Birdsville to Poeppel Corner return

Can anyone tell me if a day trip to Poepell Corner and back from Birdsville is easily manageable? What are the typical track conditions (sandy with dunes, corrugated etc etc)?
Thanks in advance for responding.
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Reply By: cookie1 - Tuesday, Aug 12, 2014 at 21:16

Tuesday, Aug 12, 2014 at 21:16
In short yes but it would be a long day and dependant upon any water in Eyre Creek requiring you to take the diversion. Best bet would be to spend a night 1/2 way out and experience the night TV.

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Reply By: Jon W (Toow - Wednesday, Aug 13, 2014 at 07:10

Wednesday, Aug 13, 2014 at 07:10
Hi folks. We did the same trip during April of last year. We left B'ville at 0600 and arrived at P C at 1300 after a 30 min stop for mornos. We left P C about an hour later and drove back to the eastern boundary of the national park arriving at about 1730. We bush camped there for the night. Next morning we left at about 0700 and dawdled back to B'ville arriving at about 1100. At that time Eyre creek was dry but we did strike a lot of other traffic. The worst section was about 50 km of severe corrugations midway across the N P. The other issues were oncoming vehicles with no lights on and some who could not or would not broadcast their position or reply to our numerous broadcasts via UHF. Biggest problem with many dunes was the momentum sapping kink part way up many of them or the unexpected kink at the top of many of them. So, we would not suggest trying to do it as a day trip. Jon W
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Reply By: rumpig - Wednesday, Aug 13, 2014 at 10:26

Wednesday, Aug 13, 2014 at 10:26
in short it can be done... but i don't think your idea of "easily manageable" likely suits the description...just guessing here, but it sounds to me you are after a relaxing day trip out and back possibly?, where as it's pretty much an all days drive at a decent speed out there and back again, not really getting a chance to enjoy where you are. You'll leave early and get back pretty late (not necessarily in daylight hours depending on the speed you drive) if all goes well.
Conditions are a matter of opinion...condusive to the tyre pressure you run and past experience of sand dune driving etc, and one persons ok track is another persons badly corrugated....and yes there's plenty of sandy dunes out there, so if you have no or little experience in driving that terrain, i wouldn't suggest you try it alone or as a day trip especially.
I know i drive at a fast pace usually so won't make comment on how long i think it should take to do, but to give you an idea of time frames.... i've read posts on this forum of someone doing the drive out to Poeppel Corner in a bit over 3 hours (at not really going what you'd call a easily managable pace i'd assume though), where as others say it's more like a 5 hour trip, and i have also read of someone that took 7 hours to do that drive out to Poeppel Corner also (that's only one way and not return).
hope that helps you some

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Reply By: Life Member - Terry 80FTE - Wednesday, Aug 13, 2014 at 22:00

Wednesday, Aug 13, 2014 at 22:00
Hi Simon and Christine,
As others have said, but depending on your vehicle and set up and also your experience in sand driving. I've seen people cross over little red and turn back because they couldn't get over the first main dune.
What time of the year, in school holidays?
In late June we drove at night from Knolls to Eyre creek and didn't pass another vehicle on the track, did get a few looks at Poeppel corner from the campers, when we stopped in for a quick look at it in the light from the vehicles, hehe.
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Reply By: mikehzz - Thursday, Aug 14, 2014 at 08:28

Thursday, Aug 14, 2014 at 08:28
Total distance is a bit over 330kms. Your speed will be pretty slow 30-40 kph is optimistic with no holdups waiting for stuck vehicles (including your own). Are you experienced in soft sand? A sand flag and uhf absolutely required.
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Reply By: brushmarx - Thursday, Aug 14, 2014 at 09:38

Thursday, Aug 14, 2014 at 09:38
We did this in a one day trip 3 years ago as a lone vehicle and had a long handled shovel, Tirfor and snatch strap for recovery but no other vehicles and no winch points left the shovel and tyre pressures as the only real options for getting out.
We had a UHF radio, satellite phone and a few days of food and water for more serious dramas
We left Birdsville at 6:00 am and got back at 8:30pm.
Stopped for morning and afternoon teas, had a 30 minute lunch at the corner. A few photo stops for dingo's and other animals.
Got stuck on 2 small dunes for a few minutes and on Big Red for an hour.
This was a a trip after lots of easterly winds, so the return trip had soft sand on the access to the tops of the dunes. The tracks were not heavily corrugated and no water crossings.
It was not at break neck speeds and was thoroughly enjoyable although another day would be beneficial.
We treated is as reconnaissance for a future trip but if we never make it back, it was far better than never going there.
There are blogs with videos of the area and they should be a guide for what to expect but getting up to date information from locals and the Park Rangers Station should be a must.
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Reply By: Allan B (Member, SunCoast) - Thursday, Aug 14, 2014 at 11:58

Thursday, Aug 14, 2014 at 11:58
As others have said..... it can be done in a day..... but why anyone would want to I can't imagine!

