Crossing The Simpson

Submitted: Tuesday, Jan 25, 2005 at 13:54
ThreadID: 19756 Views:1731 Replies:6 FollowUps:5
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Hi all,
Am wondering if some of the more 'well travelled' people out there can help us out please.
Some friends are planning a trip out west in September this year we are also heading along. Part of the trip involves crossing The Simpson.
At this point in time we are still in the planning stages and are looking at which is the best way to cross and have heard confliciting reports from various sources and were wondering whether those knowledgeable ones amongst you out there can help out.
The options we have looked at so far are to take the French Line and we would like to know is it better/easier to cross from West to East or East to West.

We are looking to go from here (Newcastle) to Camerons Corner/Innamincka and then either head north thru Cordillo Downs to Birdsville and then cross the Simpson and head up to Ayers Rock and The Alice and then head for home back down thru Coober Pedy etc or would it be advisable to head south from Cameron's Corner along the Strzelecki to Lyndhurst, Marree then onto Coober Pedy and up to Ayers Rock The Alice and then come back down and head for home crossing the Simpson this way.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

(I never get lost because everyone tells me where to go)
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Reply By: Member - Landie - Tuesday, Jan 25, 2005 at 14:07

Tuesday, Jan 25, 2005 at 14:07
Your initial propsed route will be fine as long as your vehicles are well prepared.

Many say West/East is easier due to the dune formation from prevailing winds, however we have crossed East/West twice without any difficulty.

AnswerID: 94823

Reply By: MrBitchi - Tuesday, Jan 25, 2005 at 14:07

Tuesday, Jan 25, 2005 at 14:07
Easiest way is west to east as the dunes are shallower that way. Prevailing wind is westerly so dune faces are steeper from the east.
Either way is do-able, just a bit harder going from the east.
Cheers, John.
AnswerID: 94824

Reply By: Peter 2 - Tuesday, Jan 25, 2005 at 16:43

Tuesday, Jan 25, 2005 at 16:43
With 13 crossings over 20 years I'd reckon it doesn't make much difference these days. Yes the western sides are not as steep but are usually rougher due to the large numbers of drivers that don't drive to the conditions and/or don't drop tyre pressures enough causing opposing wallows.
In holiday periods the eastern sides are usually smoother and easier as the majority travel west to east rolling the eastern sides. If you are ever having trouble climbing dunes in peak periods wait till a vehicle comes from the opposite direction and they will have 'rolled' your track making it much easier.
What you may have in sept/oct period is much higher temps with very high 40's experienced so I would do it as soon in the trip as you can, a few weeks may make a difference.
The best route to see as wide a variety as well as avoid 'dune boredom' is QAA to Poeppels, French line to the Knolls, down the knolls track to either the WAA or rig road then west with a detour south to the lone gum if travelling via the WAA.
While you will travel a bit further fuel consumption will remain about the same due to easier travelling.
The one exception is if it rains or is wet just before you go. If that is the case stick to the French line all the way west as the clayed rig road is hard work when wet never mind the damage you will do to the track.
The French linis all sand till it hits the rig road.
Better still in wet weather, camp for a couple of days and let it dry out.
AnswerID: 94848

Follow Up By: Willem - Tuesday, Jan 25, 2005 at 17:42

Tuesday, Jan 25, 2005 at 17:42
Geez Peter 13 times? You must be keen. I thought my three times was enough lol

I agree with your best route scenario.
FollowupID: 353728

Follow Up By: Peter 2 - Tuesday, Jan 25, 2005 at 20:31

Tuesday, Jan 25, 2005 at 20:31
We love the desert country, have been members of Friends of the Simpson Desert virtually since it's inception in mid 80's and I'd reckon there are still parts of the Simpson we haven't seen and tracks that we haven't travelled on. We usually take a week to ten days to cross, meandering around and up an down or just making camp and enjoying the desert itself.
We've also spent a lot of time working out there, we were one of the group that put the orange droppers and the aluminium tags every 5 k's on every track, helped build the fences etc at Purni and picked up other peoples rubbish on several cleanups.
FollowupID: 353753

Follow Up By: Richard - Tuesday, Jan 25, 2005 at 20:49

Tuesday, Jan 25, 2005 at 20:49

We appreciate your work. I have only done one crossing in April last year west to east which to my mind is easier on the vehicle. Planning a double crossing in July this year.
FollowupID: 353755

Follow Up By: Tripp'n Around - Wednesday, Jan 26, 2005 at 12:16

Wednesday, Jan 26, 2005 at 12:16
Hi Peter

Wow! 13 times. But then it must be something you loved doing, so can understand. Your valued experiences are truely a big help. Thanks for the info you have posted of a good way to view the Simpson. We plan to do a 2 month trip in 2006 of the Qld Gulf/N.T areas with the Simpson being the last part of our journey. We had decided do it from west to east but now may decide to go east to west due to your coments. Will think long and hard before deciding.

Willem, we will still use your website as a guide when we start to finalise our intinery.

FollowupID: 353830

Reply By: Member - Russell S - Tuesday, Jan 25, 2005 at 16:48

Tuesday, Jan 25, 2005 at 16:48
I think if you do a search of the posts, you will find many on this subject. Also see trek notes.

I think west to east across the desert is easier, especially if towing a trailer!
French line is rough(lumpy), and you'll only average 15 km/h on a lot of it. Other ways to go as well, but I haven't done them.
The Cordillo Downs track was very rough when I went through - don't know what it's like now, but wouldn't go there again.
Either circuit would be OK, but I would pick the second, also taking in the painted desert on the way to Coober Pedy, and go the back way from Ayers Rock to Alice, via Kings Canyon. We have recently travelled a lot of that area, and you could check it out at
AnswerID: 94849

Follow Up By: Tripp'n Around - Wednesday, Jan 26, 2005 at 12:21

Wednesday, Jan 26, 2005 at 12:21
Hi Russell

Thanks, we too will look at your info posted.

FollowupID: 353831

Reply By: BigPop - Tuesday, Jan 25, 2005 at 20:55

Tuesday, Jan 25, 2005 at 20:55
Thank you very much guys for your valued input and advice - it is truly appreciated I can assure you.

This at least gives us something to work on and can now give our trip leader some more options to look at.

Thanks again.

BigPop aka Pete
(I never get lost because everyone tells me where to go)
AnswerID: 94879

Reply By: peter in sa - Wednesday, Jan 26, 2005 at 16:43

Wednesday, Jan 26, 2005 at 16:43
BIG POP I personally would'nt do the cordillo downs track it's to rough for my like'in if your caming from Innamicka take the WALKERS CROSSING track to the BIRDSVILLE track which cames out 120 ks south of Birdsville you'll enjoy more cheer's GREENDOG
AnswerID: 94998

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