Towing trailers across deserts

Submitted: Sunday, Jun 15, 2003 at 18:21
ThreadID: 5465 Views:1629 Replies:9 FollowUps:2
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Hello, I would like to hear from anyone who has towed a camper trailer across any of our deserts in Australia. From Janice
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Reply By: Member - Willem- Sunday, Jun 15, 2003 at 20:15

Sunday, Jun 15, 2003 at 20:15
Hello Ed and Janice,
This is a subject which has attracted a lot of discussion on this forum. Please go into the Archives section of this website and do a search under Camper Trailers and see what you come up with. There are two camps. FOR and AGAINST. Then you can make your own mind upCheers, Willem
Never a dull moment
AnswerID: 22586

Reply By: Member - Rohan K - Sunday, Jun 15, 2003 at 20:49

Sunday, Jun 15, 2003 at 20:49
Janice, ther is also a lot of discussion on this question on the Yahoo Campertrailer Group site at http://au.groups.yahoo.com/Talk is cheap ...
Rohan (Sydney)
AnswerID: 22591

Reply By: Peter - Sunday, Jun 15, 2003 at 21:02

Sunday, Jun 15, 2003 at 21:02
I certainly wouldn't take my camper trailer across the Simpson. It's not the fact of taking the trailer itself - it's just that many of the dunes require several attempts to get over - without a trailer. With the trailer it would obviously require even more attempts. The problem then becomes having to reverse the trailer back down the dune. On quite a few occassions we had the front wheels virtually over the dune top but still had to reverse back down and get a run up.
Considering there are around 1100 dunes to cross I think you would very quickly come to hate your trailer (not to mention the extra strain on the clutch etc. of trying to get enough momentum up to get over the dune).
Good luck if you decide to take it - I find the tents and swags a lot easier option
AnswerID: 22593

Reply By: Member- Rox - Sunday, Jun 15, 2003 at 21:29

Sunday, Jun 15, 2003 at 21:29
Ed and Janice, I've driven mine 20kms along the beach with the acasinal stop to let the motor cool on idal, hope this helps.Around Oz 06/2004
AnswerID: 22596

Reply By: Geoff - Sunday, Jun 15, 2003 at 21:49

Sunday, Jun 15, 2003 at 21:49
Janice,

We have towed off road camper trailers across the Simpson Desert with Jackaroos and had no problems; be careful though because it is not for a driver that doesn't have extensive experience in relation to sand driving. You must be prepared to take it easy and run your tyre pressures from 13psi min to 18 psi max and keep your trailer weight to a min.....run trailer tyre pressures sim to vehicle.

Take your time, it is great country and you will see more of it and minimise track damage this way. You will hear many opinions about trailers but just as much damage and more is done by people with 4wd's only, that do not know how to drive in the conditions....... usually too hard/fast and/or not using appropriate tyre pressures.

Good Luck
Geoff
AnswerID: 22598

Reply By: Geoff - Sunday, Jun 15, 2003 at 21:50

Sunday, Jun 15, 2003 at 21:50
Janice,

We have towed off road camper trailers across the Simpson Desert with Jackaroos and had no problems; be careful though because it is not for a driver that doesn't have extensive experience in relation to sand driving. You must be prepared to take it easy and run your tyre pressures from 13psi min to 18 psi max and keep your trailer weight to a min.....run trailer tyre pressures sim to vehicle.

Take your time, it is great country and you will see more of it and minimise track damage this way. You will hear many opinions about trailers but just as much damage and more is done by people with 4wd's only, that do not know how to drive in the conditions....... usually too hard/fast and/or not using appropriate tyre pressures.

Good Luck

Geoff
Geoff
AnswerID: 22599

Reply By: Member - Bob - Monday, Jun 16, 2003 at 08:41

Monday, Jun 16, 2003 at 08:41
Ed and Janice, I've done a few desert trips with the trailer, including the Great Vic and the Simpson et al, and it can be done. Admittedly it would be easier at times without the trailer but there are some major advantages as well. Have a look in the archives.
AnswerID: 22627

Reply By: Mike - Tuesday, Jun 17, 2003 at 11:16

Tuesday, Jun 17, 2003 at 11:16
Well we crossed the Simpson last year, as part of a 4 month trip. It was never a question of whether the trailer would make it. We didn't tow our KK because, parks and wildlife, the guys who do the recoveries and the locals, ask us not to. I believe that these people are responsible for the area, so out of basic repect, I complied.

There will always be trailers out there, many capably towed without incident, however, there will also be the inevitable inexperienced traveller who gets into trouble and needs recovering. His reason for towing will always be, " If they can do it why can't I"

Sorry to harp on this but, if we don't listen to the requests of the guys up there, we will soon have to mount a campaign to re-open the desert to ALL travellers.

Happy trails, Mike.
AnswerID: 22772

Reply By: Member - Melissa - Tuesday, Jun 17, 2003 at 12:13

Tuesday, Jun 17, 2003 at 12:13
Ed & Janice,

First question, which deserts are your referring to? Some like the Simpson are sand, sand and more sand. Other deserts are rocks, gibber and more rocks.

As a long time campertrailer owner I would say the first thing you should look at is your trailer. Some are far better suited to more rigorous sort of travel than others. Also, what are you towing with? Does your vehicle have enough grunt to recover a fully laiden trailer under the conditions you might expect (eg. stuck in sand)? What kind of experience do your have?

