simpson desert - towing

Submitted: Thursday, Feb 25, 2010 at 20:14
ThreadID: 76335 Views:4256 Replies:11 FollowUps:12
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Hi new to the forum and wish I could work out how to do a search on this topic. I know a lot of people out there have particular opinions about towing a camping trailer across the Simpson, but we'd like to hear from anyone who has done it. Planning to cross heading East in July. Any serious problems? Did you get bogged. Was roughly was your additional fuel consumption? Thanks
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Reply By: racinrob - Thursday, Feb 25, 2010 at 20:43

Thursday, Feb 25, 2010 at 20:43
I came across west to east a couple of years ago and saw several abandoned and stripped box trailers and one camping trailer with a broken stub axle that had been left to die. (Too expensive to recover)

AnswerID: 406015

Follow Up By: Member - Scoot (SA) - Friday, Feb 26, 2010 at 13:07

Friday, Feb 26, 2010 at 13:07
The question was for people that have done it but plenty of people saying don't take a trailer that haven't done it even tried it.

So only listen to the people that have done it.

My honest opinion if you want to do it do it. If you are a confidant sand driver and know about driving in sand. Do most of your driving in first half of the day as the sand is moist from the dew over night , tyre pressure down to correct pressure for sand driving.Make sure your trailer is a off-road trailer not a garden type. I did it with 2 other families all towing trailers never got bogged once never had any problems.

Safe travels Scoot. :-)
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Reply By: Member - Flynnie (NSW) - Thursday, Feb 25, 2010 at 20:49

Thursday, Feb 25, 2010 at 20:49
This has been discussed repeatedly on the forum. Try searching the archives on "Simpson".

I have not towed on the Simpson. However I have observed a few "unteachables" towing out there and having all sorts of trouble. My opinion is that a very well experienced and well set up driver could do it successfully, if the conditions were right. From what I have seen there are very few such drivers and the conditions are often not right. 2009 was a difficult year for crossing.

Light tent or swag is the way to go.

AnswerID: 406017

Reply By: Member - Prickle (SA) - Thursday, Feb 25, 2010 at 20:53

Thursday, Feb 25, 2010 at 20:53

There is plenty of discussion re this subject on this site.

There is no doubt with the right vehicle and experience it can be done.

There is also plenty of anecdontal evidence that it is not a wise thing to do.

We SAussies value our 4x4 driving tracks etc, abuse will in the long run contribute to the closing or further restriction on our tracks.

MY OPINION is that in respect for all and our future use of this and other similar drives, don't tow.

OK, now the you will see all the replies saying it is okay and it does not harm to the environment, it will not affect any further access etc. Well we will see.

Hope that this helps. (Not intending to be too controversial.)

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AnswerID: 406019

Reply By: Wilko - Thursday, Feb 25, 2010 at 20:56

Thursday, Feb 25, 2010 at 20:56
Went with the BIL, He towed a Kimberly Kamper with a new V8 cruiser. We struggled. Had to winch the trailer up over the softer sand

Some say that If you are experienced in Towing in sand that it would be OK.

Either way, make sure you have a good quality offroad trailer and its and the tow vehicle is in good nick.

AnswerID: 406020

Reply By: ajd - Thursday, Feb 25, 2010 at 21:19

Thursday, Feb 25, 2010 at 21:19
You can tow a trailer across the Simpson but why would you turn one of the best 3-4 days driving into a chore.

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Reply By: Ozrover - Thursday, Feb 25, 2010 at 21:23

Thursday, Feb 25, 2010 at 21:23

The DEH strongly advise against towing a trailer across the Simpson, yes it can be done & they haven't banned it yet, (note the summer closure of the Simpson).

In my opinion I wouldn't tow anything across the Simpson unless I absolutely had to ie.. in an emergency recovery situation.

If you don't have to tow a trailer then why do it, we offer free storage of trailers for those who wish to cross the Simpson desert without the extra hassle, it just means that you have an excuse to come back & get it either by crossing over twice (different tracks) or by going around via the Oodnadatta track or the Plenty hwy.

Our second largest repair request is for broken trailers, not all done on the Simpson but a fair amount.

