Simpson Desert via Geosurveys Hill

Has anyone done this trip with trailers? We haven't done the crossing via Geosurveys Hill but would like to. We have always taken trailers with us before to carry extra water and fuel (low down as opposed to on the roof). We are a well-equipped group of very experienced 4WDers and have done about 8 crossings of the Simpson in all weathers and on many different routes. Any info or advice would be appreciated.
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Reply By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Friday, Jun 19, 2009 at 20:22

Friday, Jun 19, 2009 at 20:22
Desert Tripper
8 or 800 Simpson Desert trips will never compare to the Geo Area. You are talking 100% pure virgin cross country travelling as its very best and hardest of travel conditions. I have heard a few people bragging that have come down from the Madigan line to Geosurvey Hill, then back up again to the safety of tracks to follow. We have travelled that area, travelling cross country from The Twins, out to the Colson Track, then straight to Geosurvey Hill, From there north east, then down to the Geographical Centre, then down to Poeppel Corner.
My only advise is do yourself a favour and leave the trailers at home. Your vehicles will be under enough pressures as they are let alone trying to drag a trailer for well over 400 kilometres.
Here are a few facts to consider:

Daily distances travelled, the best 34, the least 22 kilometres
Low Range 1st and 2nd, if you are lucky, 3rd for a few hundred metres, then back to 2nd or first.
Must carry at least 300 lites of diesel per vehicle and 120 litres of drinking water.
It took us 15 nights/16 days from one side of the Simpson to the other.
Constant side wall punctures for the first 3 or so vehicles.
Contact boggings in soft sand, or being grounded on Moguls
100% navigation by GPS
Damage your vehicle out there, that is where it will stay, would be near impossible to be towed out.
For a safety factor keep in very regular contact with someone reliable via HF or Sat Phone.
Only one venicle out of 5 never had a puncture - tail end Charlie, we cleared the way for him

This is no easy trip, so think very seriously.



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Follow Up By: Desert Tripper- Friday, Jun 19, 2009 at 20:38

Friday, Jun 19, 2009 at 20:38
Thanks for all that useful info. Will discuss with the group. We like a challenge but take your point about the trailers in those conditions. Do you have GPS locations for the trip?

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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Friday, Jun 19, 2009 at 22:44

Friday, Jun 19, 2009 at 22:44
Hi Sarah
Yes I have a complete list that I made along the way. What I did, was to pick a point almost directly opposite Geosurvey Hill on the Colson Track, then head as near as possible on that course towards Geosurvey Hill. One thing that I can tell you that is would be near impossible to turn around once you commit to the actual cross country venture. Three dunes into the desert after the Colson Track had me asking myself, what the hell have I led my group into. Your only way out is to continue east, or follow a very rough and slow swale down to the French Line. The size of some of the larger dune equal Big Red, but are virgin with no runs ups at all, just 1st gear low range and find the best possible way up without getting bogged, or stuck on the millions of moguls that you have to cross.We did find some very truly unreal desert sites, and felt very privileged that a lot of the places that we travelled, we would have been the first white people to have ever ventured there. Our speedos were on "0" for almost the full time and it was the GPS that said we were travelling at say 5 kilometres per hour etc. Get your map out, and measure, and it is approximately 65 kilometres from the Colson track to Geosurvey Hill. If I told you that it took nearly 3 days to do this, that will give you some idea on how slow a trip it is. One very large find was a huge pit in the middle of no where, of an old shot line. I made lots of enquires after the trip, send in pictures to all the Oil Companies that were drilling out there but never had one reply. Another great find were the original survey pegs, still in place from original surveys into the desert.

If you need any further details, do not hesitate to ask, as experience at remote locations is best coming from someone who has been there.



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Reply By: Member - Doug T (NT) - Saturday, Jun 20, 2009 at 08:25

Saturday, Jun 20, 2009 at 08:25
A well travelled man has towed a trailer there.

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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Saturday, Jun 20, 2009 at 08:56

Saturday, Jun 20, 2009 at 08:56
Hi Doug
It is completely different from Geosurvey Hill to the Geographical Centre. When Willem took his trailer to the Geographical Centre, there are old shot lines to follow as such for the greater part of the trip like about 90% of the way. Access to Geosurvey Hill is devoid of any tracks what so ever. Also the conditions are easier after the Geographical Centre. Only people that have ever travelled to Geosurvey Hill will testify just how slow and hard a trip it is.

A few other facts.

1. Willem has never ever been to Geosurvey Hill, and has personally told me that he would like to at some stage.

2 The Visitor book at The Geographical Centre, has page after page of visits, and is now seeing a greater number of groups each years.

3. When we visited Geosurvey Hill, we were the 17th group ever to venture there. In the previous eight years before we arrived there, there were only ever 1 visit per season.

Any track that you can follow out there is a real bonus and you have no such luxuries from the Colson Track to Geosurvey Hill and further out.

My advise still stands, leave the trailers at home and listen to someone that has been there and not what one has heard from someone that has never been there. The picture below shows what it is like, and can you say it is OK to take a trailer out there, day after day, with no shot lines to follow until you get near the Geographical Centre



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Follow Up By: Member - Phil G (SA) - Saturday, Jun 20, 2009 at 09:45

Saturday, Jun 20, 2009 at 09:45
Yep, the Geographical Centre is an easier trip. My first Madigan Line trip was with David and Joan Owen who put in the markers for the Madigan Line. At the time they regularly ran tagalongs to the geographical centre as well. They said it was a lot easier than the Madigan Line - you could pick up a shotline from the Colson Track and then another shotline that heads north to the Centre. Willem headed north from the French Line so he didn't need to cross dunes. Travelling up a swale is achievable with a trailer. Crossing dunes in the trackless parts of the North Simpson Desert is a different story. And if you want to head north from the French Line, you need permission to travel cross-country from the National Parks people on the South Australian side and I've never heard of this being granted.

Geosurveys Hill is 45k further north than the Centre. Stephen travelled from the west , picked up a confluence, and had to cross many dunes. Others who have been to Geosurveys would prefer to head south in the swales from somewhere near Madigans camp 8. But getting to Madigan's Camp 8 involves crossing plenty of steep dunes.

As far as travelling with the trailer goes, what hasn't been mentioned yet is what do you do if the going gets tough and you want to get out of there. If coming across from the west, you cannot turn back. A lot of the dunes have steep eastern faces, and its nothing like the highways down south where you can gun it over the steeper dunes. Your only options from there are to head up to the Madigan Line and do another few days of crossing dunes on a poorly formed track, or do what Willem did and head south down the swales.

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