Simpson Desert and Kimberley Kamper

Submitted: Tuesday, Nov 11, 2003 at 09:53
ThreadID: 8436 Views:4802 Replies:12 FollowUps:10
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My wife and I have a 2004 model Kimberley Kamper on order. Next year we are heading to the Kimberley region to live and work for an extended period. On the way we would like to cross the Simpson Desert, from Birdsville to Mt Dare, as well as taking many other interesting and challenging roads. We have a V6 Prado, bought new in 1998. I have just had heavy-duty Lovelles springs and Koni dampers fitted, which included a 2-inch lift. I have also just had 265/70R16 Cooper A/T tyres fitted, to replace the original Dunlop GrandTreks (70,000km). The trailer will be running the same rims and tyres, so we will have two spares along with a repair kit.

Many of the negative posts I have read in relation to towing camper-trailers seem to be written by people who have not actually done it themselves and are perhaps trying to justify their own positions, or by people towing trailers that would not really be considered off-road. I would like to hear from anybody who has actually towed a serious off-road camper-trailer, such as the Kimberley Kamper, through the Simpson or over similar terrain. I understand there is a detour around "Big Red" if needed.

We have done four-wheel drive trips in the past taking only what we could fit inside the Toyota, including a Southern Cross tent. While the Southern Cross is a terrific piece of kit, a lot of time is spent packing and unpacking each day. In addition to the added convenience of a trailer, we believe it will be much safer as we can carry more water, more spare fuel, more tyres and not have to carry gas bottles and the like inside the vehicle. I also consider a trailer to be safer than heavily-laden roof racks.
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Reply By: Mike - Tuesday, Nov 11, 2003 at 10:26

Tuesday, Nov 11, 2003 at 10:26
Graeme, last year we towed a KK 25000 kms over 4 months, with a 99 petrol Jackaroo. We had no trouble taking it to Palm Valley, Chambers Pillar, across the top of Lake Torrens, the Bungles, the GRR etc, but we didn't take it across the Simpson when we crossed for one reason. The public are requested not to take trailers across the Simpson desert. This request comes from the NPWS, and the locals at both ends. This question always gets a lot of responses, including from those who say it's "OK because I did it". Well I could have done it too, I have no doubt that my rig would have done it OK, however, I chose to be responsible. I left the trailer at Roxby and came back for it. We then went through Andamooka, across station tracks to Farina and up the Strzlecki track.

So in answer to your question, yes you can but please don't

Happy trails, Mike.
AnswerID: 36821

Follow Up By: jamcage - Monday, Nov 24, 2003 at 14:23

Monday, Nov 24, 2003 at 14:23

Not in relation to your reply to the original post but,

I am in the market for a Jackaroo and have only been able to find good petrol versions.

What sort of fuel economy do you get with yours - city, highway and when towing your trailer. I own a TrakShak which is a similar weight to your KK.

Anything I should look for?


FollowupID: 27783

Follow Up By: Mike - Monday, Nov 24, 2003 at 16:35

Monday, Nov 24, 2003 at 16:35
Jamcage, I believe my economy is about 15.5 litres/100kms. This is country and city combined. With the KK on and FW hubs engaged, it was about 22-23 on our trip last year. I don't check all that regularly as my fuel capacity is 203 litres, so it doesn't get filled regularly. Most of my driving is country as that's where I live. Given the time over, I probably would have bought a deisel, purely for the towing economy and torque.

Happy trails, Mike.
FollowupID: 27797

Reply By: Tony - Tuesday, Nov 11, 2003 at 10:32

Tuesday, Nov 11, 2003 at 10:32
G'day Graeme666, you seem to have all bases covered, and one of the best Off Road campers on the market, I hope your time in the Kimberly goes well.

We are yet to purchase a camper, the KK in on the top of the list, with that in mind I would not have a problem with taking that sort of unit over the Simpson, Canning or where ever else for that matter.

You have to bare in mind that you are towing, and weight will be a factor so tyre pressure will play a big part on any desert crossing, and approach each dune with care, not only for you vehicle but the track as well.

Have a great trip and keep your powder dry.
AnswerID: 36822

Reply By: Dexter - Tuesday, Nov 11, 2003 at 10:58

Tuesday, Nov 11, 2003 at 10:58
In July, I followed a party of 3 vehicles towing two off-road camper trailers, travelling west to east on the French line. I didn't realise how much they were plowing the dunes until I managed to leapfrog past them onto "clean" track.

I couldn't judge whether they were running sensible tyre pressures or whether they were overloading the trailers (they were camped well off the track when I passed) or whether their driving techniques were appropriate. Nor have I towed a trailer through this sort of country, but I suspect that they had to grind fairly slowly up the dune faces to avoid shaking the bejasus out of their kit (it gets a bit bouncy).

On the plus side, I also observed that the oncoming traffic (and there was a lot of it) tended to smooth out some of the worst approach ruts.

Of course, the Rig road avoids a fair bit of that loose dune country. Not done it yet but understand it to be a nice drive.

