crossing the Simpson

We are planning our first bush trip as a family and are looking for any tips or advice on good camp sites etc.
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Reply By: mfewster - Saturday, Feb 23, 2008 at 14:41

Saturday, Feb 23, 2008 at 14:41
I think we need more info. What sort of vehicle? Where are you travelling from/to? What experience do you have? How old is the youngest member of the group? If I interpret your heading correctly, this is your first bush trip and you intend doing a Simpson crossing? Unless you are travelling with another vehicle with some experienced drivers, I wouldn't be recommending a Simpson Crossing for your first expedition, that is, on the info you have given so far.
AnswerID: 288983

Reply By: David from David and Justine Olsen's 4WD Tag-Along - Saturday, Feb 23, 2008 at 15:05

Saturday, Feb 23, 2008 at 15:05
I agree. The Simpson is not the place for your first bush trip as a family. Go with someone experienced or gain some good remote area experience first.

Dave O
AnswerID: 288989

Follow Up By: Glenn, Megs & Tyler - Saturday, Feb 23, 2008 at 15:33

Saturday, Feb 23, 2008 at 15:33
I have a 100 series which is set up for serious off road and I am experienced in remote area travelling, so is the family travelling with us. Both our children are 4 years old and we are planning to take our time crossing it is just neither of us have done this sort of trip with young kids we are usually alone, I am just looking for things that the maps don't show you that might make it a bit more interesting for everyone
FollowupID: 554304

Follow Up By: Member - Bucky (VIC) - Sunday, Feb 24, 2008 at 06:45

Sunday, Feb 24, 2008 at 06:45
Good call David !

First trip, go with a group, or not at all.

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Follow Up By: Member - Bucky (VIC) - Sunday, Feb 24, 2008 at 06:49

Sunday, Feb 24, 2008 at 06:49
Sorry about that, I forgot to add ,, hook left just before Oodnadatta, on the Cooper Peedy Rd, about 100 km look for the Painted Desert / Arkaringa Station sign ( rather large one ) and go have a look at mt Battersby ,,, wow ,
Gotta spend at least 2 sunsets there,,,

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Reply By: mfewster - Saturday, Feb 23, 2008 at 16:23

Saturday, Feb 23, 2008 at 16:23
OK. where are you travelling to the Simpson from? What time of year?
AnswerID: 288997

Follow Up By: Glenn, Megs & Tyler - Saturday, Feb 23, 2008 at 16:42

Saturday, Feb 23, 2008 at 16:42
We are leaving from south of Adelaide and heading either through Camrons corner or up the Oodnadatta track, we were planning to go from Birdsville to Dalhousie but have heard it is better to travel west to east unless there is a more interesting track that not too many people use. I think the best time would be late August early September after the rains when it is starting to green up( well hopefully it rains this year).
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Reply By: Member - Kim M (VIC) - Saturday, Feb 23, 2008 at 19:09

Saturday, Feb 23, 2008 at 19:09

If it's your first trip, it would probably be better to head up through Maree, along the Oodnadatta Rd then north to Dalhousie.

After Dalhousie it's approximately 100Km to the Rig Rd which then takes you south of the French Line (check this because I now believe there is a bypass around the Spring Creek Delta).

The Rig is less travelled and, in my view, a far more interesting crossing. Eventually you'll meet up with the French Line just north of the Knolls.

The distance from Oodnadatta to your starting point at Dalhousie is approximately 160Km (from memory). You probably already know this.

I enjoy the relative isolation of the Rig Rd and exploring the southern desert via the swales between the dunes.

Have a good trip.



AnswerID: 289019

Reply By: Kev & Darkie - Saturday, Feb 23, 2008 at 19:45

Saturday, Feb 23, 2008 at 19:45
Read these articles on travelling with Kids.

Look Here..............Yes Here :)

Cheers Kev
Russell Coight:
He was presented with a difficult decision: push on into the stretching deserts, or return home to his wife.

