East West crossing The Simpson end of May, 2016.

Submitted: Monday, Apr 04, 2016 at 22:58
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we planning on heading across The Simpson from Birdsville to Mt Dare.

Our original plans were to leave Birdsville at the end of May and we were going to travel on to Alice Springs while they swung south.

Plans have changed and that group are travelling across The Simpson West to East.
We're committed to travelling up the Coast to Grafton then swinging inland to Birdsville, via Yaraka.
We are going to Alice for a while but aren't too keen on crossing the Simpson solo.
I know it'll be kind of busy,if there's others travelling across there around then we'd be keen to tack on the back.
We're completely self sufficient, experienced and flexible (relatively speaking).

Let us know if that works in with anyone's plans, please.

Steve and Narelle.

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Reply By: Member - ross s - Tuesday, Apr 05, 2016 at 04:05

Tuesday, Apr 05, 2016 at 04:05
Hi, I know you said you aren't keen to go solo but you also said you are self sufficient and experienced. .... so just give it a go! We(2 adults, 2 kids) went in August 2014 solo. Just took it easy and had an epic time. We did qaa/french line East-West crossing and it looked a lot easier than the other way with the chopped up western approaches. I hope you get there. Cheers.
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Follow Up By: Member - eighty matey - Tuesday, Apr 05, 2016 at 06:46

Tuesday, Apr 05, 2016 at 06:46
G'day ross s,

we will head over there because we're doing some catch ups in Western Qld and then we're travelling over to Finke and Alice for a couple of weeks before we turn North. It makes sense to go via the Simpson.

I just thought we'd throw it out there and see if anyone on the forum is heading across around the same time. We have a week or two we can fit the trip in so we're not really tight for time too.

Thanks for the reply.

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Follow Up By: Les - PK Ranger - Tuesday, Apr 05, 2016 at 06:50

Tuesday, Apr 05, 2016 at 06:50
Agree, if going one of the main lines end May / early April, you won't really be alone for long.
UHF comms are great, call every 3 or 4 dunes your line, direction, and distance from last junction behind to let others know you're close.
Hopefully other vehicles will do the same or reply when they hear you (MANY don't).
For peace of mind / safety, hire a Sat phone at Mt Dare, drop off Birsdville, see the Mt Dare site for details, you can do it the other way if you change direction again.
Also agree East West seems a lot easier nowadays, going against the theory that the longer less steep western faces are easier to climb, but E-W isn't difficult with correct tyre pressures, and when you go down the undulating west slopes you are glad not to be going up them !!
Leaving the Simmo for the latter crossing does make it later in our time frame, which is good though, more vehicles around, less flies perhaps.
Do it solo if everything is right with your prep and confidence.
French Line is probably the most popular, but WAA is faster, less bad undulations as compared to French Line between Knolls and Rig going E-W (or vice versa), very slow that section.
We did a split group on July '15 crossing E-W and the WAA group beat us by hours from a mid Eranbena big group camp, to our next night on FL just before entering Witjira NP.
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Follow Up By: Bob Y. - Qld - Tuesday, Apr 05, 2016 at 07:47

Tuesday, Apr 05, 2016 at 07:47
Working on being around Birdsville at end of May, Steve, heading west.

Thinking of doing what Les mentioned, along WAA, rather than doing all French Line. Just need to be back in Winton by mid June.

Will send you a MM later today.

Les, Gunther(RIP) & I went over Rig Road last Oct, bit hot but we had the place to ourselves. Was a special trip. RR was in excellent condition.


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Follow Up By: LAZYLUX16 - Tuesday, Apr 05, 2016 at 10:40

Tuesday, Apr 05, 2016 at 10:40
Hi guys sounds like it gets busy in May ??
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Follow Up By: Les - PK Ranger - Tuesday, Apr 05, 2016 at 10:53

