Number of blogs returned: 1 to 6 records of 6
For years I have been hearing about this iconic trip so it was with some excitement and trepidation, not sure how I would like the isolation, that we made a plan to take the trip through the desert on our way back from WA to QLD last July.
After finishing running our Kimberley & Beyond tagalong tour in WA the plan was to meet up with friends at William Creek to start our trek through the Simpson Desert.
A mad dash across the Nullarbor Plains and after a couple days freezing in single digit weather in Broken Hill to stock up on supplies we set off for the Flinders Ranges. Our first night was spent at Alpana Station bush camping in our Tvan, a warm fire at night and frozen water hoses in the morning, but what a great place to visit, will keep that one for a future trip!
We kept on going up through Marree, stopping for lunch and then up the Oodnadatta Track to William Creek, a bit rough but nothing compared to later that day.
We met our friends at what seemed like a bustling William Creek. It seemed that every man and his dog had decided to fly or drive to William Creek to see the rare sight of high water in Lake Eyre, caused by the flooding in the northern part of QLD earlier that year. This of course is the reason we then set off for Halligan Bay. This was to be the most corrugated, rough “road” we had ever been on and after 80 km of bouncing around and trying to find the least corrugated part of the road we arrived at the camp ground and managed to find one of the last spots available where we could fit two camper trailers.
Well the sight of Lake Eyre was worth the bone jarring experience of 80 km of corrugations. To see high water in Lake Eyre is an experience all in its own not to be missed, the sunset and sunrise, to see birds on the water which is normally a dry bed was spectacular. We walked down as far as we could down to the edge of the lake, which was about half-way until the mud stopped us, then it was time for a spectacular sunset, happy hour and catching up with our friends.
The next day after tackling the road back out of Halligan Bay to William Creek we set off for an overnight stop Oodnadatta staying behind the iconic Pink Roadhouse and a good meal at the pub.
Leaving Oodnadatta our next stopover was to be Dalhousie Springs, stopping to look at the old Dalhousie Ruins on the way.
I had heard a lot about the hot springs here and it did not disappoint. The campground was a surprising visit, great camp spots and to soak in the hot springs after a day of dust was just magic with the added bonus of no flies as long as we stayed in the water.
The next day leaving Dalhousie Springs was the start of the desert and after a quick stop at Purnie Bore for lunch we started our trek across the desert. We had decided to tackle the French Line and the 1000 sandhills that would see us through to the other end. A couple hours in at a speed of 8km an hour I had calculated it would take us at least 5 days to get to the Birdsville, a bit overwhelming at first!
The gaps between the sandhills soon spread out and we gained a bit of speed and I started to see the beauty of the desert from the tiny animal tracks to the desert flowers and the ripples on the untouched desert sand. Dingo tracks were abound, but amazingly we only saw a couple dingos, with their pawprints in the sand going for many kilometres in front of us on the track.
Our first night in the desert we stopped off about 50 mt off the track, made a campfire and amazed in how clear and abundant the stars were.
The next day we continued our journey and had picked up a bit of speed in between the hills and made some good distance before we stopped at the end of the day again off the side of the track. Out here the flies are abundant and driving until almost dark was the popular choice when the flies had all but gone. Another camp fire, another great night in the desert, the silence is incredible, not even animal sounds to break the silence.
Amazingly there were a lot of people on the track, mainly due to the end of the Big Red Bash in Birdsville, but most people had chosen to take the easier tracks rather than the French Line. We could hear a lot of chatter over the 2 way though and did cross paths with other groups throughout the day.
Our last night in the desert was beside a huge salt lake, with the scenery changing again and we knew we were getting close to the other side.
Waking up ever morning in the desert with the cool crisp air is pretty special and now we could hear some birds which was something we hadn’t seen or heard earlier in the desert. We crossed over the salt lake and stopped at the famous Poeppel Corner. This was a highlight of the trip, it was pretty amazing to think how they had surveyed the point where QLD, SA and NT meet, with basic equipment, all those years ago, and only to be out by such a short distance, incredible.
From there we crossed massive salt lakes, the scenery changing again and came to Eyre Creek which was impassable due to the huge amount of water that had come down from the flooding in North Qld earlier in the year. There was a bypass which only had a foot of water in it so we were able to get across and just amaze in the phenomenon that Eyre Creek is, being a dry creek for many years at a time.
