Simpson Desert crossing

Submitted: Wednesday, Apr 14, 2010 at 18:50
ThreadID: 77718 Views:12084 Replies:10 FollowUps:14
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Hi

I am planning on heading across the simpson leaving Alice Springs in late May early June. I will be travelling alone in a 75 series cruiser.

I have a few questions, firstly, from my reading on this site (and other reading) it seems that the French line is the 'easiest' of the tracks, and the one with the most traffic. Given I won't have a back up vehicle, I would prefer to travel a slightly busier track, though I am really out there to see the desert, so if people have any recommendations of their preferred track I am all ears.

Secondly, which is the fastest way to get to the simpson from Alice?

Thirdly, what maps are recommended? (I don't have a GPS) I know that the deserts parks pass has some reasonable maps, but my preference is for a map that I'll be able to rely on when i'm in the desert?

Fourthly, will the recent rains in the area (as well as the Qld flooding) mean that parts of any of the tracks across the desert will be under water?

Any advice would be much appreciated

cheers
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Reply By: Robin Miller - Wednesday, Apr 14, 2010 at 19:05

Wednesday, Apr 14, 2010 at 19:05
Hi Zook

Keep your eye on the roads tab on this site for latest info , it shows that you can not cross at the moment although you can get to french line from Mt Dare.

Could be a while before you can cross fully.


The maps you get from dessert parks pass are adequate but not much use unless you can put your location on the map so I'd get at least a basic gps.

Really you should get one which records your track , so that if it all goes wrong you can at least drive back the way you came.


Stick to french line for now, a few months ago , when we went last, the lower roads were very hard for a lone vehicle.
Robin Miller

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AnswerID: 412929

Follow Up By: zook - Thursday, Apr 15, 2010 at 08:07

Thursday, Apr 15, 2010 at 08:07
Robin

I read your write up of your trip with interest actually.

Sounds like i'll be investing in a basic GPS, even if it is just so i can back track (if the need arises).

I thought the French line as well for similar reasons to the ones you suggest.
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Reply By: Ozrover - Wednesday, Apr 14, 2010 at 19:07

Wednesday, Apr 14, 2010 at 19:07
Hi Zook,

Firstly "easy" in the Simpson is a relative term, Some tracks are not as difficult as others.

Secondly, at the time that you plan to cross the Simpson late May, early June, it is unlikely that the Eyre creek bypass will be open (hopefully it is!). So you may not be able to cross over all the way to Birdsville.

Another option is to head out via one track & come back by another.

The easiest way to the Simpson is from Alice, down the Stuart Hwy to Kulgera, across to Finke then down to Mt Dare & Dalhousie Springs.

Hema Desert maps are good, as are the Westprint maps supplied with your Desert Parks Pass.

We were out there last week & Lake Poepple was wet as well as the K1 lake.

AnswerID: 412930

Follow Up By: Teraa - Wednesday, Apr 14, 2010 at 19:15

Wednesday, Apr 14, 2010 at 19:15
The Diamintina is rising again in the diamintina lakes and the flood levels remain at approx. 2m higher than last year with more to come.
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Reply By: Member - Mfewster(SA) - Wednesday, Apr 14, 2010 at 20:37

Wednesday, Apr 14, 2010 at 20:37
Zook, have you travelled much on remote, big dunes before? If so, fair enough and disregard the rest of this.
If this is your first experience of them and you are travelling alone, I'd really recommend trying to find another vehicle and joining up with them for the crossing, especially with the uncertainty as to water and the tracks this year. Two vehicles working together is much easier and gives a useful safety blanket if you get into trouble. If nothing else eventuates, you might consider staying at Mt Dare or Dalhousie Springs at the start of the Simpson crossing from the Alice end for a day or two and see if you can join a group.
AnswerID: 412943

Follow Up By: Olsen's 4WD Tours and Training - Wednesday, Apr 14, 2010 at 21:05

Wednesday, Apr 14, 2010 at 21:05
I agree. The seasonal closing of the Simpson prior to last season, made the tracks very soft, invisible and difficult to travel in places- the worst I've seen it in 13 crossings. We assisted 3 vehicles, some of whom had made a decision to turn back and abandon their plans. This season may be more of the same. For your first crossing play it safe and go with someone who has been there before or at the very least go with another vehicle.
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Follow Up By: Simon (NT) - Wednesday, Apr 14, 2010 at 21:18

Wednesday, Apr 14, 2010 at 21:18
Hey Zook,

I'd definitely agree with all of the above comments.

On top of that don't chuck everything in to the plan at this point, the other day I heard an estimate of 4 to 6 months for everything to be open and passable again because of the heavy flooding/rains.

There are a lot of other things to consider as well.