Tuesday, Apr 05, 2016 at 10:53
It can get busy May Lazylux16, suppose it's all about luck of the draw with numbers out there, but usually the best times for weather would be from May to Sept.
July last year was really slow on FL, so many on the track going both ways, there were real traffic jams at some dunes with people stuck, or just large groups, it can take a long while to all pass safely.
We couldn't work out Arthur from Martha on the radio, there were just too many groups / solo / pairs of travellers to really understand where they all where !!
The regular calls in the radio every 3 or 4 dunes is to ensure people know where you are, and you know roughly where they are (again, IF they reply !).
Most times you'll top a dune and see sand flags coming along the next corridor, but a few times the planets line up and you can meet at crests, and it's not a good place to meet another 2 - 3 tonne machine !!
I've called on the radio in the past, no response, then topped a dune with another 4WD coming up, they've seen my flag and stopped in time.
Asked them if they heard my calls on the radio, "yeah" . . . shake head.
Have seen people out there without sand flags OR radios, can be quite dangerous in those circumstances.
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Follow Up By: LAZYLUX16 - Tuesday, Apr 05, 2016 at 11:15

Tuesday, Apr 05, 2016 at 11:15
Wow sounds bit crazy.Maybe I give it a miss .I worked out there in 80's doing Seismic work so should thank my lucky stars saw it with no one around..Even snuck off to Poepples Corner while working.
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Follow Up By: Member - JOHN C16 - Tuesday, Apr 05, 2016 at 21:57

Tuesday, Apr 05, 2016 at 21:57
Avoid the Finke Desert Race 10-13 June 2016 unless you want to see just how crazy it can get. This is the biggest event in the NT and occurs every Queen's Birthday weekend. Large numbers of spectators cross the Simpson to get to or from the race. I was going the wrong way on the French Line just after the event finished in 2014. In one day I met 70 vehicles and 30 motorbikes going the other way. Vehicles and trailers were bogged everywhere and radio etiquette was as Les- PK Ranger described.
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Follow Up By: LAZYLUX16 - Tuesday, Apr 05, 2016 at 22:49

Tuesday, Apr 05, 2016 at 22:49
Interesting getting bogged .I worked in Simpson Desert and not recall anyone I worked with getting bogged and thats going both ways .I guy did tip a ute over on windrow going up a dune. Maybe tracks not cut up, back then and usually the approach is key to making it over.. We had basic Landcruiser utes most were petrol but had sand tyres on them made by Michelin. I have never done in my own 4x4 so if I attempt it and get bogged I can blame my Hilux without sand tyres ha ha ha !!Be sand in my face I guess!!
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Reply By: ExplorOz Team - Michelle - Tuesday, Apr 05, 2016 at 11:52

Tuesday, Apr 05, 2016 at 11:52
Go solo. Always so much easier/nicer going solo and you'll see why if you do it. If you're confident that you have the experience and self sufficiency then you are in the ideal situation. The quiet around a desert campfire is magic as are the stars when you don't have lights on at camp. Go walking at night with your spotlight and you might spot the nocturnal marsupials that the desert is renowned for (but rarely seen by the groups of travellers). Travel at your own pace, stop when you want, stay as long as you want, explore without constraint. Shall I go on?

Best wishes for a safe journey.
Michelle Martin
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Follow Up By: Baz - The Landy - Thursday, Apr 07, 2016 at 08:49

Thursday, Apr 07, 2016 at 08:49
Hi Michelle

Been a long time since I was in the Simpson, did it solo with TomO when he was in nappies, but that aside...

After reading what you just penned it made me want to pack up "The Landy" straight away and head-off...you or so right in your description!

And I endorse the sentiment, go solo if you are well prepared and confident.

Cheers, Baz
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Reply By: Member - mark D18 - Tuesday, Apr 05, 2016 at 16:05

Tuesday, Apr 05, 2016 at 16:05
I did the crossing west to east in May solo last year.
I took 3 days and I only saw 3 other 4x4 s heading West.
The year before in late April we would have seen no more than 10 vehicles.
If its not School holidays you wont have a problem with traffic.
Its more difficult west to east , but easily doable with the correct tyre pressures.

Enjoy the trip the nights out there are amazing

AnswerID: 598242

Reply By: LAZYLUX16 - Tuesday, Apr 05, 2016 at 21:07

Tuesday, Apr 05, 2016 at 21:07
Hi Steve I am thinking maybe do it as I am going upto Alice also.I am from Adelaide married and 1 well behaved son (most the time) ,If you want send me some info bout you and Narelle..stevefisi@yahoo.com.au .then I can write back more about us if you are interested cheers
AnswerID: 598247

Reply By: CSeaJay - Wednesday, Apr 06, 2016 at 13:04

Wednesday, Apr 06, 2016 at 13:04
Another vote for Solo.
As you travel, within the first half day (or even in Bridsville before you set off) you will come across another like minded traveller, and you just look out for one another.
We did that, with another vehicle and we agreed to keep an eye out, we leap frogged each other over tea and lunch stops, so we did not travel together as in close camping or even convoy driving, but if one of us would have missed a pre agreed spot then we would have been in close proximity to one another to render assistance.
We even waited for them at a particular steep dune where the group before us carved it up, and had to gently pull them over the crest after they made it 95% of the way up.

