Welcome to David and Janet Ribbans blog

We live in Adelaide, South Australia and enjoy travel in the Australian outback in our Oka 4WD motorhome, hence the blog title.

To quickly locate any of our more than 80 travel and technical articles, use the drop down menus below or scroll down the lists in the right hand sidebar. But please read the disclaimer first, we've tried to be accurate and current but things can change...
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Monday, 24 December 2007

Tracks we've been on and our thoughts... (under construction)

Tracks we've been on and what we thought.
All these tracks should be considered as 4WD only, although some may be possible in a sturdy high clearance 2WD. Check carefully first.
Limited fuel and water supplies on all these tracks and some require permits.
Sandover Highway Mount Isa to Alice SpringsEasy, deep to moderate sand and gravel on the NT section. No facilities but quite scenic. Tricky to find the start at the QLD end. 800 kms.
Bloomfield Track. Cooktown to Cape TribulationDifficult, steep winding and slippery gravel. Drainage channels along the sides so there's not much room for error. Despite the track being along the coast, there almost no views of the sea due to the dense vegetation.
Cape York Peninsular Development Road
Cairns to the Tip
Fairly easy (some corrugations) using bypass tracks NOT the OTT, long, hot and dusty (need lights on).
$88 ferry return fare (trailers extra) at Jardine River crossing.
Plenty of side trips (Weipa, Mapoon, Pennefather River (deep sand!), Capt Billy Landing, Chilli Beach, Portland Roads, Lochhart River). Very windy on east coast, calm on the west. Regular road houses.
Bamaga, Seisia, Somerset at the tip. Take a trip to Thursday Island. Lakefield National Park and Cooktown on return.
800 kms plus side trips.
South Australia
Googs Track. Ceduna to Tarcoola.Great fun and not too difficult. Deep sand and plenty of sand dunes. Camping at Googs Lakes and Mount Finke. 200 kms. Permit needed. South to North direction recommended. Use CB and sand flags on crests.
Western Australia
CSRWe've done 2/3rds of the CSR in 2 stages, comprising the top section from Bililuna to Well 33 near Kunawaritji (700 kms), and the centre section from Well 33 to Georgia Bore near Well 22 (300 kms). The CSR is long and lonely but a great desert experience and well worth all the the effort and planning. It covers hundred of sand dunes, some of which are a bit difficult. However, once you start, there is almost no chance of vehicle recovery except under it's own steam, so total self sufficiency is a prerequisite. No permit required unless you deviate off the track but access tracks will require permits.
Gary HighwayVery corrugated but quite easy. No facilities. (400 kms from Kunawaritji to Everard Junction, plus another 400 kms to Warburton). Veevers Crater and McPhersons Pillar are worth investigation. See my Wiki entry at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gary_Highway.
Eagle HighwayVery variable, narrow and very overgrown in places, the track is almost indicernable and poses a navigation hazard, May large washaway's needing diversions. No facilities. (800 kms from Great Central Road to Kunawaritji via the Talawana Track and CSR).
Talawana TrackVery corrugated but quite easy. No facilities except good water at Midway Well. (200 kms from Eagle Highway Junction to the CSR near Well 24).
Kidson TrackThis track used to be a very challenging 4wd track from Kunawaritji (Well 33 on the CSR) to 80 Mile beach. During 2012, much of the western end of the track was graded to allow access for mining vehicles and has become a wide smooth gravel road. The eastern 200km still has demanding sand dunes and overgrown section. 650kms, no facilities.
Parmango Road
Balladonia to Condingup (Cape Arid)
This is a useful shortcut (in distance, not time) between Balladonia and Cape Arid (Condingup township, store/fuel). 200 km, wide track but rough in the Balladonia section, better at the southern end. Would be difficult in the wet. Sign at northern end restricts vehicles to 4WD and 3Tonnes. No signs at the southern end and unnecessary anyway. Be aware that the Mt Ragged alternative route to Cape Arid (turns off half way along) may be narrow and impassable after rain and Esperance is a very wet area.
Steep Point
Shark Bay to the most westerly point of the Australian mainland
This track starts as a fairly smooth gravel road (120km) on the Useless Loop road from Hamlyn Pool on Shark Bay via Tamala Station. (Note the gravel used is salt residue from the salt works and will become quite corrosive when wet. Wash down the underside of your vehicle if returning after rain). It then deteriorates as you approach the Steep Point National Park where it becomes a difficult, narrow sandy track (40km) across several challenging sand dunes to the Ranger Station. 
