A road that stretched for over 1000kms that had to be travelled in a minimum of 2 days. Described to us as ‘remote’, ‘harsh’ ‘enjoy the corrugations’ and ‘wouldn’t advise 2 girls attempt it alone’. Crossing a state border and including the challenge of dust and road trains along the way. This was going to be an adventure. This is our Tanami Diary
Day 1 – Saturday 14th May 2016
9:47. 15 degrees.
Departed Alice Springs. We wanted to be on the road as early as possible but also need to fuel ourselves up with a hearty breakfast and give Priscilla (the car) a good 2 tanks of petrol. We posted a photo at the start of the track and set the clock.
11:37 23 degrees Our first roadside stop for a tea-break. 103km covered
12:38 24 degrees First fuel stop top up at Tilmouth Well. After conflicting information about whether the next stop was open on the weekend, we decided to do a top up in Tilmouth Well, which was the largest place we saw on the Tanami and the only rest stop where we met other people. Purchased about $55 of fuel at $2 per litre. 163km covered
We got an additional 57km of sealed road out of Tilmouth Well that we weren’t expecting until we hit an unsealed section running parallel to a road upgrade that hadn’t yet been opened, this lasted about 17km, so we were a good 83km beyond Tilmouth Well before we hit the gravel road.
2:20pm Second fuel stop at Yuendumu. Eventually found the right place to fuel up (ie not the abandoned looking fuel pump)! Fuel under lock and key. Purchased another $33, this time at $2.20. Kind of glad we did the 2 fuel stops. This had to last us for the rest of the trip – feeling comfortable with that.
3:00pm. 30 degrees About 30k from Yuendumu we stopped for our late lunch stop. We then got stuck behind a road train for about an hour – lots of dust before we eventually passed him at a water crossing. Arrived at Renahans bore camp just before 5:00pm so we were not travelling in the dark and set-up camp alongside some other campers (who we met again at Purnululu about 3 days later!!).
453kms travelled for the day.
Day 2 – Sunday 15th May 2016
8:10am 15 degrees
Departed our campsite early, only to lose our UHF aerial somewhere on the track about 7km into the day. We now have a stronger one that we hope will survive the Gibb River Road.
28kms after departing, we hit a tarmac section which lasted about 9kms that enabled us to make some good time early on.
10:16am 24 degrees
Stopped for a morning tea break and a change of drivers. 152kms covered for the day
11:33am 29 degrees
Driver swap again for border crossing
Border crossing a little underwhelming (no great signage). We stopped for a lunch break at the border rest site (just a pull-off the road really) and turned the clocks back 1 1/2hours to WA time
Departed again at 11am (was 12:30). 273kms done for the day and temp now at 30 degrees
Passed through a large water crossing then with 2 large machinery trucks contemplating their next move. They warned us of worsening tracks ahead (it had taken them 2 days to travel 300k)!
1:00pm 33 degrees Afternoon tea break at Sturt Creek roadside stop. Starting to feel a bit tired now but the next part of the track woke us up. Change of driver for about an hour. Most of the road between Billiluna and Wolf Creek turn-off was very slow going – with wheel ruts from recent rains and washaways. Hard to find a decent line through to get a decent speed. 470kms covered
Passed Ruby Plains station at 538kms and then one last push and we completed the Tanami just before 4pm (5:30pm NT time). Then just 18ks of sealed road to reach our hotel for the night at Halls Creek.
594kms covered for the day
Snacks for the trip included maltesters, party mix lollies, fruit and nuts, chicken sandwiches, tea and biscuits and plenty of water to keep hydrated as the temperatures rose.
Terrain – some variations including termite mounds everywhere on the WA side, lots of spinifex, short grasses, small trees, rocks and plenty of flat land.
Wildlife – small dogs (possible wild dogs or dingos), buzzards, wedgetailed eagles and plenty of other birds.