Driving from Adelaide to Uluru

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Driving from Adelaide to Uluru

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Old 09-07-2009, 02:35 AM
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Driving from Adelaide to Uluru

I am planning a drive from Adelaide to Uluru in April next year. My main concern is driving in the outback. I've driven to Uluru with my parents before but i was 10 at the time, and I have never been on a drive this long with me as the driver. I will be 21 when my friends and I take off.

I am planning a 2 day journey to get there, stopping over night in Coober Pedy. I am hoping I will have 2 or 3 car loads of friends going.

Basically what I am looking for are tips on driving long distance, what safety items I should take with me, how is the mobile phone coverage out there (i know it would depend on the provider but I'd like a general idea) and any other general things I should know about driving out there.

Any help would be appreciated!

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Old 09-07-2009, 07:27 AM
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I haven't driven the route Nick though have been in other semi-remote areas before we even knew about mobile phones! and being sealed all the way it ought to be a breeze.

On the phone coverage you can look up coverage maps online and if you check Telstra, you'll know that Optus will be no better and Vodafone somewhat worse - and you'll likely find there's bugger all coverage outside of places like CP, maybe Woomera, Uluru and AS unless they have set up repeaters using the rail system somehow but I doubt it.
If you want coverage you'd likely have to get a Sat Phone, hiring possible about $20/d.
Alternately, Telstra have been flogging their latest internet systems they reckon will work anywhere - not sure if they really mean it and if so it must be via Satellites and could be worth checking with them so you may be able to email from anywhere.
When I quizzed a guy who rang up once, I said it has to be either towers coverage or satellite like broadband and he didn't really know - I'd think it's satellite bb and with a doggle or whatever able to receive without a satellite dish.

If you know or find out, please post about it.

In using some common sense and you have started that way, it shouldn't be a problem if you take appropriate precautions and good idea to overnight at CP and if you haven't been there before you might even want to stop two nights if you have the days available - hostel there that's underground, maybe even a couple by now - kind of along with Kalgoorlie, Australias wild west and who knows you could find some opal muck heap doodling about.

Your main enemies are going to be heat/vehicle, road trains, animals and flies!, taste horrible they do when you swallow one or two or three!

. April will be starting to cool down but quite possibly temperatures up around 35C inland if early April, so make sure your vehicles are in as good nick as they can be, especially cooling systems, a good radiator flush if it's an older car, pressure test and hoses check [heater hoses too], again more important the older the car is and take spare hoses, especially the top one which gets hottest, a spare radiator cap and a spare fanbelt [ and have tools and nohow on how to change one - it's relatively simple].

Take plenty of water as not only will you get thirsty but always handy to have plenty in reserve if you get stuck - on main Stuart Hwy and road to Uluru there'll be fairly regular traffic and golden rule in case of a breakdown is never to leave your vehicle unless it is in another.
I saw once that 20L/P/D was recommended and probably reasonable if you were to be getting more off the beaten track going off on tracks etc.
Where you're going it'd not hurt to have a good 10L/p each day, filling up where you can and then if you start of with a good quality esky chockers with old soft drink 2L bottles of water frozen before you leave, that'd be handy to have too and as you empty one, refill it from 1Ol container and into bottom of esky and so you'll have colder water available while driving.
You can also get some little 12V coolers that can hold half a dozen cans or so - Tandy had them for about $29 and handy to have in car plugged into the Cig lighter but do not forget to remove the plug each time you stop so as not to drain the battery.

And check age of your battery for if it's getting on a bit, say older than three years, at least get a good check done on it and if older than five years, consider getting a new one for the trip and you can always put the older one back in after you get back and use it up, alternating every three months or so with new one until the old one dies.

Also get yourself some mesh, something like a 70% shadecloth and fit it over the grille in front of the radiator so as if there's a lot of bugs about you do not block the radiator up. But do that this summer to give the car a good run while it's on to make sure you have something that'll still let enough air through.
And the theory being if you are getting heaps of windscreen splatter, your mesh will be collecting too and so check it regularly and just brush off the dead bugs.

Make sure you have good rubber on and a little over pressurising will not hurt, help a little with economy and with less tyre flexing, heat build up will be less. Wheel bearings also ought to be checked and repacked.
And a well functioning air conditioner will be a godsend.

And if your car is making some odd noises or whatever, do get it checked, a good idea if you know a mechanic to have a decent general service and they ought to be able to recognise if something isn't too healthy, maybe a squeaky water pump for instance or smelly transmission or clutch if it's a manual.

