Canning vs Simpson

Submitted: Monday, Feb 09, 2009 at 18:00
ThreadID: 65845 Views:2737 Replies:9 FollowUps:10
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We travel alone with our Troopie and Kimberley kamper. Have been planning our CSR trip for May this year. Haven't yet done a big dune trip, and just wondered whether the Simpson would be an easier lead in before doing the CSR? Have read the dunes are different and so not comparable, but if anyone has done both with a trailer and has any advice, it would be greatly appreciated. (we are aware that both trips do not recommend taking trailers).
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Reply By: Wayne (NSW) - Monday, Feb 09, 2009 at 18:19

Monday, Feb 09, 2009 at 18:19
The Simpson would be easier and a lot shorter. Would also cost less to retrieve vehicle/ trailer.

If you are any where near Stockton Beach, NSW take the camper fully loaded as if going on a trip and try reversing up a sand dune or reversing in a figure "8".
Also try climbing a sand dune with the camper from a standing start.
Do this all day.

If you do the Simpson you will have 3 to 4 days of this, the Canning at least 20 days.
The two tracks are very different and the way over the dunes are also very different, the only thing that they have in common is soft sand.

I am not a big fan of trailers in any desert trying to get over dunes, but others will not agree with me. If you can do the rip with out the camper it would be a lot less stress on you, the desert, the camper and the vehicle.

Travelling alone with a camper is going to be very hard on the vehicle, even a Troopie.

AnswerID: 348349

Follow Up By: Member - Teege (NSW) - Monday, Feb 09, 2009 at 18:58

Monday, Feb 09, 2009 at 18:58
What more is there to say.

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Follow Up By: Member - blue dog red dog (NSW - Monday, Feb 09, 2009 at 19:10

Monday, Feb 09, 2009 at 19:10
Thank you Wayne, I appreciate the advice. We will definitely be practicing on Stockton for a weekend before the trip! Do you think the structure of the sand is comparable?

We realise the Simpson is shorter, and figure we will get stuck a fair few times, but will get the hang of it eventually (and also relying on 4 x MaxTrax quite heavily!).

Any opinion on whether the single head Simpson dunes vs CSR double headed dunes are easier to tackle? Will also be studying any CSR dvds we can get our hands on in next couple of weeks for any tips.

Appreciate the constructive response!
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Follow Up By: Member - dieseltojo K (VIC) - Monday, Feb 09, 2009 at 19:37

Monday, Feb 09, 2009 at 19:37
Hi Blue dog red dog.Just point it at the dune and tramp it,don,t worry about the axle tramp and the gouges and track damage,that will be for others to worry about.When you have tried a couple of times, you then go in a huge circle to gather speed and make another attempt.This wont bother your engine as it can take it, and fuel is available at well 33 at $3-00 a litre so just go for it.This seems the trend with many of the trailer groups we saw on the canning.

Of course once in the dunes you have to get out ,right,so this is the justification for the track damage.

Trailers are generally not recommended for the Canning or the Simpson,though not banned.I reckon only very experianced persons should tow out back and best not to go alone.

Regards Paul
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Follow Up By: Member - Doug T (NT) - Monday, Feb 09, 2009 at 20:40

Monday, Feb 09, 2009 at 20:40
I have to ask you..... why would you want to reverse UP a dune , If anything you would have to reverse DOWN a dune , and when I was in the Simpson 1997 I towed a trailer behind a Rocky, I found it very easy to reverse down a dune in so much as the trailer just followed the wheel tracks, what I did find was that it was difficult to get it to turn out of the tracks if you needed,

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Follow Up By: Wayne (NSW) - Monday, Feb 09, 2009 at 21:20

Monday, Feb 09, 2009 at 21:20

On the Simpson to drive a dune you basically go up one face, crest the dune and down the other face.
On the Canning you drive up the side of the dune, drop into the bowl and then exit by first driving up out of the bowl and then down the face.
If you get stuck in the bowl you have to reverse out of the bowl which would involve reversing up a dune.

Another thing that I have found in both the Canning and the Simpson is that the wheel tracks are not just one set of tracks but many and they do tend to run off the main track area. What happens there is the trailer will get in one set of tracks and will not go where you want the trailer to go.

Over the last 10 years that I have been crossing the Simpson I have noticed with the increase of traffic that the tracks have become harder to travel.

Unfortunately I don't have any photos of the tracks over the dunes on the Canning. I will however take some on this years trip.

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Follow Up By: Member - Ingo57 (NSW) - Tuesday, Feb 10, 2009 at 14:02

Tuesday, Feb 10, 2009 at 14:02
For what its worth I found the Stockton sand a hell of a lot softer and boggier than that of the Simpson and when we crossed last year, the french line was bombarded with trailers getting dragged across.
I cant comment on the CSR, but unfortunately more and more people seem to do it with trailers.
One thing to keep in mind, If you need to get retrieved you can double the cost!


