First outback trip

by Mitch

Kewson Hill - Oodnadatta Track

Kewson Hill - Oodnadatta Track

Hello we are hiring a 4WD Cheapa campa from Apollo (The Bushcamper sold out) and are picking it up from Alice Springs on Tuesday!

We are looking to do Alice Springs, Kings Canyon,
Ayers Rock, Dalhousie Springs, Marree, Hawker, Keith and Melbourne.

We are looking to do as many 4WD tracks as possible however we aren't very experienced. Do any of those routes sound problematic?

We are hoping to do the Mereenie Loop from Alice/Kings Canyon/Uluru then cross the Stuart Highway and head from Kulgera to Dalhousie via Finke and Mt Dare.

Then a night in Coober Pedy, then Marree via Williams Creek.

As we go in a week do you think these roads will be ok for inexperienced 4WD drivers if it doesn't rain heavily?

Also any tips? Are we missing anything big out?


P.S this website is great!

Rita's Reply

Hi Mitch,

Hey, my first real Outback trip covered nearly the same route! We were inexperienced at that time, but everything went well.

Make sure that you get to know your car, read the tips in the manual, try how to engage the 4WD before you really need it. Check the tools, perhaps buy some small parts that will help you to fix things. Read the tips on the How to prepare your car page.

None of the roads and tracks are usually so bad that they would require to drive in 4WD mode all the time, but the higher clearance of a 4WD helps that you don't hit every rock on the road.

Some of the unsealed have been badly damaged after all that rain, some are perhaps still closed. Check the websites of the road report services, they have also recorded messages when you call them.
Ask for advice anywhere before you leave the bitumen roads.
Talk to fellow travellers on the way. I reckon chats about road conditions are fairly common on campgrounds right now.

Ring Mount Dare Ph- 08 8670 7835 before you leave Kulgera and ask about the roads. There was so much rain in this area, this could be the most difficult section.
It seems you can't go from Dalhousie to Hamilton via the Pedirka ruins. The Pedirka access route is closed for an unknown time. So you have to go from Dalhousie to Blood Creek and Eringa and then south to Oodnadatta.
Take a good map that covers the area.

With the uncertain conditions at the moment nobody can say if you can do the entire trip as you planned it. Just take one step at a time. Outback travellers have to be flexible, lol.

I can't guarantee you that you can do all the 4WD tracks, but you will have a wonderful trip.

Drive slowly and carefully. Have a good time.


PS Thanks for the compliments.

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Comments for First outback trip

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Apr 27, 2011
Great report
by: Rita

Hi Mitch,

Thank you so much for taking the time to write about your trip. I just love to read these travel reports.

I am glad you had a good time and all went well.


Apr 26, 2011
Back now!!
by: Mitch

Well we made it back in one piece, flew to Alice with Tiger, flight left on time, it was a miracle. Picked up the van and after a quick supermarket shop were on our way into the West Macdonnells. We stopped at Ellery Creek, a swim in Ormiston gorge and got our road permit at Glen Helen to set out to Kings Canyon. The Mereenie loop road wasn’t the best, very bumpy but we made it ok!

Thought the Kings Canyon campsite was a disappointment. Expensive to camp there and filthy toilets and showers.

Did the rim walk the next morning however and loved it. Got to Yulara easily enough and checked in, this campsite was much better, don’t buy alcohol from here though, we hadn’t been able to go to the bottle shop at Alice Springs as we needed to set off and so we had to pay $33 for a very ordinary bottle of wine to watch the sunset with!!

Next leg was the monster journey to Dalhousie Springs! Got to Kulgera pretty quick, Kulgera to Finke was in great condition, saw the lambert centre. After Finke the roads to Mt Dare and then Dalhousie were in very poor condition, we made it but it was hard work. Loved Dalhousie Springs though!

Managed to take a wrong turn out of Dalhousie which added 2 hours onto our journey to Coober Pedy. Got to Oodnadatta about 2.30 and had some lunch. We had a room booked in Coober Pedy that night and nearly didn’t go as the silly owner of the pink roadhouse was telling us it was 3.5 hrs to get to Coober Pedy. Luckily another local told us he could do it in 1.75hrs and so we went for it, it took me just over 2 hrs and the road was great!

Loved Coober Pedy, stayed at Radeka downunder which I can really recommend. Went to Old Timers mine and saw the sights before heading to Marree via William Creek. We could have had longer in Coober Pedy as again the silly lady from the pink roadhouse told us it was over 3 hours to William Creek then the same to Marree, it wasn’t!!! The William Creek hotel is very cool!! We were wanting to get up to Clayton Station for the night to camp but hadn’t realised it was so far from Marree so ended up at the Oasis campsite in Marree, great little campsite. Great firepit!!

We then had a day in the Flinders Ranges. Felt like we needed to research this better, enjoyed it but seemed to drive around a lot! Stayed at the Flinders Ranges Caravan Park in Hawker. I had been e-mailing a lovely man called John, however when we got there we had the rudest woman ever so not sure what went wrong there but we couldn’t have a shower either due to water running out so not the best stay.

Back to Melbourne then after a quick night stop off at Horsham on way home.

All in all we had a great trip, just a lot of driving! Saw heaps of great sunsets/rises and some amazing wildlife though!!

Thanks for all advice!

Apr 15, 2011
Track info
by: John

Thanks Rita for the info, will contact the locals before we start the trip, appears we will not be the only ones out there, thanks again. John

Apr 15, 2011
What is lonely?
by: Rita

Hi Mitch,

Good to see you've already done your "homework" calling the Pink Roadhouse and Mt. Dare. This is really the best way to get the most recent advice about conditions. Well done!

Well, "lonely" is relative when you travel in the Australian Outback. For a city slicker like me the Oodnadatta Track was lonely, although I know it is considered as a "busy" Outback track.

We travelled the entire track in September. We saw about 4 to 6 oncoming cars each day. But when we stayed at the campgrounds in William Creek and Oodnadatta I was surprised how they filled each night. So just in case your car breaks down for some reason, you can be sure that within a few hours someone passes by if you need help. Just plan your day that you arrive not too late at your overnight destination, and avoid traveling in the dark by all means.

Now that the travelling season for the Outback begins, and so many people want to see Lake Eyre in flood, it won't be so lonely out there.

We had a flat tyre on the Birdsville Track in the middle of the day. It took my husband about an hour to change the tyre, I couldn't help him because I had broken my shoulder just two days before. No car passed by until we were ready to drive on, then a party of four cars appeared. Maybe they were hiding until we finished the job. Just kidding.
No, you can be sure when you stop at the roadside with the bonnet open everyone who passes by will stop and ask if you need help.

The tracks are signposted, sometimes the posts are not obvious, but you will see them.

I wish you can go everywhere you want. Yeah, would be nice to hear who it worked out.


Apr 14, 2011
by: Mitch Sims

Thankyou ever so much for your kind reply! I have spoken to both the Pink Roadhouse and Mt Dare and apparently both roads are ok for 4wd at the moment! I just have to hope it doesn't rain again and that our rental company Apollo let us go on those roads!!

I saw that the Dalhousie to Hamilton via Perdika was closed! I must admit I am not 100% sure what distance this will add onto our trip however Dalhousie Springs is a key one on both of our lists so will do our utmost to get there!

We are looking to skip the Oodnadatta to William Creek leg of the track and pop to Coober Pedy, so Oodnadatta, Coober Pedy, Williams Creek then down to Marree.

You mentioned these tracks were lonely, but what are the conditions usually like? I can find very little on them! Also ate they signposted?

Thanks again


We will let you know how we get on!

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