‘Can you tell me what the road conditions are like from Boulia to Alice Springs?” would have to be the most asked question that we get here at Tobermorey Roadhouse & Caravan Park.  It might seem like a simple question but it takes quite a bit to answer it, let’s break this question down.

Tobermorey Station is physically located on the NT/QLD border.  It is nearly equally located between Boulia (245km) and Mount Isa (270km) and it is 650km to Alice Springs.   In essence what we are asked is to speak with authority on road conditions that cover a total of nearly 900km of driving – that is greater than the distance between Sydney and Melbourne!

The first thing that is relevant is which way someone is crossing from Alice Springs into QLD (or vice versa) as it will determine how much dirt or sealed road will make up the journey and what weather events have affected that area.

The second relevant thing is ‘when’ you are travelling.  There is really little value in asking us what the road conditions are like if you are travelling more than 2 weeks out from your journey.  Insert shock and horror face – ‘but how can I plan my big trip without this key information?’.

The reason we can’t answer this is because all the roads to and from Tobermorey contain dirt or gravel sections and river crossings.  At certain times of the year river crossings will cut off perfectly good roads – generally from December through to February/March, depending on the seasonal rainfall.  During the winter months (June – August) the condition of the dirt sections of the roads are the main concern with the Plenty Highway the most susceptible to degradation and the famous ‘bull dust’. 

So how can you plan?  We would recommend planning big road trips that are time critical from mid-April through to November – this is the least likely time for the roads to be affected by rain.  The coolest months of the year are April through to August with warmer months September through to November. 

You need to have a 4WD vehicle or vehicle and/or caravan with high clearance.  Suspension and high clearance are the name of the game here.  When roads are closed and re-open or as they degrade, the main issues are deep ruts, bull dust and corrugations.  Travellers need to ensure that their vehicles, tyres and whatever they may be towing are up to the task.  Don’t plan for the sealed road, plan for the dirt. 

Make sure you carry 2 spare tyres if you can (for both your vehicle and whatever you are towing) – don’t expect small roadhouses to carry a range of tyres to suit every vehicle.  Make sure you have tyre changing equipment you know how to use – test it out before you leave home.  Learn what and how to use ‘tyre plugs’.  You can buy them from your local auto or 4WD shop and ask them to show you how to use them – they are a cheap and easy way to fix a puncture and get you to somewhere you can have it properly repaired. 

Finally plan your trip and take a reputable map book or app that doesn’t require mobile reception.  ‘Avenza’ and ‘Hema’ both have free and subscription services that work out of mobile range and have good data on the Central Desert area. 

We will follow up this post with one on safety and where to get reputable trip information in coming weeks so stay tuned.  Happy Planning & we look forward to seeing you at Tobermorey Station Roadhouse & Caravan Park.