Camper trailers across simpson

Submitted: Sunday, Jan 06, 2008 at 11:21
ThreadID: 53164 Views:3939 Replies:12 FollowUps:10
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Hi All,

am planning to do a simpson trip in june/july this year. have prepped the camper trailer and am just about all prepared.....BUT.... just heard a rumour that someone ( not sure if it is parks and wildlife or the SA govt) have banned all camper trailers in the desert. has anyone heard of this or can give me some more info.. Tried the desert parks website but can't find any info...please help

may need to alter plans for the trip drastically!!!


Mick T
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Reply By: Peter 2 - Sunday, Jan 06, 2008 at 11:48

Sunday, Jan 06, 2008 at 11:48
AFAIK they are not banned, just actively discouraged. Yes you can tow campers across but do you need to and will the vehicle and you be capable of driving it across?
Yes I have towed mine across several times in both directions but it was much harder than not towing, we've now crossed the desert every which way about 20+ times over a 25 year period.
AnswerID: 280064

Reply By: David from David and Justine Olsen's 4WD Tag-Along - Sunday, Jan 06, 2008 at 17:26

Sunday, Jan 06, 2008 at 17:26
IMHO it is about time they were banned. I know I will cop some flack for that, but thee are many people who do quite a bit of damage through lack of knowledge. Many cross without doing environmental damage I know. The last thing the Simpson needed was that foolish article in 4WD Monthly discussing taking campers across.

Yes you can do it. I think you shouldn't.
AnswerID: 280104

Follow Up By: Shaker - Tuesday, Jan 08, 2008 at 15:07

Tuesday, Jan 08, 2008 at 15:07
For your stated reason, why not ban everybody? There are plenty of people doing damage without trailers, there are also responsible drivers crossing with trailers that cause little damage.
I say little damage, because everybody that crosses does some damage.
FollowupID: 544691

Follow Up By: David from David and Justine Olsen's 4WD Tag-Along - Tuesday, Jan 08, 2008 at 15:28

Tuesday, Jan 08, 2008 at 15:28
That is my fear exactly. A knee jerk reaction. If we cause enough damage they will stop all traffic. It doesn't make sense for the Dept of Environment to say we strongly discourage trailers without either educating people or banning them.

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Follow Up By: kaymar001 - Tuesday, Jan 08, 2008 at 19:00

Tuesday, Jan 08, 2008 at 19:00
Are you for real, i have travelled extensively with my trailer and from my experience the people towing trailors are generaly family man, most of which are cautious about everything they do. It is those that are out there to push there vehicles to the limit simply for bragging rights.

Everyone has a right to see this country of ours, it takes all sorts, theres good and bad in both crowds. Everyone needs to learn to tred lightly and if you own a four wheel drive stop busting each others chops and worry about those innorant selfish fools that blame all problems in the city andf on the roads on 4wds and bullbars.

This country is great and i love sharing it with all adventurers.

Cheers relax and have a beer.
FollowupID: 544723

Follow Up By: David from David and Justine Olsen's 4WD Tag-Along - Wednesday, Jan 09, 2008 at 08:59

Wednesday, Jan 09, 2008 at 08:59
Nobody especially not I, is criticizing the persons who own trailers.

Have you towed across the Simpson, witnessed people who have?
Many go there with no real idea of what it is like.

My point is the DEH says they don't want them, but won't ban them, and that is stupid. I say don't take them.

Whenever we plan a trip we decide what we don't NEED to take. A trailer is top of the list.
FollowupID: 544795

Follow Up By: Member - Roachie (SA) - Thursday, Jan 10, 2008 at 10:07

Thursday, Jan 10, 2008 at 10:07
I can see both sides of the argument here and (funnily enough), I actually agree with both...... But that doesn't solve the problem.

I've only done one Simpson trip (and that was with my Ultimate camper in tow), so I know that doesn't make me an instant expert. We were "lucky" with our crossing as we did it immediately after the desert had been re-opened (closed because of excessive rain). I firmly believe that if I tried to cross when the sand wasn't nice and damp/hard-packed, I probably would have done some damage to the tracks.

Just as an aside.....and to be a is NOT the trailer in itself that causes any issues (as the trailer just rolls along and does NO damage)...... it is the extra work the TOW vehicle has to do to drag the trailer along that causes any damage that people are talking about.

Having said that, I still believe that for any given situation in the desert (ie: whether the sand be dry or damp etc), a heavily-laden 4x4 with it's tyres not deflated sufficiently, will cause a greater amount of damage to the tracks than what a similarly-laden vehicle, towing a trailer, and with all 6 of it's tyres dropped to a proper pressure (say 16psi).

We saw a damned MOTORHOME crossing the desert when we went across. It was part of a large convoy and was having to be towed/snatched over the vast majority of the dunes.

I would hate to see the law increased to police the desert more stringently, but it may well come to that I suppose. If anything, perhaps the desert should be closed to ALL VEHICLES during periods of prolonged dry spells, as any vehicle can and will do damage to the dunes when they are at their most vulnerable (IE: dry and powdery). I'm not suggesting that this occur, just saying that if the desert is not fit to be traversed by a well-set-up 4by and trailer, then it's probably is not fit to be traversed by anything.


