Time allowance for driving the Simpson Desert

Submitted: Thursday, Apr 18, 2013 at 08:17
ThreadID: 101757 Views:2459 Replies:6 FollowUps:3
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We would like some advice please. We have a 2010 Nissan Patrol and have completed many of the Victorian High country tracks, the OTT in Cape York and during our figure eight lap of Australia over eighteen months took the chance to go to as many places as possible. However, we have never travelled any of the desert tracks and think it is time to change that.

We will be travelling from Melbourne leaving late May and have thirteen days before we have a commitment in Townsville. Do we have sufficient time to complete the Simpson Desert? What would be the recommended route?

We are a couple in our early 60's, In good health, have a Black Wolf tent and will be travelling on our own.

Thank you for your assistance.
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Reply By: traveln round - Thursday, Apr 18, 2013 at 08:33

Thursday, Apr 18, 2013 at 08:33
Hi peter and gill
Been across 3 times and its great.have done east -west and west - east.its good fun.
Its easyer going from west to east as hills arnt as steep.many ways you can go.most just go straight across.i guess going there you should look at the lone gum and go to the corner etc.
On average 3-4days is ample from delhousie to big red.there are something like 1200 sandhills so should be a couple to test the skill.
Last time we went across was just after it open from all the floods couple yrs ago and took couple days extra due to all the bypasses.some people get out there and want to leave.the clear nights and stars is picture perfect.just take your own wood as theres not alot out there and it does get realy cold at night.dont forget ta desert pass aswell.
Im doing the cape this year in august so any info you can give me on that would be nice.
Simpson is far more better shorter and more fun in my views then the canning
AnswerID: 509242

Reply By: Robin Miller - Thursday, Apr 18, 2013 at 08:44

Thursday, Apr 18, 2013 at 08:44
Most only take 2 nights camping in the actual dessert Kiwi.

If its first time and solo , I would go to Mt Dare and across to Birdsville.

We usually go ->

Leave Melbourne 4am arrive PT Augusta 4pm (fuel and cheap motel $69)

Leave PT Augusta 6am (thats when McDonalds open for a cappicino).

ArrivePink Roadhouse (and camp) 4Pm via fill up at Coober Pedy.

Next day arrive MT Dare about 1pm and take it easy.

Leave MT Dare 8am arrive Dalhousie early and play around rest of day - posibly camp there although its been made a bit unpleasant by the rules these days - so its good to push on a bit and camp off the track.

Next day get to French Colson junction (early) camp there and maybe explore a bit.

Next day get to Poeppel corner and camp a few km east of it to set yourself up for the next days run to Birdsville.

The above means you camp at Birdsville on the 6th night out of Melbourne.

You can also free camp along that whole route (need dessert parks pass for S.A. only bit)
Robin Miller

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AnswerID: 509244

Follow Up By: Ozrover - Thursday, Apr 18, 2013 at 08:52

Thursday, Apr 18, 2013 at 08:52
What Robin said!!! :)

To cross the Simpson Desert From Mt Dare to Birdsville via the French line, it takes approx. 24 hours driving time.

You can break that up into 3 x 8 hour days, 2 nights but don't feel that you have to do it that quick, take your time & enjoy the experience.

FollowupID: 787033

Reply By: Member - PJR (NSW) - Thursday, Apr 18, 2013 at 11:51

Thursday, Apr 18, 2013 at 11:51
We camped for three nights actually in the Simpson. Stopped for photo shoots, cuppas and snacks and several times to just stop, look and listen.

Solo vehicle crossing. Purnie Bore down to the WAA line, across to Lone Gum, Up knolls Track to the French line and out to Birdsville on the QAA line. Easy gentle drive but mind you we have a well prepared and maintained car and two skilled drivers. Tyres down and up as required.

All four days from Mt Dare to Birdsville.

We want to go back and will do a solo run again.

Photo: First morning about 7AM near western end of WAA line. The boss is still in bed and I have been up for years. Geo: 26°19'14.00"S 136°44'16.00"E


AnswerID: 509249

Reply By: Ozhumvee - Thursday, Apr 18, 2013 at 12:31

Thursday, Apr 18, 2013 at 12:31
Take your time and enjoy the country, you've spent a heap on the vehicle, food and supplies so why rush if you don't have to.
Last year on our 27th Simpson trip we took ten days from Birdsville to Mt Dare, take the time to camp in a swale for a few days and you will be amazed at what you will see on walks away from the track and vehicle.
If leaving camp/vehicle/track on foot ALWAYS take a GPS, handheld CB, spare batteries for both, water and a museli bar or two as it is very easy to get lost once you are out of sight as the dunes merge and split and make things confusing sometimes.
AnswerID: 509252

Reply By: Member - Phil G (SA) - Thursday, Apr 18, 2013 at 13:01

Thursday, Apr 18, 2013 at 13:01
I'm with Peter - don't rush the Simpson Desert. For us, its all about the destination, not the driving.

Can I suggest the following which will give you the best of everything
Day 1: Melb to burra or somewhere nearby
Day 2 : Burra to Farina (ruins, great camping, birds)
Day 3: Farina to William Creek (via the many artesian springs, lake eyre south, pub dinner)
Day 4: William Creek to Algebuckina Waterhole (on Neales River) via Peake Telegraph Station ruins (might be an early day)
Day 5: Algebuckina to Eringa waterhole (magic campspot at the ruins of Sidney Kidman's first station). Top up supplies at Oodnadatta roadhouse.
Day 6: Eringa to Dalhousie Springs via Mt Dare (refuel and top up supplies)
Day 7: Dalhousie to WAA Line somewhere
Day 8: WAA Line to somewhere else (eg Lone Gum tree)
Day 9: Knolls Track/French Line to west end of QAA Line (nice gidgee)
Day 10: to Birdsville by lunchtime and have a look around, wash, pub etc
Day 11,12,13: 3 days to get to Townsville via Damantina NP and Winton.

AnswerID: 509253

Follow Up By: Member - John and Val - Thursday, Apr 18, 2013 at 18:11

Thursday, Apr 18, 2013 at 18:11
Excellent itinerary Phil, I would just add an extra day for Diamantina. Why rush when there are so many wonderful things to see.


J and V
"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted."
- Albert Einstein

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FollowupID: 787062

Follow Up By: Greenleader 13 - Thursday, Apr 18, 2013 at 19:04

Thursday, Apr 18, 2013 at 19:04
Have done this trip myself a coupla times except back to Melb after Birdsville, can do it comfortably with 4 or 5 days in the desert

Good drinking
Greenleader 13
FollowupID: 787071

Reply By: Member - Kiwibound eventually - Thursday, Apr 18, 2013 at 17:09

Thursday, Apr 18, 2013 at 17:09
Thank you so much to everyone for taking the time to share your advice and experience. It is so helpful to us and we now feel confident to proceed and make plans to make this trip. We really appreciate your help.
AnswerID: 509267

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