Are you in Alice or just coming over for that trip? cos if you are here, let me know and I'll come have a chat, if not perhaps MM is the best way to chat.
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Follow Up By: Olsen's 4WD Tours and Training - Thursday, Apr 15, 2010 at 07:01

Thursday, Apr 15, 2010 at 07:01
It will definitely be a long time before areas around the Diamantina and Cooper are back to "normal" but I wouldn't expect that to include Eyre Creek. I'd bank on the Eyre Creek bypass being open mid to late May.
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Follow Up By: Olsen's 4WD Tours and Training - Thursday, Apr 15, 2010 at 07:17

Thursday, Apr 15, 2010 at 07:17
Eyre Creek at Glengyle is quite a bit lower this year than it was at the same time last year, and Eyre Ck nortern bypass opened mid May last year.
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FollowupID: 683009

Follow Up By: zook - Thursday, Apr 15, 2010 at 08:05

Thursday, Apr 15, 2010 at 08:05
Mfewster - I have some ( I wouldn't say extensive) experience travelling in remote sandy areas. I realise the risks, and it is just a matter of me not being able to find people to travel with. Of course when i get to Dalhousie I will haev a chat to people and see if I can tag a long - even if it's just for a little while. 2 vehicles is always better than 1.

My biggest concern is getting halfway through the desert and then finding i can't cross Eyre Creek, and having to head back.

Simon - I will be in Alice visiting rellies, so it may be hard to catch up in person, thanks for the offer though.

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FollowupID: 683015

Follow Up By: Olsen's 4WD Tours and Training - Thursday, Apr 15, 2010 at 08:12

Thursday, Apr 15, 2010 at 08:12
"My biggest concern is getting halfway through the desert and then finding i can't cross Eyre Creek, and having to head back."

There will be no danger of that happening. You will know when you leave Mt Dare whether you can get across Eyre Creek. Just ask Dave or one of the people working there.
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FollowupID: 683018

Follow Up By: Member - Mfewster(SA) - Thursday, Apr 15, 2010 at 08:27

Thursday, Apr 15, 2010 at 08:27
Zook, Flyniees post below gives an idea. Drivibg biggish dunes, especially when the wind has shaped the crests and wiped out the track, is wuite different to just driving across sand. The first day across the Simpson from from the Alice end will be fine. Then you get into big dunes that can have vertical soft lips on the top. these can have near vertical drips as you come over them. Knowing what you can manage on these is the tricky part that needs some experience.. As these are over half way across, you need to be carrying enough fuel to get you back if you decide not to risk them. The chances of rolling over if you get the wrong line are real. A second person in the vehicle to help with digging out, telling you what's behind if you need to reverse etc is a good move. A second vehicle with a snatch strap/ shared recovery gear etc an even better idea. If you decide to do it on your own I think your plan to stick to the route running the most traffic is wise.
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FollowupID: 683019

Reply By: dirttracker - Wednesday, Apr 14, 2010 at 21:22

Wednesday, Apr 14, 2010 at 21:22
Zook,
I agree with the above.

I wish to add that while it is best to have company for recovery, a pair of Maxtrax will enable a single car recovery. While we had 4 vehicles, I recovered on a few dunes using my Maxtrax. Best money spent on recovery gear. It was quick and did not cause stress for any other vehicle.

As to finding another vehicle, I have witnessed people join up at Birdsville or Mt Dare. This maybe an option too.

I have enjoyed the WAA line and would recommend it, but I haven't heard that the French line is easier. I have, however, had people refer to the Rig road that way.

But all is nought if you need to get through and Eyre Creek is closed!
AnswerID: 412948

Reply By: Member - Old Girl (QLD) - Wednesday, Apr 14, 2010 at 21:47

Wednesday, Apr 14, 2010 at 21:47
I was 7 months pregnant when we went across the French line in our 80 when she was standard I think we only had goodyear tyres on too. No troubles for us. We spent a extra day out there helping others. You will be surprised at the amount of traffic. As others have said I think the worst of it for anybody will be that its not open in time. Good luck with that. Wouldn't be surprised if you meet up with some one on EO to tag along with.
I bet its amazing out that way now.
Cheers
Sharon
AnswerID: 412949

Reply By: Steve and Viv - Wednesday, Apr 14, 2010 at 22:18

Wednesday, Apr 14, 2010 at 22:18
Be careful and have fun. Heed the warnings about being prepared. This was last year. We did the WAA line , then the French line. It was great and not so busy. We wanted the isolation and if you get in trouble, set up camp, put on the billy and wait. You should have time for that. Have a plan in place and carry a Sat phone.







AnswerID: 412951

Follow Up By: Steve and Viv - Wednesday, Apr 14, 2010 at 23:14

Wednesday, Apr 14, 2010 at 23:14
I should note, we were not the ones upside down... :-)
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Follow Up By: zook - Thursday, Apr 15, 2010 at 08:09

Thursday, Apr 15, 2010 at 08:09
Great photos!

