Simpson desert crossing

Submitted: Tuesday, Apr 18, 2017 at 11:51
ThreadID: 134676 Views:4109 Replies:5 FollowUps:14
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G'Day all : preparing for a solo simpson crossing and was looking for
some good Blogs or links for preparation on the trip . I.E : fuel, trip time,what to expect / conditions etc .
This would be post Finke desert race middle week in June .
Cheers Nick b

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Reply By: Les - PK Ranger - Tuesday, Apr 18, 2017 at 13:40

Tuesday, Apr 18, 2017 at 13:40
Hi Nick, expect you've checked out 4x4 Earth, search Simpson desert there ?
Heaps of trip reports, there with loads of fuel etc info.
I've posted up reports for most of my 5 various crossings.

Assuming this is your first crossing.

We usually aim for 4-1/2 days for the SA crossings, provides a fairly relaxed pace, early-ish camps, but not too long so you need more food / water, more weight.

Are you going west to east ?
This is probably somewhat easier in theory with the less steep western sides of the dunes . . . but I find the more important part of this is you start heavy on the easier western side of the desert, and by the time you get to largest dunes on QAA line, you have depleted a lot of fuel, water, food, beer etc, and much reduced weight makes the dunes over that side less stressful on your vehicle.

Anyway, the V8 petrol Landcruiser is still relevant ?
If so, you will likely use around 25lt / 100km, around 550km shortest distance Mt Dare to Birdsville (traditional first route via French Line most direct way).
So you should use around 140lt, but take a good 200lt to cover any unforeseen detours if necessary, also hold ups at dunes if it is busy out there (people getting stuck etc).

Water, we (2 adults) normally go with 58lt Dolium tank full, and also take a few 10lt casks, which we use to top off our daily 600ml drinking bottles.
I usually get home after camping a few days here and there on the way back to ADL with 30lt, but like fuelk better to err on the side of caution.

About 18 to 20 psi is a good place to start with tyre pressures (west side) and when / if you need lower pressures on the eastern dunes, you can drop to 14 or whatever . . . many drop to 8 or even 6 trying various runs up Big Red.
Much easier / safer dropping to lower pressures like this with less weight overall.

The traffic after Finke races will be probably a little busier than normal as people take advantage of a crossing while up there, many before and after the race weekend.

Mid year is a good time in general out there, less risk of rain, less flies, less heat.
Anything can happen though with weather, so just keep a close eye on weather and SA DOT outback road conditions in the lead up, and if taking time off work etc, have a back up plan if it looks too wet / hot, etc.

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Follow Up By: vk1dx - Tuesday, Apr 18, 2017 at 14:24

Tuesday, Apr 18, 2017 at 14:24
Ditto what Les said.

Same here for both the WAA and Madigan routes. Haven't been on the Ferench line as we avoid crowds. All solo and only broke a shockie on the Madigan.

The mounting bolts on the shock absorber were tightened way, way too bloody much with those damned rattle guns. The extremely tight bolts didn't allow the shock absorber bolt to rotate inside the flixible mount (rubber etc). This meant the shaft actually bent, and with the added heat of the shockie itself, failed through metal fatigue right where the top of the shaft goes into the top mount of the shockie.

Water and fuel about the same as Les. Can't hurt to have too much.


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Follow Up By: Bob Y. - Qld - Tuesday, Apr 18, 2017 at 20:04

Tuesday, Apr 18, 2017 at 20:04
Back in Nov, 2015, Les, Gunther(RIP) & I took 2 days to go from Warburton Crossing, along the Rig Road to 3 o'clock Creek, just west of Dalhousie Springs. We had 7.30am starts, and were pulled up by about 4-5pm. Had plenty of stops, so we weren't hurrying. The Rig Road had been graded earlier that year, as far as Poolowanna 2 oil well, so that made travel much easier. Still plenty of blows over the crests of most dunes though.

Last June, in 3 vehicles, we took 6 days from Birdsville to Mt Dare. Had slow starts most mornings, did a lot of stopping, talking & checking old oil well sites, with night camps set up by 4.30pm. We did a mix of tracks, QAA Line, then French Line to Knoll's Track turn off, down past the Knoll's, to WAA Line where we were blocked by a full lake across our planned route. Retreated back down to Rig Road, then continued onto Lone Gum for a look and back up Erabena Line to WAA, where we did the western section of this track.

Back onto the Rig, up to the French Line & through to Dalhousie(Mosquito Jumction), before our final day to Mt Dare. Think I'd planned for about 3-4 days to do this, but who cares, we were on holidays! :-)


Seen it all, Done it all.
Can't remember most of it.

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Follow Up By: Les - PK Ranger - Tuesday, Apr 18, 2017 at 20:36

Tuesday, Apr 18, 2017 at 20:36
Yeah Bob, it was fairly warm wasn't it, and I guess not a good time to hang around too long in there . . . and just the 2 vehicles makes for good time.
But like you say it wasn't full on really long days and not enjoying it, the early sarts were habits we 3 all shared, and was just right for that run.
That would be about the fastest route across you could do.