Almost at the end of our trek through the Desert we had one more iconic sandhill to get over. Coming up to Big Red it was a lot bigger than I had imagined and after trying unsuccessfully to get over the top with our Tvan in tow we opted for the smaller Little Red and left Big Red for another day and drove on to our camp spot in Birdsville
The next day we drove back to Big Red in time for sunset, driving up from the eastern side was less challenging but still rewarding and definitely a must. The perfect end to our journey through the desert, champagne, friends and sunset on Big Red.
Travelling through the desert was an incredible experience and even though I started out with some trepidation it is an experience not to be missed and I would definitely do it again.
Posted in: Tagalong Adventures Australia at 23 July 20
Exploring the Darling River is an experience not to be missed. To follow the river and see how it impacts towns and stations along the way and to hear the stories from station owners such as Kallara Station on how they manage the water is a very special experience.
We stayed at Kallara a couple nights and the station owners were so welcoming and happy to share their stories and even take a few of us out for a drive around the station showing how they manage the water and keep their farms going. Sitting in front of boiler with the fire going and cooking up a camp oven for dinner was a great way to relax and spend the afternoon.
When we ran this trip a year ago the river was fairly dry and when we stopped in at Tolarno Station there was basically no water at all in the river. We were able to camp on the banks of the river at their Station enjoying a campfire at night, the stillness of the outback, it was magical.
Travelling through Bourke the river was very low and we were unable to experience the paddle vessel 'Jandra' at that time, but going into the Back o' Bourke Centre and the Stockmans Show was fantastic and really looking forward to seeing that again. Bourke has a lot to offer and while we were a local tour guide took us on a tour through a cotton gin learning about farming sustainability.
To be able to follow the river again this year will be a different experience, some water has been flowing into the Darling and we will be able to see the changes it has made as we head down to the river. I'm looking forward to visiting these stations again and to hear their stories on how they adapt to the changes and keep their stations running.
Another great place we visited was Brewarrina with a great free camp right on the Barwon River and if you head into the information centre in town you can get a tour of the ancient Aboriginal fish traps, another insight on how the water in the river was used
Seeing a part of outback NSW that you don't normally get to see is a truly unique experience and the landscape is incredible with the changing colors and scenery that only this part of the country offers.
Check out our youtube video below showing the highlights of this fantastic safari following the length of the river. This is such a diverse tagalong including Lightning Ridge, Silverton and Mungo National Park, something for everyone!
Posted in: Tagalong Adventures Australia at 20 July 20
Youtube video of tyre review and driving footage https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9HbQnWRCbfw&t=95s
Hello everybody Andrew from Xpedition Tagalong Tours here, today I want to talk to you about the Goodyear MTR Kevlar Mud Terrain. Firstly, I need to let you know that we are not sponsored by Goodyear, the results and experiences that I have with these tyres is my own opinion.
Over the last few years I have used several brands of off-road mud terrains and all terrains with varying levels of success, also to note that I have also changed sizes as well. Previously for many years I have run 315/75r16’s various brands. As I am based in Queensland Australia, I recently went to the trouble of obtaining full engineering certification for our Patrol GU this meant returning to 33” or 285/75r16’s. So, a change to a new tyre dealer, Beaurepaires Burleigh, and they suggested I try this Goodyear MT/R. Having run other brands for a while a quick google search failed to bring much results in Australia for the performance of these tyres, the reason for my review J
So, a few facts to start us off so we have a base line for how I have collected my data.
Vehicle is a 2001 Nissan Patrol GU TD42T running a 3” lift, Arb BP51 dampers, Arb locker front and rear long-range tanks etc……. The vehicle currently weighs 3300kg on the road in touring trim with our Tvan hooked on. This is important to understand tyre wear as the vehicle carries a bit of weight all the time. Due to our business we also complete a lot of kilometres both on sealed and unsealed roads and at varying speeds and temperatures. All of these factors effect tyre wear and longevity.
Our home base is Gold Coast, Australia.
