Crossing the Simpson Desert with children

Submitted: Sunday, May 18, 2014 at 19:16
ThreadID: 107832 Views:5605 Replies:15 FollowUps:10
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What are people's thoughts about crossing the Simpson Desert with a 2 year old and a 6 month old child?

We really would be very very well prepared and have done a lot of touring with the kidlets already, but I'm thinking I might need to leave the wifey and kids behind on this one.

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Reply By: AlbyNSW - Sunday, May 18, 2014 at 19:20

Sunday, May 18, 2014 at 19:20
If you are comfortable doing remote style touring with your children I would go for it, it is no big deal really as long as you are prepared and carry the appropriate communications etc with you to seek help/ assistance if needed.
AnswerID: 532709

Reply By: mikehzz - Sunday, May 18, 2014 at 19:47

Sunday, May 18, 2014 at 19:47
My thoughts are that neither of the kids will really get anything out of the trip. So it boils down to whether you and your wife want to look after them under remote circumstances. There is an element of potential danger to be taken into account. I seem to remember the odd baby incident where mine needed special attention due to milk issues or other dietry complications. It would have been inconvenient having a crying baby who can't tell you what the problem is in the middle of nowhere. If they were 3-4 year olds, no question, I would go for it and actually did when mine were that age. Cheers.
AnswerID: 532710

Follow Up By: Member - Phil G (SA) - Sunday, May 18, 2014 at 20:53

Sunday, May 18, 2014 at 20:53
I agree with you. At that age, keep it all safe and wait a few years then do it.
We travelled remote with 4 kids and it was no fun when the youngest starts spiking fevers a days drive from anywhere.
FollowupID: 816011

Reply By: Slow one - Sunday, May 18, 2014 at 19:51

Sunday, May 18, 2014 at 19:51
Why not, if your wife is good with it, go for it.

Life is full of what if's, so enjoy while you can.

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Reply By: Member - John and Val - Sunday, May 18, 2014 at 20:57

Sunday, May 18, 2014 at 20:57
Its admirable that you and your wife are able to continue travelling with your young family. But, without knowing what travelling you have already done, its likely that the Simpson would throw up challenges that you may not have encountered with your children so far. Apart from being remote if a child became unwell, there is the constant motion of the vehicle and the effects that could have on young bodies, especially the baby who is still growing the muscles to hold their head up.

Your children are too young to get anything out of such a trip. I think an important consideration would be how well they would tolerate a few days of potentially vigorous bouncing/shaking as you go over dunes with their attendant scallops, and corrugations in the swales. Is it worth risking injury (possibly a mild version of shaken baby syndrome) to young bodies?

Unless you have exceptional suspension (or even if you do) you would need to give them good head support.

The Simpson will still be there in a few years time when your children will be old enough to enjoy the experience.


J and V
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AnswerID: 532718

Reply By: The Landy - Sunday, May 18, 2014 at 22:48

Sunday, May 18, 2014 at 22:48
Hi Josh...

I suspect that you can poll a lot of people on this question and you’ll be none the wiser to the original question, but hopefully more informed with some collective views on what you should consider…

Only you will best know the answer to this question – so go with your gut feel.

We have travelled remotely with our son since he was a baby, life doesn’t stop for anyone. What has given us the confidence to travel remotely with our son (he’s now 14 going on 21 – such is the predisposition of young adolesant males!) is to plan thoroughly. Efficient and effective communications is paramount as well as a redundancy and back up for your plans.

A substantial medical chest as well as knowledge to use it is important.

The health of young children can deteriorate very quickly and outpace the availability of more formal treatment. And this is most likely your most significant risk. Do they have a history of illness beyond the “norm”?

Do you have the ability to deal with that both in a medical and mental sense. Keeping you cool and making sound decisions if things go wrong, especially where there is a strong emotional attachment is something you need to give thought to.

Volumes could be written on this topic – plan effectively and anally and if you can manage some of the inherent risks with a good plan than you should have the confidence to do it.

Our family lives to the adage “those that don’t think it can be done shouldn’t bother the person doing it”.

And let me qualify that by saying we are not flippant when espousing that view, and spend a lot of time weighing up the risks and formulating a good plan…just don’t miss the opportunities that life provides based on the fears or prejudices others…

Good luck with it, either way you go!