FollowupID: 545048

Reply By: Member - Kiwi Kia - Sunday, Jan 06, 2008 at 20:15

Sunday, Jan 06, 2008 at 20:15
When I was there last September the dunes were really cut up on the western side by people towing trailers. Some people we came across were having tow or three goes at almost every dune.

If you do tow a camper in the Simpson I would say that you are as bad as a person who gives 4wd's a bad name when they rip up a favourite family bush track.
AnswerID: 280129

Reply By: Member - Barnesy (SA) - Sunday, Jan 06, 2008 at 22:50

Sunday, Jan 06, 2008 at 22:50
National Parks strongly discourage trailers for a reason. They have the interests of the dunes at heart. If NP&WS think the dunes are being damaged then they have the authority to make it harder for travellers.

I would listen to National Parks and follow their advice.

AnswerID: 280188

Reply By: Member - Scoof (SA) - Sunday, Jan 06, 2008 at 23:21

Sunday, Jan 06, 2008 at 23:21
I'm not saying should or shouldn't but I can't see the hassle .

I did it with 2 other vehicles towing campers .We never got stuck or bogged once.

We didn't screw up the track at all , but a couple other vehicle's that were not towing were getting stuck and being towed out of the bog and also didn't have sand flags or a HF radio either.

So know what your vehicle's capabilities are and fly the sand flag and use the HF radio and tow if you want to, if your trailers up to off road standard.

My opinion only

Kind Regards: Scoof. :-)
AnswerID: 280194

Reply By: Barry 2 - Monday, Jan 07, 2008 at 01:29

Monday, Jan 07, 2008 at 01:29
We did a simpson desert trip last may '07 I was appalled at the state of the dunes - cut up - tyre pressures are critical it amazes me the amount of people who are to lazy or don't care to consider tyre pressures. Yes the appropiate authorities frown apon trailers for a very good reason the dunes are being cut up because most people don't use correct tyre pressure, I lost count on how many vehicles we came across trying to get up numerous dunes more than once, 100's LC & Kimberly camper held us up while he tried 3 times to get over dune eventually going back far enough and using shear grunt to get over, only had to look at his tyres and I bet he had road pressures,On a couple of other times when I inquired about there tyre pressure got same answer havn't got a pump ?? one vehicle had done a diff towing camper trailer over dunes not far out of birdsville!!! Yes you can tow a camper/trailer across the simpson just ask Birdsville Auto ?? How many vehicles do they rescue using a trailer ????
They know the importance of tyre pressures
If you are knowlegdeable and care enough about your 4x4'n you can take a "WELL SET UP CAMPER TRAILER" most places, yes sand flags & HF radio are most important in the simpson "BUT" tyres pressures are what preserves the dunes and ultimately gives the authorities less to complain about and in the long run enables us to enjoy our chosen recreation with less hassles ?????
While camping at birdsville got talking to somes guys on a "boys trip" they inquired if we had crossed big red, my answer yes 1st go
They couldn't believe it because there 3 vehicles tried "Little Red" and couldn't do it, when I enquired about there tyre pressures they said, we couldn't be bothered letting our tyres down and we didn't have a tyre pump ????? "WELL HELLO"
By the way, due to the conditions at the time I had 15 psi to cross Big Red.
I am sure if everybody used the correct tyre pressures the authorities would be more accepting towards camper trailers !!
But as we all know we do not live in a perfect world ????
My personnal preferance don't tow a trailer.
The reality is we as 4x4 'ers are looking down the barrel in this day and age, rightly or wrongly, we are slowly being shut out of this great land because of the few who "JUST DON"T GIVE A F**K"
So please do the right thing so my Grand Kids can have as much fun as I am !!!
Safe 4x4'n
AnswerID: 280206

Reply By: Member - Bucky (VIC) - Monday, Jan 07, 2008 at 09:23

Monday, Jan 07, 2008 at 09:23

Tyre pressures are the most critical thing, not towing.
I know when we crossed, 15 psi was the go ,,, so much easier,,and never looked like getting stuck

Wondering why signs are not errected advising of recomended tyre pressures at either end.

Isn't tyre footprint the mose important thing in sand ?

Surley a loaded up 4B with high pressures will do more damage to the dunes than a 4B with a trailer, and that weight spread over 6 tyres with the same footprint ?

Cheers Bucky

AnswerID: 280226

Follow Up By: Member - Bucky (VIC) - Monday, Jan 07, 2008 at 09:31

Monday, Jan 07, 2008 at 09:31
Another bit to this,,, was the guys at the bottom of Big Red, with their "tricked up" 78 series,, 200kw chip,, diff locks,, wizz bang truck!

These dick heads took 10 or so goes, to get up, and why ,????
They didn't listen to the call,, "turn off the difflocks, drop pressures to 15 psi" , I said to them over the radio. They apparently knew better.
All I could do was shake my head at these moron's !

Power isn't everything.
Finally when they did what I suggested, guess what ,,,over they went !

You tell me why people want to kane their vehicle like that ?