Again, if you were going off road I'd suggest you take an additional spare but seeing as you'll be on bitumen most of the time and especially if you have a few cars, you'll not really need an additional spare [but check you have a decent spare, over inflated to start with and a manual tyre pump on board wouldn't hurt either, along with some tyre levers, a rubber mallet and a puncture repair kit or a tube to put in.
If a tyre deflates, make sure you look closely to see if it has been something picked up off the road - you'll be anazed at how screws and things can find their way into tyres.

I'd also take a cheap tarp, a foil on one side type one with tie chords, just so if you're stuck you can stretch that out from vehicle roof for some shade, and it can become a ground sheet too in case you're camping out under the stars - one of the best things on being out that way.

The Road Trains.
And they can be huge mothers so you need to give them a wide berth and that'll mean getting off to your side of the road a bit if not totally and so if you see one coming, slow and get off to the side and even stop if need be for that's when you'll likely get a puncture.

Not a great idea to be driving around dusk for big Roos, Camels, Horses, Wild Cattle can all make a mess of a car.
If you have teriffic driving lights, I'd still drop speed back to say no more than 80 and keep alert.

It can be first of all unknowing of something ahead if the night is black and the animal is too, then disbelief that a bloody cow is in the middle of the road [no grass there!] and a bit cary as you are on them so quick and it's a quick swerve to miss, hoping the damm thing doesn't get scared too and bolt into you - BTDT!

Get yourself a good broadbrim hat and doesn't need to be an Akubra.
Australian Geographic ? Journal, Society, Shop plus destinations, wildlife, adventure and science down under - Australian Geographic stores have great collapsible mesh ones that fit into a little pocket pouch and weigh all of 100g, ideal for travelling.
And then you get yourself a flymesh, used to be aout $2 from camping stores - and so you learn to eat with the food betwen you and the mesh.

But be great if you have something of a convoy and if you can push your date back a month or so, even better.

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Old 09-07-2009, 11:03 AM
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Thank you so much for the help. There were a lot of things you wrote about that I didn't even consider.

I was thinking of going mid-April because of university holidays. I heard somewhere that April is the rainy season for the outback and that some roads can be closed off. Is that true?

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Old 09-07-2009, 04:51 PM
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There's not really much of a rainy season in the southern outback Nick.

The centre does get some rain usually when a big monsoonial low has come in over NW WA and northern NT in the wet season of the north and then you'll get flood waters from northern Queensland that flow all the way down into Lake Eyre and that happens only every 15 -20 years or so, a bit having got down last year after the flooding in Queensland.

But the wet season is usually finished by March/April and flood waters that would affect the Stuart Highway would be very rare and more than likely because of a local storm and flash flooding but I doubt we'll see much of that type of weather about there for a long time if not never.

It's only up in the far north that road closures regularly occur with the heavier rain up there.

Leaving mid April should be fine and if you do get a team together you should seek volunteers to co-ordinate different aspects, eg, tucker and having a cooking roster, not too many Maccas about up there and food at the Uluru resort will be extra expensive.
So if you do something like having an esky in each car just for food and put a heap of snags or whatever in deep frozen and the food co-ordinator works out an eating /storage plan, you should be able to at first just use one esky for a few days without opening the others that can contain food for second and third periods - you'll be surprised how long it'll keep for with a bag of ice on the bottom and not being opened.

And then if you're camping, you have a few putting up tents, a couple getting firewood and setting a fire and so with good teamwork, a fire ought to be going, tents are up and foods cooking, everybody can start on the beer together.

If by chance we do get a big weather change, by all means check with the Auto club people and if you have a look at RACQ - Makes your day I think it's their site that has a link to an Australia wide online road reporting system.

Should be a great trip and if you do have extra days, it'll mean a bit of a double back but heading up tio the Flinders Ranges would be well worth a couple of days too.

There's another little Opal place you've probably not heard of called Mintabie and that's just 25 km. of highway at Marla which is 225 km. north of CP so if you had time for the Flinders Rs, what you might want to think about is:

FRs and Mintabie on way up [ makes leg to Uluru shorter]
Kings Canyon and CP on way back.

  #5 (permalink)  
Old 09-08-2009, 01:16 AM
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Originally Posted by Wanderer View Post
There's not really much of a rainy season in the southern outback Nick.
Thats what I thought. I guess they were referring to the monsoonial low you mentioned. Just thought I'd check haha

I'd love to go to Kings Canyon as well so that is definitely on the list of things to do. I will also do some research on Mintabie and see if my mates would like to go there. As much as I'd love to do all these things, the majority rules I guess, so I'll have to see what my friends want to do as well. Hopefully they would like to see all the places I want to!

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