Planning trip along ghan line

  sulzer Junior Train Controller

Location: QLD
Hi all

trying to plan a trip along the old ghan line in 2015 or 2016 and would like to hear from others that have done the trip as to where I should go and any special spots to see

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  David Peters Dr Beeching

Location: "With Hey Boy".
Don't plan on going in the middle of summer and also don't go in the middle of Winter either. In summer it can get extremely hot out there and in winter you can be stranded by flooding for days or even possibly weeks in places. Above all take plenty of water with you and food as well. A satellite phone is also a good idea. Before you go anywhere up there like this notify the police before you even start to go out there of exactly where you are going, what route you are taking and how long you expect to take etc. So if anything goes wrong and it can quite easily then someone knows you are out there and could be in trouble if you don't turn up somewhere on time!

Above all if you have notified the police of exactly where you are going do not change your mind when you are out there, if it is at all possible. Stick to your original and reported route so again if anything should happen they can hopefully find you easily!
  justapassenger Chief Commissioner

DO NOT rely on the police to keep track of your travels, the police have enough work to do without using expensive resources to chase around the outback for travellers who've usually just forgotten to tell them when they arrive at their destination. With the coming of common and reliable satellite phones, the general advice is now to keep in satellite phone contact with a reliable friend/relative who can call the police if you miss a scheduled call.
The big advantage of a regular contact schedule is that if you miss the schedule your contact person can inform the police to begin a search/rescue op immediately, rather than the police waiting 3-5 days (they quite rightly assume first-time outback travellers will go slower than expected). Checking in every day or two with another contact person also allows you a bit more freedom to change your plans and stay an extra night at one spot or skip your side trip to some other place - just make sure you tell your contact person before making the change.

Hire a satellite phone and a 406 MHz EPIRB. If you get into trouble, the best approach is to dial the standard mobile number for emergency services (112) and inform the operator that you have an EPIRB that you can switch on when they direct you to do so.

I'd suggest spring would be the best time - late summer and autumn are the parts of the year most subject to volatile weather caused by the tail end of the monsoon season in the tropics.

Purchase appropriate travel insurance from a proper insurance company, don't rely on any complimentary travel insurance included with your credit card or health insurance product as they usually offer less cover than a fig leaf. A medevac flight or joint search and rescue operation can cost tens of thousands of dollars.

Make sure you get your 4x4 properly checked before you go, remember that the poor man pays twice and the "xx point check for $49" type deals you see on TV aren't as good as paying good money for a skilled mechanic to take the time to do it properly.

If you leave a couple of days on the end to provide margin for error, you can take advantage of accompanied cars on the Ghan being cheaper for doing the return journey to Adelaide than for heading north at the start of the trip.
  David Peters Dr Beeching

Location: "With Hey Boy".
The police here in SA usually make this request to outback travellers those that intend to go off the beaten track so to speak, to call in at the the start of your journey say Pt Augusta for instance and report where you are going etc. It saves them a lot of time and resources if they know where you are going to. A lot of places you might not be able to report into a police station as such. But you can report back to the police station that you first reported to by the satellite phone. I would think that they would rather a phone call like this to say you have arrived safely at some point than to have to set up a search for you, it is a big country out there and it is easy to get lost or go the wrong way. It will also save them work trying to locate you. This is a prerequisite though if you intend travelling in adverse weather conditions up there!
  steam4ian Chief Commissioner


So far nobody has answered your question.

If you are who I think you are you do not need the pontifical responses you have received so far.

I am sure there are persons within the PRRPS who have done a such a trip.

  Bogong Chief Commissioner

Location: Essendon Aerodrome circa 1980
While I have never driven a 4WD in my life, I teach remote area navigation courses and generally do a lot of off track walking in fairly rugged places.

So I'm aware of what the police in Vic and Tas suggest for that sort of activity. Generally they suggest leaving a schedule with a reliable friend or failing that, with the police. If a person leaves details with the police, they generally won't start a search unless that group is reported missing.

