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The Great Australian Desert Loop – Cocklebiddy to Birdsville

  • 25 Jul 2022
  • 9:00 AM (ACST)
  • 10 Aug 2022
  • 4:00 PM (ACST)
  • Central Australia
  • 4



The Great Australian Desert Loop – Cocklebiddy to Birdsville 

Submitted by Mark Bown & Sherry Mayo

Event Date:  25th July - 10 August 

Event info: 

The Great Australian Desert Loop – Cocklebiddy to Birdsville 

RRCV Jaunt 2022

After the last two years in lock down we’re finally able to get permits to run this (well as best I can tell having phoned up those who hand them out!)

The trip will commence in Cocklebiddy and finish in Birdsville. The planned route is shown below, and should take about 17 days. 

The object of not starting and ending in Melbourne is to accommodate some flexibility so that those with time on their hands can tack trips on to the start and end of this trip– these are good points to plan additional trips. 

At the end of the trip Sherry and I plan to continue south to Innamincka via the Birdsville Track and Walkers Crossing, and on to Broken Hill and Melbourne. We welcome anyone who wishes to join us.

Melbourne – Cocklebiddy 2,272 km

Cocklebiddy - Rawlinna 148 km

Rawlinna – Warburton 634 km (via Connie Sue Hwy) Permit

Warburton – Docker River 339 km (via Great Central Rd) Permit

Docker River – Kintore 317 km (via Sandy Bight Junction Rd) Permit

Kintore – Alice Springs 521 km( via Gary Junction Rd) Permit

Alice Springs – Jervois 333 km (via Plenty Hwy)

Jervois – Birdsville 620 km( via Hay River Track) Permit

Sherry & Mark's route home from Birdsville (optional)

Birdsville – Innamincka 364 km(via Birdsville Track & Walkers Crossing)

Innamincka – Broken Hill 677 km(Silver City Hwy)

Broken Hill to Melbourne 838 km

Total   7,063 km

Those wanting to read more information may find it in “Great Desert Track – Atlas & Guide” HEMA Maps Pty Ltd, 2013. Trips 5, 19, 16, 12, 3, and 13.

This is not a trip that should be undertaken without very serious consideration given to all of the topics covered here. There will be sections of dune driving in addition to the endless kilometres of brain jarring corrugations. All of that said it’s likely to be an interesting trip for those capable and with a totally prepared rig.

Please read through the following expedition requirements carefully and if you feel as though you'd like to be a part of the discussion and possibly join the trip let us know. By its very nature this cannot be a club trip where it's 'first in best dressed'- careful and serious consideration needs to be undertaken by the trip leaders with regard to the safety and capabilities of the eventual final group so as to ensure that everyone enjoys a wonderful and safe adventure. 

As with the Canning Stock Route we did in 2018 we plan to rotate the lead vehicle and TEC with all those wishing to lead having the opportunity to do so.

Personal Considerations

You ought to be free of health concerns (as much as any of us can be!) and have a clear understanding right from the outset that this will be a physically demanding trip. This is rugged terrain, very hard on anyone with back complaints etc, not to mention anyone with a low tolerance of flies! A sense of humour and sense of adventure is paramount for this trip, as would be a willingness to take direction when necessary from the trip leader and to go with the flow if plans have to change for whatever reason. You would also need to understand that in the event of a major breakdown to one of the vehicles the group may be unable to complete the trip.

Driving and skill level required:

If you haven't travelled in the deserts before then this trip is not for you unless in the interim you undertake proper sand driving 4wd training. There's nothing more frustrating for yourself or the rest of the group than long and unnecessary delays waiting continually for one car to complete an obstacle. We'll all be caught out by a dune here and there, that's understood, but it's vital for the enjoyment by all that all drivers are at a level. At any rate, once the final group has been determined, we may look to stage a sand driving weekend in Wyperfeld National Park to enable us to all brush up on sand driving skills.


You would need to be able to comfortably carry food and supplies for a minimum of 8 days away from services, in hot daytime conditions and cold nights. Be prepared to cook on fuel stoves only as we will not be able to have fires at all camps. 

Vehicle and Vehicle Preparation

On similar trips in past years on trips in desert trips we've had several mechanical issues even though our vehicles were all thoroughly prepared. Broken coil springs, blown shock absorbers, reversing lights rattling loose and causing electrical issues, shattered rear quarter windows, broken torsion bar mounts, bothersome turbo charger hoses and umpteen tyre failures to name a few. As such it's vital that your high-clearance, low range equipped 4WD undergoes a thorough pre-trip inspection and major service before setting off. Your car needs to be in top-notch condition.


Rim size no bigger than 18 inch. Your tyres, ATs at a minimum, need to be new or near new, and two full spare wheels need to be carried. A tyre repair kit, good quality air compressor and your willingness and ability to assist with tyre changes are a must. You'll also find a good quality tyre deflator a godsend and a Tyre Pressure Monitoring system is great for peace of mind on long corrugated stretches. A jack and jacking plate are also needed so that you can easily jack your fully loaded rig in sandy conditions


A suspension upgrade where possible (eg Kings Springs/ Koni Shocks) is highly advisable. A spare Rear (and front where applicable) spring should be carried. Spare rear and front shocks (comparable to your updated ones) should be carried. 1 of each is usually sufficient unless left and right are different.

Fuel Capacity

Sufficient fuel for 1000 km on outback roads (you must know your fuel consumption in sand driving and on outback roads). 

Roof Rack Loads

Must be within vehicle and roof rack manufacturers limits (the latter are lower for off-road driving) taking into account the weight of your roof rack.

Spare Parts

Filters, Hoses. belts, fuses and oils should be carried.

Other considerations

  • RACV Total Care is a must as is a comprehensive tool kit to suit your vehicle
  • Be aware that paintwork scratches are almost inevitable.
  • All items in your vehicle need to be securely tied down
  • A Solar Charge option for layover days is a really good idea - No generators
  • You'll need an in car UHF aerial plus a 5W hand held
  • You'll be required to attend pre-trip planning meetings and pre-trip vehicle inspection.

Enquiries/expressions of interest to mark.bown@csiro.au or phone 0437251645

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