Baz – The Landy…
AnswerID: 532722

Reply By: gbc - Monday, May 19, 2014 at 07:57

Monday, May 19, 2014 at 07:57
Mine were 1.5 and 3.5 when we did it and can offer the following.
Have enough space so one parent can get in the back with them - they love that, especially when dad gets to beer and watch kids movies with them.
Old school activity books etc that engage them are great - especially when a parent is doing it with them.
Movie players get turned on for the last hour of the drive, not the first. This teaches them travelling, not insulates them from it - the last weeks travel is always better than the first.
Have fly net hats
Drive slower and have more breaks, plan to spend longer rather than smash it out and you'll be fine. A child will find something to play with in the middle of nowhere.
As stated, responsible remote travel with kids demands extra planning, great first aid facilities, diligent attention at all times, a willingness to put your own needs last, and the wherewithal to call a medivac from anywhere at any time.
Our time in the Simpson interestingly gave us an opportunity to get our 18 month old off antibiotics/steroids for the first time in his life and allow his little lungs to strengthen naturally. It was the best thing we could have done for him in hindsight.
AnswerID: 532735

Reply By: Member - PJR (NSW) - Monday, May 19, 2014 at 08:43

Monday, May 19, 2014 at 08:43
If all goes well you will drive out and say; "So apart from it being the Simpson Desert it was a piece of cake". And if all goes well it will be exactly that. A great drive through an iconic part of Australia with all it's unique and interesting features.

But if it goes wrong and one of the kids pick up something then it can get bad very quickly.

I think that it would be a bit safer if you gave it a while until the kids immune system is more developed. My immune has been almost wiped out by treatments, and even as an adult, the doctors warned me to be careful. They also loaded us up with all sorts of medical stuff in case I "picked up something".

Give them a while until their immune systems are all good. I don't know when that is. Ask your doctor. As already said, at their age they won't miss it and it will still be there for yourselves.

AnswerID: 532740

Reply By: andoland - Monday, May 19, 2014 at 08:53

Monday, May 19, 2014 at 08:53
You and they will be fine. We've taken our children on remote trips at similar ages. Friends of ours took their 2 year old and 6 month old on the Canning a couple of years ago.

When our children were that young we always took a sat phone on remote trips to ensure we had a means of communication in case of an emergency, e.g. to be able to talk to a doctor or rescue personnel. They can be rented easily for not very much expense.

There are plenty of other travelers in the Simpson desert and if you need direct help you won't have to wait too long. I'm not suggesting you rely on this as the sole means of help, just pointing out that you will not be on your own for days at a time.

There is no good reason not to take them.
AnswerID: 532741

Reply By: CSeaJay - Monday, May 19, 2014 at 10:07

Monday, May 19, 2014 at 10:07

They should be fine

Many replies above state that they (kids) wont get anything or have any memories of the trip as they are too young; whilst that is true, in my experience your and your wife's memories will be sooo much richer of having done the trip together, and with the kids.
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Reply By: Nigel Migraine - Monday, May 19, 2014 at 13:26

Monday, May 19, 2014 at 13:26
Six months is *very* young.

Young children can go from seemingly healthy to the verge of death in a very short time. Unless you have paediatric training you won't have a clue what's happening or how to deal with it.

What you are intending to do is a holiday, no more, and you do not *need* to do it at this time; the Simpson will still be there in three or four years and instead you could take your children to secluded bush locations which are closer to civilisation where they will probably have a much better time than if they were sitting in a vehicle for hour after hour, day after day.

If things go wrong you will never, and properly so, forgive yourself - neither, I suspect, will your wife.