Think about it.

AnswerID: 406028

Follow Up By: Kim and Damn Dog - Thursday, Feb 25, 2010 at 22:01

Thursday, Feb 25, 2010 at 22:01

Like many other places, the Simpson changes by season. Sometimes it’s easy, other times not. I don’t think the question should be about comfort (camper trailer), but more so the enjoyment of the crossing.

The prevailing attitude seems to be ‘We’ll go hell bent on getting to Birdsville in three days and get the car over Big Red’.

This of sort of attitude needs to be changed. It’s a magnificence area that should be promoted as a six day trip.

What’s the point of spending a lot of money, if you don’t take advantage of this pristine area?



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Follow Up By: Member - Denis G (QLD) - Friday, Feb 26, 2010 at 11:03

Friday, Feb 26, 2010 at 11:03
I agree entirely....and I do wish that trekkers heeded the advice /recommendation of DEH and not tow: in my experience (lost track of how many times I have been across, and in both directions), doing so only chops up the tracks and makes life difficult for all.

Personally, I definitely favour the swag option....and if you don't want to see the stars, pull out the awning.

FollowupID: 675806

Reply By: DIO - Thursday, Feb 25, 2010 at 21:45

Thursday, Feb 25, 2010 at 21:45
Be mindful that if you do decide to go against the advice of DEH (Department of Environment & Heritage SA) and decide to tow a trailer, if it breaks down you are required - at your expense - to remove it. That could be very costly. Furthermore, you may incur the wrath of other travellers who may believe that you are unecessarily tearing up the tracks and delaying their progress. Good luck with whatever you decide.
AnswerID: 406035

Reply By: Crackles - Thursday, Feb 25, 2010 at 22:51

Thursday, Feb 25, 2010 at 22:51
"we'd like to hear from anyone who has done it" Well so far you have mostly heard from people that haven't done it :-)
"Any serious problems?" No, our group didn't have any problems towing on the Simpson.
"Did you get bogged?" No, not once, in fact didn't need to back up until the last dune (Big Red) where we took the trailer via the chicken track.
"What was your additional fuel consumption? The Turbo Diesel 80 series used 142 L compared to a 1Hz non turbo that wasn't towing who used 107.

My concern is not if a trailer can be towed over successfully, (As clearly it can)but anyone who needs to ask about towing probably doesn't have enough experience to do it & may need to serve their apprenticship 1st ;-)

As for searching, type "Simpson Towing" or "Simpson trailer" into the search box where it says 'Search For:' (Under SEARCH OPTIONS) then select GO.
Cheers Craig...........
(Have fun out there)
AnswerID: 406060

Follow Up By: olcoolone - Friday, Feb 26, 2010 at 09:55

Friday, Feb 26, 2010 at 09:55
We also towed our Ultimate camper through the Simpson with very little effort, we had to back down one hill as it was rutted and soft so we needed a bit more speed.

In our group we had three more campers and they had no issues ether.

We were listening to a group behind us on the radio and constantly there were request from their group to be snatched over...these people were not towing trailers.

Most people who make comments usually have never used the product in question or never done the said activity.

I would say towing a good trailer through the Simpson on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 the hardest), I would rate it a 4.

The biggest thing is what vehicle, how have you got you 4x4 set up, the trailer you are towing and experience.

You would be surprised where you can get a off road camper into.

Remember TYRE PRESSURES and a raised vehicle helps.
FollowupID: 675793

Follow Up By: abchelle - Friday, Feb 26, 2010 at 14:14

Friday, Feb 26, 2010 at 14:14
Thanks for feedback - geez some people commenting make a lot of assumptions! Not really doing it for a comfort thing, more of a neccesity with 3 young children. No back seat for storage. Yes, we do lots of outback camping and off-road trips even whilst the kids were babies, but not yet the Simpson. We are travelling with parents who have done it twice already but never towed through. Yes we are very experienced sand drivers, and have recently upgraded the old '95 toyota four-runner diesel chug a lug to a new Nissan turbo diesel so it has more grunt. Have raised Old Man emu suspension and an 'off-road' camper with extra suspension. Anyway, we are still considering it and plan to do an unhurried trip but a loop is not an option for us. Thanks for the views of those who have done it. We were interested in how you handled the dunes and how challenging you found it - especially if you had to winch over or do a lot of reversing for a second go. I disagree about the trailers stuffing up the tracks - it's the bad drivers with or without trailers who are the culprits. Thanks
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Follow Up By: Member - Scoot (SA) - Friday, Feb 26, 2010 at 15:25

Friday, Feb 26, 2010 at 15:25
abchelle glad to read your follow up. Some people should keep their pie hole shut if they haven't even done it.
Unbelievable the negative response that this subject gets.

