The Tanami Road
After leaving Uluru behind and topping up with fuel at the Alice, we then headed towards the infamous Tanami Road. We were so full of false confidence that it would prove to be pleasant, as we had struck it lucky with the Plenty Highway! It took us most of the first day to drive from Yalara and up the Tanami Road a few kilometres. We camped on the side of the road in a bunch of prickles and the biggest swarm of flies we have ever seen, which was not a very good sign of things to come…
We set off early on the second day and were immediately inundated with massive corrugations. We managed a full day of driving, and in the early evening found a camp spot off the main road down a side track. We struggled to get our gear off the roof and set up as our backs were so sore and heads were still vibrating, but easily went off to sleep after some dinner. We decided to stay another night there, in the middle of the Tanami Desert, to let our bodies recover a bit more for the 400-odd kilometres still left to travel on the gravel. It was pretty hot, but we managed to manoeuvre around the tent for shade at the various times of day!
With a check over the 4B we discovered that one of the bolts holding the spotlights on had sheared right off and we had to remove it totally so that it wouldn’t get further damaged.
The Tanami Road in summary: a 1000+km stretch of corrugation we’d sooner forget!
Once we hit the tarmac, we swung a right and headed up to Bungle Bungle National Park and camped at the Bungle Bungle Caravan Park. Let’s just say we were more than a little desperate for proper showers!
Brief overview of the caravan park:
- Scenic flights can be booked and boarded from the park
- It is located at the entrance road to the Bungle Bungles
- There is a restaurant on site offering specials on different nights
- Communal kitchen
- Communal fire pit for socialising with other travellers
- The stunning boab trees lining the access road
- Being out in the middle of nowhere, the whole park is permanently run on generators
- Bathroom facilities are portable trailers and stupidly hot
- It is a farm stay, so cattle roam around your tents and there is no facility for rubbish removal. We had a bull walking between our tent and 4B tripping up the side ropes!
The first star at sunset over the boab at our tent site
After a brief look at our Hema map, we found that the road into the Bungle Bungles was 50km and we planned to set out after breakfast and spend a few hours there.
WARNING! When a comment appears such as “allow 2-3hours to get there” for a 50km stretch of road, it shouldn’t be overlooked! I (Elly) accidentally didn’t read the description thoroughly. This road into the Bungle Bungles was as bad as or worse than the Tanami Road! The entire length of road is badly corrugated and because you have to go at a slower speed due to the corners and crests, it makes the vibrations worse. Thankfully it was only 50km and not 1000, or I think we would have pulled over and had the helicopter pick us up! We managed to have the other main bolt holding the remaining spotlight on shear off on the way in! I forgot to get a picture, but the most prominent bumper sticker that was available at the ranger station read, “I survived the road to the Bungle Bungles”. Enough said.
After all the complaining, however, the old saying was true. When we got there, it was all worth it!
The sun had gotten quite high in the sky at this stage and it was very hot. We decided to do the Domes trail and the Cathedral Gorge trail and then see how the day was progressing.