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Reply By: mfewster - Saturday, Feb 23, 2008 at 20:25

Saturday, Feb 23, 2008 at 20:25
In making suggestions I am thinking about spots where walking around with the kids is more interesting. I’m sure that lots of other forumites will want to add variations and comments to this.
First issue. Do you travel east west or west-east across the Simpson. This depends on the shape of the dunes at the time you are traveling. Generally, west to east is easier, but not always. It depends on which way the winds have been blowing. I suggest you leave this decision until late before you go and see what recent reports on this forum are saying at that time. I’ll just list some places along the way and the order you do them will depend on which way you do the Simpson.
The following assumes you have time and are happy with lots of off road and takes in the Oodnadatta and Birdsville Tracks.
If you have less time, use the Stuart Highway (a sugestion on this later.)

If you are coming from SA, you almost certainly will be familiar with the Wilpena Pound/Flinders Ranges area and in my book, you can’t stay there too long or too often..
Blinman to Parachilna with a stop at the Parachilna hotel for their bush tucker.

Not many people stop for a look at Farina. Approx 60km south of Maree. Just off the main rd. Very interesting and quite extensive ghost town with a good bush camping spot. A good overnight stop. Toilet facilities. No shops. Lots of birdlife.

On the Birdsville track, Mungaranie has a fun pub. It also has a great watewrhole with lots of birdlife. The water hole is a bit scvreened from view and can be missed, but it’s worth going for a look. Some nice old bits of machinery to explore also.

Should you want to use the Stuart Highway, apart from the obvious stops, I would take rthe turn off just south of Cadney Park at Mt Willoughby and connect up to Oodnadatta via the Painted hills/Painted desert.
Oodnadfatta to Dalhousie. It’s tempting to go via Perdika, but that track is very rough and isolated. It also adds to the distance you have to travel between fuel stops. I think it is better to go via Charlotte Waters and count on refuelling at Mt. Dare before (or after) crossing the Simpson. I also recommend using the bypass tracks around any clay pans. The pans can be very treacherous,even after long dry spells. It just depends.

The kids will love the hot water at Dalhousie, however have mozzie domes or tents and repellent as mosquitoes here will carry toddlers off.
Purna Bore is noteable for being the only place I know of where if you are late to the showers, you can’t have one because the water is too hot. Ie, the cold water from the cooling tower has all been used up and you are getting water at bore temperature.

Crossing the Simpson.
Two recommended publications. Hema Maps “Simpson Desert “ map is very useful and also has lots of useful info, historical data and GPS readings.
This forum’s Simpson Desert - Outback Travellers Guide is also very comprehensive and arranged in strip maps.

I’d recommend The French Line to Colson Junction, then down on the Colson Track/Rig Road. Stay on Rig Rd to the Warburton Track, then across to the Birdsville Track. I would also recommend the Inside Birdsville Track (it’s more interesting.) but check road conditions if there has been any recent rain as it can become impassable. You also should get permission from the station in advance, This route gives a variety of landscapes from dunes to saltlakes to “Petrified Forest”.. No real recommendations on places to stop along the way. Depends on how far you are going per day. Use the recommended publications info. I have some GPS readings of spots we camped, but there isn’t really much to recommend any of them over places that you will come across on your own. Most of the crossing is pretty exposed so between dunes tends to be as good as any other.
Early morning walks on the dunes looking for animal tracks can be rewarding.

The usual precautions. Lots of water. I tend to have about 70 litres per person for the crossing from Mt Dare to Birdsville.Two spare wheels/tyres per vehicle. Lower tyre pressures as soon as off bitumen and lower again whn in dunes. Have radio communications between the vehicles and keep your UHF chat going so everyone knows you are around. Most people use CH 10. Have a VHF or satellite radio along as well. Use sandflags. Leave an itinerary with a contact person/police so someone will start looking the moment you are overdue.

