1st time simpson desert crossing

Hi, we are considering crossing the simpson to get to the Birdsville for races, at this stage we are looking from west to east starting at Dailhousing Springs, the car being used is a 2005 Nissan 4.2 Patrol. My questions are 1. which is the easy line to take considering we are first timers and how much fuel (approx) would I be looking at for the crossing? Thanks
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Reply By: Ozrover - Wednesday, Mar 06, 2013 at 18:12

Wednesday, Mar 06, 2013 at 18:12
You will need to carry approx. 150 litres of diesel for a "normal" Simpson desert crossing.
If crossing for the first time I usually reccomend taking the French line, as it is so variable, you can always come back & "do" the other tracks later.
If you have your tyre pressures set low enough (16-18psi HOT), then you will have no problems, there will also be plenty of other travellers out there at that time as well if you do get into difficulties.
Have a look at the Mt Dare website for vehicle prep' & a heap of other info'

AnswerID: 506200

Follow Up By: Member - Patrick A1 - Saturday, Mar 30, 2013 at 18:50

Saturday, Mar 30, 2013 at 18:50
Hi i have a V8 l00 landcruiser have been watching 4WD tv on the show he used 210 litres of petrol to cross would this be right
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Follow Up By: Ozrover - Saturday, Mar 30, 2013 at 22:48

Saturday, Mar 30, 2013 at 22:48
210 liters sounds about right, don't forget that that lot were on a deadline, so weren't driving economically.

FollowupID: 785204

Reply By: Member - John and Val - Wednesday, Mar 06, 2013 at 18:26

Wednesday, Mar 06, 2013 at 18:26

Some useful links have come up beside your post - well worth following them up.

The easiest track, and most direct, would be the French Line, and west to east is easier than east to west.

If this is you first desert experience, suggest that you should travel with someone else. A companion vehicle or two can drag you out of sticky situations. There are a lot of issues to consider when tackling the desert - tyre pressures are at the top of that list, along with tyre repairs, water (lots), spares, communications (hf radio and/or sat phone, plus UHF), knowing your vehicle, its limitations and your own. Not trying to put you off the trip, it's a great experience, but you do need to be self reliant to a far greater extent than you will be used to.

There are lots of people on this site who will be happy to help, so please tell us more about your plans. Will you be towing a trailer? (Strongly recommend don't.) Are you aware that you MUST have a SA Desert Parks Pass? Will you be sharing the driving? Have the driver/s done any detailed 4WD training? Ever driven on sand? How big is the party?

Can't help on the fuel question but no doubt a Nissan driver can help on that one.



J and V
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Reply By: Member - DingoBlue(WA) - Wednesday, Mar 06, 2013 at 19:17

Wednesday, Mar 06, 2013 at 19:17
Concur with the other posts re tyre pressure. The run across the French Line is fairly straightforward. Just bear in mind that you may only average 20km/hr in some sections which can equate to just 100km per day.
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Reply By: Idler Chris - Wednesday, Mar 06, 2013 at 19:39

Wednesday, Mar 06, 2013 at 19:39
The previous posts really say it all. It is a great trip and I would suggest that you take it very easy and take it all in. I would also recommend limiting the kilometres you drive each day so that you have three camps in the desert. If you have enough fuel you can always go to the Knolls and or do a few kays down some of the other roads and come back. Have you got a PLB? at around $350 they just could save your life.
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Reply By: Allan B (Member, SunCoast) - Wednesday, Mar 06, 2013 at 21:05

Wednesday, Mar 06, 2013 at 21:05
Julio, I just love crossing the Simpson. It certainly isn't boring. If you are crossing in the lead-up to the Birdsville Races there will be plenty of other traffic so you will not be alone.

As Jeff (Ozrover) said, low tyre pressure is essential to provide flotation on the soft sand of the dunes, and with the amount of expected traffic, it is likely to be very soft and chewed-up, especially late in the day as the sand heats and dries out.

With the 4.2 you should have little trouble in the run-up to the dunes so pick a gear and don't hurtle at the dune. Keep it in 4WD the whole time and by using low-ratio you will have the reserve of being able to drop-down to a lower gear if necessary. Take it easy as you crest the dune as the track frequently turns sharply at the top. If you judge nicely and ease-off at the crest, the vehicle will just roll over without fuss. You will get the hang of it.