I'm looking forward to it, the desert should be pretty amazing after the rains!
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FollowupID: 683017

Follow Up By: Mick O - Thursday, Apr 15, 2010 at 23:52

Thursday, Apr 15, 2010 at 23:52
OUCH!!! Much damage?
''We knew from the experience of well-known travelers that the
trip would doubtless be attended with much hardship.''
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Follow Up By: Steve and Viv - Friday, Apr 16, 2010 at 09:35

Friday, Apr 16, 2010 at 09:35
They were lucky Mick O. We found them at lunchtime and they had been like that since 1pm the day before. As their gear was all in the TrayOn it was hard for them to get gear but they got a tarp and made a shelter with a small fire to keep warm. (it was 1c that night) Once I winched it over we waited 30 Mins and the started it up. it went fine, needed a bot of oil but that was all. They ended up travelling with us for the next three days. They had no plan,no Epirb, no Sat phone. They were lucky but OK which was the main thing
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FollowupID: 683173

Reply By: Member - Flynnie (NSW) - Wednesday, Apr 14, 2010 at 22:19

Wednesday, Apr 14, 2010 at 22:19
Most of what I would have said has been covered well by others. Just one observation about which is "easiest". Hard, harder, hardest is more appropriate I think.

I did part of Rig Road and all of French line last year in a solo double crossing. The French line was the harder of the two. Generally sand dunes steeper and more chopped up by the traffic. BUT one day on the Rig Road was far and away the hardest day. The winds had blown the sand around the day before. The crests of the dunes were now very sharp angled. There were no vehicle tracks because the wind had covered them all and I was first one over them that day. Sometimes it was hard to be sure of the track. More than once I did a backtrack on top of a dune that had an impossibly steep descent. The track was usually 50 metres left or right at an easier spot. It did not take much imagination to see how one could become badly unstuck.

If travelling solo I would recommend staying on the French line as there is enough traffic that you are not on your own for very long.

Flynnie

AnswerID: 412952

Reply By: RobAck - Thursday, Apr 15, 2010 at 21:03

Thursday, Apr 15, 2010 at 21:03
The French Line is actually the hardest way to cross the Simpson. As with other commentary if you want to that on your own then take a lot of care and a satphone.

Whilst there is a lot of comment on the conditions in the area at the moment we have access to local information based as we we have a lot of commercial clients operating in the area. As a result we treat that private information with respect. But it does allow us to comment from fact. Comment regarding accessing the road closure website for Transport SA and the DEH Simpson update are the way to go along with checking with Mt Dare and the DEH at Port Augusta along wtih the Pink Roadhouse at Oodnadatta and Birdsville police before making the decision to cross

At the moment the only way to get in and out of the Simpson is via Dalhousie. I consider it extremely doubtful that the Warburton will open this year. I also consider that the Eyre Creek including the bypass will most likely not be open until around August to September. We are well aware of the volume of water still coming down the system and there is enough still in the system to warrant care and at least a plan b. Then I have been wrong before as I am reminded most days

In regard to your comment regarding the "fastest" way to get to Dalhousie from Alice Springs there is no such thing. The shortest distance is not necessarily the fastest time and given the amount of rain this year and the Finke race then the challenges continue to climb. If you go via Finke expect a rough run. If you go via Old Andado and Mt Dare then also expect a rough run

Purchasing your Desert Parks pass gives you a great set of maps. You certainly do not need a GPS. Use the old trick when maps were in vogue. All you do is zero your trip meter at each intersection that way you know exactly where you are and can explain it in simple terms rather than providing a GPS coordinate that could be in one of two or three data sets and so completely unworkable to the person you are speaking to.

AnswerID: 413068

Follow Up By: Member - Phil G (SA) - Thursday, Apr 15, 2010 at 22:31

Thursday, Apr 15, 2010 at 22:31
Gday Rob,
Access via the Hay River should be popular this year.
In via the Hay and out via Dalhousie should be do-able any time from now on.

Cheers
Phil
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FollowupID: 683105

Reply By: Redmer - Wednesday, Apr 28, 2010 at 15:07

Wednesday, Apr 28, 2010 at 15:07
Interesting read, I'm looking to cross in a bout the same period, same route.. 08 series TD landcruiser. Will keep an eye out on this topic as it might be an idea to team up for the crossing ?
AnswerID: 414595

Reply By: Redmer - Wednesday, Apr 28, 2010 at 15:08

Wednesday, Apr 28, 2010 at 15:08
Interesting read, I'm looking to cross in a bout the same period, same route.. 80 series TD landcruiser. Will keep an eye out on this topic as it might be an idea to team up for the crossing ?
AnswerID: 414596

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