Current set fitted 22nd March 2019
April 2019, a short holiday to Moreton island towing our portable house, sand driving on a new mud tyre (good test), tyre pressures set to 16psi front, 15psi rear HOT temperatures. Sand conditions were damp sand most of the week trip, results and feeling about the tyres very positive, good floatation on the sand, tracking and steering at low pressures very responsive, this of course was only a short trip and not a good test so far.
1500km completed so far
May 2019 - depart for a Tag-a-long across the top of Australia, mixed surface mostly black top.
Pressures for highway 40psi front, 42psi rear COLD pressures
At this stage the tyres are basically still new with the little dimple things still showing on the tread blocks
Most of our highway running will be done at up to 110kph including towing, fuel consumption is between 17 and 18 l/100 at this stage
June 2019 - 9500km completed total
Tyre wear recordings as follows; new tread depth 15mm
Front depth 13+mm (at 38psi cold)
Rear Depth 12.5+mm (at 42psi cold)
Wear of the tyre is very even, no signs of scalloping or chopping on the front tire (remember it’s a live axle patrol) tyre feel is excellent so far a big tick from me, over the distance 5% of this section was mixed surface the most part secondary sealed roads
July 2019 - 13750kms completed total
Tyre wear recordings as follows; new tread depth 15mm
Front depth 13mm (at 40psi cold)
Rear Depth 10.5+mm (at 42psi cold) this is a reflection on the load on the rear axle approx. 1900kgs
As previous wear of the tyre is good, very minor signs of scalloping or chopping on the left front tyre (remember it’s a live axle patrol), not noticeable unless you look closely. Feel is excellent, so far a big tick from me, over the distance 20% of this section was mixed surface the most part secondary sealed roads. We did traverse the western end of the Gibb River road, during this section the pressures 26psi front, 28psi rear HOT this end of the Gibb can be fairly average in road condition and it certainly was this time again, being corrugated and stony a big impact on tyres. Stones are the big killer on tyres on a touring vehicle in outback Australia. Although we only completed about 450km on this section, but we had no signs of chipping to the tread blocks, no signs of sidewall damage, I was travelling at 90kph plus over these roads too, also not towing this section.
July 2019 Northam WA - 14255kms
Our tag-a-long tours has finished so we booked in for a tyre rotation through Beaurepaires in WA to make sure we get maximum life from the tyres, rotation completed we head east for a meetup in the middle of Australia for the real test of the tyres……..
July 2019 Broken Hill NSW - 17850kms
High speed run back across the Nullarbor plain, all black top including 12 hours of heavy rain at night, my confidence in the tyres only grows, this was the first real wet weather run and the grip and surefootedness of the tyres was very good, again so far I am very happy.
July 2019 - Dalhousie Springs, west side of the Simpson Desert Australia
So now we get into the real stuff, having passed through the northern section of the Flinders Ranges, up through Lyndhurst north to Maree and onto the Oodnadatta Track heading north through to Oodnadatta, taking in Halligans Bay out from William Creek a notoriously rough road, and up through Dalhousie ruins.
Tyre wear recordings as follows; new tread depth 15mm
Front depth 9.5+mm (at 24psi cold)
Rear Depth 10.5+mm (at 28psi cold) remember we completed a tyre rotation
Road conditions for the Oodnadatta track were fair quite rocky and corrugated, I was adjusting tyre pressures to find the right setting cold up to hot, my target was to be running just under 30psi hot so most of the time we were getting a 5psi increase as the tire warmed up. At this stage the wear on the tyres is very good no side wall marks or damage, very minimal chipping to the tread blocks, I was travelling at up to 90 km/h or more on the gravel depending on traffic and actual road conditions so I am not babying these tyres at all.