Fuel? Yeah, I use about 140-150 litres for the French Line crossing as the Troopy is heavily loaded. On my first crossing I was getting quite nervous toward the end as the gauges dipped toward the bottom of my 180 litres. Now I have long-range tanks of 270 litres and can relax.

Have a great time.


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Reply By: Member - Phil H (NSW) - Wednesday, Mar 06, 2013 at 23:14

Wednesday, Mar 06, 2013 at 23:14
Think most info has been covered in above threads. We travelled Simpson West to East last year on our own. As already mentioned there is heaps of traffic so make sure you advise oncoming traffic WHERE you are and keep a keen eye out as your cresting for incoming flags. If your not going like a bull at a gate , you will be able get out of their way. Why people travel without a CB turned and operating in these areas is beyond comprehension. I have a Toyota 100 series after market turbo travelling with 3 large guys plus all the gear after the CSR , so very heavy. We had good fuel consumption, so think you should be fine with yr 4.2. Enjoy Birdsville Races.
AnswerID: 506227

Reply By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Thursday, Mar 07, 2013 at 08:14

Thursday, Mar 07, 2013 at 08:14
Hi Julio

Seeing this is going to be your first trip, take your time and do a combination of tracks so you can get a feel for the desert, as they are all very different in terms of scenery and driving conditions.

Yes you will make a few boo boos as a first timer, but don't worry, you will have over 1100 dunes to perfect you driving skills.

The most important and paramount piece of information that will be your best friend and the most important of all is TYRE PRESSURE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Get this wrong and you will have the worst time of your life. For a first timer, do not stuff around with pressures, go straight to 14 psi and you will have no problems, as that time of the year the sand will be quite soft and hot daytime temperatures. Gearing is the next thing, first or second high for nearly all the dunes and again you will have no problems. You will not be able to use speed, and to be honest there is no need to, just take you time and it will be easy on you and your vehicle.

Useful tools are a set of MaxTrax and most importantly, a long handled shovel.

Have a great time, take it slowly and keep your tyre pressures down!!!!!!!


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Reply By: Member - johno2920 - Thursday, Mar 07, 2013 at 08:18

Thursday, Mar 07, 2013 at 08:18
Julio, crossed from west to east a few years ago with my daughter, who had only one year's driving experience; great experience for her and collectively one of our most fantastic things we've ever done together.
I agree with all the other comments. My one piece of advice is to stop and ask questions at Mt Dare Homestead. The staff there know what's happening out in the desert and you'll meet up with people who've just come the other way and can advise of any problems or road issues. We were advised of a blockage on the French Line so made a bit of a dog leg which added a few kilometres and hours, but that was better than being stopped for a day or more. So you might want to include an extra day or so in your plans as a contingency. JeanPierre
AnswerID: 506240

Reply By: Mazdave - Thursday, Mar 07, 2013 at 12:01

Thursday, Mar 07, 2013 at 12:01
We did it in 2009. W to E French Line only
Nissan Patrol wagon 3l manual used 110 litres. D40 Navara manual 120 litres

AnswerID: 506247

Reply By: Crackles - Thursday, Mar 07, 2013 at 22:05

Thursday, Mar 07, 2013 at 22:05
*Easiest route is Rig Rd, Lone Gum, Knolls Trk, Poepells Cnr, QAA.
*On an average year should use around 110 litres if not overloaded & you reduce pressures.
*Before deprature need to check current conditions, in particular, has there been rain requiring detours of salt lakes/clay pans? Is the Eyre Crk running? Is it a particually dry year? The answers could mean increased fuel usage up to 160L for a big diesel plus an extra day of travel.
*I usually carried 165 litres of diesel for an easy year. Avoid the temptation to fill huge long range tanks for "Just in case" or to save a couple of dollars as all this weight has to be dragged over every dune.
Cheers Craig............
AnswerID: 506287

Reply By: Member - PJR (NSW) - Saturday, Mar 30, 2013 at 23:19

Saturday, Mar 30, 2013 at 23:19
We experienced the Simpson for the first time in August last year. Our first was a solo vehicle drive but I would not recommend it for a "desert novice" unless all the self reliance boxes for both car and drivers are ticked. We had three nights in the Simpson with a stop at Mt Dare for as our starting point and then Birdsville at the end. We used just under 140 litres diesel and averaged 20 Kms a day.

Enjoy but if you haven't done a lot of 4WD before and ticked all the boxes do the drive in the company of at least one but preferred more cars with experienced drivers.


AnswerID: 507895

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