 31, 2008 at 19:55
Hi John & Rose

Lovely country around Chichester, Millstream & Karajini. All so different. Don't miss the Hamersely Gorge (access from W side of NP), as the rock structure there is quite different to the main gorges. We didn't go to Wittenoom Gorge itself as due to health risk, they discourage entry but don't stop you. At Newman, the Mt Whaleback tour is worth doing and the road south from there is so much more scenic than the flatter coast road.

Thanks for that - someone at the Kununurra CP told us about that lookout - they went right to the Telstra Tower and they didn't have an off roader. I was unsure which one of two it was, so appreciate your advice which has clarified it for me. Glad to hear that we would get to the top and turn as i was having doubts about it from the listing in Jan Holland's Priceless Campsites book. It is not knowing if we can turn that limits us taking tracks without research. Sounds like Serpentine Gorge might be one to miss for that reason.

Enjoy the wonderful Pilbara.

Motherhen & Rooster
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Follow Up By: BT Dreaming - Monday, Sep 01, 2008 at 02:51

Monday, Sep 01, 2008 at 02:51
Don't let the possible tight car parking deter you. As long as everyone is parked properly in the circular car park there should be no problem turning. There is space for at least one van outside the carpark proper. The official car park is typical national parks and doesn't cater too well for vans. Just be sure that if you take the rig around the circular car park make sure that the van wheels stay ouside the inner circle of low wooden poles as you go round the circle. The gorge is quite worth a visit.

John and Rose
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Reply By: Tellem Bugrem - Sunday, Aug 31, 2008 at 17:43

Sunday, Aug 31, 2008 at 17:43
G'day Motherhen,

There's a good free camp opposite Glen Helen Gorge called Three Mile. Go about 100m past the Glen Helen turnoff, track on right.........just don't drive into the loose sand areas,,,can be a bit soft.

Happy Travels.........Rob and Liz

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Follow Up By: Motherhen & Rooster - Sunday, Aug 31, 2008 at 20:14

Sunday, Aug 31, 2008 at 20:14
Hi Rob & Liz

Thanks. The Two Mile? Various people say 200 or 300 from Glen Helen for that.

Did you have a good trip? You were scheduled to go throught the Kimberley a while before us.

Motherhen
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Reply By: Searenity - Thursday, Sep 04, 2008 at 00:37

Thursday, Sep 04, 2008 at 00:37
Dear Motherhen,
we recently did the Mereenie Loop road [mid-July] in our other off-road van [Tvan - Landcruiser TD combination] and found it to have the worst corrugations that we have experienced this year. We have advised others to avoid this road if possible. We would be interested in how your BT handled it if you travelled this road.

Note - the road to Chambers Pillar is a doddle by comparison.

cheers

Searenity
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Follow Up By: Motherhen & Rooster - Sunday, Sep 14, 2008 at 02:41

Sunday, Sep 14, 2008 at 02:41
Hi Searenity

The Mereenie Loop had been graded since you went through - not too bad at all. Last half (towards Watarrka) corrugated, but just average for a dirt road. As usual worst section was last few kms west of Hermansberg.

The guy in the tourist office in Alice said "Don't go on the Mereenie Loop - the corrugations are this deep (indicating around 12 inches)". The NT road conditions website said "Graders currently working" - although they were well gone when we got there.

They had even just finished bitumising from Glen Helen to almost meet the bitumen that goes most of the way past Gosse Bluff to the T junction with Mereenie Loop.

Motherhen

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