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Larapinta Drive conditions in July?

Sf Bay Area
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Larapinta Drive conditions in July?

Greetings,

I'm in the process of planning an outback trip for July 2013. Ideally, I'd prefer to drive a campervan, with *NO* 4WD, coming north on the Stuart Highway, then west on the Lasseter Highway to Uluru, up to Kings Canyon, via Luritja Road, and then continue north and east to Alice Springs on the Larapinta Drive. This is basically the route that I'm interested in driving:

maps.bonzle.com/c/a?a=p&p=171569&cmd=sp

However, I'm reading some confusing information on whether Larapinta Drive is suitable for a vehicle without four wheel drive. I'd hate to backtrack the entire way from Kings Canyon (or Uluru for that matter) to the Lasseter & Stuart Highway junction, just to drive back north towards Alice Spings.

thanks!

Darwin
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1. Re: Larapinta Drive conditions in July?

I think this is because the portion between Kings Canyon and some way towards Larapinta Drive some 198km is unsealed and is called Mereenie Loop. If you 'google' Mereenie Loop' there will be heaps of information. 4WD is recommended although no essential. The road condition will depend upon any rain and when it was last graded, and how others have driven on it. You need to talk to other travellers when you are in Kings Canyon to hear of the current condition as they can change quickly.

If you are renting a vehicle check the rental conditions as some prohibit driving on unsealed roads and others allow, and some just allow Merennie Loop. I've never rented from Thrifty but it is always mentioned on these forums for being more 'lenient' where you are allowed to take their vehicles.

It is a lovely drive. Stopping off in Hermannsberg was a highlight for me.

Link to other information at kingscanyonresort.com.au/Getting-Here.aspx

Lou

Sf Bay Area
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2. Re: Larapinta Drive conditions in July?

OK, thanks for the info. I haven't yet finalized my rental plans, but I'm currently leaning towards getting something from Britz.

San Diego...
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3. Re: Larapinta Drive conditions in July?

It's a bit difficult to give absolute advice, not knowing about your depth of experience, your age, etc. The area you want to see is really fabulous and well worth the trouble - if you are adventurous! It will be mid-winter then, so it will be quite cold at night. It's not uncommon for the temps to go down to 30-40F at night but the view of the Milky Way makes up for the discomfort. :-)

Your idea for the tour/drive is fine except for some areas of King's Canyon and immediate surrounds. For example, there's no way I would advise anyone with a campervan (4WD or not) to even attempt Palm Valley or any of the route that runs along the Finke River bed. The sand can be deep and you can easily get bogged down to the running boards. There are not a lot of people in that area even during the high season, so you can't really rely upon passing motorists to help. The rest of your tour should be OK and everything except King's Canyon will have reasonable road. Much of that area is single-track, rough gravel, and no "shoulder" to the road. It's easy to run off the road and roll over.

Be very careful with the insurance for your campervan. You can be charged a lot for very little damage. The reason for that is the fact that Alice (and surrounding areas) are in the middle of nowhere! It's difficult to get parts and it can take days to get parts flown in from Melbourne or Adelaide. (Voice of experience, here!) Getting repairs done is very expensive. The most common hazards are flat tires, so I hope you get a repair kit and practice repairing a flat yourself. There are also hazard like roaming cattle and wildlife - even camels.

Given that, it's best not to tie yourself absolutely to a schedule there. Distances are very far and sometimes you'll see a simply fabulous spot along the way. You may want to stay there for a day or two. Always give yourself an extra hour when traveling from place to place as a contingency. Then you won't always feel rushed or like you're "running late". You'll be traveling in area that time has forgotten and no one cares what time it is. There's a lot to take in (after the boring long bits). In my opinion, that's one of the best areas in the world to take it easy, take in the sites and the wildlife, and to get away from the world. Enjoy yourself!

Sf Bay Area
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4. Re: Larapinta Drive conditions in July?

I have a fair bit of 'off-road' experience driving in the deserts of the southwestern US. I know how to drive slowly & carefully on unpaved, rough roads. Being far from civilization doesn't scare me. Granted that's all been in vehicles with decent ground clearance and/or 4x4, neither of which I'll have in a Britz campervan in Australia. I'm also quite used to winter camping (i've slept in a tent on the ground in January when it was well below freezing). So the weather and road conditions don't concern me, as long as its not a suicide mission.

I don't have any plans or intention of driving any of the route that runs along the Finke River bed (in Fink Gorge NP?). My only interest here is Larapinta Drive (AKA Mereenie Loop).

San Diego...
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5. Re: Larapinta Drive conditions in July?

Cool! Then you'll have no worries! I see so many postings from people who decide that a campervan is cheaper than hotels, have no camping experience, blah blah, and it's nice to hear from someone who can really appreciate what they're about to do.

You can check road conditions on a gov't run website: …nt.gov.au/roadreport/…CENTRAL AUSTRALIA

You can also use Google Maps. They have street views of many of the areas you'll be visiting, although it's difficult to tell how old the views are. At least they'll give you a reasonable idea of the road surface.

Have a great time!

South Pacific
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for Hobart, Tasmania
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6. Re: Larapinta Drive conditions in July?

I think you'll find that all the rental companies prohibit their 2WD vehicles being driven on the Mereenie Loop.

As you intend to rent from Britz, you should email them and ask. http://www.britz.com.au/contactus

Britz also rent 4WD campers.

Sf Bay Area
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7. Re: Larapinta Drive conditions in July?

Getting closer to my travel date (less than 1 month to go). Anyone have any recent road condition updates to report?

thanks

Australia
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8. Re: Larapinta Drive conditions in July?

As others have commented meereenie loop is the problem. People do lose their lives on that road. Remember to go slow. It is not usual for there to be rain in winter but have a look at BOM for latest weather. Someone in Alice willbe able to give you the information also.

South Pacific
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for Hobart, Tasmania
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9. Re: Larapinta Drive conditions in July?

The NT's road condition report website is here: http://www.ntlis.nt.gov.au/roadreport/

The Mereenie Loop will still be a 4WD drive road in July.

10. Re: Larapinta Drive conditions in July?

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