Simpson Desert - can we do it alone

Submitted: Thursday, Aug 01, 2002 at 00:00
ThreadID: 1624 Views:3260 Replies:7 FollowUps:4
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We are hoping to travel the Simpson desert in mid/late October (just after the optimal time I know). Can anyone advise as to whether we would be silly to do this track on our own? We have a 2001 3 litre turbo diesel hilux (thus hope minimal breakdowns), have done a 4wd course and some basic 4wding. We intend to take recovery gear (hand winch, not electric and other gear) and a UHF radio (still deciding about a HF radio). We are aware that there are easier tracks to take in the desert and these are the ones we intend to take. We have been advised by some that there is no reason we couldn't do it and others say its not a great idea? Any advice would be much appreciated
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Reply By: Steve - Thursday, Aug 01, 2002 at 00:00

Thursday, Aug 01, 2002 at 00:00
Michelle: no reason why you couldn't do this on your own.. Careful preparation with water of course and a tyre compressor so as you drive over with pressures around 20 psi maximum and you should have little trouble IMHO.. I was told by 'the boss' to get an HF, or I was on my own, and I must say that I would not travel anywhere in the outback again without this is invaluable to be able to listen to and communicate with VHS 737 each night and have weather reports which relate to your area, saves you driving into trouble if you know bad weather ahead ! The trip is slow 15-20kms an hour in some places, so take your time and don't push the truck...Have fun, its an amazing place !
AnswerID: 5322

Reply By: Savvas - Thursday, Aug 01, 2002 at 00:00

Thursday, Aug 01, 2002 at 00:00
Hi Michelle, I have a friend who did this with his family last year in May in an 80 series diesel Cruiser. He had no training, no recovery gear and no communication gear (which scares thebleepout of me). But he also had no problems. He said that there was enough traffic there that they wouldn't be alone for more than half a day in case of an emergency. I'm not saying that you should do what this guy did, because I certainly wouldn't go in unprepared like this. However, with the right gear and preparation, you should have an enjoyable time with peace of mind as well. For me, I think comms gear is of paramount importance if travelling alone. A HF radio, or satphone can be rented if you don't want to buy one. I would also take an EPIRB beacon along as a backup. They are relatively cheap to buy. Unlike my friend, I think half a day is far too long to wait in case of serious trouble.
AnswerID: 5326

Reply By: Graham - Thursday, Aug 01, 2002 at 00:00

Thursday, Aug 01, 2002 at 00:00
Many do it alone .......but you should be properly prepared and sounds like your on the right track......If you want comms with the outside then hire a satalite phone from the Birdsville Police Station and also take an EPIRB

cya Graham
AnswerID: 5332

Reply By: Greg - Thursday, Aug 01, 2002 at 00:00

Thursday, Aug 01, 2002 at 00:00
Have just retuned from a single vehicle trip across the Simpson. Traveled 807km from Oodnadatta to Birdsville via a variety of tracks in a 2.4lt turbo diesel Surf, using 116 litres of fuel. We took the general spares (hoses,belts etc) + 2 spare tyres (of course had no punctures) and UHF. Always seems to be plenty of traffic on the French Line less on some other areas. We went for most of one day without seeing another vehicle.
You should have no trouble, assuming you have first aid knowledge, a good first aid kit and take plenty of water (we took 60 litres for 2 people). Biggest danger would be oncoming vehicles over dunes, so use the UHF (channel 10) and fly a high sand flag. Remember that if it rains you could be stuck in for a little while so take some extra food etc
Good luck!
AnswerID: 5341

Follow Up By: Bill - Thursday, Aug 01, 2002 at 00:00

Thursday, Aug 01, 2002 at 00:00
Greg, I'm interested to hear your advice to use channel 10. I have recently bought a UHF. Travelled the Simpson this time last year without it and I bought it as I felt that using the scan function would be the way to go next time .... or is it "common knowledge" to use 10 in the desert? Appreciate any info re accepted channels in other areas too if you know of any.
FollowupID: 2301

Follow Up By: Greg - Friday, Aug 02, 2002 at 00:00

Friday, Aug 02, 2002 at 00:00
Hi Bill

Scan is still the way to go to pick up all traffic but the accepted channel for use in the desert is UHF 10. Lead vehicles can then transmit on 10 and check to see if others are coming, as not all have scan function.
As for ather channels, truckies generally use 40 and there are a range of repeaters available in lots of areas.
Other radio buffs will have more info re call channels etc.


FollowupID: 2311

Follow Up By: Bill - Sunday, Aug 11, 2002 at 00:00

Sunday, Aug 11, 2002 at 00:00
Thanks Greg ... yes I know about 40 for highways and using repeaters. I was just interested in why you mentioned 10 for the desert. Next trip there I'll set 10 as the priority channel and scan all others. Thanks again!
FollowupID: 2416

Reply By: michelle - Friday, Aug 02, 2002 at 00:00

Friday, Aug 02, 2002 at 00:00
Thanks very much guys. We will be as prepared as we possibly can and already have an EPIRB. Would love to buy a HF radio because we intend to do the whole of Oz over a couple of years but are just finding it hard to find the cash at present dut to all of our other necessary preparations. Can anyone suggest a good place or way to find a cheaper second hand HF - or is it too risky to buy second hand?
AnswerID: 5350

Follow Up By: John - Friday, Aug 02, 2002 at 00:00

Friday, Aug 02, 2002 at 00:00
Michelle, the best reply and advice to you was from Steve. We just came back from a 14000 km trip and a small part was the Simpson desert which is really nothing to worry about. Steve has some excellent/accurate advices. Tyres deflated to 20 PSi, average speed 10/20 km/Hr.Watch the top of dunes specially during the day (high-red flad). At night it is OK but watch the big spinifex full of sand.( they'll stop you at night when coming out of the top of the dune). Make sure if you have an HF you know how to use. I have seen so many 4WD on the track with HF they never used it and never tested it even during the purchase. Train you self and listen to the 6pm or 6.30pm or 7 pm sched of VKS737 depending where you are.
FollowupID: 2304

Reply By: LARRY - Friday, Aug 02, 2002 at 00:00

Friday, Aug 02, 2002 at 00:00
Michelle some great advice has been posted above , channel 10 is the advised channel to use for a U.H.F radio in the simpson . so hopefully everyone has a rough idear of on comming traffic ,when you top a dune you cant see whats comming the other way. Most people do the french line in 3to 4 days some do is much faster . Take your time and enjoy the desert . If you dont what the expence of buying a H,F or SAT phone yet you can hire one . You could also team up with other 4wds to do the trip if your worried about the isolation.Camp at Dalhousie springs a great spot until you meet another group . Dont forget the very basic tell some one before you leave and most inportant report back when you arrive. if they dont here from you someone will always come looking. Enjoy the trip its not as tough as you think.
AnswerID: 5352

Reply By: Steve - Friday, Aug 02, 2002 at 00:00

Friday, Aug 02, 2002 at 00:00
Michelle : the above travellers seem to have travelled in the cooler months ! In October, and late October, it gets a lot hotter during the day.. you may not see as many people as has been suggested above !! I have learned not to rely too much on the Police in the Outback towns, I have found them generally to be city folk on a posting. You don't need an HF but its a huge relief to have long distance contact all over the Bush !! Try the TRADER section at top of the main page for a used one !! Steve
AnswerID: 5354

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