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Reply By: Member - DickyBeach - Monday, Feb 09, 2009 at 19:47

Monday, Feb 09, 2009 at 19:47
Hi Blue & Red,
Read my thread 7590 (now well & truly in Archives) - we took a LC80 and KK up the CSR in 2003 and had no problems - we took the dunes SLOWLY and caused no damage to anything.

We had done a sand-driving course with the TLCC on Stockton Beach some months earlier where, experimenting with different tyre pressures, we quickly learned what a difference a few psi can make to sand travel.

Our air compressor is mounted in the engine bay (and, no, never had any heat troubles) and I ran an airline to the front and the rear bumper bars to make re-inflating easier. Also, I had two sets of those automatic tyre deflators, one set to 18 for the front and one to 24 for the rear.

Enjoy the trip and, as someone else said, expect it to take 3 weeks.

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Follow Up By: Willem - Monday, Feb 09, 2009 at 20:23

Monday, Feb 09, 2009 at 20:23

Don't do things like that!!!! re post 7590.....hahahahahaha!

Here I am now contradicting myself(see thread post below). But that was 6 years ago and since then I have succumbed to the trailer life as well :-)

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Reply By: GerryP - Monday, Feb 09, 2009 at 19:49

Monday, Feb 09, 2009 at 19:49
Did the Canning last year with a tent type camper. It is not too bad providing you are well prepared and used to sand driving. I used a pair of Maxtrax to get over one dune, so if you have 4, that will improve things dramatically - hint: make sure you tie 3 metres of rope to each one as they WILL get buried and almost impossible to find!

I suggest you travel north to south as the dunes are much easier with a trailer than the other way around. Don't be scared to drop your tyres pressures way down, as far as 12 psi if you have to. I had a front diff locker installed prior to our trip and I must say it was money very well spent as it worked a treat, dragging me over on more than a few of the bigger dunes.

Most (yes MOST) people towing the canning have problems with their trailer suspension so I would take a spare main leaf or two (unless you run coils of course) and become familiar with bush welding just in case. The number of trailers abandoned on the CSR is quite high, but there is not one axle, spring or even shackle to be seen on any of them. I think they have all been scavenged for spares. In fact, it's not the sand dunes that are the biggest worry, it's the never ending corrugations for some 1500 kms or more. Don't rely entirely on the water tank in your trailer either - I lost mine halfway along the track, but fortunately had plenty more in the car.

We also travelled in convoy, which does give one a bit more comfort should murphy rear his ugly head.

Having said all of that, please don't let me put you off doing it. It's a great track and for the well prepared, it's quite easy even with a trailer. Just a matter of not rushing and using common sense.

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Follow Up By: Member - blue dog red dog (NSW - Tuesday, Feb 10, 2009 at 07:40

Tuesday, Feb 10, 2009 at 07:40
Thanks for the advice re the ropes on the MaxTrax! Would hate to have to dig around trying to retrieve them. Also re front diff locker, will look into that.

We aren't too worried re our trailer suspension nor Troopie, both upgraded, tough as nails. Have 2 water tanks, 130L & 70L. Main concern is getting stuck due to weight. Will lighten up as much as possible.

Thanks again.

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Reply By: Willem - Monday, Feb 09, 2009 at 19:53

Monday, Feb 09, 2009 at 19:53

For years I kicked against the idea of towing a trailer. But as we are getting older we seem to need more gear to take camping and eventually the wagon became overloaded and in 2005 I bought an offroad trailer, to carry, amongst other things, a fuel load.

Have done two trips through parts of the Simpson and north of the French Line into the Territory towing the trailer on tracks and offtrack. Have also done one trip over parts of the CSR and quite a bit of offtrack stuff in the western deserts.

Now I did not have anywhere to go and practise my trailer bush driving skills but learnt as I went along. Reversing out of trouble is a very important and I have only had to do this a handful of times since 05. It does create problems when in extremely soft sand as you may be able to reverse out of trouble but then get bogged at the base of a sand dune. Where I have run into trouble on dunes I have driven along the dune corridor to find a better way over.

Tyre pressures on sand are extremely important and I have at times run as low as 10psi on the wagon and 6 psi on the trailer.

The Simson sand is generally firmer than the CSR except in the early part of the touring season when there are numerous sandblows on dune crests. The grain of the sand, especially in the lower(southern) region of the CSR, is coarser and in midday heat the grains tend to roll against one another more readily making the dunes slippery and causing traction to become a problem.

A morjority of dune crossings in both the Simpson and CSR are scalloped out mainly due to travellers running incorrect tyre prssures and this makes towing even more difficult.

I fitted Polyair bags on the rear of the wagon but only inflate them to 10psi, just enough to smoothe out the excessive bumps.

This year I am planning a trip which will include about 1000km of offtrack driving and in doing research I have changed the route 6 times so as to make for easier travelling and I am sure I will change it again before departure.