Do it without the children or leave it a few years.
AnswerID: 532760

Reply By: ExplorOz Team - Michelle - Monday, May 19, 2014 at 14:12

Monday, May 19, 2014 at 14:12
Josh, on one hand I agree with others that if you think you can handle it then go for. But on the other hand I am reminded of my experience travelling for 2 months from Perth to Sydney then through Tasmania then Vic High Country and back when my youngest was 8ths old (breastfeeding) and my eldest was 4 (and was naughty as I remember it). We have always "roughed" it and are very adventurous when we travel. We took our eldest when she was a baby on the Gunbarrel, Old Gunbarrel, Tanami, Kimberley, then when 1 she was on the Anne Beadell, then 2 on the Canning without any issues and we also took her when she was 3 on the Simpson (a double crossing) and these trips were fantastic, easy even. We thought we were prepared to do the same when the next baby came along. That all changed when the 2nd child - a baby - came into the picture. The experience of this trip taught us that travelling with a baby + a toddler is very challenging. You might be different, but we found it to be the hardest thing on me physically and emotionally and it broke me. After this we put the "pack up daily and travel" type of trips on hold for a few years until they were a bit more independent. Instead, we bought a boat and found an idyllic location to camp on the beach for 2-3 weeks and made this our bi-annual family trip away. It only took about 4 years until we were able to tolerate the two of them together on the long-haul daily pack up and travel all day type of remote area trips that we do solo. So - I think you're question is very fair and you should talk to your wife about this.

I probably make life hard on myself. I am a bit of a perfectionist and like to make gourmet dinners, fresh healthy lunches and snacks etc, and keep up my diary, and work etc around camp plus I do all the in-car navigation allowing David to deal with the task of driving, vehicle maintenance, camp setup - all the lifting and loading, setting up gear and packing up etc.

Each family is different and your temperaments do come into it. You need to be sure you are a solid team and have the same goals for this trip. Don't be fooled, travelling with a baby + a toddler isn't easy but can be done.

Good luck with making your decision.

Michelle Martin
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AnswerID: 532765

Reply By: The Landy - Monday, May 19, 2014 at 14:41

Monday, May 19, 2014 at 14:41
Given a number of comments have been made regarding young children not being aware of surroundings and therefore not likely to miss anything I thought I would venture back into this thread and relate a personal experience…

One of my greatest touring moments came from a comment our son, TomO, made at the age of three whilst returning home from a Simpson Desert crossing, his second in as many years.

To set the scene, he had commented a number of times that he remembered certain places and “things” on the trip completed from the same trip we had made 12 months earlier, when he was aged two.

I was sceptical, but noted his comments.

However, as I walked with him to the front gate of the Broken Hill Caravan Park he very casually remarked as we walked across a metal grill that he had dropped a match box car down there 12 months earlier on our way back home form the earlier crossing.

He was 100 percent correct, and at that point I lost my scepticism of other comments he had made about things he “remembered”.

That was our experience on what young children remember and experience. Not that is a justification in its own right for remote area travel, but we could always find a reason not to do something. I sometimes feel that we should find reasons to do it and work to managing risks to an acceptable level…

And I’ll close by saying, remote area travel with young children needs to be well considered, thought out, and planned. But equally don’t discount it simply on the basis they will get nothing out of it…
AnswerID: 532767

Follow Up By: Nigel Migraine - Monday, May 19, 2014 at 15:06

Monday, May 19, 2014 at 15:06
My younger son turns 30 in a few weeks:

He remembers nothing of America (age 4), Spain (age 4 and 5), France (age 3, 4 and 5), Italy (age 3 and 4), Singapore (age 8) is a slim memory etc.

It is quite possible children will retain memories from a very early age (I think my earliest was at two) but such memories will have little value towards their educational or "rounded adult" development. My experience is that such things do not occur much before 8 or 9 - in general.
FollowupID: 816066

Reply By: AlbyNSW - Monday, May 19, 2014 at 17:27

Monday, May 19, 2014 at 17:27
There has been a number of comments about the children being too young to appreciate it and that may or may not be so but when I first read the opening thread I did not give consideration as to what is in it for the children rather it was for the enjoyment of the parents and giving them some leisure/pleasure time.
The question as I read it was whether is was a feasable and responsible thing to do.

It is not about the children all the time
AnswerID: 532776

Follow Up By: CSeaJay - Monday, May 19, 2014 at 17:55

Monday, May 19, 2014 at 17:55

The trip will be most enjoyable for the two parents together, and their fond memories of doing it with the children
Certainly was the case with us
FollowupID: 816072

Follow Up By: Nigel Migraine - Monday, May 19, 2014 at 19:16

Monday, May 19, 2014 at 19:16
"It is not about the children all the time"

If you *really* believe that then I suggest you don't have any.