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Follow Up By: Les - PK Ranger - Wednesday, Apr 06, 2016 at 13:31

Wednesday, Apr 06, 2016 at 13:31
Certainly see if you can tag or leapfrog another 4WD or two in BV or Dalhousie etc, but in reality, unless both parties had a sat phone and each others numbers, or HF radio, it would be very hit and miss as to being able to contact each other over UHF comms if separating.
If one party is in a corridor, another vehicle 3 or 4 dunes away sometimes can't be contacted.
Atop dune peaks provides better range, but again if the other vehicle is in a dip stopped having lunch, it's uncertain to be able to contact.

If on the main lines, moreso French Line, followed by WAA, lastly Rig Rd for traffic volume, someone is likely to comes along in the busier months soon enough, but you should really be prepared with better comms and self recovery if going solo.

If worried and going between mid May to mid Sept, I would be taking a Sat phone anyway (hire from either end, return other side).
Outside those dates it will probably get very much quieter with traffic.
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Follow Up By: Allan B (Member, SunCoast) - Wednesday, Apr 06, 2016 at 18:03

Wednesday, Apr 06, 2016 at 18:03
Hi Les,

Earlier in this Thread you said... "UHF comms are great, call every 3 or 4 dunes..." etc.
And now you say.... "if the other vehicle is in a dip....it's uncertain to be able to contact."

Now honest, I'm not trying to 'tug your chain' but you are making the point that I often raise that it is really a waste of time to use UHF calls in the Simpson (and possibly elsewhere) to provide any real degree of safety against dune-top collision. There are so many reasons why it is useless and I'll list them if challenged. Because of this it is imperative to both fly an effective (and some are not) dune flag and to drive skilfully over dunes.

I have done many crossings and early-on tried UHF calling but I cannot recall ever getting a response, so I gave up the practice. To recommend it to novices may give them some feeling of security when the reality is that an oncoming vehicle may well be hurtling unannounced up the other side of the next dune.


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Follow Up By: Les - PK Ranger - Wednesday, Apr 06, 2016 at 18:17

Wednesday, Apr 06, 2016 at 18:17
Allan, what I'm saying (and I'm sure people would recognise the difference) about travelling the same way leapfrogging etc, getting separated by some distance (not many travel similar speeds in my experience), THAT is the time when dips can be an issue . . . if travelling the same direction, and vehicles are in dips, it is likely be some time before one tops out and maybe picks up a transmission from some km away.

If you call every few dunes and there are vehicles approaching from the other direction, you will eventually get the right timing for contact.
We get LOADS of contacts doing this, and location feedback when there are others out there, and they in general can relay info about where they are back to us too, so we can have an idea of where we are in relation to each other.

Combined with a flag of correct specs, radio calls / responses make the journey a lot safer.
It is rare you don't get oncoming single vehicles or groups that you can't reach on UHF, even if it is getting really close.
A strong reply usually tells you they are very close, probably within a dune or two, and you slow up, be more alert at upcoming dunes.

Then there are the ones that don't reply at all, even though they hear you !!!
Now that is incredibly bad practice, maybe they are radio shy ?
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Follow Up By: Allan B (Member, SunCoast) - Wednesday, Apr 06, 2016 at 18:38

Wednesday, Apr 06, 2016 at 18:38
Yes Les, I understood that you were referring to the "leapfroggers" but surely the same applies to oncoming vehicles? And I do recognise the significance of signal strength.

It is strange that you "get LOADS of contacts" when I never get a result. Must be my voice tone.... but then Roz never has either!

But even if you do get a response, how in the world can you identify where you are on the crossing? The dunes aren't numbered! Any attempt to use coordinates or distances from some landmark would be futile.