Have a great trip.

Scoot. :-)
FollowupID: 675850

Follow Up By: Crackles - Friday, Feb 26, 2010 at 17:37

Friday, Feb 26, 2010 at 17:37
ab while in the past I've recommended towing in the Simpson to many I've been a bit more cautious of late with my advice due to the large number of inexperienced people for whom the Simpson is their 1st real trip they've ever done. (Always difficult to judge peoples experience over the net)
Before committing to towing through the desert it would pay to see what the sand conditions are closer to the date. Last season for example was at times the hardest ever. There was both additional 70km detours for the flooded Eyre Creek plus increased fuel usage due to very soft sand blows. Many dunes apparently had detours around which never existed in the past. Even the Rig Rd which historically is the 'easy way' and the route favoured by those towing was very challenging & would rate up to a 9 in the scale of difficulty. The year we went in comparison was fairly easy for an experienced opperator and agree with the above rating of 4.
Cool one we had a similar experience where we were following a group that were getting stuck on the French line approaching Poepels. Could hear them on the radio snatching each other. They were pulled up on the side when we passed them not a trailer in the group. What we don't need out there is this type of inexperienced group towing as they are the ones who hold everyone up, make even more mess of the dunes & give ammunition to those above which in turn leads to restrictions.
Cheers Craig..............
FollowupID: 675871

Follow Up By: Member - Flynnie (NSW) - Friday, Feb 26, 2010 at 18:39

Friday, Feb 26, 2010 at 18:39

Given the lack of information in your original post everyone had to make a lot of assumptions in attempting to give you the benefit if their varied and valuable experience.

The advice you have been given by different people who have travelled the Simpson at different times, some of them very difficult crossings, should be taken on board. Not everyone has recommended the same thing but there has been a great deal of consistency in the statements. Either not to do it at all or experienced well prepared people can do it when conditions are good. There is not very much difference between these views.

You have also received advice from Mt Dare who do a lot of recoveries. I would suggest you visit there website at then do make an informed choice as to what to do.

Regardless of what you decide to do trailers are officially discouraged on the Simpson (not as yet banned). This is clearly indicated in the South Australian Desert Pass material.

To many writers your question is a bit similar to "Can I sail to New Zealand in an open boat?". Well the technical answer is yes but the real question is more about "Is it a good idea?" or "Is it worth the risk?"


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Follow Up By: Member - Scoot (SA) - Friday, Feb 26, 2010 at 19:22

Friday, Feb 26, 2010 at 19:22
"Can I sail to New Zealand in an open boat?".

Come on give Abchelle some credit they did ask for people that had done the trip not arm chair travelers.
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Follow Up By: Top Ender - Friday, Feb 26, 2010 at 19:40

Friday, Feb 26, 2010 at 19:40
Hey Flynnie The question asked was very straight forward to me.

They were not interested in the wafflings from people that had opinions on why they shouldn't cross the Simpson with a trailer, the reason being is it is still legal to do so.

The question was asking people that HAD done it with a trailer, what was it like and how did you go, there is more than enough info in that question to get an exact answer.

When I do the Simpson with my Trailer I won't be seeking permission from the holier than thou on this site.

My 1000000 plus kms towing a trailer around OZ is sufficient enough experience to tackle the task, it does seem to me that some people on this site believe that once they have crossed a desert or driven a track it then becomes theirs to dictate how others should or shouldn't do in the future.
FollowupID: 675892

Follow Up By: Member - Scoot (SA) - Friday, Feb 26, 2010 at 19:45

Friday, Feb 26, 2010 at 19:45
Yeh ha well said, Top Ender

I get sick of hearing the same crap when this subject comes up.
To many people read a goverment web site and then know it all.

