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18c per km over 2798km means $500 fuels unique GoSee Outback Australia experiences for two

July 18, 2008
18c per km over 2798km means $500 fuels unique GoSee Outback Australia experiences for two

Geelong Arkaroola SA

By Alan Pam of GoSeeAustralia

Day 1 Sat July 28 2007

We drove from Geelong to Dimboola in the new GoSee Captiva diesel Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV). The four cylinder turbo diesel was still bedding in with about 2000km on the odometer and the Captiva used about 10 litres per 100km until it started to bed in after about 23,000km.

(The first initial diesel fill of the Arkaroola trip was at Horsham). Friends Bert and Shirl Kooloos joined us with their icon 4WD a Land Rover diesel 4WD Defender. It is a 1999 Land Rover Defender 110 series TD5 2.5 litre Turbo 5 cyl Diesel 5 speed manual.

The Defender is completely equipped for Outback motoring, it even has a big solar panel on the roof to help keep battery power topped up. Bert and Shirl had their Jayco Outback Penquin on the Defenders drawbar.

Bert had also just added a diesel power chip to the Defenders power management system. Now, After thousands of kilometres, he and Shirl both say the diesel chip is a big benefit both in power and economy.

We camped at Horseshoe Bend in the Little Desert National Park (about 350 km from Adelaide and 200km from Melbourne).

There are seven and a half acres of camping area along the banks of the dry Wimmera River which feature picnic tables, camp fire pits, barbecue plates and flush toilets which use untreated bore water. It is all a local Rotary Club initiative in conjunction with Department of Sustainability and the Environment (DSE).

The Dimboola Riverside Caravan Owned byPaul and Laverne Lehmannis a member of the Family Parks Chain and it is just off the highway.

Day 2 Sunday

We stayed on at Horseshoe Bend and spent the day walking along good DSE marked walking tracks along the river and through Mallee scrub.

Day 3 Monday

Dimboola Big Desert

We left Little Desert with the first stop at Westprint Heritage Maps, Park St., Nhill to source maps for the GoSee Outback experience.

We continued on into the Big Desert via Murrayville Track towards Murrayville and Pinaroo with Wyperfield National Park to the east. We asked local farmers about the track condition before we left; however their information was not that accurate.

Apparently heavy rain had fallen and the track which had been graded had been topped with hard packed clay. This just turned into slippery mush.

The one and a half lane track was too narrow to turn around on and that meant that our main priority was to try to keep the Captiva and the Land Rover Defender with the Jayco Penguin in tow in the centre to avoid slipping off into the table drains.

The going was tough and a stern test for a Sport Utility Vehicle like the Captiva with some 80 kms traveled in low range 4x4 second and third gears between 5 - 15 kmph.

It was the kind of going Land Rover designed the serious 4WD Defender for but although the Captiva is a people-carrier design it did particularly well when compared with its Land Rover off-road companion.

At 4.00pm we chose our campsite in Big Billy Campground a secluded little spot in between sand hills. Pit toilet, picnic tables and fire pits are all that is provided in this area. The tops of the sand hills provided an ideal sunset viewing area. The vehicles sat sadly nearby with clay and mud plopping off in heaps like cow dung.

Day 4 Tuesday

Big Desert Renmark

8.00 am rise revealed threatening rain, so a quick packup was made with a hasty exit back onto the clay track.

For some 5 kms, things looked good with the gentle night breeze drying out the crust of the road the northern end of the desert, however, had received more rain than the southern areas and the road became stickier and wetter \.

This resulted in both vehicles traveling slower and harder splashing their ways through deep water puddles and crawling slowly up the steep inclines sometimes sideways as the forces of gravity pulled the vehicles towards the lowest points of the tracks.

Captiva and tent Little Desert
Captiva and tent Little Desert

Two hours saw us cover the remaining 24 kms into Murrayville. Somewhat relieved, we traveled onto Renmark and found a commercial carwash.

It cost about $90 between the two vehicles and Jayco Penguin to remove the mud and dirt.

We chose riverside campsites at Big4s Renmark Riverfront Holiday Park which is being developed by the Watts family. The parkie family also own and operate three of Australias 5 star Holiday Parks located in Ballarat and Melbourne.

Day 5 Wednesday


We spent the day relaxing, repacking, shopping and we made a quick afternoon visit to nearby Banrock Stations two hour wetlands and bird hide walks at Kingston on the Murray. Banrocks wetlands had been drained in the interest of conservation:

To provide water for the desperate river system downstream.