July 2019 Gold Coast - 21500kms
Tyre wear recordings as follows; new tread depth 15mm
Front depth XXX+mm (at 40psi cold)
Rear Depth XXX+mm (at 42psi cold)
From Dalhousie we proceed eastward across the Simpson Desert traversing the French line making our way into Birdsville, then down through Walkers crossing to Innamincka and then home to the Gold Coast. Crossing the French Line in the Simpson Desert, mud tyres in the sand no problem. I was very impressed with how they responded to pressure drop and tyre shape to keep flotation on the sand. Of the many sandhills in the desert we only needed 3 reattempts and this was with pressures around 13psi cold, as the hill started getting bigger I repressured down to 10psi cold ( rear) and with the rear locker in was able to just walk over all the sand dunes no problem, remember I am towing a Tvan 1250kgs as well, at the very low pressures the tyres still give me confidence to run up to 40 to 50 kp/h for very short distances with confidence, although I don’t recommend those speeds unless you are a very experienced driver. We also traversed a section on the Eyre Creek bypass that is very rocky. It’s only short and, due to my laziness, I run through here at the very low pressures. By this time we are finally showing a few signs of abuse on the tread surface area, as I would expect, the sidewalls look as new even considering the low pressures I ran and treated them badly. During the sandy sections they performed above my expectations.
We head off again south for a dirt road tour exploring the Darling and Murray River areas throughout western NSW, over the next couple of months I expect to clock up a few more kilometres and will update you before Christmas this year for a 40,000km update, thinking at this stage will be able to achieve very good kilometres from these tyres with the right care and rotations.
SO, in summary,
In the 20,000 kms I have done so far 3+ months
Good even Tyre wear
Good km’s for a mud tyre
Kept balance at all times
Excellent grip in both dry and wet conditions both off road and on
Noise levels very low, (last 2000km just being able to hear a little rumble with window down **just**
So I would have no hesitation to recommend these tyres for off road / on road use. We all drive our 4wd’s around on the black top more so than off road, I like to have the more aggressive tyre as in wet weather I find they perform much better than all-terrain, especially when its heavy rain.
Stay tuned J
Edit: follow up note, now completed 42,000kms, 8mm tread depth left even wear, little bit of noise but very impressed, so much I have ordered another set, no punctures or any issue only did one rotation at 17,000kms and the fronts are still looking pretty good J
Posted in: Tagalong Adventures Australia at 20 January 20
We were in Derby in June running a tagalong safari and had a free day spare. Having heard about Windjana Gorge and Tunnel Creek we thought we would run the 300 odd km up and back on the Gibb River Road and check these places out for ourselves.
We started out on bitumen which soon turned to very corrugated dirt but nothing too bad that we couldn’t handle, had to dodge a few tourists driving through the dust at speed and in the middle of the road but got to our first stop at Windjana Gorge with no trouble.
Wow! Never have we seen so many freshwater crocodiles in one place, it was incredible, we counted at least 80 before we stopped trying. Due to the very dry wet season over the top half of WA there wasn’t a lot of water in the gorge and didn’t seem like there would be enough water for crocodiles that were there for too much longer. The gorge was spectacular and worth a visit, we didn’t venture too far down the gorge but there is a 7km walk you can do on a sandy track.
We walked a small way in and due to lack of time we ventured back out and headed back up the road towards Tunnel Creek. The road had improved significantly on the other side of Windjana Gorge and we made it to Tunnel Creek in no time, about 35 km further up the road.
A short walk up to the start of the tunnel, then a bit of clambering over the rocks to get into the tunnel. A spectacular site, a little bit of water but not as much as what we thought.
We had been told by a local at Fitzroy Crossing that we would have to wade in thigh deep water and in order to determine if there were any crocodiles, throw a rock in the water and if you see eyes, they are in there. Luckily for us we could skirt the water and didn’t have to test the theory. We walked somewhat into the tunnel but as we were very unprepared for our spur of the moment trip, we didn’t have strong enough torches with us to venture all the way in. We went as far as we could which in itself was pretty spectacular and then turned around and headed back out and headed back down the corrugated Gibb River Road to Derby.
A day well spent and worth the trip out, some more exploring to do there on our next trip to WA.
Posted in: Tagalong Adventures Australia at 02 September 19
Port Augusta in South Australia was the starting point for the Uluru and Beyond tagalong Safari 2018. This was going to be an epic trip away with 37 other fellow members. We were all looking forward to travelling and exploring new country over the next 21 days.
Our meeting point was to be Spear Creek Caravan Park, a beautiful little park nestled in the base of the Flinders Rangers just outside Port Augusta, actually located on a working sheep farm. You may be discouraged by the rough road in, including some gravel road (in fact the gravel was better than the main road out front, but once you get past that you can settle down on the grass amongst the trees and begin to unwind and in our case meet our new friends (and tell a few yarns) that we would be travelling with for the next few weeks.