Cheers Scoot . :-)
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Reply By: Bob of KAOS - Thursday, Feb 25, 2010 at 23:09

Thursday, Feb 25, 2010 at 23:09

We came down the Colson and turned right. No problem towing trailer with TD5 Disco.

AnswerID: 406065

Reply By: Member - Mick T1 (QLD) - Friday, Feb 26, 2010 at 19:28

Friday, Feb 26, 2010 at 19:28

we towed a camper trailer thru the simpson in 2008 with an 80 series DX with aftermarket turbo fitted, east to major dramas...had to winch over 3 dunes from memory the whole 4 days we were there and that was only late in the afternoon, had a few detours but only used both tanks ( approx 150 L) and one jerry can of diesel.........Just don't rush and let those in a hurry go're there to see it after all....will do it again.....just remember lower tyre pressures, think before you act,( I even walked up some dunes kicking sand in tracks)... and remember other people need to use these tracks so be careful

All the best

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And now we don't know where the hell we are!.........

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AnswerID: 406196

Reply By: Member - Glen J (VIC) - Sunday, Feb 28, 2010 at 13:33

Sunday, Feb 28, 2010 at 13:33
G'day Everyone,

Once again some interesting debate. I always wonder with the positive and negatives of us all. It's great to get out their and see our beautiful country. I think however we have a bit of us/them syndrone. Some members can't see reason to having a camper trailer as they prefer, for many reasons to just utilise the space in the car, I was the same for many years and then one day I tried a camper. Personal choice.
What does get missed with some of this debate is that their are some brilliant trailers out their that are more than capable of doing this kind of trip. It can sometimes be of benefit to tow a trailer , while others tend to sometimes over load their vehicles, either just too much and increasing the overall weight that could also be classed as detrimental to the track or others that run the risk of being incredibly top heavy.

As a positive the best thing we can do is to encourage people whether towing or not to pack carefully, take time to prepare and don't skimp on ensuring your vehicle and or trailer is up to the task.
So much to see ,so little time Enjoy and encourage.


AnswerID: 406490

Follow Up By: Barra-2 - Sunday, Feb 28, 2010 at 23:06

Sunday, Feb 28, 2010 at 23:06
Hi from Barra

I'm currently planning a trip across the Simpson in July and would like to take my new off road trailer that is being built at the moment, but my other travellers prefer I didn't because of the risk of it breaking down. And I respect that.

Maybe it would be a good idea for people asking the question or giving an answer to describe their vehicle and trailer, and maybe experience driving on sand.

My trailer will be a 6X4 Heavy duty, extended draw bar, Electric brakes, with 3 Cooper STT 285/75/16 tyres, and an extra spare. Heavy duty axle, 500mm sides, Metal flip top lid, eye to eye springs, drop down legs, recovery hooks and a 360 degree override coupling including with hand brake setup, 2x gas ring holders, 2x jerry can holders and 4x4 guards including rear side steps. Taking as many spare parts as possible. It will be run in with three other trips before July

My Vehicle is 06 100 Series Sahara, Dual Air Lockers, Chuck Wagon with 50 litre water storage, Steel Bar & Rear Bar with dual spares Cooper STT's 285/70/17. XGS Gold Shocks, Poly Air Bags, 2 inch lift with 200 Kg springs and Long Range Tanks. And a Shippshape roof top tent

Experience: Travelled most of SA in a 2001 RAV4 and now going back over it all, a bit easier this time. Port Lincoln National Park, Peak, Bushys, Border Track, Gibb River, Tanamai, Flinders, Gawler Ranges are some of the places we have been, and some of it with a 30 year old Cub Drifter camper.
I have always adjusted tyres to the right pressures, and never had a puncture.

So to the experienced people out there going west to east do you think my experience, vehicle and trailer that will be stocked with drinks, water and all the loose gear that is usually stored in the back seat area be able to traverse the Simpson reasonably easy and lighter?
We don’t have to take it but I’d like too

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