To encourage migratory birds to migrate.

It is normally part of a natural cycle.

Day 6 Thursday


New office BIG 4 Renmark
New office BIG 4 Renmark

Lilydale Station bush camp (North of Danggali Conservation Park) Danggali CP.

We spent the day travelling through the undulating and sandy tracks with a mix of sand dunes, low scrub and saltbush with lunch at the Conservation Parks unmanned headquarters.

Day 7 Friday

Lilydale Station is about 70 kms south of Yunta to our next bush camp in the dry sandy river bed of the Mary River about 50 kms south of Arkaroola.

The camp fire provided warmth from the chilling night air and is an ideal cooking base for our nightly feast.

Daily weather conditions are from about 5 to 18 degrees with cloudy skies and light cold westerly winds. There is a benefit in that there are no flies, but we see few stars and the sunsets are poor viewing.

The country is undulating and with many grids and floodways to cross on the dusty and rocky gravel road. We restricted our towing speed to around 60 70 kmph to prevent stone damage on the Jayco Penguin being towed by the Land Rover Defender.

Sturt Desert Pea

We were lucky to come across a small patch of bright red flowers on the side of the Yunta Arkaroola Rd about 155 kms north of Yunta. A U-turn revealed a patch of Sturt Desert Pea, in full bloom.

Further off the road there was another large patch which measured 72 meters long and 4 meters wide growing in a depression.

OzPig cooks campoven roast for four
OzPig cooks campoven roast for four

The site was magnificent with about eight flowers on each stalk bright red with with black centers and a grey leaf all with new seed pods and very similar to that of a normal garden grown pea. The seeds when dry are particularly small = slightly larger than 100s 1000s.


There is an old homestead or hotel around 40 kms north of Yunta.

Of particular interest was the fact that each room had what appeared to be a dugout under the floor and it was thought that this may have been for under floor cooling in the summer as each cellar had air vents below floorboard level but above ground level. Many large eagles sat on the road feasting on recent road kill.

Day 8 Saturday

We made a short trip today into Arkaroola Village camp ground and set up bush camp in the lower unpowered camping area. Camp fires are allowed and proved very popular with campers as overnight temperatures fell to minus 2 most nights. Most of the day was spent relaxing and re-arranging camping equipment and vehicles.

Day 9 Sunday

Stuart Desert Pea makes a splash of red 100km north of Yunta SA
Stuart Desert Pea makes a splash of red 100km north of Yunta SA

We spent the day exploring today starting at the Arkaroola Homestead Shearing Museum set up by Griselda Spriggs from her 40 year collection of artifacts and resurrection of the old shearing shed.

A short 4x4 trip up to the village lookout provided a worthwhile view of the homestead.

This was followed by 29km 4x4 trip out to the hot springs.

The road was rough, rocky, rutted and there were many creek crossings. The creek beds required careful negotiation in low range 4x4 to get the vehicles safely through without damage. Average speeds for the 4 hour return journey were around 14 kms per hour.

Day 10 Monday

Still at Arkaroola We enjoyed a quiet day updating the diary, relaxing with a few drinks in the bar whilst using their wireless internet access almost the only form of communication apart from pay phone boxes. Mobile phone reception of any type is non-existent.

Actually Telstra digital services have been absolutely non-existent for about the last seven days although the CDMA system has provided some reception for those with this service.

Shearing stands Arkaroola woolshed
Shearing stands Arkaroola woolshed

For internet connection on this trip we are using a Maxon EtherMax CDMA 1x / Ethernet Cellular Router and this has worked well for internet connection and email service in areas covered by CDMA network, this system, however, is due to be turned off by Telstra in April 2008 to be replaced by the NextG system.

The only problem using this system in outback travel is the fact that the EtherMax requires separate power supply to the computer, however a 12 volt power supply plug as well as 240v adaptor are both provided.

Day 11 Tuesday

Arkaroola to Broken Hill.

We returned to Yunta by the same route as our holidaying time was running out. The 500 kms trip took around seven hours and was non eventful. We stayed in a cabin at Broken Hill Lakeside Caravan Park, part of the Family Parks chain our home for two days.

