Simpson Desert Virgens!!

Submitted: Sunday, Mar 30, 2008 at 17:36
ThreadID: 56079 Views:5174 Replies:11 FollowUps:24
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Hi Everyone, we are planning a trip which will see us cross the Desert, I am quite scared of the remoteness as we will be going alone and would like to know if its safe and will we run into many people, I have been told that its quite popular and that we would be unlikely to be alone... any advice on this subject would greatly ease my mind! [ you can tell Im a city chick! lol] Thanks
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Reply By: Member - John and Val W (ACT) - Sunday, Mar 30, 2008 at 18:16

Sunday, Mar 30, 2008 at 18:16
There is a heap of info in the tracks section on this site. Also search on this forum. What time of the year are you planning to go, what type of vehicle are you travelling in, and are you going east to west or west to east (makes a difference)? What experience do you have driving in heavy sand? Your answers to these questions will help us to help you.

Cheers,

Val.
J and V
"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted."
- Albert Einstein

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Follow Up By: rob w - Sunday, Mar 30, 2008 at 18:34

Sunday, Mar 30, 2008 at 18:34
Hi Val, We will be going in the June -July school holidays, driving a Nissan Patrol, at this early stage in planning it looks like we will be going west to east and the only sand experience we have is beach driving eg Rainbow Beach. Thanks again
Richeal
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Follow Up By: Member - John and Val W (ACT) - Sunday, Mar 30, 2008 at 19:51

Sunday, Mar 30, 2008 at 19:51
At that time of year there will be other travellers about - you can expect to see one or two each day. BUT, assume that you must be self reliant. If you aren't experienced with sand it would be wise to travel with another vehicle - if you do get bogged a snatch by another vehicle (do you know what I'm talking about?) will save a lot of digging.

Your Patrol should be fine, provided you know how far to drop tyre pressures and carry a reliable compressor. It is a thirsty trip for the vehicle, fuel at Mt Dare and at Birdsville, there's nothing in between - you may need to carry some jerry cans. Carry at least one and preferably two spare wheels (or at least one plus a spare case, if you're tubeless carry a suitable tube) and be prepared to do tyre repairs. (Check how able you are before you leave home if inexperienced.) For the desert crossing, rig up a sand flag, high enough to give some warning to oncoming vehicles should you meet one head on at the top of a dune. (This isn't a major risk, but the consequences of two vehicles at maximum power meeting head on at the top are horrble.) You should have a UHF radio to talk to other traffic and let them know you're around. (Range maybe 10 km.) A collision out there could be terminal.

Carry plenty of water for selves, some for the vehicle plus a contingency amount, carry spare radiator hoses and give the Patrol a really good service before you leave home.

VKS737 and HF radio are a great safeguard, better in my opinion than a satellite phone. Maybe hire one or the other?

The west to east crossing is easier than east to west. Though neither is anything like Rainbow Beach! (Double click on our picture!!!) A co-driver with sand experience might be a good idea.

Read up on desert safety practices. Expect that for a fair proportion of the trip you will be using low range, sometimes down to L1, depending on conditions.

If you are travelling with children ensure that you have plenty of water, a good first aid kit and good comms. If in doubt about your ability to do the trip solo, wait until you can find a travelling companion in a second (or third) vehicle, or try to link up with other travellers at Dalhousie.

Above all take the time to enjoy the experience. Its a marvellous place.

Cheers,

Val.
J and V
"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted."
- Albert Einstein

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Reply By: HK - Sunday, Mar 30, 2008 at 18:58

Sunday, Mar 30, 2008 at 18:58
Hi
I am also planning first trip West to east beginning July.Where are you comeing from?

