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Post Info TOPIC: the alpine way


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the alpine way


Looking at taking a trip from Adelaide eventually, crossing the snowy mountains via the great alpine way, looking for advice, is the road suitable for a caravan, and is the last week of October okay, meaning will the roads be clear, towing with a ford ranger , not a big caravan 18 ft thank you



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Welcome to GN's archy.

I have towed 6.5M Evernew behind Patrol over - take it slow, use your gears keeping revs to a minimum and you should be OK with your Ford. As you have already intimated the road should be clear in October, although weather pattern is hard to predict of late.

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Yes, I have done it with my Ford Ranger towing a bigger van than yours. The trip is certainly one of the more challenging ones in Australia and I would not recommend it for someone without a fair bit of towing experience. And absolutely not for anyone with override braking system. If using your gears for braking and adjusting the brake controller is second nature, and you have means to watch your transmission temperature, then you should be fine.

National Parks caution against towing a van there, but it is not banned. I spoke to them personally at the Thredbo office and their advice was "if experienced you should be fine".

The road is narrow in places and I was glad not to encounter a truck in some of them. But trucks and buses do use the route. There is about 15km of steep descent that will give your brakes a workout. But I only needed to drop back to 1st gear occasionally from memory. You want the engine to do as much of the braking as possible. You probably should stop a couple of times to let the brakes cool. The uphill slog is about the same and will blow the cobwebs away as you work the engine. I always monitor the transmission temperature, and it gets hot on both ascent and descent. Plan to stop part way and idle for a while.

With your smaller van it should be a bit easier.

A note on stopping to allow the brakes to cool. If the disks and drums are baking hot, stopping causes then to cool unevenly. This is because the metal in contact with the friction material cools more slowly. This risks the disks or drums becoming distorted. The solution is to only stop for a few seconds before rolling a few inches, and do this a few times until they have cooled to normal operating temperature.


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Excellent advice from previous posters.

The only thing I have to add is to say under *NO circumstances whatsoever* take a caravan along the Barry Way which runs south from Jindabyne to Bairnsdale. Parts of it are a narrow, unsealed mountain road often only one lane wide.



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Sorry - I missed this posting. The Alpine Way is one of the finest drives in Australia. Scenery is outstanding, especially at that time of the year. There will be snow on the tops of the mountains. A few pointers:

Around this time of the year, you can expect some heavy rains at times. This will increase river flows as the snow melts (and there is plenty of it up there at present). This may cause the rivers to rise, but the major roads are generally immune from flooding.

The Kosciuszko National Park required you to have a permit to travel on the Alpine Way. This is available from the NPWS office in Khancoban - free as far as I know, unless you are going to take longer than 4 hours to complete the trip past Thredbo. Sadly, I haven't done this trip for years now and my last trip was before they introduced permits. But I also have been told that this permit system is not being enforced. The NPWS charge heavily for park use - something like $28 per day to use the park, so I would check with the NPWS about what is happening there before you come across this road.

Khancoban is a nice place to camp. Fuel and shops are available here. Leaving Khancoban, starting at the Service Station, you travel a bit over 2 km and come to fork in the road. Right goes to Murray 2 Power Station, but this is not open to the public as far as I know now. Left goes up the hill and this is the start of a bout 25 km of moderate to steep climbing. The road is a bit narrow here as well. On the way, you will see Murray 1 Power Station. As far as I know there is a visitor's centre there and you can get road information etc there as well.

There are box cuttings along this part of the road, and after rain, there can be rockfalls. These can be simply a rock or two on the road ranging right up to a major landslide, so check at Khancoban before you come this way


The view from Scammels Spur Lookout (about 25 km from Khancoban) is superb. I hope the weather is clear for you. The next point of interest is the Geehi Airstrip (about 11 km further on) - downhill most of the way. You can camp here alongside the Swampy Plains River. No, the name misleads its true character - the river is always pristine clear running water. Lots of Kangaroos and Emus here, and the views up to Mt Townsend (near Mt Kosciuszko) are awesome.

After Geehi, the road climbs reasonably steeply as you pass Mt Youngal on the right side of the road. It then drops down to Tom Groggin, where the Murray river can be seen. An ideal place to camp the night as well. The other side of the river is Victoria. More Kangaroos and Emus around here. From here, the road climbs very steeply for about 15 km, so you engine and transmission fluids will get a roasting in this area. The road is narrow and winding as well, but your speed will not be very high because of the gradient. The next major point is Leather Barrel Creek, after a short downhill stretch, and then it uphill again to Dead Horse Gap, but the worst of the gradients is over by now. Dead Horse Gap marks the highest part of the climb, and it is downhill all the way to Thredbo. I wouldn't recommend taking your caravan down through Thredbo Village because the roads are very narrow. Trucks and buses use the road, but not caravans for sure. If you want to see Thredbo, there is a turnoff on the Eastern side of the village, leading back into the lower areas, and you can backtrack back to the village that way with a caravan. From Thredbo, it is gently downhill until you leave the National Park, and then there is a short, steep climb over a ridge and from there on it is generally downhill all the way to Jindabyne. There are 2 camping areas within the National Park beside the Thredbo River between Thredbo and the park entry gate if you are that way inclined. Basic facilities only in each place.

