Word of Advice for Prospective Simpson Travellers

Submitted: Friday, Apr 15, 2016 at 07:46
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A word of advice for those, like us, travelling the Simpson soon:

A 4WD had to turn back somewhere near the Salt Lake that the Rig and Knolls are close to (exact location is unknown at this stage) due to flooding - according to Birdsville Info yesterday (14/04)

The salt lake comes and goes with rains up north out of blue skies.

I contacted Graham at Mt Dare who was not aware of the incident and said that he had no recent rain. Three vehicles had come through the French Line with no problems. He was to follow up with Birdsville.

For the intrepid, best check both ends of the track before heading off and clearly, when things dry off, use the salt lake bypasses if there is any doubt.

Cheers

dad



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Reply By: Les - PK Ranger - Friday, Apr 15, 2016 at 08:45

Friday, Apr 15, 2016 at 08:45
Hmm, I was just looking at the Mt D website and it does say the salt lakes are dry at the moment.
It's possible there's still some wet areas, not sure if the rains (sprinkles or nothing out there ?) through the past month or so did have any impact on that area.
Also possible someone went off a regular tyre rut route and out further on a pan, where in might be damper under the crust.
I've heard the big pan at end of WAA adjacent Knolls is pretty bad when damp, but haven't seen it anything but dry myself.
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Follow Up By: dad1340 - Friday, Apr 15, 2016 at 08:55

Friday, Apr 15, 2016 at 08:55
To be more specific Les, the guy had to turn back due to water across the track as I was advised by Birdsville Information Centre. No sprinkles.

If your planning a crossing soon, ring Birdsville and Mt Dare and reply on results here. Facts are sketchy at the moment.

Cheers

dad
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Follow Up By: Les - PK Ranger - Friday, Apr 15, 2016 at 09:07

Friday, Apr 15, 2016 at 09:07
"as I was advised by Birdsville Information Centre. No sprinkles."

No sprinkles = no rain, or heavier rain ???

BOM charts show past month BV has received up to 50mm, Knolls area up to 25mm.
Past week nil rain.
Last rain around Knolls 2nd, 3rd, 4th April ~ 1mm each day.

Can take some time to dry out of course on those pans.

Yes, more info would be good for travellers if people can garner more from wherever.

It'll be nice and green out there looking at falls received since Dec, although Feb was pretty dry.
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Follow Up By: Member - JOHN C16 - Friday, Apr 15, 2016 at 12:17

Friday, Apr 15, 2016 at 12:17
The likely culprit is the salt lake at the Eastern end of the WAA line just before it joins the Knolls track.

I almost got bogged travelling East across it in May last year. The crossing is about 2km. The first 1,500 metres was firm and white then about 500 metres from the Eastern shore it turned into a big black bog.

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Reply By: cookie1 - Friday, Apr 15, 2016 at 15:14

Friday, Apr 15, 2016 at 15:14
There are quite a number of lakes around that area and caution always need to be exercised when travelling around them. Can't recall how many times I have personally seen many tracks where they have not directly followed the main track, possibly as it had water over it therefore one doesn't know where the track is exactly.

I recall Dave Cox always used to remind people to stay on the tracks as a consequence

I reckon the 4wd that turned around did exactly the right thing and not chanced it

cheers
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Follow Up By: dad1340 - Friday, Apr 15, 2016 at 16:50

Friday, Apr 15, 2016 at 16:50
Thanks for the advice Cookie, it's our first time so I'm all ears.

Mate a quick question, our Desert Maps in the Pass Folder show most lakes having bypasses around them. Breaking through the salt doesn't do much for me so are these bypasses ok to use if necessary?

Cheers

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Follow Up By: Ozhumvee - Saturday, Apr 16, 2016 at 07:37

Saturday, Apr 16, 2016 at 07:37
Always take the bypass if in doubt, yes they will add distance to your trip but that is always preferable to a debogging.
We've been crossing the Simpson every which way since the early 80's when the rig road was still passable by semi's and cars and there is no way we would ever go near a damp salt lake. In those days the exploration crews were still very active.
Back on one of our early trips we came across a huge articulated loader with 2m diameter wheels bogged to the top of them in the middle of a small salt lake about a half a k across.
There was a trayback cruiser stopped on the eastern edge and the two blokes were camped up. They had been there for a week removing the entire transmission from the machine out in the middle as it had broken when the operator attempted to drive it out. To get it out they had to manually dig the mud and salt from around the machine and shore up the hole with planks so they could work underneath the machine, they then slid the transmission sideways from under the machine so a chopper could pick it up and take it to the edge of the lake and put it on the back of the Toyota.
They were heading out to Mt Isa early the following morning to get the tranny fixed and were hoping the weather held off long enough to get the tranny back in the machine and get it out of the bog.
The prospect of the hole they had dug being full of water when they returned was one they weren't looking forward to. They reckoned if that was the case the machine could remain there forever.
There was no NP in those days and environmental damage was not really thought about either.
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Follow Up By: Sigmund - Saturday, Apr 16, 2016 at 09:54

Saturday, Apr 16, 2016 at 09:54
A mate and his friends did the crossing way back when and the claypans were soft. They went across each one going wide of the worst bogs and spent a lot of time digging out and snatching each other. So if that's what you're up for be sure to have extra fuel and provisions. And changes of clothes.
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Follow Up By: dad1340 - Saturday, Apr 16, 2016 at 09:58

Saturday, Apr 16, 2016 at 09:58
Great story Ozhumvee, love stories from the tried and true.

I've been in two memorable situations myself (forgot the rest) but nothing like the bogged articulated vehicle with 2m diameter wheels !!!

You learn before doing anything to sit down, grab a beer (1) consider the options and the bigger picture, innovate, overcome,survive and never give up (all with a keen sense of humour) These guys had plenty.

After getting the mandatory local knowledge will play it by ear mate, we have the time, water and fuel etc., to take it easy. Easier on us and easier on the track.

Thanks mate

Cheers

dad
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Follow Up By: cookie1 - Saturday, Apr 16, 2016 at 10:05

Saturday, Apr 16, 2016 at 10:05
There are bypasses at the Dalhousie end but I don't recall there being any in the area in question and those salt pans go for some distance North & South.

The typical advice is to stay on the main track as it is heavily compacted and gives you the best chance of getting through - unless of course it is under water, then you can't see where the main track is, so I personally wouldn't chance it some of the bog holes that I have seen are pretty deep and I can only imagine the effort to get out.

I would invest in a set of Maxtrax as if you do get stuck even with deflated tyres then a set of these may be your only solution in the salty mud.

cheers
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Follow Up By: Sigmund - Saturday, Apr 16, 2016 at 10:29

Saturday, Apr 16, 2016 at 10:29
Yep. Invest in a mate too if you have any doubts. If he's not needed in the mud he can always do the washing up.
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