Cheers all

FollowupID: 544452

Follow Up By: David from David and Justine Olsen's 4WD Tag-Along - Tuesday, Jan 08, 2008 at 17:40

Tuesday, Jan 08, 2008 at 17:40
You kinda answered your own question about tyre pressure signs. It is outside the expertise of the Dept of Environment. Footprint is the important thing, and 15 to 18 psi is just a typical reading for a typical 4wd with typical tyres and typical load.

Most of the people I meet at the bottom of Big Red, came from Birdsville and have 28 or more psi in their tyres. They come out to play.
FollowupID: 544707

Reply By: Alfantz - Monday, Jan 07, 2008 at 10:39

Monday, Jan 07, 2008 at 10:39
A lot of people discourage you from taking a trailer across the simpson. But as previously mentioned, if you are sensible about tyre pressures and are well set up it can be achieved quite easily.
We took our trailer across a few years back travelling from west to east. There was two other vehicles with us also with camper trailers. We crossed the entire simpson without getting stuck or bogged down until little red. This was only one vehicle and it was because we were a bit premature in putting a bit of air back in the tyres.
On the vehicles we ran 12psi and on the trailers 8psi.

We unhooked the trailers at big red and drove up without a problem. We had to wait our turn while a few other vehicles struggled to get up. After half a dozen attempts I made a polite suggestion that maybe they should drop their tyre pressures. This was ignored. So after we drove up with apparent ease they decided to take our advice. We were having a bit of a laugh about these clowns who thought you needed to hit the bottom at 80km\h when they were getting stuck at the same point each time. So on the way down my friend said that it was so easy he could probably drive up the bit that they were getting stuck at in reverse. We let him we though he was full of it so he then put it in reverse and backed up to the top again.

We had a lot of negative feedback when seeking advice about taking the trailers through the simpson. I was suprised how easily we did it in the end and was glad that i didn't listen to the 'knockers'.
We were well prepared, drove to the conditions and are fairly experienced 4 wheelers.
AnswerID: 280236

Reply By: GaryW - Monday, Jan 07, 2008 at 13:24

Monday, Jan 07, 2008 at 13:24
Have to agree with the earlier posts that tyre pressures are no. 1 in navigating the dunes.

We went across the french line West to East in 2004 2 vehicles (LC100s) each towing trailers (Aussie Swags).

Orginally I was running 25psi and going fine - but got stuck on one dune and dropped pressure to 20psi (Still above the recommended 15-18psi) but didn't have a problem from then on.

From what I have heard 2004 was and ideal year because there was a bit of rain in the desert to settle the sand.

We saw more damage done by those not towing trailers.

You will have have to weather the storm from those who will protest you taking a trailer - however if you keep your tyre pressures down, have a decent vehicle and trailer you should leave very little evidence that you've been there.

Enjoy your trip it is an amazing journey.
AnswerID: 280263

Reply By: Member - Mick T (QLD) - Monday, Jan 07, 2008 at 19:37

Monday, Jan 07, 2008 at 19:37
Hi all,

thanks for all the feedback...

think i will still take the trailer ( i can hear all you knockers there!!!!)

I feel i am a sensible 4wd'er and don't mind taking chicken tracks or the thing i learnt from my mechanicing days is "I HATE FIXING MY CAR IF I DON'T HAVE TO" so i won't be driving like a maniac. after all it's better to be 1hr late than dead on arrival..

Mick T
AnswerID: 280329

Follow Up By: Member - Mick T (QLD) - Monday, Jan 07, 2008 at 19:40

Monday, Jan 07, 2008 at 19:40
might even take a few more 4wd course to hone the skills

practice makes perfect!!!!!

FollowupID: 544530

Follow Up By: Member - Bucky (VIC) - Thursday, Jan 10, 2008 at 08:06

Thursday, Jan 10, 2008 at 08:06
Thats the way Mick

Look we just waddled along doing 15-25 kmph and enjoyed every bit of the experience.
Just stay on the radio, and take another vehicle, and all will be sweet


FollowupID: 545029

Reply By: Alfantz - Tuesday, Jan 08, 2008 at 10:54

Tuesday, Jan 08, 2008 at 10:54
The fact that you are willing to ask for advice and consider your options, shows that you are a sensible four wheel driver.
AnswerID: 280437

Reply By: johnw14 - Wednesday, Jan 09, 2008 at 13:17

Wednesday, Jan 09, 2008 at 13:17
We are considering "doing" the Simpson in August. However while we have a trailer and would like to take it are looking at leaving it in Marree, maybe the caravan park, and then coming back via the Birdsville track. Has anyone any other solutions? Want to do the desert west to east.
AnswerID: 280586

Follow Up By: Member - Scoof (SA) - Wednesday, Jan 09, 2008 at 22:37

Wednesday, Jan 09, 2008 at 22:37

I would say West to East would be the easier way only because of the way the Dunes are shaped by the wind.
My first time across the Simpson we towed it's not that hard I reckon. If towing take the Rig Road.
Tyre pressure,sand flag (so you can be seen ) and a HF radio so you can let other travellers know your position, or if someone has broken down or needs help.

Just my opinion

Scoof .. :-)
FollowupID: 544995

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