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Travelling the outback in the middle of summer

Travel Forums Australia / New Zealand & The Pacific Travelling the outback in the middle of summer

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1. Posted by HafJafMark (Respected Member 291 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!


im currently on a round the world trip (in Mellbourne at the minute). Me and my friends have just bought a car and were planning on travelling to Perth.

From there I want to travel up the Great Central road to Uluru (Leaving Perth roughly end on January), then on to Mount Isa and finally to Cairns.

Is this a stupid idea considering the heat?

Anyone done anything like this before?

2. Posted by erino (Budding Member 23 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

Hey there -

The Great Central Road (whilst a bit empty and boring for some) is a really amazing experience. Expect it to be a really quiet journey instead of a pubcrawl and you should have a good time :) has a mad max feel to it. I would be really careful in planing the uluru to mt isa bit. you will need to make sure that you have stops in townships planned ahead so that you don't run out of fule or water. Shouldn't be too bad as long as you take a map, a few big 4L water containers and a spare jerry can of fule(you would be surprised that some people don't!!). Most of the time this trip is ok...if you are used to the heat by now you won't struggle. Also, it is important that you avoid just roaming into aboriginal communities. dispite what some tourists think - people in the communities are just like the rest of us - they don't like visiters without 'phoning ahead' - in this case you should always contact the elders council and get permission - and they don't appreciate being treated like a tourist attraction.

With a bit of planning I think you'll be ok. Did this trip as a kid with my parents (starting from Adelaide rather than perth) and it must have drove my parents crazy - I on the other hand, have fond memories!


3. Posted by angusm (Budding Member 9 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

Hi There

Agree with Erino. How old and in what condition is your car? In summer you frequently see cars broken down on the road. Getting help/tow trucks is difficult and expensive.

On some roads during the day you may not see another car for 30mins-1 hour.

Do not drive at night outside towns in the outback areas. Rental car companies do not allow this, so there is a reason behind it. Kangaroos inflict real damage on cars and often go wandering at dusk/night. Also if you have an accident you may struggle to find passers by during the night.

Key point is good planning and exercise some common sense. Also note that mobile phones will not work in some areas of the outback. Telstra tends to have the best reception and usually is ok on the main Perth-Adelaide and Adelaide-Alice Springs-Darwin routes.

However, the outback is great. It is, I believe, the real Australia! The roadhouses, the road trains, the endless straight roads, barren but beautiful countryside. Just make sure someone drives with you at all times, have air con on (very easy to fall asleep at the wheel on a 40 degree C+ day), and some good music!!

All the best in the planning.

4. Posted by HafJafMark (Respected Member 291 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

Hi there,

Cheers for the advice. The cars a 1990 Mitsubish Magna Stationwagon, Just had $700 worth of work done to it to pass the Road Worthy.

I think the car should be fine - were not planning on going on any 4WD tracks.

Its the heat im worried about really. im from Ireland so im cold blooded and I find Melbourne real hot.

Im prepared for a sweaty experience, Im just concerned that given ill be travelling at the high part of the summer - it might make for a miserable trip.
But then again like you said "It is, I believe, the real Australia",

Id hate to go home not having experienced it.

do you think its really neccessary to get one of those High Frequency radios?

5. Posted by B1121 (Budding Member 12 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

Oh no, you don't need one of them. If you're not leaving the bitumen you won't get lost...

The Stuart HWY is a fairly busy road, there is nothing to worry about. ("Busy" is coming from someone who lives in the much more remote Kimberley ;-)

You don't even need a jerry can, as long as you make sure you always fill up at the roadhouses. Of course a jerry can adds to peace of mind and I'd take one...

The good thing about the outback is that although the days are really hot the heat is dry, a lot more comfortable than the humidity near the coast. The nights are also pleasantly cool, not like in the far north (where I am).

But if your car doesn't have aircon you will suffer during the heat of the day...

I came to Australia as a cold blooded German, travelled straight through the centre and into a northern summer, a humid northern summer. I probably suffered, but I loved every minute of it. As you can tell, since I never left...

6. Posted by B1121 (Budding Member 12 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

I just noticed something.

You say you are in Melbourne? You want to go to Perth and then through the centre? Drive thousands of km to Perth and then thousands of km back to get to the start of the Stuart HWY? Are you sure? It's the only bitumen road through the centre, and it starts in Adelaide...

The only way from north of Perth is the Gunbarrel HWY (stunning, beautiful, love it) It would go to the Olgas and Ayers Rock before you reach the bitumen again but that is a very serious trip, strictly 4wd only and only for people who know what they are doing.

Or more bluntly. It's probably not for you...

7. Posted by Ausboy (Budding Member 20 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

Having done the trip up from Adelaide i think that you'll find the heat rather.. hot.

It's HOT up there, and dry. Dust everywhere and just no water.. Even in the shade it's 30 - 40 degrees. I mean it's absolutely Gorgeous up there in rugged barren way that is so Aussi, but yea you do have to be a bit prepared. Air con is an almost essential in your car, take LOTS of water and water bottles in the car as well.
Remember that there isnt just towns along the way every 1/2 hour or so, so all of those lovely icecreams that make hot weather bareable dont exist nearly as often enough.

When I went with my family we also stopped a lot along the way to check out the gorges and chasms hidden in the desert. These were SOO Worth it, namely Ormeston Gorge and Stanley Chasm were highlights. At Traffina we met up with some American Backpackers and had a great night of fireworks and celebrations. So these little places are secret wonders! (if you have the time)

Lastly make sure your car is good and ready. Repairs are EXPENSIVE up there... we got to alice springs and broke down in our 4wd and that cut our trip by a 1/4 simply because the repairs were expensive. But your car sounds ok, particularly with your recent work.

It's amazing up there, really worth it and what I would call The Barron Heart of down under, but be prepared for endless heat during the day and flies!!! oh my goodness the flies! Take hats with fly nets (available at all tourist shops up there)and spray.

Good Luck! hope that helps