what to expect

Heading up the Tanami Track, 850km of unsealed road, a usual topic of conversation with stray 4WDers stopping for a chat was the road conditions ahead.

“Much better the WA side of the border.”

“Terrible in WA. Deep pea gravel.”

“Nah, it’s OK. But the section between Coyote Mine and Billiluna is not good.”

You could put it like this: opinions differ.

The point should be made here that 4WDers love a newly graded, very soft, road which just happens to be the worst surface for bikes. A hard, bumpy and corrugated road shakes the average 4WD to pieces. With the hard suspension required to get a fully loaded vehicle over a rough road for them it’s like travelling in a top loaded washing machine. With a bike you can usually weave and dodge and make real progress, even if much of it is on the wrong side.

One thing they all agreed on was that the track into Wolfe Creek was diabolical. No fun whatsoever.

“Any sand?”, my usual question to those who had survived the 22km each way side trip.

“No. None.” “You sure?” “Absolutely.”

Someone else mentioned 4.5km of sand. That sounds fairly definitive.

As it turned out there was some sand on the road, deep, deep, if not bottomless sand. But a little investigation showed that there was an alternative, fantastic and solid, track along the fenceline. So they were both right.

But it shows that travellers seldom can accurately describe the conditions of the road, or even remember whether it was hilly or not, even if they have only just traversed it. Not a clue.

In any case knowing the conditions doesn’t change what you are about to encounter.

Wherever you are heading you can guarantee that someone else has been down that track on a bike. And managed to get through.