Would I tow an 18 ft caravan on this road with a Ford Ranger? Yes, but the downhill sections are very steep in places, so it is VITAL that you do not rely on your brakes. Use low gear on anything that even looks steep. Similarly, I know where the steep uphill sections are and I know how much further before the terrain eases up. I have lived in the area for well over 55 years, so I know the road very well, and I know when steep hills or sharp corners are coming up. Whatever, stay well on your own side of the road, because there are many clowns (especially around Thredbo) who drive this road and this area is very remote if you have a collision.

As Mike Harding said above, the Barry Way is NOT recommended as a way to Bairnsdale, but it is trafficable by trucks so if you are determined to go that way, come back to me on this site and I will give you some guidance on this road as well. If snow or bad weather stops you crossing the Alpine Way, there are other roads which cross the Snowies, but some of them will probably sill be closed by the end of October. If you have made it to Jindabyne via the Alpine Way, you have certainly survived some of the steepest hills in this area. Just be aware that snow can fall at any time of the year in this area, so plan ahead and consult locals for advice if in doubt. The Cooma Visitor's Centre (02) 6455 1742 (if you can get a mobile signal) should be able to give you up-to-date info on road conditions.



-- Edited by erad on Thursday 11th of August 2022 07:34:55 PM



-- Edited by erad on Thursday 11th of August 2022 09:17:53 PM

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erad wrote:

As Mike Harding said above, the Barry Way is NOT recommended as a way to Bairnsdale, but it is trafficable by trucks


 I've never seen a truck on it, it would be possible, just, to get a truck along it providing you had a scout car 2km ahead with radio comms. but frankly you'd need to be out of your mind to take a truck (or caravan) along it without a massively good reason. iirc caravans are banned on the Victorian side of the border in any event and that's where the most dangerous sections of the road are.

DON'T TAKE A CARAVAN ON THE BARRY WAY



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We stayed at Buckendeera years ago,came home the Barry Way, we were getting up near the top and couldn't believe a truck and trailer tried to come down.

His cabin was about to go over the side,it was being held up by tree that was luckily growing  up the side of the hill,I don't know how the trailer didn't slide over.

There was a massive drop off,amazing he got down the road as far as he did.he was waiting for heavy haulage to come down from Eden. we managed to squeeze past.

I took 2 photos one from the front and one from back,can only find the back one at the moment.

barry way.jpg



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Re the Barry Way to Bairnsdale, trucks loaded with cattle and horses regularly use this road. Personally, I think the worst part of the drive is in NSW between the Jacobs River and the Snowy River. The climb out of the Snowy valley past up onto the plateau has some massive dropoffs, but at least you can see oncoming traffic on that par of the road. Some hairy bits around Suggan Buggan, but the worst is on the NSW section. There are unmarked corners and narrow road sections. I have had a Subaru towing a camper trailer push me into the bank to get out of his way. He stopped with his front bumper level with my rear bumper. Like any narrow, winding, hilly road, this one needs special care and slower speeds. I wouldn't recommend it for caravans, but it COULD be done. It all depends on the skill and attitude of the driver.

Most people these days see an empty road and blast along at excessive speed because there is no oncoming traffic, so they have the whole road to themselves. It is the same on the Alpine Way. There isn't much traffic on that, but the ones that use it in winter typically are skiers who are not known for their sensible driving habits. Driven sensibly, both of these roads could safely take a caravan, but due to the remoteness of both roads, I wouldn't recommend either to an inexperienced driver.

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Re the Barry Way to Bairnsdale, trucks loaded with cattle and horses regularly use this road. Personally, I think the worst part of the drive is in NSW between the Jacobs River and the Snowy River. The climb out of the Snowy valley past up onto the plateau has some massive dropoffs, but at least you can see oncoming traffic on that par of the road. Some hairy bits around Suggan Buggan, but the worst is on the NSW section. There are unmarked corners and narrow road sections. I have had a Subaru towing a camper trailer push me into the bank to get out of his way. He stopped with his front bumper level with my rear bumper. Like any narrow, winding, hilly road, this one needs special care and slower speeds. I wouldn't recommend it for caravans, but it COULD be done. It all depends on the skill and attitude of the driver.

Most people these days see an empty road and blast along at excessive speed because there is no oncoming traffic, so they have the whole road to themselves. It is the same on the Alpine Way. There isn't much traffic on that, but the ones that use it in winter typically are skiers who are not known for their sensible driving habits. Driven sensibly, both of these roads could safely take a caravan, but due to the remoteness of both roads, I wouldn't recommend either to an inexperienced driver. Anyway, I don't recall the original poster asking about the Barry Way.

 

In a way, this reminds me of my time working in Bangkok. We had a driver who would go cross town at peak hour at 70 km/h. The traffic seemed to part as we got to a blockage and we had a smooth (but not reassuring) ride every day. The driver didn't blink an eye - he was brilliant. However, we went to a power station up country one day. This station was at the toe of a dam, and the river had cut its way about 80 m into the otherwise flat country. Any of us whities would have just put the car into 3rd gear and let it roll down the grade, lightly dabbing the brakes before each turn. Not our driver... He stopped at the top of the descent, put it into 1st gear and we crawled down into the valley. His knuckles were white from where he was gripping the steering wheel so tightly. The same driver who would every morning and evening whisk us through the mayhem of Bangkok peak hour traffic, but he was visibly shaken by this experience. At weekends, I had the keys to the car, but no way would I consider driving in Bangkok...



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erad wrote:

 I wouldn't recommend it for caravans, but it COULD be done. It all depends on the skill and attitude of the driver.


erad: you are being irresponsible in publishing the above statement.

The Barry Way/Snowy River Road is not suitable for caravans and they are prohibited on the Victorian side.



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