On last year's trek on the Anne Beadell a member of our party carried out UHF calling and eventually got a response from an oncoming vehicle nominating their distance from a marked landmark which put them some 20k away from us. Within 30 seconds they appeared on the track ahead! C'mon!!!
Anyway, I've had my whinge. lol


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Follow Up By: Les - PK Ranger - Wednesday, Apr 06, 2016 at 20:24

Wednesday, Apr 06, 2016 at 20:24
Hi again Allan, yes it's hard to picture the difference, but basically I figure the averages to be on top a dune and contact with an oncoming group is likely to be higher for some reason.

It's really easy letting people know where you are, and in the main I have found most people coming the other way know this process too.

Before my Hema on the iPad, I would use the maps and odo on the vehicle . . . say we are on FL and pass Knolls Tk.
I hit the odo reset, and every now and then on top a dune call "4 vehicles heading west on French Line, 15km west of Knolls Tk".
I have found some people use the next junction they are coming to as a km from reference, but using the one behind you, people coming towards you seem to relate to that distance more, ie they know what's coming up for them.

With the Hema, I just waypoint the junction and get the distance always changing to current km from that position.

Yeah, some people how no *n idea where the hell they are on the track, that can be an issue, and then there are those that seem to ignore others position calls.

Call or don't call, but if someone radios heading the other way, at least let them know you are coming. From somewhere on the track the other way.
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Follow Up By: Member - ross s - Thursday, Apr 07, 2016 at 06:22

Thursday, Apr 07, 2016 at 06:22
We found that there was alot of response even making a basic call on the uhf, like " solo troopy west bound french line". Some people would ask for more detail, others would reply similarly. Just receiving a response usually meant you would be within 5-10 min of another group.We would repeat every 20-30min or if we spotted a far off group from atop a higher dune that we hadn't heard a call from. There was generally more traffic in the mornings.
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Follow Up By: Baz - The Landy - Thursday, Apr 07, 2016 at 08:57

Thursday, Apr 07, 2016 at 08:57
I must say that I agree with the sentiment of UHF communications in areas like the Simpson.

The problem is that most people are not able to provide a reference point of where they are that makes it useful to decide whether you are in proximity or not.

This could be overcome by place a reference marker on the start of the tracks at either side of the Simpson and this could be referenced by a distance to/from, but it would work for some, but not all.

So I find that make a call that best references where you are, but above all else, and I’m sure we’ll all agree, look out the windscreen and expect someone on the other side of every dune.

Cheers, Baz – The Landy

Ps: All this talk about mid-year travel is causing itchy feet for me!
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Follow Up By: Member - JOHN C16 - Thursday, Apr 07, 2016 at 11:43

Thursday, Apr 07, 2016 at 11:43
I have driven over 12,000 dunes- Simpson x8, CSR x4, Googs x2.

In my experience using the UHF radio is the most effective way of avoiding a head on collision on the crest of a dune.

Knowing where you are certainly helps. On the CSR most people know where they are relative to the wells and all the wells are numbered. In the Simpson there is a reference system but nobody uses it. There are white posts with red numbers every 5km giving the distance from Dalhousie Springs. The details are in the book that comes with the Desert Parks Pass.

In practice I use the same method as Les. The iPad tells me the distance to significant points ahead and a trip meter tells me the distance from significant points behind.
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Reply By: Member - Young Nomads - Wednesday, Apr 06, 2016 at 20:27

Wednesday, Apr 06, 2016 at 20:27
We travel solo 99% of the time...
You'll be fine...neither east nor west travel is any easier than the other..
If you want company..you will find MANY others on the track!
AnswerID: 598277

Reply By: Member - mark mcpaul - Saturday, Apr 09, 2016 at 17:34

Saturday, Apr 09, 2016 at 17:34
my son and I did the French line solo last july and was easier than I anticipated.if your self sufficient and experienced 4x4 tourer you will b fine. my uhf was all I needed . some dunes are big and very loose but didn't get stuck. took 3 days Birdsville to mt dare taking it quite easy. plenty of traffic if something happens so I say give it a go solo. cheers
AnswerID: 598411

Follow Up By: Member - eighty matey - Sunday, Apr 10, 2016 at 09:31

Sunday, Apr 10, 2016 at 09:31
G'day mark mcpaul,

thanks for your reply.

We have been in contact with Bob Y from the forum.
He is a planning a trip across to Mt Dare with his wife at the end of May.
We are going to meet them at Birdsville and travel over there with them.
We leave here in three weeks for a big drive until the end of the year, so it's getting a bit hectic and exciting now.
I think we just planned a trip out to Uluru from Finke this morning.

Thanks again.

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