Have fun.
AnswerID: 289027

Follow Up By: Robin Miller - Saturday, Feb 23, 2008 at 21:02

Saturday, Feb 23, 2008 at 21:02
Hi Mfewster

Did you really mean 70 lt per person ?
Robin Miller

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Reply By: mfewster - Saturday, Feb 23, 2008 at 22:43

Saturday, Feb 23, 2008 at 22:43
Hi Robin.
70L per person might be a bit much. I tend to do the trip later in the year when it is hotter and I was leaving a margin as Glenn and Megs appeared to have time and were intending a leisurely crossing. Also allowing for possible delays and having young kids along and maybe a top up of radiator. I was also calculating from Oodnadatta to Birdsville. How does 15l per person per planned day seem? Other views welcomed.
I would have added to take care in packing water to ensure that everything was sealed up tight and that if plastic containers were used, ensure they aren't rubbing against each other, causing holes and nasty surprises when anticipated water is suddenly not there. I tend to check water containers every day to ensure they are OK. Especially cautious of the thin plastic collapsible water containers. If collapsible is required, I prefer the prepackaged water in plastic inside cardboard.
AnswerID: 289040

Reply By: lynxxy - Sunday, Feb 24, 2008 at 09:38

Sunday, Feb 24, 2008 at 09:38
Hi Glenn, Megs, and Tyler

Hows your bush skills? They will need to be pretty sharp travelling with kids out there. Have you been in the Army? Im just concerned because, friends of mine who have exceptional bush camping skills, did that trip with their brother in law who runs a tag along tour. My friends have 4 wheel drived and camped 3 to 4 times a year right through Aust. When they told me they were booked to do the Simpson, I was very envious and wished I had spare leave to go to.

When they returned they told me all about it.

They went with a group of 12 others, 2 cars broke down. Lucky the tour leader is a mechanic, but one car was irrepairable.
They experienced a massive dust storm which meant the kids and wife had to sleep in the car and the father slept with the tent as a blanket.
sat phones are all that work out their...
They had no idea the direction of the tracks and were so pleased to have someone direct them who had done the trip 20 or so times before.
Apparently the tracks were so confusing you had absolutely no idea which was the main and which wasnt.
The main confusion would occur going up the sand dunes.
Temps in Sept last year were soaring to 54 celcius, on a few times. Interesting time it was as they tried to cook lunch in this heat.
Amazing yes, kids were ratty after just a few hours, and really played up for them. Their kids are 14,10,12.
Their food list was recommended and certainly not the stuff I like to camp with...dried peas etc...yuk

Good luck and please take care...I would hate to hear youve had trouble.

AnswerID: 289069

Reply By: Glenn, Megs & Tyler - Sunday, Feb 24, 2008 at 11:38

Sunday, Feb 24, 2008 at 11:38
Thankyou everyone for all your input I will definately take it all into consideration, my bush skills are quite good as I worked on stations in NSW and QLD as a station hand and roo shooter. My cruiser holds 270L of fuel so distance is not a problem and i am thorough on my servicing and maintenance so reliability of my vehicle should be ok plus I always carry enough spares to get me out of trouble anyway. Thankyou all again it is much appreciated.
AnswerID: 289092

Follow Up By: Member - Graham H (QLD) - Sunday, Feb 24, 2008 at 15:28

Sunday, Feb 24, 2008 at 15:28
If you want the really god oil I can put you in touch with a friend of mine who has walked across it several times and driven across inumerable times as well.
His name is Denis Bartell for those who may be familiar with travellers of the Simpson
Pm me if u like
FollowupID: 554448

Reply By: mfewster - Sunday, Feb 24, 2008 at 19:18

Sunday, Feb 24, 2008 at 19:18
Something I should have added. I recommended the inside track from the Birdsville Track into Birdsville. If you are using this track approaching Birdsville, it is tricky to get the correct turnoffs after you have left the Birdsville track. You turn left off the B'ville track and then have to take a right hand turn. There are quite a number of little tracks and picking the right one to get you into B'ville isn't easy. Last time I was there, it wasn't signposted. If you choose to go this way (and I think it is worth it) see if someone can give you GPS co-ordinates for the first couple of turns. I don't have them. After the first coiple of turns, it is straight forward.
AnswerID: 289156

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