Have you tested your rig to find it's and your limitations? For example, in January we did a "test" trip with friends who were heading off around Oz. We had recently upgraded our campertrailer and didn't know it's capabilities/limitations. Our freinds were in the same boat. Even though it was an overnight trip, they loaded car and trailer exactly as they intended to be loaded for their big trip, then we headed off to a local beach/dune area to test our rigs. The information garnered was extremely valuable, particulary for our friends who were worried that their vehicle might have been a bit underpowered. They were pleasantly surprised.

I know people who have towed trailers EVERYWHERE including the Canning Stock Route, Simpson, Gunbarrel, Cape York, Gibb River Road etc with very little, if any, trouble. I also know experienced off-road trailer owners who preferred to do trips like the Simpson and CSR without their trailer. In the end, it comes down to personal preference. However, note that SA Parks request people don't take trailers on the Simpson (look thru the archives here for plenty of debate on this issue) and trailers are banned on some sections of the CSR.

I also suggest you ask at one of the campertrailer groups. I run the WA group (you don't have to be a WA to join) at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/wa_campertrailers
Drop in there and you will probably find members who have already done the trips you are contemplating.

Hope this helps.

:o) MelissaPetrol 4.5L GU Patrol &
Camprite TL8 offroad camper
AnswerID: 22777

Follow Up By: Ed - Wednesday, Jun 18, 2003 at 22:49

Wednesday, Jun 18, 2003 at 22:49
Thanks all for your response(s)!
Melissa, the question was put with our focus being pretty much on the Simpson... Vehicle is a GU Patrol TD42 (purchased new in '99).. Trailer,
looking to buy.. currently "leaning" towards the Aussie Swag (flipover)..
Any comments/suggestions re this choice most welcome...
Here's the skinny... We live in Toowoomba (Q'ld) and are hoping to travel to Perth & Albany in mid '04.. Have done it many times, incl. "round the block" on the tar.. First crossed the Nullabor in '73 on the dirt..
This time we are contemplating going via Alice, & down thru Laverton, Kal. etc. via Warburton/ Gt. Central Rd., & back via Esperance & (hopefully) Anne Beadell "H'way" to Coober Pedy, from whence we have a few choices, one of which being the Simpson, hence the query.. (though in the curent "political" climate, we will probably excercise "discretion" here, & choose one of the alternatives)..

We hope to be in company with at least one other vehicle (hopefully 2), all experienced outback travellers.. We anticipate being away from home for at least 2 mths., so we WILL be taking a trailer of some sort (offroad compatible, of course).. We know there is a bit of homework to between now & then...
Again, any comments/suggestions re the proposed route(s) will be carefully considered..
Experience ??? .. Well, I'm 54 yrs. young (Janice is 47), & have spent most of my working life driving trucks, tractors (big ones), & all manner of farm machinery (& everything inbetween).. Have also been employed as a (unqualified) mechanic, this was 30 yrs. ago, long before things went high tech..
I can confidently say that I am regarded by my peers as someone who "knows what he's about"..
Jan is an "experienced front-seat passenger", though she is a licenced driver & capable of handling the Patrol, though the "hard stuff" may present a few "challenges" for her..

Sand driving??? .. between '74 & '88 employed on farming properties east of Esperance, with the main recreational activity being surf fishing.. Self explanatory, I would think.. RV at one time was an Austin Champ, affectionately referred to as "the Rolls".. Wish I still had it!

Towing in sand?? .. Long weekends & school hol's often spent camped on one of the beaches (Alexander, Kennedy's, or Thomas R. to name a few), & 4 young kids + "the cook" + all the camping gear were never going to fit in the "Rolls", so, hook up the trusty 8 x 5 tandem box trailer (std. road type, made it myself 20 yrs. ago, & still have it!), & away we go! Never a problem! ..
As Geoff (above) rightly pointed out, tyre pressures are the key, and I like to think that I know a bit about such things.. I firmly believe that having a trailer means you can spread the load over more tyres, which means less weight in/on the vehicle, which in turn means that you can SAFELY run lower pressures all round, thus a bigger "footprint" & less pressure on the sand = LESS damage (IMHO)..

Sorry for the long post (life story?), and Thanks again to all who replied.
Thanks for reading...
Regards,
Ed. C.

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FollowupID: 15149

Follow Up By: Member - Melissa - Thursday, Jun 19, 2003 at 10:51

Thursday, Jun 19, 2003 at 10:51
Hi Ed,

Well it certainly sounds like you have it covered. From what I've seen and heard the Aussie Swags are a well built, robust unit. We seriously contemplated buying one ourselves back in 2001. We decided not to in the end only because it didn't really offer any more advantages than our then current campertrailer (just a little more refined, LOL). We bought our Camprite last year because it is designed specifically for families whereas IMHO, the Aussie Swags, KK's etc are best suited to couples.

Re your intended route...sounds excellent. Shouldn't present any problem although freinds recently travelled the Anne Beadell and had shockie blow outs on both car and camper. As for the Simpson, I know many people who have towed trailers across without any problems and also some who have done it sans trailer. Of the latter group, at least one commented that with hindsight he could have done it easily with his trailer and he couldn't see what all the fuss was about. Next time he will take his trailer. Remember, the people I am referring to are all experience off-roaders with well set-up vehicles and rigs and pride themselves on being self-sufficient. In the end, I think crossing the Simpson with a trailer comes down to a personal decision considering as you say, the current political climate.

Have fun!

:o) MelissaPetrol 4.5L GU Patrol &
Camprite TL8 offroad camper
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FollowupID: 15168

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