That's what generally applies to remote area hikers in the south eastern states, but I suspect something similar would apply to 4WDers in South Australia.
  hosk1956 Deputy Commissioner

Location: no where near gunzels
Jeez fella's talk about blow it out of proportion, he's not crossing the Simpson Desert!, The Oodnadatta Track is a very well travelled road, most, if not all the sights on the Ghan line up to Oodnadatta are on the road, The Oodnadatta Track swings West after Oodnadatta to join up with the Stuart Hwy, the road does continue on thru Finke but it is never in a good condition and enquiries should be made at Oodnadatta. I do have to agree with some comments regard weather, don't go in summer -it's too hot and you'll get bogged in dust, don't go in winter -it can be too wet and you'll get bogged in mud and Autumn can be dicey with unseasonal rains. Spring is the best time, I assume you are taking a 4WD? the trip can be done in a 2WD car (been there, done that) but if the previous season was bad and the roads haven't been graded you will be in a spot of bother, go 4WD to be safe.
If the rains in Queensland have been good you will have to go out to Lake Eyre, ask at William Creek pub, that is one trip you will not want to do without telling somebody, people have died going out to the lake, don't take that trip lightly.
The rest of the trip should be a breeze (weather depending), most sidings are nothing but dust, but check out Curdimurka, Strangways Springs (I think this is the one with the railway dam right by the station), William Creek, Stuart Creek bridge, Algebuckina Bridge over the Neales River is a must see. It has been some years since I was up there but I presume some Desalination plants are still standing in some yards, there are probably other sights that have escaped my memory.
And not forgetting Quorn, Hawker, the Puttapa Gap detour, Beltana and Farina before you get to Marree.
It is not a dangerous trip but road conditions can vary wildly from one season to the next so enquire with local authorities (police) and seek advice from the RAA or equivalent before you go, be aware that what is nice today might be impassable tomorrow no matter what the time of the year.
The only accommodation/fuel beyond Marree is William Creek and Oodnadatta if you want a bed, camping out can be good (Wolf Creek is only a movie LOL), but nice spots can be few and far between, as it has been some years since my last trip I can't comment on the state of ruins etc for camping, make enquiries and plan carefully is all I can add.

  Pressman Spirit of the Vine

Location: Wherever the Tin Chook or Qantas takes me
After reading all the info people have tried to convey above, it took all but 5 seconds to google the following DPTI link which gives current factual information.
Area 3 covers the Oodnadatta Track  which is currently open to all vehicles Maree to Oodnadatta "with caution" and 4WD beyond to the Stuart Hwy, 4WD under 3 Tonne Oodnadatta to Finke
William Creek to Coober Pedy and Oodnadatta to Coober Pedy both Closed.

Now some info on the Oodnadatta track ---
One interesting diversion is Dalhousie Springs --
  David Peters Dr Beeching

Location: "With Hey Boy".
All too easy to say to someone just do it and they think that they can do it in the family car. But if you have travelled out there along unsealed roads etc then you have an ace up your sleeve. However on here we do not have any indication that you have done any outback travel so giving you basic information about things is just a reminder if you have done something similar before and if you have not then it is a good warning to you before you actually get there. Too many people these days take things for granted and vehicle drivers tend to top that list. The weather can and will change almost instantly in the right conditions so one must be prepared for anything out there once you are out of a township etc you are on your own virtually! No RAA assistance back of beyond!

Good luck on the trip and a friend of mine has done the same already and did strike a bit of trouble on the trip he did, though he used a hired 4 wheel drive though. Just a flat tyre that held him up but nothing serious thankfully!
  sulzer Junior Train Controller

Location: QLD
.travel in spring
.bring satellite phone
.ensure vehicle is mechanically ready
sounds simple enough for me and I cant wait until this year is over so I can go on my trip
by the way is there anyone here on Railpage interested in joining me on this trip

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