What ever you do don't line up your rig and rush a dune or sandhill. Select the right tyre pressures, the gear and featherfoot it over the obstacle keeping up steady revs.

Enjoy your sojourn through the deserts.


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Follow Up By: Member - blue dog red dog (NSW - Tuesday, Feb 10, 2009 at 07:48

Tuesday, Feb 10, 2009 at 07:48

Thanks for the advice. We will be doing a TLCC course on Stockton before setting out and are quite prepared to get stuck, but hopefully will get the hang of it along the way. Have to start gaining sand experience at some point!

We plan on travellling in the morning only to minimise the hot sand situation, and have allowed 3 -4 weeks to tackle the route. Am not convinced that only trailers cause dune damage - reckon its the drivers hooning across without respect for the environment around them! Probably the same people that leave toilet paper everywhere and aluminium cans in the fires!

Will rethink maybe Simpson first, but are quite determined to enjoy ourselves come what may.

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Reply By: Crackles - Monday, Feb 09, 2009 at 21:41

Monday, Feb 09, 2009 at 21:41
Setting yourself quite a challenge there 2 dogs. Inexperienced, overloaded with no backup. Not the best preparation for the Canning.
I'd certainly tackle Stockton then the Simpson to gain some sand driving experience with the trailer but even then suggest travelling with others for safety. Very easy to crest a dune too slowly & belly out particually with the long drawbar on the Kimberley. Their heavy weight too can cause you to bog down as well.
The sand on the Canning is not that dis-similar just bigger dunes & more of them. The multiple crests make towing very hard particually when the sand is soft & windblown. Solo makes any recovery alot of hard work even with Maxtrax. I only reckon it's a difficult trip because of the extra weight that needs to be carried & the consequences should something go wrong in such a remote area.
Serve your apprentiship 1st.
Cheers Craig............
AnswerID: 348390

Reply By: Member - Tony S (WA) - Tuesday, Feb 10, 2009 at 01:17

Tuesday, Feb 10, 2009 at 01:17
Well said Willem and Cackles, leave that trailer home. Last time I went up there a few years ago, we came across four trailers which were broken in some way or other.
If you cannot carry everything in your vehicle safely don't do it. Especially on your lonesome. Also, don't expect others to get you out of trouble.

us Sand Gropers are going to have to introduce passports soon to get into W.A. . There will have to be a few exceptions though.

Came across one bloke from over East [no states mentioned] we pulled out five times on a trip from to Wedge Island. Reckoned he was an experienced sand driver and knew better.

He was B..... useless.

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Follow Up By: Member - Tony S (WA) - Tuesday, Feb 10, 2009 at 01:39

Tuesday, Feb 10, 2009 at 01:39
That was from Lancelin to Wedge Island - along the beach.

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Reply By: Member - Tony S (WA) - Tuesday, Feb 10, 2009 at 01:33

Tuesday, Feb 10, 2009 at 01:33
I forgot to mention this.

The war office and I rolled into Wiluna about two years ago and were talking to the service stn. operator and he was telling us about this 4 wheel drive that pulled in for fuel approximately two months ago.The bowser operator was looking in the back as he was filling the vehicle and was trying to work out where all his gear was. Eventually he asked where this bloke was going.

The answer was-- O up the Stock Route.
Where was his camping gear--wait for it

He was going to stay in motels !!!!!

According to the S/stn. owner, true story.

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Reply By: Member - Richard H (NSW) - Tuesday, Feb 10, 2009 at 09:31

Tuesday, Feb 10, 2009 at 09:31
A few years ago I encountered a fellow from the Netherlands in the Simpson with a heavily laden off road trailer being pulled by a troopie.

He told us that on most of the larger dunes he had to unhitch the trailer, drive over the dune, reverse back and winch the trailer up the slope.

Those dunes that have right or left turns at the top? He had to do it twice or three times.

We saw him about 50 km east of Purney Bore, and at that time he had been in the desert for five days, heading west.

He was on his own, and was well equipped, but he may have had serious problems if his winch had decided to die. We ever found out how he eventually got on, but a trip in later years we did not see his trailer abandoned, like one was.

We reckoned that by the time he got to Dalhousie he would have been the world expert on hitching, unhitching and winching.

If you feel that you want to try it on the Simpson, I suggest you enter the desert at Clifton Hills and follow the Rig Road to Dalhousie, or viccy verky. In any event you'll be sorry.
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Reply By: Member -Pinko (NSW) - Tuesday, Feb 10, 2009 at 10:27

Tuesday, Feb 10, 2009 at 10:27
We Towed the Simpson and Hay River last year and experienced no difficulty whatsoever. Our truck just lounged across the dunes. However I did encounter two heavily laden vehicles with aggressive tyre treads attacking the dunes with great rooster tails of sand emanating from the back. So we cannot point the finger at those who choose to tow eh!
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