Hk
AnswerID: 295641

Follow Up By: rob w - Sunday, Mar 30, 2008 at 19:31

Sunday, Mar 30, 2008 at 19:31
Hi, We are starting from bissy and planning on going to Alice Springs then Ayers rock and then making our way down to the desert from there , crossing that on our way home...it sounds a little daunting though!What about you guys?
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Follow Up By: HK - Sunday, Mar 30, 2008 at 20:13

Sunday, Mar 30, 2008 at 20:13
Hi ,we are going from Melbourne to Ayers Rock/Alice Springs and then crossing to Birdsville. When do you plan crossing? I will also be in a Patrol.
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Follow Up By: rob w - Sunday, Mar 30, 2008 at 20:23

Sunday, Mar 30, 2008 at 20:23
Hi, We are leaving home on the 21st June , rough guide only ....looking at early July..sounds like we might be at the same place at the same time, we should cross together maybe???
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Follow Up By: HK - Sunday, Mar 30, 2008 at 20:45

Sunday, Mar 30, 2008 at 20:45
Hi ,lets keep in touch and I can advise dates as soon as finalised
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Follow Up By: rob w - Monday, Mar 31, 2008 at 12:42

Monday, Mar 31, 2008 at 12:42
Hey there,
That sounds like a plan to me:)
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Follow Up By: rob w - Wednesday, Apr 02, 2008 at 18:49

Wednesday, Apr 02, 2008 at 18:49
hey heres my email rob351zx@hotmail.com
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Reply By: On Patrol (East Coast) - Sunday, Mar 30, 2008 at 18:59

Sunday, Mar 30, 2008 at 18:59
city chick
I don't know what state you are in but I do advise you to find some sand and practice sand driving before venturing out there.

In NSW you have Stockton beach, In QLD you have many places to practice, Fraser Is Rainbow beach + + + +. In Adelaide you have Robe beach. And I am sure you have places in other states to beach & dune drive in preperation for your trip.

As for traffic in the Simpson you will find quite a few other travellers, you may have to stay in Mt Dare or Birdsville for a day or two and get friendly with other groups and ask to "Tag Along" for the desert section. Few would refuse you as long as you don't look like a Mass Murderer's or Frankenstein's Monster.
Colin.
AnswerID: 295642

Follow Up By: Member -Signman - Sunday, Mar 30, 2008 at 19:37

Sunday, Mar 30, 2008 at 19:37
Hey Col..
Is that advise from one 'virgen' to another !!!
See ya Wed. ??


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Follow Up By: On Patrol (East Coast) - Sunday, Mar 30, 2008 at 19:42

Sunday, Mar 30, 2008 at 19:42
Speaking for yourself Dave?????
Yeah see you Wed. mate.
Colin.
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Follow Up By: rob w - Sunday, Mar 30, 2008 at 19:47

Sunday, Mar 30, 2008 at 19:47
Thanks Colin,
Yeah we have done Rainbow Beach a bit and Im liking the idea of tagging along with someone....I don't think that we look like mass murderers or Frankensteins Monster...you never know what a hard night can do to you though!! lol
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Follow Up By: On Patrol (East Coast) - Sunday, Mar 30, 2008 at 19:59

Sunday, Mar 30, 2008 at 19:59
Richeal
If the rough night is with the folk you want to tag along with then your in anyway, LOL

Get out there and enjoy it you will treasure the memory of the trip for many years to come even when you are on your 5 or 6 crossing of the desert.
Colin.
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Follow Up By: Andrew from Vivid Adventures - Monday, Mar 31, 2008 at 23:30

Monday, Mar 31, 2008 at 23:30
"In Adelaide you have Robe Beach"...

I know Adelaide does stretch a long way South, but not 336 km!
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Reply By: Willem - Sunday, Mar 30, 2008 at 19:23

Sunday, Mar 30, 2008 at 19:23
Ummmmmmmmm.....................City Chick

You should see another vehicle every 8 kilometres...rough guess....at that time of year.

When you get to the start of the French Line you must drop your tyre pressures to at least 20psi. If the vehcile struggles on the dunes you can drop them down to 16psi.

The Simpson Tracks are not so daunting. Just take it easy and don't try to rush over a dune. You will soon get the hang of it.