Nuytsland Nature Reserve
Track due south from Madura
This track south starts just east of Madura as a fairly smooth 10km gravel road to Madura Cave which is worth a visit.  Thereafter, it deteriorates into a narrow sandy and overgrown track for a further 40km towards the coast. Although narrow, it is navigable with care over soft sand dunes dodging the low slung vegetation. This track does not actually reach the coast, the bush become impenetrable and it terminates at a track junction a km from the beach, but is is quiet and very scenic with plenty of birdlife. There are a few secluded camping areas along the track and at the junction. The beach could be reached on foot (which we didn't do, it felt scarily remote), as there are signs of earlier now overgrown tracks further south.
Tanami Track. Halls Creek to Alice SpringsLong gravel track (1100 kms) but not too difficult. Reasonable facilities along the way. Rabbit Flat Roadhouse is no longer operating and this can catch people out if you need fuel half way along but Yuendumu and Tilmouth Well road houses are open. No facilities at the Granite Goldmine.
Anne Beadell Highway. Coober Pedy to LavertonVery long (1500 kms), fairly straight but very corrugated. No water on SA side, fuel and 3 water tanks on WA side. Good desert scenery plus a section of sandhills. Items of interest: Atomic bomb sites, Emu Field and Dingo Claypan. Aircraft wreck. Several permits needed.
Gary Junction Road. Alice Springs to NewmanLong straight and easy track which passes some historic outback locations: Sandy Blight Junction, Talawana, Gary Highway Junction, CSR, Rudall River National Park. Good camping at Jupiter Well. (1500 kms Alice to Newman). Permits needed.
Sandy Blight Junction RoadWinding and tortuous but interesting (400 kms and longer than expected). Deep corrugated sand alternating with rocky gravel. Interesting scenery on the southern section. Permit needed.
Road to Nowhere. Stanley to Strachan.This is an interesting winding track down the western side of Tassie. Depending on the season it can be cold, wet and cloudy or misty but there is plenty of vegetation, water features, coastal access and green hills. The surface is gravel which can be slippery, but the steep hilly sections are bitumen. There is a ferry at Corinna across the Pieman River. Beware of leeches on the damp vegetation. (300 kms)
Oodnadata Track. Maree to Marla or Painted DesertFairly easy (except when wet) and full of interesting locations: Mound Springs, Old Ghan Railway Line, Plane Henge Sculpture Park, Lake Eyre, Old Peake Telegraph Station, Painted Desert (west from Oodnadata), Dalhousie Springs and Mount Dare (to the north east of Oodnadatta). (600 kms)
Old Andado Track. Alice Springs to OodnadataNice remote red sand dune country. Old Andado Station is worth a visit for a cup of tea. Access to Dalhousie Hot Springs which are good for swimming, even in winter (100 m long lake with water at 38ยบ) (400 kms)
Great Central RoadEasy going but not very inspiring. The road now bypasses all the native wells along the way, which is disappointing. Giles Met Office is well worth a visit. (1000 kms from Laverton to Yulara, +/- a couple). Permit required.
Plenty HighwayFairly easy track but the QLD end is not well marked or maintained. (6-7oo kms depending where you end up in QLD)
Mareenie Loop roadVery scenic road from Kings Canyon to Hermansberg, but very corrugated in parts. (200 kms). Permit needed.
Gibb River RoadA bit rough in places but this is more than made up for by the many scenic gorges, water falls and rivers along the way. (650 kms excluding Mitchell Falls, which is another 600 kms round trip from the Gibb River Road junction, see below).
Mitchell Falls RoadVery corrugated track but leads to the beautiful Mitchell falls so it's worth the suffering. Good camping at Drysdale Station, King Edward River and at the falls. Extra trek to Surveyors pool is worthwhile on a newly made but re-aligned track, which now starts further north than marked on maps. Access to Port Warender (no facilities) is also possible but the track is VERY steep and tortuous towards the end. (600 kms return from Gibb River Road junction including Surveyors Pool).
QLD-SABirdsville Track Easy but wide, rocky desert track. Nice mirages when it's hot and sunny. Can be very dusty. (300 kms)

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Outback Signs

When traveling the outback you will always come across signs, some funny, some sad, some rude, some informative and some which, well, just don't seem to make much sense.