I agree Dalhousie isn't a favourite camping place.
Besides mossies galore most times from dusk to sun up, no social campfires kind of dampens the group aspects in my view (sitting in that smoke would actually be a blessing too !!).
Great place for a swim though, anytime passing through in daylight hours . . . I'd hate to try and run the mossie gauntlet to have a swim after dusk, like many younger visitors would !!
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Follow Up By: Member - nick b - Wednesday, Apr 19, 2017 at 08:12

Wednesday, Apr 19, 2017 at 08:12
PK ranger Les : we will be driving the PK ranger super cab steel tray top & roof top tent .
I'm thinking of a 120 litre long range fuel tank & std tank .
traveling the easy short way west to east .keeping weight to a minimum ,
any suggestion min spares parts to take , 2 spare tyres & repair kit .

Also thanking other for some great replies
Cheers Nick b

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Follow Up By: Les - PK Ranger - Wednesday, Apr 19, 2017 at 10:01

Wednesday, Apr 19, 2017 at 10:01
Hi Nick, so you have 120lt lrt AND a std (80lt?) tank ??
If so, that is more than heaps, will probably get you almost back down to cheap fuel down south a fair way.
I would consider going W to E you could start with 200lt ok, as you will have used almost half of it by Peoppel (before the larger dunes of QAA), and likely have about 100lt left at BV, OR if you really want to keep the weight down, just take say 160lt and top off whatever is needed at Birdsville to get you to around Lyndhurst (cheaper fuel) or even top off at Mungerannie or Marree along the way.
All dependent on the route taken home.

Keeping weight to a minimum is important, as many people take a lot of gear, and much of it never used, it all makes a difference.

I take 2 spares, 1 tube, and 2 tyre kits with plenty of plugs.
Never had an issue with tyres on all the standard line crossings, just keep a good lookout for possible stakes when going off the main lines to have lunch or make camp.

June 1st we depart Old Andado, station tracks to Colson, Geo Hill, Geo Centre, fuel dumps, off track direct as possible to Beachcomber on Hay River Track, Poeppel, then QAA to BV.
We might even be around BV at the same time as you !!
We should be there around June 9th / 10th, aiming to get back to ADL 11th if possible.
Finke races are on 10th - 12th inclusive though I think, so we might be a couple of days ahead of you.
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Follow Up By: Les - PK Ranger - Wednesday, Apr 19, 2017 at 10:02

Wednesday, Apr 19, 2017 at 10:02
Oh, meant to say, the only things you want to take with you and not need are :

Extra fuel / water, a couple of days food rations
Spare tyres / repair kit
First aid
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Follow Up By: Member - nick b - Wednesday, Apr 19, 2017 at 10:37

Wednesday, Apr 19, 2017 at 10:37
Also meant to ask what you do in regards to communication
Cheers Nick b

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Follow Up By: Les - PK Ranger - Wednesday, Apr 19, 2017 at 10:57

Wednesday, Apr 19, 2017 at 10:57
We always have the KTI PLB in the glovebox, of course used only for a total disaster type of situation !!

Sat phone is always a good idea for 'insurance' if anything bad happens that requires less urgent comms to the outside world.
If you don't own one and can't borrow one, you can hire them ex Mt Dare, drop off Birdsville Tourist Info Centre other side (or vice versa).
Info here . . . Mt Dare sat phone hire

The first listing there for Hires Rates:
1 – 7 days
Minimum hire period is 4 days $160.00
Additional days @ $40.00 per day

So hire for 5 days = $200.

UHF is a must, which I'm sure you have.
You should listen in on ch 10, if you have a hand held, have it scanning for groups on other channels.
Chatter indicates another party or group is usually getting very near.

Usually you get to know anyone travelling same way daily near you (which you will likely have after Finke races), but if unsure just give a call on a dune top every now and then, say your group size (solo vehicle), travel direction, and position in relation to a point on the line.
Hopefully the other party knows their position and can advise.

If using mapping software, I drop a waypoint on an upcoming point, say a track junction, and can monitor distance to this . . . it's also not a bad idea to do this from previous junction, as some drivers monitor either to keep track of where they are.

If using the Desert Parks Pass maps, when you pass a junction, zero your odo, and then you can call a reasonably accurate position, eg. solo vehicle, travelling east, x km east of Erabena Tk, that sort of thing.

Some vehicles don't have a clue where they are, at least they should be able to state travelling west or east etc . . . some don't even carry a radio (the Britz brigade are infamous for this), so always be wary.

Even though sand flags are mandatory now, those same hire vehicles often don't carry or have a sand flag up either !!
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Follow Up By: Member - nick b - Wednesday, Apr 19, 2017 at 18:35

Wednesday, Apr 19, 2017 at 18:35
Les :
lost this reply some how but here it is again
100 to 120 lt long range tank & std 80 litre , the long range tank is yet
to be built . going east . west .
what fuel consumption do you work on for heavy going trips
Cheers Nick b

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Follow Up By: Les - PK Ranger - Wednesday, Apr 19, 2017 at 19:02

Wednesday, Apr 19, 2017 at 19:02
Anything around the 180lt mark would be ample / safe.
On a French Line crossing East - West, I used 112lt in the Ranger, BV to Mt Dare.