Cheers
AnswerID: 295650

Follow Up By: On Patrol (East Coast) - Sunday, Mar 30, 2008 at 19:50

Sunday, Mar 30, 2008 at 19:50
Willem Maaaate,
Rosie looks great. What happened to her???? is she still around???
"Now thats a Patrol"

Colin.
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Follow Up By: rob w - Sunday, Mar 30, 2008 at 19:54

Sunday, Mar 30, 2008 at 19:54
Hey Willem
Thanks for the reply, another vehicle every 8 ks? well guess I don't have to worry about it being so isolated then ? lol Thanks for the advice..
Richeal
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Follow Up By: Willem - Sunday, Mar 30, 2008 at 20:31

Sunday, Mar 30, 2008 at 20:31
Colin

Rosie retired in 04 to Warraweena Station in the Flinders where she has been serving as a 'back-up' vehicle. The manager there has tried his best to break her, but to no avail.....LOL


Cheers
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FollowupID: 561684

Reply By: Member - Kim M (VIC) - Sunday, Mar 30, 2008 at 20:20

Sunday, Mar 30, 2008 at 20:20
Richeal

Just go and do it.

If you want a bit of peace and quiet, I'd recommend the Rig Rd crossing.

Regards

Kim
AnswerID: 295665

Reply By: Holden4th - Sunday, Mar 30, 2008 at 20:30

Sunday, Mar 30, 2008 at 20:30
I crossed the Simpson in June 2006 from E to W and found that the majority of the traffic was coming the other way. I filled up at Birdsville (90L tank plus 2x20L jerries) but only need 95L to get to MT Dare to refuel. This was in an 06 Di-D Paj.

I believe that the Patrol has a 125L tank and that should easily get you to Birdsville from Mt Dare if it's a diesel. The Patrol will just eat up the dunes on the W/E trek and you should have few problems. Just remember that the drop off on the eastern side is steeper so feather off the accelerator at the top of the dune just to be sure. Most of the dunes have RH turn at the top (LH if you're going E/W).

http://www.exploroz.com.au/TrekNotes/TrekFuel.asp?TrekID=2 might give you an indication of fuel use.

Regardless of traffic I'd never travel this alone. When you get to Dalhousie Springs ask a group if you can tag along but better still, post on this site and see if there are others who might join you. It may mean a slight change in itinerary but better to be safe than sorry.

Finally - prepare as thoroughly as you can. Make sure your mechanic checks your vehicle out very thoroughly and from his check decide what spares to take - provided you know how to fit them of course. If you've got a diesel then a fuel filter has to be top of the list. The same applies to a petrol but they are a little more forgiving. Make sure that you have heaps of water, a good puncture repair kit, air compressor and at least a 6th wheel. Radiator stop leak would also be useful and the best way lift a wheel in sand is with an air bag.

You should only need a snatch strap on the flat stretches of the desert. Unless you are couple of metres from the top, nobody is going to be able to 'snatch you up'. Just reverse down and try again until you make it. Lowering tyre pressure helps here.

Good luck. I thoroughly enjoyed my Simpson experience and I'm sure you will too if you prepare thoroughly.
AnswerID: 295669

Reply By: Steve - Sunday, Mar 30, 2008 at 20:44

Sunday, Mar 30, 2008 at 20:44
It is remote , and you need be cautious , but the time we went, about same time as you are planning..albeit some 5 years ago ..the amount of traffic was the scarry bit !! loads of people in convoy..demanding right of way !! idiots trying to cross in one day in JEEP specials..more clowns in make believe allwheel drive units going over the top in speed ..losing their roof racks etc..we enjoyed the trip ..but the experience..well its a bit like Pitt St in Sydney ..mid-week !!
AnswerID: 295677

Reply By: rob w - Sunday, Mar 30, 2008 at 21:25

Sunday, Mar 30, 2008 at 21:25
Thanks Everyone, for the good advice, its made me feel slightly more comfortable about the trip...
Richeal
AnswerID: 295695

