Thursday, 17 September 2015

Next Big Project

For some time I have been considering what might be undertaken as the next big project.  Eventually I decided on a trip across Australia.  OK, we’ve done that before west to east and south to north by both land and air.  However what I’d like to do is travel overland west to east through the middle.  This has a number of challenges.  There are a few tracks, but no roads.  Definitely no service stations, supermarkets or water points.  The distances are vast and some people who have attempted this with insufficient preparation have died.

It will require good planning, excellent navigation and a suitable vehicle. 

There are tracks which can be used during suitable weather conditions.  The journey shouldn’t be attempted during summer as the high temperatures can kill both humans or their vehicle.  Winter can result in localized flooding entrapping the vehicle. 

The Stuart Highway is a sealed road running north to south through the middle of Australia.  To the west of the highway the tracks were mostly constructed in the 50’s and 60’s as part of the UK missile testing program conducted at the Woomera Rocket Range.  Over in the west the Canning Stock Route runs north-south.  It was built in the 1920’s to enable the big cattle stations in the NW of Western Australia to move their cattle to the markets in the south of the State.  The Tanami Track runs from Alice Springs in the centre of Australia to the NW coast.

To the east of the Stuart Highway is the Simpson Desert.  Most of the tracks in this area were constructed by mining exploration companies in the 60’s.  Not much maintenance is done on these tracks. The following map shows the ghosted outline of Australia on Europe.  I’ve then superimposed the rough location of the tracks.  The roads in the east and along the southern coast will be on bitumen.

Oz Road Trip

My water and fuel calculations indicate the vehicle will not have the necessary carrying capacity.  I’ll therefore need to tow a suitable trailer.  After looking at the distances to be covered I think the adventure will need to be divided into two projects.  A circuit in the west across the Great Victorian Desert to Alice Springs.  Then NW across the Great Sandy and Tanami Deserts before heading south through the Little Sandy Desert. The eastern circuit will taken me through the Simpson and Strzelecki Deserts to Birdsville and then north to Mount Isa before heading east to Townsville where I will turn south down the Princess Highway to Sydney. Then I’ll turn west and cross the Blue Mountains to had back to Perth via Adelaide.  From Townsville the journey will be on bitumen.


Halfie said...

Wow! You're going to have to really like driving. It helps tremendously superimposing Oz on Europe - I'd think of the journey from the north east of England to the south coast via Cardiff as rather a slog which I wouldn't want to do in one day. But that's just a small fragment of your proposed route. How long do you think it will take? Have you told Jan about this yet?

Alf said...

What type of vehicle are you thinking of ? By what you describe , plus the need for a trailer, may i suggest a Land Rover, ex military, whose trailer wheels can be driven in case of floods or other poor grip conditions, also a winch & ground anchor for the same reason. Sounds fun tho, keep us all posted on this please. Alf

Tom and Jan said...

Hi Halfie,
Jan has decided the crazy one can go without her! I have yet to calculate the timing but vehicle speed will be low.

Paul and El said...

Very interesting Tom, are you going to do it in one hit or a section at a time then a break. Are you keeping the boat??? So many questions....The only one I have done is the Birdsville track in a Hiace back in the early eighties oh and the Gibb River road in the 90s.

Tom and Jan said...

Paul at this time I am thinking of doing a circuit in the west and then a second in the east. It wull be after "life on the boat". Plenty more planning to be done before it happens!

Leo No2 said...

The Citroen 2CV club has undertaken a number of Raids across Australia - in 1996 we travelled from Perth to Kalgoorlie, Leonora, parts of the Gun Barrel Highway to Alice, up the Stuart Highway to Yendemu, straight across the Tanami via Rabbit Flat and Wolf Creek Crater to Halls Creek - out to Kununurra then across the Gibb River Road to Fitzroy Crossing, out to Broome, Tom Price, The Pilbara and back to Pert. If you can do it in a 2CV without a trailer you can do it in almost any vehicle. I think they also did a Freemantle to Cape York in 2000 - have a look at

Kathryn - we met briefly on the Northampton Arm.

Tom and Jan said...

Interesting link Kathryn. I think there are a number of advantages doing it as part of a big group.

Marilyn McDonald said...

Have a look at Odyssey Overland, Tom - friends of ours did a trip with them from London to Malaysia and all sorts of exciting places in between. Not my cup of tea as I am a wuss, but we did enjoy reading their newsletters each week!
Cheers, Mairlyn

Tom and Jan said...

Hi Marilyn,

70% of the fun is in doing the planning! It's justgoing to be me and the desert!

Marilyn McDonald said...

In that case, Tom, I think you should use the CV2 as Kathryn suggested - she is a kiwi after all, if I have the right woman in mind!
You all set for the opening of the RWC tonight and the England-Fiji game?
Cheers, M

Marilyn McDonald said...

Sorry, I did mean 2CV but my knowledge of automobiles is lamentable!

Tom and Jan said...

I think it would be terribily courageous of me to attempt it solo in a C2V. Waiting out the hour for the kick off!