Darwin via Central Australia
One month duration
12,500 kms ( 7,800 miles )
We under took this trip in December 1996.
This was only our second major trip with the XJ and using the camper pack and small trailer. The whole trip went smoothly and it was good to see Central Australia again after an 11 year absence, ( last time was in a 4wd Bedford Truck with my sister ). We stopped at the Woomera Rocket Range and had a look at the US. English and Australian made rockets that they used to fire from here. From there went to Andamooka Opal field where they were digging for opal using a bulldozer. Just over the Northern Territory border we headed west to the Lambert Centre where they have calculated to be the very centre of Australia.
Woomera Rocket Range and campsite at the Lambert Centre where Oz balances!
Continued west until we hit the Aboriginal town of Fink which is a rough town in the desert where not a blade of grass can be found let alone on the football field where most don't even wear boots! From there we drove along the old Ghan railway line which is very rough and corrugated with many washouts and sand all the way. If you don't let the tyres down it is very easy to get bogged in the dry Fink river bed which we did. Had to let the tyres down and scoop the sand away from the diffs and rock the car back and forth in the wheel ruts packing it down until could gun it again the get the other side. The sand is very fine and mixed with large amounts of bull dust which makes it tricky. The Ghan track is a lot more fun than the highway but a lot slower and had to keep an eye out for old railway pegs and looking at the number of trashed tyres, many didn't. We still did have one go straight through the trailer tyre sidewall rendering it useless.
Tough Football oval and track to Castle Rock.
Found a bit of a short cut by following a fence line east until it joined up with the track to Chambers Pillar. This track has a number of sand dunes that have to be crossed with one being quite a lot bigger than the rest. You could see where many had had several goes at trying to get over. Of course we made it first go being in a Jeep! The track improves as soon as you get inside the park at Castle Rock. There is a good camping area at the pillar which is best viewed at sunset and sunrise when the best colors come out. Continued north after here and met back up with the old Ghan track which we followed into Alice Springs. It was very easy to see that the Offroad Race along here once a year is the toughest in Australia.
Chambers Pillar and Simpson's Gap.