Reply By: Member - Shane D (QLD) - Sunday, Mar 30, 2008 at 21:34

Sunday, Mar 30, 2008 at 21:34
Hi Richeal,
I travelled E to W in April 07 and was also travelling alone, I had a HF radio as well as UHF and CB, and with no other passengers,was able to take more supplies.
I was quite prepared and happy to venture across by myself, but after spending 3 says in Birdsville, relaying my plan to the local's, was incouraged to "re-evaluate" my plans.
As I was leaving Birdsville, the caravan park operator told me that there was another vehicle heading the same direction and was also leaving soon, so went and indroduced myself, asked what plans they had (if any, I didn't).
Cut a long story short we "hooked up" and went over together.
The only thing that didn't go to plan was up ontop the first dune, the Troopy bottomed out cuasing it to get stuck, just a quick tug on a snatch strap was all it needed, but you need another vehicle to do that, of course a self recovery would not of be THAT difficult, but a helluvalot harder.
We encounted a few other travellers along the QAA line but once we turned along the WAA line there was a noticable drop (read nil) other poeple while we where along there.
While we had no problems with either vehicle, but I would recomend finding some-one/gruop who is going across and travel with them just for re-assurance, it will NOT be difficult to find some like minded poeple willing to allow you to join, everyone who is out there is out there for the same reason you are!
If you are leaving from either end, I will almost GAURANTEE you won't wait long
Click on this spoiler, If you wish to have a bit of a look, once you opened to page look down along the left for the "video" box and click on whatever one tickles your fancy. Shane
AnswerID: 295699

Follow Up By: Member - Shane D (QLD) - Sunday, Mar 30, 2008 at 21:36

Sunday, Mar 30, 2008 at 21:36
I don't think anyone has metioned permits, are you aware?
They are valid for 12 months, so handy to get now (they are quite detailed) and have a bit of a stury.
Shane
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Reply By: Member - Shane D (QLD) - Sunday, Mar 30, 2008 at 21:41

Sunday, Mar 30, 2008 at 21:41
. . . .and have a bit of a stury????
That should read have a bit of a STUDY. . . . . . .
Yes, I have fat fingers.
AnswerID: 295703

Follow Up By: rob w - Sunday, Mar 30, 2008 at 21:49

Sunday, Mar 30, 2008 at 21:49
Hey Shane,
Was just looking at your videos...bloody hell thats a big dune...looks like awsome fun though...I know as soon as my partner sees it ,he'll be rearing to get going! Ive been doing a little studying tonight and the permits on the list of things to do tomorrow...I know this is going to sound dumb...but ...where do I get the desert flags...god I know ill be roasted alive for that one!
Richeal
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Follow Up By: Member - Shane D (QLD) - Sunday, Mar 30, 2008 at 22:20

Sunday, Mar 30, 2008 at 22:20
Depends on how resourceful hubby is, I just used an old long UHF aerial with a flag I bought from ARB, some people use all sorts of things mainly for the length, anything will do just as long as it can be seen as you approach the top of a dune, as you go over the dune, you CANNOT stop and have a look, you are COMMITED until BOTH sets of wheels are over top lip, that's what Glenn did wrong, hence getting stuck.
Shane
PS that dune is BIG RED, if you type that into youtube you will find some of the tom fool-ry that goes on there.
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Follow Up By: Member - Shane D (QLD) - Sunday, Mar 30, 2008 at 22:21

Sunday, Mar 30, 2008 at 22:21
Oh yeah. . . .
permits can be bought thru Exploreoz
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Reply By: weeds - Monday, Mar 31, 2008 at 22:08

Monday, Mar 31, 2008 at 22:08
hey

i did E to W in september school holidays in 2005

i went solo via the rig road and had a great time, well apart from one traveller giving me a lecture about not answering my uhf, selected first and drove off cause i couldn't get a word in edge wise

Simpson Crossing
Birdsville - QAA - French - Knolls - Rig- Mt Dare
648km
78L Diesel
8.3km/L

i took three days, the first days travel i came across a heap of other cars travelling the french line W to E and had two tag a long tours following me. school holidays means plenty of rigs doing the crossing. uhf on scan and there was chit chat all day long

i agree with the others

well serviced and maintain rig
comms, i had a uhf and sat phone
water, i carried 70L
food, i had over a weeks supply including icecreams
tyre pressures, differant for each rig, i went with 20psi front 25psi rear
apart from a bit of a play on big red i was in high range all the way
spares, my local repairer put together a spare parts box, belts, hoses, water pump, wheel bearings, clutch master and slave kits etc
tyres, i carried two spares (not that i needed to on my trip but i recommend taking a tyre of a rim and put it back on before leaving....thats if you have not done before)

my clutch master failed at the start of my third day, i rebuilt it at mt dare

i can email you my trip report if you would like, i'm not much of a story teller but you will get the idea
AnswerID: 295879

