Exploring Googs Track with a Tvan

Catherine Panich Aussie Camping Trips, Tvan

Googs Track in SA runs south to north from just west of Ceduna to Malbooma on the Trans Australian Railway line. It’s just under 200k but you definitely need a high clearance 4×4 vehicle and capable off road camper trailer if you don’t want to tent it. We took our Tvan when we did the trip in 2012. You may not be able to take a trailer now. Do your research.

The best time of the year is from autumn to spring. The trip is best done from south to north because the dunes are easier from the southern approach. Use UHF channel 18. A sand flag is essential and max tracks could be useful. Permits are available in Ceduna. It is always worth going into the Visitors Centre in any town you travel through. They have free maps and are a mine of information.

There are no provisions along the way and you are well advised to take more than adequate food and water in case of breakdowns. There is no fuel either. Depending on side trips and detours count on doing about 400K.

The track originally started from the northern end at Malbooma Station in the mid 1950s. From there it headed south to Mt Finke to what is now Drum Camp. Drum camp got its name from the two large drums of water left behind when the original track construction was abandoned.

John Denton (nicknamed Goog) and his wife Jenny, who lived at the Lone Oak Station in the south, saw an opportunity to sell produce to a wider market with the aid of the railway to the north so they started on their grand project. This was in the 1970s. They received no government support or financial assistance but the property owners in the area who could see the potential of such a road gave a lot of moral and financial support in the form of fuel and equipment.

Working weekends only the job took 3 years. At first an old tractor with a blade attached to the front was their ‘bulldozer’. Eventually as the going got tougher they upgraded to a proper bulldozer. Three old Land Rovers, built from wrecks and parts found in the district were used to ferry food and fuel. The enterprise became a family affair as the children as well as Jenny’s brother Denis helped. The track was never used for its intended purpose but was re-aligned and used during mining exploration. It is now very popular with the 4WC community.

There are hundreds of sand dunes to cross. Most of them are not difficult but it is essential to reduce tyre pressures adequately to gain traction and prevent track damage. A couple of the dunes were soft and long but with soft tyres, slow speed and adequate revs we made it comfortably, even with our trailers

Camping at Googs Lake is wonderful, lots of space and choice of campsite either private or for groups. Spend at least two nights here, relaxing, exploring dunes and lake, taking photos, spotting wildlife and just taking in the atmosphere.

Five hours of fun sand dune driving brings you to Mt. Finke camping area. Spend another two nights here especially if you want to climb the mighty Finke. It’s rugged and steep with no discernible path but the views are magnificent. As a bonus from the top we even had Telstra coverage. The official end of Googs is at the Trans Australian Railway line another five scenic hours north.

Yes you can ‘do’ Googs Track in 2 days but why not take 4-5 days. After all you are on holiday and it’s worth every minute of just wandering around, exploring on foot and relaxing.