Day 12 Wednesday

We visited to some of nearby Silvertons Galleries, the famous Silverton Hotel for lunch and then returned to Broken Hill and went out to the Living Desert and Sculpture Symposium which is well worth a visit.

Arkaroola Homestead SA
Arkaroola Homestead SA

Day 13 Thursday

Broken Hill Swan Hill

We stayed overnight in Swan Hill after a long but easy run of about 600kms all on bitumen with most of it at the 110 kmh NSW speed limit. Our average fuel consumption for this section was our recorded lowest at 9.3 lts per 100 kms

Day 14 Friday

Swan Hill to Geelong was just an uneventful commuting trip.

Vehicle 1

Four week old Holden Captiva 2 litre Turbo Diesel LX Auto.

Standard vehicle specifications plus sunroof, tinted windows and Uniden portable CarSAt Nav System

Vehicle 2 towing 13 foot Jayco Penguin Off-road camper.

1999 Land Rover Defender 110 series TD5

2.5 litre Turbo 5 cyl Diesel

5 speed manual

The standard vehicle features 16 inch wheels with high profile off road tyres

Fitted with considerable options including


Turbo Timer

Dual batteries

Bull bar

Driving Lights

Stainless Steel Radiator Protector

Diesel snorkel

Electric Brake Controller

Hayman Reese tow bar and towing hitch

Cargo Barrier

2 x internal spare wheel carriers (the rear door carrier has been modified

to fit 5 hp outboard motor but was not carried during this trip)

Side steps and rear step

Front and rear steel bash plates

Extended rear mud flaps

Solar tinted windows

Rock carvings near Broken Hill  NSW
Rock carvings near Broken Hill NSW

The Defender was also fitted with a 135w Solar Panel securely bolted to the roof.

This provided power to a regulator set up to provide charge to the vehicle main battery, auxiliary battery and to the battery fitted to Jayco Penguin off road model.

The vehicle was also fitted with 4 additional 12v power sockets providing additional camp lighting, charging for phones and power to the Waeco refrigerator, being successfully used as a freezer on this trip.

The Defenders normal fuel consumption (not towing) is around 11 litres per hundred kms and for this trip had just been fitted with an aftermarket chip claimed to provide an additional 25% power and 35% torque to the diesel motors performance.

We believe it did and rough fuel consumption figures returned around 16 litres per hundred kms towing the 1,300 kg Penguin plus luggage.

Arkarool trip diesel fuel log -

Horsham to Renmark 538km used 55.60litres. Litres used per 100km 10.33.

Renmark to Yunta 319km used 35.30 litres. Litres used per 100km 11.06.

Yunta to Arkaroola 390km used 41.60 litres. Litres used per 100km 10.60.

Arkaroola to Broken Hill 521km used 48.7 litres.Litres used per 100km9.40.

Broken Hill to Swan Hill 624km used 58 litres. Litres used per 100km 9.30.

Swan Hill to Geelong 406km used 9.06litres per 100km.Litres used per 100km 9.06

Total kilometres travelled 2798. Total litres used conditions include extended 4WD sections 276.

Total diesel cost in August 2007 prices $369.22.

Editor's Note: Also see these related Information Articles -

Serious solar panel helps keep power topped up in the Defender
Serious solar panel helps keep power topped up in the Defender
Arkaroola  landscape
Arkaroola landscape
Bert and co-pilot say their diesel power chip works
Bert and co-pilot say their diesel power chip works
Banrock Station restaurant
Banrock Station restaurant
Cottage cafe at Silverton NSW
Cottage cafe at Silverton NSW
Dog proof fence
Dog proof fence
Dry creek crossing SA
Dry creek crossing SA
GoSee office works anywhere
GoSee office works anywhere
GoSee sleeping accommodation in the Captiva
GoSee sleeping accommodation in the Captiva
Historic grader near Arkaroola woolshed SA
Historic grader near Arkaroola woolshed SA
Look at the ground view just south of Arkaroola SA
Look at the ground view just south of Arkaroola SA
Mad Max calls at Silveton Pub NSW
Mad Max calls at Silveton Pub NSW
Near Nhill on track for the Big  Desert
Near Nhill on track for the Big Desert
Near Yunta SA
Near Yunta SA
Penguin cops a spray northern end Big Desert
Penguin cops a spray northern end Big Desert
Paralana Springs track is 4WD only
Paralana Springs track is 4WD only
The offroad Jayco Penguin
The offroad Jayco Penguin