Simpson Desert

Submitted: Friday, Jan 14, 2005 at 22:05
ThreadID: 19384 Views:2345 Replies:3 FollowUps:5
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I know its a bit like asking how long is a piece of string but for planning purposes could someone give me an idea of how long it'll takes us to get from Birdsville to the Plenty Hwy via Hay River.

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Reply By: Member - Ed. C.- Saturday, Jan 15, 2005 at 01:46

Saturday, Jan 15, 2005 at 01:46
G'day Roger,

Check out .. .. This bloke apparently takes tag-alongs through that area on a regular basis, so I guess if anybody would know, he'd have to be the one.. He can also arrange the necessary permits.. (contact details on the aforementioned site)...
(I plan to be contacting him in the near future re said permits, as SWMBO & myself, & 3 other couples are planning to be going through there in June)

Regards, Ed. C.
Confucius say.....
"He who lie underneath automobile with tool in hand,
....Not necessarily mechanic!!"

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AnswerID: 93171

Follow Up By: Roger From Tassie - Saturday, Jan 15, 2005 at 08:35

Saturday, Jan 15, 2005 at 08:35
Thanks Ed.C

Just shot him off an email.

All going well, we 'll be going thru in late July.

FollowupID: 352143

Reply By: davidta - Saturday, Jan 15, 2005 at 17:36

Saturday, Jan 15, 2005 at 17:36

I took a trip through there mid last year.
We got to Batton Hill camp in the late afternoon of the 4 th day from Birdsville. The Plenty Hwy was about an hour from Batton Hill next morning.
Could have done the trip a lot quicker if needed, but you wouldn't see much or appreciate where you were. We took our time and saw most things.
I think the tours that Joel Flemming takes uses an extra day.
AnswerID: 93263

Follow Up By: Pfeff - Sunday, Jan 16, 2005 at 00:09

Sunday, Jan 16, 2005 at 00:09
Gee David,

You must have pressed on pretty well to do that time. Did you drive via the QAA to Poeppel Corner then north past beachcomber well or did you follow Madigan's route north west out of Birdsville. I had the pleasure to participate on 4x4 Australia's LOPE trip last August led by Ron Moon and although we did stop from time to time for photo shoots, it took us 6 days to Lindsay Bookey's camp, we probably couldn't have cut off much more than a day without being so rough on the vehicles that we would surely have had more trouble from broken shocks etc. than we did with the 100's cracked lower wishbones.

Bob Duncan is also doing this trip now and also extends with a run to the gulf. His website is

Roger, not sure what you are driving, but you'll need a very sound fourby and personally i'd be in a Patrol, LC (Utes and Wagons) as a preference. Others such as Prados etc will do it but should be beefed up for the trip and only attempted with aftermarket light truck tyres like Coopers, Mickey Thompson or BFGs and of course the group (you couldn't do it alone) will need a high level of experience in the leaders and follow all normal desert precautions. You'll need plenty of spare fuel, water and a 6th spare tyre. Tyre repair tools, a spare tube and of course air pump, recovery gear etc is mandatory.

The Hay River track is really quite easy and you can get down to Madigan's camp 16 from the north quite quickly but its the crossing over the dune country that creates the feeling of achievement and is still a challenge. Have a great trip if you go and above all be safe.

FollowupID: 352310

Follow Up By: Roger From Tassie - Sunday, Jan 16, 2005 at 09:01

Sunday, Jan 16, 2005 at 09:01
Hi Again David

I think you were one of the first to repond when I first asked about this trip last year. Thanks for your help.

FollowupID: 352328

Follow Up By: Roger From Tassie - Sunday, Jan 16, 2005 at 09:29

Sunday, Jan 16, 2005 at 09:29
Hi Pfeff

We were thinking about going via Poeppel.

2 Hilux's & a Land Crusier all with LT tyres. We all normally run Mud Terrains. Not ideal for sand but we prefer them for all other situations, can live with the road noise and they've always got us thru sand in the past. As we continuing on up north we would prefer to leave the MT's on. Comments???

All experienced but admittedly sand driving experience limited to beaches (not a lot of deserts in Tassie) and tracked sandy county in various places around the mainland (Not been to the Simpson yet). Experienced in heading into remote country.

Would normally not carry a 6th Spare but all have spare tubes etc and everything else you mentioned. Comments??

As a matter of interest how much water did you carry?

We also have what we consider to be the most important item. I heightened sense of self preservation!!

Any further comments appreciated.


FollowupID: 352330

Follow Up By: Pfeff - Tuesday, Jan 18, 2005 at 18:57

Tuesday, Jan 18, 2005 at 18:57
Hi Roger,

Vehicles sound fine. I'm in the tyre industry and have no problems with MT's out in the desert so long as pressures are reduced a little more so they don't dig down as much into the sand. I'd really consider carrying the sixth spare or at least one to share between the Hiluxs and one extra for the LC. The only two cases i've destoyed were both in the Simpson region and at the furthest you'll be 350 back breaking kms from a replacement tyre if you need one. In addition, the main tracks across the Simpson have a lot of traffic these days so help is frequent. Going up from Poeppel to the Hay River track is an entirely different matter. You probably won't see a soul for 4-5 days (bliss sometimes). You probably won't use the sixth case with care, but the spinifex is brutal on sidewalls and once a radial is punctured in the sidewall, it will "run" down the ply and become useless in short order. So you need more backup than most other places. Can't advise too much on precise pressures as there are too many variables, but you can pretty much keep dropping pressure down to 12-14psi with confidence so long as you bring speed down to slow! Then reinflate when past the worst obstacles. The biggest nuisance in the Simpson is the cut up tracks from drivers leaving too much air in their tyres making for a rocky trip. Down with the pressures you can go slowly over the dunes without much throttle.

Water will depend on time of year and so on. I usually carry about 60 litres per vehicle (2 person) and haven't used half that on an average crossing, but if the radiator or a hose went??? Mind you i don't drink much water at night (something with a little more zing then goes down better) and washing is limited. Mostly used for cooking and refreshing during the day. All my trips during cooler months. Summer would be a different thing.

Most important. Don't forget those permits. You won't need a SA Desert Parks permit to get to Poeppel and going north from there. But you must get permission for the NT. I don't know how difficult that is because Ron Moon organised ours but it is pretty limited as the land councils try (rightfully imho) to restrict too much travel through the northern Simpson to experienced and fewer travellers. That is why i believe they've allowed a couple tour operators to take a trip ot two through as they are much less likely to get into trouble. My 2 cents worth.

One more thing is a good GPS (or at least a good compass). I can tell you we resorted to the GPS many times to ensure we found the points of interest as there are no marked tracks north of Beachcomber until the Hay and if you want to find Madigan's camps 16 and 17, you'll need the GPS. Camp 16 is where the Blaze tree is and here you can sign the visitors book to let others know of your passing by.

Make sure you stop at Lindsay Bookey's camp near Mt Tietkens and a detour off the Hay track to Lake Caroline. All these are explained in Ron's articles in 4x4 Australia over three issues from December 2004 to February 2005 (just released).


FollowupID: 352800

Reply By: Roger From Tassie - Wednesday, Jan 19, 2005 at 09:21

Wednesday, Jan 19, 2005 at 09:21
Thanks Pfeff

That fills in a few info gaps, confirms a few things for me and sounds like we are of a similar view on a few things.

Thanks Heaps

AnswerID: 93890

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