Follow Up By: S&N - Monday, Mar 31, 2008 at 23:12

Monday, Mar 31, 2008 at 23:12
hi mate, can i get a copy of your trip report? thanks
shannon
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Follow Up By: rob w - Tuesday, Apr 01, 2008 at 12:37

Tuesday, Apr 01, 2008 at 12:37
Hey There,
A copy of your trip would be very welcome...Im looking at everything I can! Thanks Heaps...By the way, have you been on the Old Andado Track? Im trying to find out if this is the best way to get from uluru to Mt Dare
Thanks again
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Follow Up By: rob w - Tuesday, Apr 01, 2008 at 20:17

Tuesday, Apr 01, 2008 at 20:17
oops I mean't to say alice springs insted of uluru but its ok ,we have decided to go to finke anyway, thanks anyway thoughj!
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Follow Up By: weeds - Wednesday, Apr 02, 2008 at 17:57

Wednesday, Apr 02, 2008 at 17:57
new to the forum and buggered if i can find you email address's

Day 4
The Simpson Desert
Birdsville – 26O02’17”S 137O36’36”E CNR French Line and Knolls Track
221km
Other 4wd’s 2 x Nissans with trailer, 1 x Toyota tray back ‘Park Ranger’
Departed the caravan park at seven only to find the servo didn't open till 8am. I didn’t want to wait as a 12-vehicle tag along was leaving at 8am and I didn't want to be caught behind them. Looks like no extra jerry, probably saved myself a few $$$, Righto bring on big red, the track out to big red was good, I pulled up to read the warning sign as we were at the edge of the Simpson and lowered the tyre pressures to 20 psi. The GPS indicated we were at big red so up and over we go with ease so I thinking this cannot be big red. The track turned to the right as soon as we got over, after a few hundred meters or so there was a sign big red to the right and QAA to the left. Now this looks a little harder. We are now on the western side of big red looking to the east and there were three tracks with the left looking the hardest. Thought I may well tackle the hardest first, engaged diff locks and charged off only to be short by a 1-2 cars lengths, reversed down selected low range and got no further. I didn’t want to push the defender too hard as I still had 600km in front of me, out of interest I disengaged the diff lock and had a crack and surprisingly got a couple of meter closer to the top. Reverse down and had a go at the middle track and got to the top, I than drove down the eastern side turned around and got to the top of the tougher track took a photo and drove down the tougher track on the western side. Selected high range and continued along the QAA line. Came across a couple of rangers heading back to there camp for lunch, they were doing some work at Poeppels Corner. When I got 100km from Birdsville I thought I would top the tank up to see how many litres I had used seeming the fuel gauge only indicated the last 2/3rd of the tank. Much happier just over half a jerry for a 100km, I was at ease as I new I had plenty of fuel to cross the Simpson. The defender was getting over the dunes with no problems in high range, plenty of people seem to use the chicken tracks. I was going to travel the QAA to it’s most western point than south to Poepples Corner until I seen the hi-way that hugged the dry lake to Poepples Corner and took this option, even got into 4th gear hi-range whoohooo. Check out Poepples Corner, once again walked to the correct spot using the GPS, which again was a couple of hundred meters away. Headed along the French Line and drove across Lake Poepples and thought what a pain it would be if it was wet. The sand dunes were getting a bit tougher and had to use 1st gear high a few times. Came across a couple of Nissans towing camper trailers, didn’t hear these guys on UHF 10, they said they had to have a couple of goes at a couple of sand dunes since they joined the French Line, they had come across the WAA and up the Knolls to the French Line. The tougher dunes had chicken tracks not that the defender needed them. I put UHF on scan, as these guys were not on channel 10, now I was picking up everybody on the Simpson, didn’t feel so lonely. It was cloudy and windy with the odd sprinkle of rain. There were plenty of wild flowers on display along with plenty of little lizards darting around the place. We managed to catch one for Josh, he didn’t hang a round long on the bonnet as our mascot. Got to the junction of the French Line and Knolls Track and decided to set up camp. Two motorbikes came though in the dark travelling the knolls track, they checked their maps and continued on to Birdsville. Made a fire, had dinner and crashed.