If you have not camped for a night in the middle of the Simpson Desert, away from all lights and all campfires, then you have not beheld The Universe above you.

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Follow Up By: Member - Simon and Christine G - Thursday, Aug 14, 2014 at 16:54

Thursday, Aug 14, 2014 at 16:54
We've arrived at the same conclusion. Thanks for your response.
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Follow Up By: Allan B (Member, SunCoast) - Thursday, Aug 14, 2014 at 18:55

Thursday, Aug 14, 2014 at 18:55
May the days be warm, and the nights be clear.
Have a great trip. It is my favourite place.

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Follow Up By: Allan B (Member, SunCoast) - Thursday, Aug 14, 2014 at 19:50

Thursday, Aug 14, 2014 at 19:50
Simon and Christine,

We have been so busy carrying on about the "one day trip" that no-one has really addressed the other part of your question...... the track conditions.

There is much that can be said about the Simpson but I'll limit it.

It is lots of dunes (1200 in a full crossing) and they can be steep and soft sand so require some skill to cross. However that skill can be attained by 'giving it a go'. On the faces of the dunes it can be scolloped by those with high tyre pressure and too much power. It can be uncomfortable and limit your approach but you just have to accept it. At the top it it usually soft sand and often with a sharp dog-leg so be on guard. Be sure you have an adequate flag and be wary.
The end of a hot day will see softer sand. It is always easier in the morning after a spot of dew.

1) At the start, drop your tyre pressures to at least 18psi. You can even go lower.
2) Do not charge at the dune like a mad bull. Approach in H2 or H3 at about 20kph and keep the power on. But immediately lift the foot if she starts to go down. Back up and try again a little differently.
3) If you get stuck part way over, try going down to L3 and limiting the power to just a crawl. It may get you over. But do not dig yourself in before getting out the shovel and backing up.
4) Drop off the power just as you crest the dune to simply roll over the top slowly which provides time to avoid a head-on or to miss the dog-leg. Be wary of wind-blows leaving deep holes at the edge of the track as you crest on the Western faces. They can roll you straight over.

A useful technique in our vehicle is for the passenger to lean close forward and call the dog-leg to the driver, shouting "LEFT" or "RIGHT" as the case may be whereupon the driver spins the steering wheel even before being able to see the dog-leg. This was adopted by us long ago after missing the dog-leg a couple of times and going off-track down the side of the dune. Besides, it gives the passenger something to do! lol.

There are other tactics to learn and you soon will, but the above should keep you out of trouble.


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Follow Up By: Member - Simon and Christine G - Thursday, Aug 14, 2014 at 20:43

Thursday, Aug 14, 2014 at 20:43
Hi Allan,

Thanks again for the lengthy response - we really appreciate the trouble you have gone to with these helpful tips.
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Follow Up By: Member - Laurie K (WA) - Thursday, Aug 21, 2014 at 14:19

Thursday, Aug 21, 2014 at 14:19
I agree with Allan. Low tyre pressures, and easy going. We watched people with supposedly 20 psi gunning it over the dunes and all they did was rip them up. We followed in 2H and used the same technique as Allen has described, and "easily" drove over all but one, which we reversed down and took the alternative run.
You need a permit to camp in Queensland and to actually enter the desert in South Oz, and the rangers were out in force. We drove on past the first big lake and into the NT, following the second lake down to Poeppel Corner, and then camped just back up the road in NT - no permit required, and avoided entering SA. It was Cup time when we were there in 2010, and the races were rained out that year, so we may have been lucky with firmish track conditions. Lake Naperanica was full at that time, and the 10km detour around the lake there an back took extra time. We took 2 days, and the desert was a garden compared to drier times.

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