Tanami Road Update

Submitted: Thursday, Jul 09, 2009 at 11:02
ThreadID: 125848 Views:4874 Replies:4 FollowUps:1
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Hi All,

We travelled the Tanami Road from Alice Springs to Halls Creek last week, and thought you might be interested in an update.

Before we left Alice, we rang Tilmouth Well Roadhouse (08 8956 8777), Rabbit Flat Roadhouse (08 8956 8744) and Halls Creek Shire Engineer Andrew Varnox (08 9168 6007) to ascertain road conditions. We also spoke to several travelers in our cara park who arrived off the Tanami while we were there.

In the NT section, there are bad corrugations between Tilmouth Well and Yuendemu due to local Aboriginal community traffic. We had been told it was also bad around the mines, but in fact it was very good, no doubt due to the graders, whose camp we passed just north of Rabbit Flat.

The WA section has all been graded within the last 4-6 weeks (we passed the graders 11 km from the border) but as there is no water cart, there’s no compaction. They grade the tops off the corrugations, and put it in the potholes, for the roadtrains to blast out again. (We passed only 5 roadtrains in 5 days). The further we progressed into WA, the worse the corrugations. The side road to Wolfe Creek Crater has not been graded in recent years.

We didn’t camp at the roadhouses, just looked for side tracks when we were ready to stop for the night.

Day 1 - Alice Sp to Rembrandt Rock -186km – ave speed 83kph
Road sealed all the way. The track to Rembrandt Rock had a locked gate, but we got far enough off the road to camp, with some bush cover.

Day 2 – Rembrandt Rock to Floodout Bore – 213km – ave speed 47kph
Sealed surface finishes 3-4km after Napperby Creek/Tilmouth Well.
Tilmouth Well Roadhouse is a clean, tidy and modern, with a well stocked gallery of Aboriginal paintings and other artifacts for sale. Diesel was $1.72/ltr. The enclosed camping area had nice grass, hot showers and flushing toilets.
No NextG signal
Road surface quickly deteriorated to bad corrugations, apart from occasional 3-4km stretches of seal across floodways.
Tracks both sides of road at Floodout Bore, we chose the southern one, got about 1km off the road, good bush cover. There is no water at Floodout Bore.

Day 3 – Floodout Bore to 48km nw of Rabbit Flat (2km beyond Lajamanu turnoff) - 270km – ave speed 68kph
Road surface much smoother.
Renahans Bore clean, tidy roadside rest area with drinking water, table under shelter and bins.
NextG phone signal when passing The Granites Gold Mine (no public access to mine)
Rabbit Flat Roadhouse – Contrary to hearsay, we found owner Bruce Farrands very helpful and courteous. He is open 7 days a week until November, 7am until 9pm, but may close around 7pm if no traffic is coming through. Basic supplies and bush camping. Diesel was $2.20/ltr. No NextG signal.
Tanami Rockhole – no access due to mining operations Tanami Gold Mine
Roadside rest area at Lajamanu was a disgrace. Camped down an unnamed track 2km past Lajamanu turnoff, hidden from road by landform and bush.

Day 4 – Lajamanu T/off to Sturt Creek WA – 234km – ave speed 49kph
Bad corrugations all the way to WA and 11km beyond, where we met Halls Creek Shire graders working towards the border.
Dream run thereafter until Balgo turnoff, then corrugations again, due to local community traffic.
Stopped by WA police about 30km after the border – ‘routine’ licence check and breath test.
Camped overnight Sturt Creek, about 5km before Billiluna. Dry creekbed, but at present there’s a waterhole about 3-400mtrs off the road on the northern side, attracting variety of birds and a horse! Rubbish bin the only facility.
Liked it so much, we stayed an extra day

Day 5 – Sturt Creek to Halls Creek – 237km – ave speed 47kph (includes side trip 46km return to Wolfe Creek Crater)
Corrugations most of the way, despite dry grading a month ago, with heavy traffic since.
Wolfe Crk Crater access road is a 23km boneshaker. We left the BT beside the road a couple of kms inside the first gate. At 850mtr diameter, it’s the world’s 2nd largest meteorite crater, and quite distinct. A short walk up to the rim gives a great view – well worth the extra kms.
The Tanami Road ends at it’s junction with Great Northern Highway, 19km west of Halls Creek. Our km total includes travelling into Halls Creek, then to Caroline Pool, 15km east, where we camped. Caroline Pool is a lovely waterhole for a swim, but fine shingle riverbed a bit squishy for us, so we camped in the carpark.

Total Kilometres: 1140 Total Driving Time: 20.5 hrs Average Speed: 55kph

Things to note
Our km total is from Alice Springs (20km before the Tanami starts) to Caroline Pool (34km after the Tanami ends).You can see from the stats we didn’t push ourselves.
Only drinking water (apart from roadhouses) is at Renahans Bore
Only NextG signal we had was passing The Granites Gold Mine
Fruit and veg honesty dumpbin re entry into WA is just before the intersection of the Tanami Road with the Great Northern Highway.

Problems/Things to Guard Against
Lost a D shackle connecting drawbar emergency chain to Landcruiser, quickly replaced from spares carried.
Two liquid spillages, our own fault, sloppy packing and complacency.
New LED replacement globes in reading lights - 3 out of 4 fell out, our own fault, forgot to silicone dab them.
When we fixed the globes, did the stove knobs as well – should have done it years ago.
Regulator stopped supplying power to everything on Day 3. Top reading (amps usage) said ‘OFF’. Was still charging successfully from solar. We reset it, but as soon as we drove over corrugations it would stop again. Everything fine when stationary. Turned off the fridge, still happened. The manual didn’t help us. Checked the battery terminals, tightened one less than a quarter of a turn, and hey presto! Haven’t had the problem since.

Stephen & Deborah

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Reply By: Grumblebum & Dragon - Thursday, Jul 09, 2009 at 23:23

Thursday, Jul 09, 2009 at 23:23
Stephen and Deborah,

Thanks for a very detailed nand weel present report. It always good to get these updates on tracks that can be very variable.


John and Jean
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Reply By: Downunder - Thursday, Jul 30, 2009 at 03:52

Thursday, Jul 30, 2009 at 03:52
Not going that way anytime soon (hopefully in the future0 but if I was it would be very useful info. Well put together.
AnswerID: 578258

Reply By: Gone Bush - Thursday, Jul 30, 2009 at 06:19

Thursday, Jul 30, 2009 at 06:19
Good report Stephen.

What tyre pressures did you have in the van and vehicle?

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Follow Up By: Freewheelers - Friday, Aug 07, 2009 at 03:00

Friday, Aug 07, 2009 at 03:00
hi all
on this road we had 26 psi in the van 26 front of cruiser 30 rear of cruiser the road surface is generally sand or gravel not many rocky bits cheers
Stephen & Deborah

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Reply By: Willie - Saturday, Aug 08, 2009 at 02:20

Saturday, Aug 08, 2009 at 02:20
Great report. Thanks very much.
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