Day 5
26O02’17”S 137O36’36”E CNR Knolls and French - 26O19’41”S 136O48’05”E CNR Rig and WAA
198km
Other 4wd’s 2 x Nissans with trailers, 2 x Toyota’s and 1 x Nissan Navara.
Departed camp at 7:40am and headed south along knolls track, travelling with the sand dunes is a nice break from the ups and downs of the French Line. Stopped at the Approdinna Attora Knolls, Dad and Josh walked to the top of the right hand one while I had a bit of a look around at ground level. Continued along the Knolls Track and came across a Nissan towing a trailer and stopped to have a chat, he was travelling with another Nissan which was about 1km behind him, they had come across the WAA line. Move along the track and just as I noticed the next Nissan I realise I hadn’t turn my UHF on, I didn’t think it would be a major problem. Stopped and had a chat to Nissan driver no. 2, after a bit of small chat about his blown rear shockie that was slowing him up the driver asked if I was on UHF 10, I apologised and explained that I had only just turned by radio on. He asked if I was on channel 10, I indicated no and before getting another word in reminded that there were signs all over the desert instructing drivers to use UHF 10. I tried to explain the reason why I was not on UHF 10 however I couldn’t get a word in. I thanked him for his advice and indicated I would be sticking to scan so that I could pick up all traveller on the desert as everybody travelling with more than one vehicle were using a different channel, scan seem to work for the second half of the first day in the desert. Spotted some camel footprints on the track and thought there’s got to be a camel just around the corner. Had smoko at the start of the WAA line, kept heading south along Knolls and notice there was more vegetation growing between the tracks indicating less vehicle traffic, finally away for the crowds. CAMELS WHAT BLOODY CAMELS Wild flowers still about with some nicely scented purple flowers. The tracked has flattened right out and was getting more comfortable to drive; I can see way the trailer and motor bikes come this way. Just starting to get peckish as Lone Gum Tree was approaching, perfect timing for lunch. CAMELS WHAT BLOODLY CAMELS It was peak hour at Lone Gum Tree as two Toyota’s join us for lunch. Lost count how many flies I ate with my lunch. Quite amazing how this tree has survived let alone get so big. Definitely glad I made the effort to come this way. By now we are on the Rig Track which is clay topped and great to drive on. A few corrugations here and there, spending most of my time in third gear, a bit of drift sand to make you think on top of the dunes. Stopped at the Walkandi Airstrip, the strip is still in good nick, still had all the 44 gallon drum cut in half making the strip. I decided I would see how tough it is driving across the desert with no tracks to follow and search for an old oil well. I went about 1-2km and can confirm it tough going negotiating the Spinifex humps; I now know what you went through Caption Rightfoot. Gave up on the oil well as it was probably only a small piece of steel sticking out of the ground and would be impossible to find so it was back to the Rig Road. CAMELS WHAT BLOODY CAMELS Had a chat to a couple in a Narava Ute that were travelling back from spending two months in Broome. Found a little shady tree for afternoon smoko it was back onto the track and after a couple of sand dunes CAMELS YIPEE. It was a pack of six and only hung around long enough for a photo before heading off over a sand dune. More of the clay top on the way to Wonga Junction, corner of the Rig Track and WAA Line where we set up camp. CAMELS YOU SHOULD HAVE SEEN THE CAMELS The average speed picked up today with travelling on the clay top. The flies still have nothing better to do than annoy the **** out of us. Check oils and the underneath of the defender, all looking good, not using as much fuel as expected even better.