Children have no one but their parents to protect and care for them - they don't have choices or options and choosing to have them is the most significant decision any of us will make.

Until they are old enough to care for themselves then it *is* about the children *all* of the time.

FollowupID: 816076

Follow Up By: AlbyNSW - Monday, May 19, 2014 at 20:16

Monday, May 19, 2014 at 20:16
Too late Nigel, we already have successfully raised our own children plus are a career for troubled youth who live with us as well until they can find there own way in life so I think we have a bit of an idea on the subject.
Nigel you have misunderstood what I said. At no time did I say not to protect or care for them, you can do those things whilst you are doing things that you enjoy yourself and you actually need to do some pleasurable things as a parent for your own state of mind in order to care for your children better.
I am sure you have seen parents in a restaurant enjoying a meal with their baby in a pram who is too young to enjoy the experience or even know where they are but that is no reason for the parents to sit at home and do nothing until the kid is old enough to enjoy and remember the experience, that is what I am saying.
My point is, if as a parent you feel comfortable taking your children into this kind of environment and be able to enjoy the experience whilst caring for your children then why not do it?
As an adult you need to have a healthy state of mind to look after children
FollowupID: 816081

Follow Up By: Nigel Migraine - Monday, May 19, 2014 at 20:37

Monday, May 19, 2014 at 20:37
"My point is, if as a parent you feel comfortable taking your children into this kind of environment and be able to enjoy the experience whilst caring for your children then why not do it?"

Because it'll be a lot safer and more sensible to do it in three or four years and what will anyone have lost by waiting a little?

FollowupID: 816084

Follow Up By: CSeaJay - Monday, May 19, 2014 at 21:06

Monday, May 19, 2014 at 21:06
I see where you are coming from but for us as an example don't have the luxury of waiting due to sooo many commitments. Do what you can when you can.
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Follow Up By: AlbyNSW - Monday, May 19, 2014 at 21:16

Monday, May 19, 2014 at 21:16
Nigel I appreciate your position and that it is something you do not feel comfortable with yourself and indeed we were not doing those sort of trips either when our children were that age but there are plenty of people that live on the road and do so all the time and are comfortable with it and handle it well.
Each to there own, we all have different ways and environments in which we are comfortable raising our children in.
FollowupID: 816089

Follow Up By: The Landy - Monday, May 19, 2014 at 22:05

Monday, May 19, 2014 at 22:05
I’m sure the Sprigg story is well-known to many, and in fact it was Reg and Griselda, with their two young children, who did the first motorized crossing of the Simpson Desert, so it has some relevance to this discussion…

“The clock of life is wound but once,
And no man has the power,
To tell just when the hands will stop,
At late or early hour.

Now is the only time you own,
Live, love, toil with a will,
Place no faith in tomorrow
For the clock may then be still.”

It is no surprise it is prominently placed in Griselda’s book…
FollowupID: 816093

Follow Up By: The Landy - Monday, May 19, 2014 at 22:10

Monday, May 19, 2014 at 22:10
I should have added the short poem that was written anonymously, and appears in the foreword to the book “Dune is a four-letter word” by Griselda Sprigg...

FollowupID: 816094

Reply By: mikehzz - Monday, May 19, 2014 at 22:55

Monday, May 19, 2014 at 22:55
This thread has prompted a trip down memory lane for me....I seem to recall it being an ordeal to even pack everything for the baby just to go to the supermarket. :-) It was such a relief when they started walking and could climb into their car seats and were old enough to leave their nappies behind. Middle of the night feeds in the freezing cold desert....You need to be a young parent to take that sort of punishment. I can't stop smiling... :-)
AnswerID: 532799

Reply By: - Monday, May 26, 2014 at 20:15

Monday, May 26, 2014 at 20:15
Plenty of warm pyjamas / toys / colouring books etc.
Lots of stops.
Complete first aid kit / sat phone and another car or two.
You will be fine. At the end of the day air support is only a couple of hours away if it all goes really pear shaped. No different to being in the high country without a sat phone really....
AnswerID: 533200

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