The Plenty Highway is everything you would expect of an Outback dirt road, it’s a remote relatively flat run through some of the most isolated area’s in the country. It’s a harsh tough landscape and the only thing tougher than the land out here is the people that inhabit it. Originally the Plenty was built as a stock route, pushing cattle from Qld to the NT. These days, it is more common to see a road train or a group of Outback travellers than a few hundred head of cattle, that said the route is still used for this purpose and care should always be taken for not only native wildlife, but also stock that roam free around these parts.
We left early from Boulia in Outback Queensland to arrive at one of the Plenty’s working cattle station’s, Tobermorey. Our GPS had told us that this would be a 6 Hour stretch however upon leaving at 6 and arriving prior to 9 we realised this was not the case. The majority of this section of the trip is bitumen before turning to a well maintained dirt road, this made driving conditions great and we averaged a speed of around 80-90km/h. Shortly after stopping for the obligatory NT border crossing photo we made our arrival at Tobermorey. We pulled up to check our gear, grab a refreshment and buy a stubby holder (stubby holders are a bit of a tradition for me). Like most travellers I enquired about road conditions, the lady running the store informed us that the road got worse from here on out.
Although we did not stay at Tobermorey the facilities were top notch, the staff friendly and helpful and the camp ground was green grass, something you will appreciate after seeing nothing but dirt and stubble.
We left Tobermorey station to head through to Jervois Station, another couple of hundred kilometres up the road. As we had been informed the road did start to deteriorate from here out and the Plenty threw some rough conditions at us. The corrugations were not that bad but the long stretches of sometimes unavoidable bull dust ditches made for some hard km’s. It was here we started having a few dramas, the conditions were that rough in parts both guards on the trailer decided to start to bust some rivets, big rivets too- structural rivets. Luckily I had stocked up on tech screws and tyre wire and some road side repairs had us moving in no time. I would later also realise we lost our recovery shackle off of the trailer, even though the pin had been secured and even our number plate off the trailer as well. If anyone finds a trailer Rego plate on the Plenty I would be happy to throw you a couple of beers for it back!
We made Jervois and due to the Bulldust required some fuel, as we rolled on down the long drive in we noticed some what of a dilapidated cow paddock of a camp ground, but surely that couldn’t be it? Not compared to what we had seen of the green pastures of Tobermorey? Well it was, and with some Hema Navigator work I decided we could make the run right through to Alice Springs and still be ready for a nice dinner. We were tired but not tired enough to stay there. The conditions slightly improved and the track is a bit sandy but no where near as rough, in saying that it was definitely one of those times I felt relieved to hit the black top again. Not far before you get back on the black stuff you will pass another camp called Gemtree, although we did not head down from speaking to others in Alice it was a good place to stay. They had similar thoughts on Jervois!
OUT AND BACK OFFROAD
After spending just under 6 years in the Army as an ASLAV Crewman, David developed a passion for offroading and getting vehicles into places other wouldn’t even dream of. Driving some of the toughest terrain you could imagine in some of the remotest country in the world.
Although growing up with a passion of the outdoors, David only purchased his first 4wd in 2010 but has not stopped modifying it to continually ensure it is tough enough to last in the remote and harsh conditions, that Australia and Mother Nature can throw at him.
Now working in the 4wd industry this passion has only grown stronger. The passion became so strong that David and his partner Jen have pulled up stumps and headed off on an epic 3 month journey to explore the northern most reaches of Australia.
No distance too far, No track too hard. Follow the adventure as they share it with us.
As mentioned it is not far after this you will hit the black top again and make a smooth run into Alice. Once on the Stuart Highway and on the final stretch in to Alice Springs, you will pass the Tropic of Capricorn. Another worthy short break for a photo.
The Plenty is a road best done over two day’s. However as we did, it is possible to do in one very long day. Be prepared for anything, the conditions go from great to horrible in a second and vehicle prep, as always is key. Even the best come undone on the outback roads so even if you think you have a mechanically sound vehicle and trailer be prepared for that to change quickly. If I wasn’t carrying the parts to keep me moving we could have found a few more issues with the trip.
Traffic is few and far between and I imagine on some day’s you may not see anyone. This could mean that you may end up stranded, which leads me to my next point. Always be self sufficient, water supply’s are critical because you will have a hell of a time finding anything to drink should you wind up in a situation. Further to this a quality first aid kit should be carried, it shouldn’t have to be said that you should also know how to use it! Finally, emergency communications, whether it is a HF Radio, a Sat Phone or a PLB- you need one out here!
Have questions about the Plenty Highway? Email David@outandbackoffroad.com to ask!