Day 6
26O19’41”S 136O48’05”E CNR Rig and WAA – Mt Dare
229km
Other vehicles – 4
The end of the Rig Road so it’s a left onto the WAA, more clay topped tracks with some wash outs going up the dunes and the usual drift sand at the tops of the sand dunes. Came across a dead camel on the side of the road. Passed a very big sand dune with two hill climb tracks going up it, looked like nobody has made it to the top, was tempted but drove on. Had a bit of a look the Mokari Airstrip, grave site, oil well etc. A little further on came across two more camels, after taking some photos the trotted onto the track and started heading the same way as us, I followed slowly till they got over the dune, waited a little bit however when I got to the top of the dune they were still trotting along the track. I followed for a while expecting them to move of the track, they didn’t so I sped up got right on there tails beeping the horn doing 25km/h, they still didn’t move off the track. I didn’t want to stress the camels out so I decided on an early smoko. As I was getting back into the drivers seat I noticed a wet patch on the floor, that’s strange I thought, I didn’t remember spilling water, had a closer look and the clutch pedal was wet as well, damn it’s clutch fluid. I popped the bonnet and I was missing half a reservoir of fluid. No problem as I had a clutch master kit on board (thank god MR Automotive talked me into it), I decided I would do the rebuild in Mt Dare. As I only has one bottle of fluid I drove the rest of the way not using the clutch, missed a couple of gears hear and there, after learning to drive a truck with a crash gear box the defender was a piece of cake. Stopped at Purni Bore, much larger than I thought, I was going to have a swim not only did it look shallow nobody else was swimming. There was a toilet, shower and a covered picnic table at the carpark, it was good to sit on a real toilet, BYO toilet paper though. Looking forward to Dalhousie Springs for a swim and lunch. We pick up a guy on the UHF that was warning some vehicles that were following him about every little rock on the road and having a good old chat. Sure enough he stopped us for a chat, he was driving a Vitara stock standard, next to nothing in the back, no sand dune flag, no roof rack, travelling alone etc so I thought he was only going to purni bore than back to Mt Dare or somewhere. He told me he was going across the Simpson, although I have not done the complete French line I than thought he would be going the WAA or Rig. Wrong again he was doing the French. In the back of my mind I’m thinking why the hell did I go to so much trouble in my preparation when I looked at his rig. Although I didn’t travel with any other vehicles and a Hyundai made it across with the tag along tour why should on question what others were doing. Wished him good luck and continued on. He was talking to three other 4wd’s behind him; I stopped for another chat with the next 4wd and asked if they were all travelling together. They had been trying to lose the Vitara as he just invited himself to lead these three guys across the Simpson. The track was good to Dalhousie Springs 60-70-80km/h. Some sections would turn into trouble with the slightest bit of rain. There was still some water on the side of the track from previous rain. The wild flowers were brilliant, much better than the Simpson. Arrived at Dalhousie, toilets, showers, camping areas, well maintained, a boardwalk around the spring with steps, tubes for the kids, great setup. Went for a swim, somewhere in the 30’s was the temp, felt good. The tag along had caught us up, we had just finished lunch and couldn’t resist another swim, so back in for another half hour or so. The road to Mt Dare was not as good, a fair bit of water on the road with plenty of sidetracks. As we were heading north up the Old Ghan and not to sure if fuel was going to be available at Finke along with wanting to know exactly how many litres I used for the Simpson crossing I decided to fuel up at Mt Dar. $1.75/L, 78.3L, 648km, 8.3km/L. I was keen to rebuild the clutch master, dad was keen on a beer and Josh was even more keen on a game cricket so we each went our own ways. Having not done a clutch master it all looked easy just take the inspection plate off the master should just unbolt. Had a quick look in and realised its main purpose was to adjust the free play in the clutch, it had me stumped for a bit, surely I don’t have to the whole mounting bracket off, after having a look on the inside I sure did. I had to remove the air cleaner as well to wriggle it all out. While stripping the master the little spring and plunger went shooting across the tarp I was working on. I open the rebuild kit as yes there were more parts than I pulled apart, had a quick look on the grass to if there were any stray parts. Cleaned all the bits and reassembled, fitted it back in the car, bleed the clutch and packed the tools up, The clutch didn’t feel as good as it should have so I was hoping the first 20 gear changes tomorrow would sort it out. About two hours to complete, it should have been quicker as I had about a million flies wanting to help. One of the tag alongs popped over just as I was finished and couldn’t believe I was carrying the parts and actually did the repair, well it was a bit of luck I was carrying the kit and lucky I have some mechanical skills. Had a shower, some dinner and headed off the MT Dare pub for a beer or two at $4.50/XXXX Gold. The wind had picked up when we walked back to the campsite. I woke up at some ungodly hour to pull down the awning as there was a mini tornado moving through, the wind must have been 300 knots!!!! Dad and Josh did even stir. Went to sleep hoping the awning was not damaged. Later in the night we had a couple of drops of rain, was thinking it was going to bucket down however it moved on, Josh and Dad still didn’t stir..
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