We arrived the day prior and to our surprise most of our new friends were already there getting to know each other, telling stories and so forth. Happy hour was started on the afternoon following and we all got to know each other better, followed by a BBQ dinner that night and a few more stories.
Our first day on the road together today, off we left en route Coober Pedy. Due to the distance we would have an over night stop at Glendambo Roadhouse, passing through Woomera on the way for a lunch stop, with a member later telling us some stories about the rockets that were there from his experience. The next day we headed to Coober Pedy to stay for the next couple of nights where we had tours organised for everybody.
Our members had half a day to take in the sights at their leisure with lunch provided in the cafe and a half day tour where we were shown history, opal cutting and mining, an underground house and mine. The tour included a visit out to the breathtaking Breakaways including a stop at the Dingo Proof Fence. This is a fence that was built during the 1880’s to control dingo’s and wild dog movements across Australia.
Next we travelled north towards the township of Yulara (at the outskirts of Uluru) over 3 days, stopping over night firstly at Marla Roadhouse, where we formed a wagon circle around the grass and enjoyed an afternoon together. A few members decided the local establishment looked good for dinner, must have been good as later that night one member came out from the hotel and had misplaced their motorhome, fortunately we were able to locate their home for them! The next day we kept heading north in anticipation of a famous Chicken burger from the Erldunda Roadhouse which was our next nights stop over, again nice grass sites and magical sunsets to see the day out.
The next day we arrived at one of the major highlights of the trip for everybody, Uluru, where we stayed at the Ayers Rock Campground for 3 nights. The first day’s activity was a big day, up for a sunrise tour, coffee and biscuits, then onto a guided tour around the rock itself, lead by our trusty tour guide “driver” (that was his name seriously), then Driver dropped us back at camp for a couple of hours rest so that we were ready for our afternoon’s activity including a gorge walk at The Olgas, wine and canapés watching sunset on the Rock (unfortunately it was overcast so not much of a sunset this time).
After such a big day we all had a rest day the next day, sleep in and members went off to do their own thing including camel rides, helicopter flights and scenic plane flights to name a few, but we all had to be ready for our night excursion to the fabulous Field of Lights exhibit that night.
Unfortunately our time at Uluru had come to an end and it was time to head for Kings Canyon. Our time at Kings Canyon resort included free time to be able to visit Kings Canyon, either the 6 km rim walk or the gorge walk. About 15 of us braved the 500 metre climb to start the rim walk early in the morning while the rest of the group decided on the more relaxed gorge walk. Dinner that night was at the Outback BBQ at the resort, we all enjoyed the meal, live music, great company then on the road again bound for Alice Springs over a couple of days.
En-route we visited Karrke Aboriginal Cultural experience where we heard from the traditional owners about bush medicine, traditional food, hunting and dot paintings to name a few. We all thoroughly enjoyed this experience and the way that Peter and his wife explained the traditional customs was very informative.
On our way to Alice Springs we once again stayed at Erldunda with some of us enjoying the roast meal at the tavern that night. Leaving Erldunda we travelled to Alice Springs staying for 3 nights giving everyone a time to rest, rejuvenate and absorb our trip so far.
We hired a mini bus and ferried members to the shops and some local attractions while others decided to take in some extra tours, camel rides, cultural visits and a drive through the East or West MacDonnell Ranges in their own vehicles or hire cars.
Whilst we were at Alice Springs we remembered our Anzacs on Anzac day at the dawn service. Andrew once again played “driver” to get the members that wished to partake in the service along to Anzac Hill, we followed this by our own morning tea at camp with donations for Anzac biscuits being made to the Royal Flying Doctor Service and Red Poppies made by a member with donations going towards the RSL. One of the members shared a very informative story about the role women played in the war in particular one amazing woman.
We had also decided to collect our cans and bottles during the trip ( a suggestion of a member at the start) and while in Alice Springs we took all the collection to the recycling centre and the money was also donated to the Royal Flying Doctor Service.
