Desert Trip

Submitted: Monday, Apr 14, 2003 at 21:57
ThreadID: 4397 Views:1351 Replies:4 FollowUps:7
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Hi all out there,
I have looked on at this forum with interest for a while. It is very informative & mostly I can get all the answers I need by doing a search. However, there are a lot of conflicting reports on this subject & I know it is a very touchy one, but I’m going to bring it up anyway & duck for cover. We are planing to do a trip to the Kimberley leaving from Adelaide late August to make it in time for the Birdsville Races. We were then hoping to cross the Simpson Desert (French Line) & continue on from Alice Springs. This is where I’m going to upset some people. Because we will be travelling on & not returning for 3 months, we would like to take our Camper Trailer across the desert with us. It is an off road camper which was built with such conditions in mind. We tow it with a TD 80 Series LandCruiser. We’re not frightened to let our tyres down. We are looking at all other options, but I would like to hear from people who have traveled the French Line from east to west with a trailer to confirm that it is passable & establish how difficult it may be.
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Reply By: Member - Raymond - Tuesday, Apr 15, 2003 at 08:33

Tuesday, Apr 15, 2003 at 08:33
Hi Emma
Duck for cover about the Trailer. Are you travelling with others or by your self. The track east to west is less cut up on the sand dunes. You will need a sand anchor to recover with especially you are travelling a lone
Raywanderin' in retirement. victor 2010
AnswerID: 17638

Reply By: Member - Glenn(VIC) - Tuesday, Apr 15, 2003 at 15:17

Tuesday, Apr 15, 2003 at 15:17
Hi Emma,

The Rig Road may be a better option. Less dunes to cross.Just Do It!

AnswerID: 17678

Reply By: Emma - Tuesday, Apr 15, 2003 at 21:44

Tuesday, Apr 15, 2003 at 21:44
Thanks for the replies. I’m travelling with a friend (female), only one vehicle. We won’t have a winch so a sand anchor isn’t an option. Sounds like the rig road might be the go. Raymond, have you towed a trailer across?
AnswerID: 17726

Follow Up By: Member - Glenn(VIC) - Tuesday, Apr 15, 2003 at 23:22

Tuesday, Apr 15, 2003 at 23:22

The shop currently has Simpson Desert Planning Maps for sale that may assist you, only $7.95.

I am doing a double crossing next year, so let us know how you go.

Good travelling.Just Do It!

FollowupID: 11126

Follow Up By: Member - Glenn(VIC) - Tuesday, Apr 15, 2003 at 23:24

Tuesday, Apr 15, 2003 at 23:24
Sorry, forgot to add, it would be interesting if you could add your fuel usage to the Fuel Consumption page on this site for your trip across the Simpson (and other areas).

Have a great trip.Just Do It!

FollowupID: 11128

Follow Up By: Emma - Wednesday, Apr 16, 2003 at 21:36

Wednesday, Apr 16, 2003 at 21:36
Glenn ~ I’ll record our fuel consumption on the page on our return for sure.
I’ll bet you’re looking forward to your trip next year…you’ve got the right vehicle anyway.
FollowupID: 11160

Reply By: Michelle from ExplorOz - Wednesday, Apr 16, 2003 at 11:57

Wednesday, Apr 16, 2003 at 11:57
Once upon a time we were in the same predicament as you just before races and decided to take the Cordillo Downs road from Innamincka to Birdsville (BVI), stayed only a day or two and dropped the trailer off in town, went south down the BVI Track to Maree without trailer, picked up the Oddnadatta track and then headed up to Dalhousie Springs and travelled the French Line without trailer from west to east back to BVI. It only took about 2 weeks I think round trip BVI - BVI. Then we went to Alice Springs via the Plenty Highway (only a few days). Just an option to consider.... ExplorOz
AnswerID: 17761