You are going East - West ??
Your OP said you are doing the crossing post (after) Finke races, so assumed you are going West - East.

If going East - West, just take it easy as you have the largest dunes and worst corros / undulations over that side, after around Erabena Tk French Line gets a little better all round as you go West.

We did Approdinna Attora Knolls and went half way down Erabena to camp with other group going WAA Line . . .with those detours to sights and camps etc, I would think about 700km all up, so used around 16lt/100km.
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Follow Up By: Member - nick b - Wednesday, Apr 19, 2017 at 19:43

Wednesday, Apr 19, 2017 at 19:43
Les : sorry from west to East wasn't thinking .
thanks for your replies
Cheers Nick b

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Reply By: wendys - Tuesday, Apr 18, 2017 at 19:28

Tuesday, Apr 18, 2017 at 19:28
We took 5 nights, from Mt Dare- wanted to enjoy the desert and look around, and not be pushed by time contraints. Camps were: Dalhousie Springs; Purni Bore;
beside the Rig Rd along W-E section; about 20kms south of Knolls; about halfway between Poeppel Corner and Big Red. Worked well for us.
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Reply By: Sigmund - Thursday, Apr 20, 2017 at 09:37

Thursday, Apr 20, 2017 at 09:37
Lots of good advice here.

Also take a look at the Mt Dare website:
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Reply By: Member - ross s - Tuesday, Apr 25, 2017 at 23:45

Tuesday, Apr 25, 2017 at 23:45
Hi Nick, We had a solo Simpson trip a couple of years ago in early August. After reading various track reports leading up to going I decided an east/west would be better going. After talking to a variety of others coming from the west and actually driving down the western faces it was concluded we had alot easier run. Yes the eastern sides are steeper but also smoother. In most cases the western sides were chopped up. We just rolled down the rutted out sides where others were having to bounce their way up. Either way its an awesome trip. Enjoy.
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Follow Up By: Les - PK Ranger - Wednesday, Apr 26, 2017 at 09:01

Wednesday, Apr 26, 2017 at 09:01
I agree ross s, the longer western run ups are undulating as heck, and I often say that any advantage of less angled dunes that side are negated by these, you just can't get decent momentum going with the undulation from so many ruts.

The only thing about going east - west is you are doing the biggest hardest dunes overall with full fuel / water / food / beer on board, something that adds quite high stresses to many vehicles, as most start a crossing fairly close or over GVM.

You're right, anything Simpson is awesome to do, whether first or tenth crossing.
It is addictive being out there, be warned.
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Reply By: Member - Boobook - Wednesday, Apr 26, 2017 at 07:08

Wednesday, Apr 26, 2017 at 07:08
Some good advice here.

My additional advice is to plan for 2 days of travel then 1 day of rest , or even more rest days when in the Simpson. So at least every 3rd day you camp 2 nights and don't move. That really allows you to relax and enjoy some nicer spots, have time to go over the car and tidy up a little and a buffer in case something goes wrong.

I tend to plan the days in the deserts like this move, move, Relax, move, move, Relax, Relax, move, move, Relax, move, move.... It never works out like that in practice but the pace is nearly right. Getting there and back is a different story of course.

It's too easy to plan insufficient time on tracks like that. Every time I do the simpson or similar tracks, I say to myself " Next time I'll plan few more rest days"

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Follow Up By: Les - PK Ranger - Wednesday, Apr 26, 2017 at 09:12

Wednesday, Apr 26, 2017 at 09:12
Suppose you have to consider the weather etc in there Tony.

If it's hot, it is not fun sitting around camp for a day (then again I have never done that out there, I'd get too bored, love my driving !!).
Also, if you had say 2 rest days in there, you'd need 2 more days food / water / beer x # of people, it adds to starting weight and vehicle stresses a lot more, room in fridge, etc.

The Simpson is something I like to do by getting up (usually dawn-ish), steady morning routine, starts warming up, pack up camp and depart before it's very warm. usually by 0900 / 0930 or so.
Steady pace driving, detour to any places of interest, stop regularly for sights or breaks, nice 20min to hour lunch depending on temps, start looking for suitable camp about 1500, and establish camp by around 1600 / 1630 when temps / suns infra red ease off a bit.

Now if this was a CSR trip, yeah, I'd say do that, some of those wells seem to have larger vegetation and nicer camp set ups for rest days.

I do like having leisurely trips up and back, camping at some nice places, Farina, Coward / Beresford, Eringa, Mungerannie, Farina again :), Parachilna Gorge.
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Follow Up By: Member - nick b - Thursday, Apr 27, 2017 at 11:39

Thursday, Apr 27, 2017 at 11:39
couldn't see my self stopping in one place for too long but neither wud
i be rushing & driving all day , I like stopping regularly & having a look at things .
thanks for your reply's
Cheers Nick b

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