Off we go again on our next leg towards Mt Isa. This was a long stretch of the trip happening over 3 overnight stays. The first stop was at Devils Marbles Roadhouse with a beaut dinner at the roadhouse that night (the chef being awarded top chef in NT). In the morning we stopped at the Devils Marbles, a must stop on this leg, continuing north through Tennant Creek and visiting the old Telegraph Station for lunch stop. Here we bid farewell to a member as they left our convoy heading north toward Darwin and a further 6 months on the road.
We free camped on the Barkly Highway, enjoying happy hour, trying to ignore the heat, wind and flies. We did make a stop for morning tea at Barkly Homestead, with most of us enjoying a coffee and snack. We then stopped again at another free camp on the Barkly Highway with some entertainment by a member and some more happy hour.
Mt Isa was out next stop, with time to explore the city that afternoon. The next day we embarked on a bus tour taking in the Outback at Isa experience and a delicious lunch there, then we headed out to lovely Lake Moondarra, this was built for the mines and in fact the largest water scheme funded by private enterprise in Australia, it is quite spectacular and well worth a visit. Once again we said farewell to a member who was leaving us to head north towards Cairns.
Our safari was starting to get towards the end as we headed on towards Winton, this visit was to be a highlight with the opportunity to visit the newly opened Waltzing Matilda Centre. We took a tour out to the Australian Dinosaur Museum with a tour of the collection centre and also Dinosaur Canyon. What an amazing place this is. We were treated to a sunset and nibbles and enjoyed each others company watching the sunset from the top of the jump up
Our time had come to an end and we needed to head towards our last destination of Longreach. En-route to Longreach we stopped overnight at the Walkabout Creek Hotel, made famous in the movie “Crocodile Dundee”. The flies were pretty thick here so most of us opted for dinner in the pub and a few games of pool and lots of laughs, what a great night and great hosts at this pub.
Off we went on our last day on the road ending in Longreach. We ended the day with our last happy hour together with a few awards and presents being given out and a lot of laughs.
Our last day together we had a full day of free time and with everyone receiving tickets to the Qantas Museum and Stockman’s Hall of Fame, safari members were able to walk or drive and visit these venues at their own leisure. The last night we all went on a sunset cruise on the Thomson River and enjoyed a great meal and entertainment at Smithy’s Outback Show.
Now this Safari was finished and new friends were made. A time to reflect on the trip and the great times together and to look forward to possible new trips together to explore this great and diverse country that we live in.
See you somewhere around the campfire
Andrew and Renee
Posted in: Tagalong Adventures Australia at 30 September 18
Just got back from checking through our up coming Opals & Gold Safari this will run in October this year, taking in some great areas including Lightning Ridge, Hill End and lots more, see the tours section for more information. When setting up the routes we take, I quite often try to take the roads less travelled as you never know what you may find. On this reccie we decided to pass through a small town called Carinda just south west of Walgett NSW. A typical small country town with a sports ground (free camp) dozen houses or so and yes a local hotel. Now we learned when we got there this hotel featured in a David Bowie film clip, so it just goes to show that we need to take the time when passing through these small towns as there is always something of interest to see.
Something which I had time to ponder on our last reccie was communication. We live in a world where communication, specifically mobile phones, are becoming a “must have”. When travelling outback it is expected that between towns you may not have phone reception and a lot of people will take a Telstra phone because they have the best coverage. Now we travelled through a town recently that I would say is not remote, in fact would be less than 1 hour from Toowoomba. We stopped at the Local for dinner and just out the back was a very nice free camp, no phone service at all, never have had phone service!. The publican advised us that 5k either side of town you could get service. We need to remember that travelling throughout this awesome country we have, we cannot rely on our mobile phone’s, and I would suggest that all caravan’s, motorhomes and frequent outback travellers should at the very least have a quality UHF and antennae along with a trip plan that you leave with relatives and or friends. We carry 2 x vehicle based UHF’s, a 5w handheld, Sat Phone, Spot gen3 (EPIRB) and a Telstra and Optus phones (yes there are places that Optus works and Telstra doesn’t)
Don’t be afraid to get out and Xplore our great country and experience its hospitality on your next Xciting Xpedition.
Catch you round the campfire
Posted in: Tagalong Adventures Australia at 16 July 18