Follow Up By: Emma - Wednesday, Apr 16, 2003 at 21:27

Wednesday, Apr 16, 2003 at 21:27
Michelle ~ Unfortunately that doesn’t fit in with our plans. But it does sound like a great trip. We plan on coming back along the Plenty Highway on our return. Another option is to put the trailer on transport to Alice Springs. However we would rather have it with us as we plan to spend around 5 days doing the desert crossing. Have you seen others towing trailers across? What is the main concern?
FollowupID: 11159

Follow Up By: Michelle from ExplorOz - Wednesday, Apr 16, 2003 at 23:38

Wednesday, Apr 16, 2003 at 23:38
I've answered all the past qns on this topic in the same vein as I will now - the main concern is that the Simpson Desert as an access route for travellers falls under the management system of the Desert Parks dept of the Dept of Environment and Heritage in SA. Access to visitors on this route is via a permit system only (called the Desert Parks Pass). Due to them being managers not owners, they can't actually BAN or enforce a BAN on people towing trailers, however as is their right, they strongly advise that it is against their wishes for trailers to be towed in the Simpson - and I have to support their wishes because we are their agents. They have also taken up significant advertising campaigns and they also help promote us and I actually agree with the concept that trailers have no place in this particular area. We have done numerous trips across the Simpson and have explored each line. In doing so, I have seen very few trailers on the actual French Line but a few on the Rig Road where there are far less soft, steep dunes to cross at right-angles. I accept, and so to do the DEH, that trailers will continue to be towed across the Simpson, regardless. It is hoped however that by discussion such as this on ExplorOz, you might consider how best to minimise impact by doing so.

The suggestion is to travel the Rig Road not the French and not the QAA - which is probably even more an issue.

The main issue is that the numbers of drivers crossing the Simpson are exceedingly high and this traffic is concentrated over a short period of time (few mths a year). Unfortunately, many people simply do NOT lower their tyre pressures hardly at all. As a guage, if at any time you find yourself struggling to crest a dune you must 1. reduce tyre pressures further and 2. use low range 4WD but in 4th gear to keep up speed but achieving better torque. It is a FACT that too many drivers do the wrong thing - mostly unintentional and due to lack of experience and knowledge. And this is just the drivers without the trailers...

The trailer issue is simply that most drivers already can't get the tyre pressure issue sorted and the extra weight and extended length of load across the rig makes dune driving with a trailer quite an art.

The effect of wrong tyre pressures means that the dune crests become chopped up by repeated grinding and struggling to get over the top, or by reversing and messing up of the "track" through the sand. The Simpson used to be quite easy to travel across, and still is when there are no tracks forcing your path. It does get harder when there are sand tracks criss-crossing all over the place and really uncomfortable when you are thundering up a dune face and hit (bottom out) in a hole left by a previous vehicle who has got stuck and had to grind their way out. These bumps and holes are all over the last section on the French (west to east) and all along the QAA. But it is avoidable if as a whole, us 4WDrivers took more care of what we do to the dune crossing.

Anyway, that's enough for me... go the Rig Line and enjoy it. It is certainly no less a great part of the Simpson and in fact you will definately see more wildlife and have more solitude.
FollowupID: 11169

Follow Up By: Member - Glenn(VIC) - Thursday, Apr 17, 2003 at 09:23

Thursday, Apr 17, 2003 at 09:23

We did the Cordillo Road last year and found it to be in a worse state than previous travels. I will not travel this road again unless necessary. Towing a trailer can be done, but I would advise taking it very slowly. Now that the road from Innamincka to the Birdsville Track (forgotten its name) has been opened and gazetted, this option would be the best. I have not travelled it but have heard it is an easy drive, but boring.

Enjoy.Just Do It!

FollowupID: 11174

Follow Up By: Emma - Thursday, Apr 17, 2003 at 21:07

Thursday, Apr 17, 2003 at 21:07
Point taken….. can’t argue with that.
It’s actually looking like our option will be to send the trailer up to Alice Springs on transport.
FollowupID: 11202

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