Here are a selection we've come across (including a few we found on the web but are still relevant).

Although not a sign (but maybe symbolic?), this is an interesting (and maybe fake?) mud pool in the shape of Oz. (From the web)

A funny but meaningful sign from FNQ. (From the web)

Berribee State Forest, only something's missing.

Here you could see the wood for the trees, if there were some.

The Dingo fence near Coober Pedy.

300 Mile Peg at Dingo Claypan. 300 miles down range from the Woomera Rocket Range launch pad.

Original Len Beadell sign, LWRE 1951, at the 300 mile peg at Dingo Claypan.

Radiation warning sign at Emu Field says "Don't Raise Dust". Duh!

Aboriginal radiation warning sign at Emu Field. Presumably you can catch kangaroos but not camp.

Vokes (or Voakes?) Hill Sign on the Anne Beadell Highway.

Atomic Bomb Tests, Camera C Site at Emu Field.

Culturally Sensitive Area on the Anne Beadell Highway.

Unnamed Conservation Park on the Anne Beadell Highway.

Neale Junction on the Anne Beadell Highway. 1000 km from Coober Pedy and 400 km to Laverton.

Aircraft Wreck sign on the Anne Beadell Highway.

Laverton That-A-Way Blokes, at the western end of the Anne Beadell Highway.

Lake Ballard

Warburton Fuel Pumps, where taking photos is not allowed.

Sea Level marker at Giles Met Office, to 1 cm accuracy.

200 Mile rock, on the Sandy Blight Junction Road.

Highest Point Cairn on the Stuart Highway. The plaque provides every possible detail except how high it actually is. (730 m apparently, someone's added it in Texta).

Stuart's "Presumed S" tree at Daly Waters.

Heritage Sign at Fenton Air Base. Sad return for a WW11 veteran.

No feeding Kangaroos sign at Lawn Hill.

Daly Waters Parking "restrictions".

Doomagee Beer "Limit", on Highway 1 in the Gulf.

Boulia Shire 1 and 2 signs, very detailed and comprehensive.

Min-Min Light at Boulia.

Shoe Tree on the Birdsville Track

Somewhat unnecessary sign on the Birdsville Track

Camp Paradise? I think not, on the Great Central Road.

Walk Wade or Swim to the Manning Falls on the Gibb River Road.

Shire of where? On the Great Central Road.

Lift Um Foot, on the Mareenie Loop Road.

Puttum Back Down, on the Mareenie Loop Road.

Desert Queen Baths junction marker in the Rudall River National Park.

Indie Station Gate, near Port Hedland.

Road Kill Cafe in Darwin at Mindil Markets.

Outback Sign on CSR, too easy to miss.

Toilet Seat road junction sign on the CSR which leads to Separation Well.

Veevers Meteorite Crater off the Gary Highway.

Are we there yet? On the Mitchell Falls Road.

Shockie Grove, on the CSR

Spring Gully, on the CSR

Grave sign made from a tin can, on the CSR

No kissing at Lawn Hill?

Igloos in Australia? At Cowell on the Eyre Peninsula.

Pointer to the Visitors Book (glass jar) hanging in a bush at McPhersons Pillar, 30 km east from the Gary Highway.

Water sign half way up a tree on the Gunbarrel Highway. Important not to miss signs like that.

There's important directional information buried in this sign on the Gunbarrel/Heather Highway junction.

Sign at the end of the McPhersons Pillar track, 30 kms from the Gary Highway.

A baby road-train. (From the web)

I wonder how many calls Todd gets? (From the web)