Enjoy your trip. I'd be back there tomorrow if I could.
AnswerID: 36826

Reply By: Ray - Tuesday, Nov 11, 2003 at 12:11

Tuesday, Nov 11, 2003 at 12:11
Hi Graeme,

Have done the Simpson about 4-5 years ago with another vehicle both without campers. I'm really surprised when I hear people say towing a camper etc across was easy, a piece of cake, no trouble. I know when we went fully loaded but without trailers it was by no means easy. Wouldn't say it was very difficult but certainly not a walk in the park. We are both very experience drivers both long distance and off road and at that stage belonged to a club that did extensive trips offroad. We had tyres deflated, travelled completly in 4x4 low range to reduce the strain on the vehicles and even so had to take a few runs on some dunes. We adopted a German traveller who was having quite a bit of trouble due to lack of experience in a Troopy. By the end he was doing well. Could you take a trailer across? Probably could but is it going to be easy? I doubt it. Last weekend we went to a NP with some sand on the access track, us without trailer and 4 others with campers. Certainly surprised me just how much difference a camper can make in soft sand. On the way up we where in 2H and had no dramas. On the way back after the campers had been through, tyres down and bulk spinning, we had to use 4L and quite a bit of go juice. The last camper threw bogged well and truely with a diesel ute at the helm. Don't get me wrong, we will be in the same boat in a couple of years but after seeing just how easily campers, vans and boat trailers can get bogged in sand I will be very, very carefull. Just one last example, we watched a Nissan diesel pull a KK onto Kinkuna beach a couple of years ago and went straight down. Tyres at 10psi and bulk revs resulted in a glazed clutch. We hooked a turbo patrol and petrol patrol together to get him going up the beach. I'm sure others will say no dramas been doing it for years, but if something goes wrong your in for a very lot of work to retrieve the camper. So please be carefull.

AnswerID: 36832

Reply By: Member -BJ (Sydney) - Tuesday, Nov 11, 2003 at 16:37

Tuesday, Nov 11, 2003 at 16:37
You could take the KK accross the Simpson , we took ours on it's maiden voyage to the Gulf in july no trouble in the sand with right tyre pressure but as mike said S.A parks ask's people not to take campers across the Simpson as they chew up the dunes to much. Also if you need recovery in the Simpson it will cost you a bomb to get pulled out.Regards Bob
Where to next
AnswerID: 36860

Reply By: Member - DickyBeach - Tuesday, Nov 11, 2003 at 16:40

Tuesday, Nov 11, 2003 at 16:40
Have a look at ID 7590 3/10/03 re our trip up the Canning in July this year with a KK in tow.
We also did the Simpson about 4 years ago with the same Cruiser but without a trailer and after the ease of the CSR I can't imagine why the Simpson would be a problem with a KK, perhaps excepting Big Red. However, I met a KK owner in Adelaide in September this year who took his KK to the top of Big Red (by dropping tyre pressures and going at it slowly, albeit with a turbodiesel Cruiser).
AnswerID: 36861

Reply By: Graeme666 - Tuesday, Nov 11, 2003 at 17:39

Tuesday, Nov 11, 2003 at 17:39
Thank you all for your responses. I was not aware that it is requested that trailers not be towed across the Simpson. I will confirm that and if it is the case we will not do so; we'll probably take the Plenty Highway instead. We are the sort of people who also do not climb Uluru, out of respect for the wishes of the traditional owners.

Our Prado is an automatic, which will probably help with towing. I was dead against automatics, but got it to keep my wife happy. With modern disc brakes, steep descents are not the problem they used to be. I think I would now not go back to manual in a four-wheel-drive. The Kimberley Kamper is a Limited Edition model - very nice piece of gear.
AnswerID: 36877

Follow Up By: ThePublican - Tuesday, Nov 11, 2003 at 18:09

Tuesday, Nov 11, 2003 at 18:09
G,,Remember 1 thing,,plenty for the trailer and plenty against,,it is NOT illegal to tow a trailer into the simpson,,work it out for yourself using common sense and just a tiny bit of maths,, who does more damage,,3odd ton on 4 wheels or 3odd ton spread over 6 wheels ,enjoy your trip and your camper.
FollowupID: 26672

Reply By: Member - Fred - Tuesday, Nov 11, 2003 at 18:23

Tuesday, Nov 11, 2003 at 18:23
You should read the info provided about Simpson Desert "roads" put out by the South Australian Authorities. "the use of trailers is strongly discouraged"
AnswerID: 36881

Reply By: Ray - Tuesday, Nov 11, 2003 at 18:40

Tuesday, Nov 11, 2003 at 18:40
G,,Remember 1 thing,,plenty for the trailer and plenty against,,it is NOT illegal to tow a trailer into the simpson,,work it out for yourself using common sense and just a tiny bit of maths,, who does more damage,,3odd ton on 4 wheels or 3odd ton spread over 6 wheels ,enjoy your trip and your camper.


Not to sure where your maths or commen sense comes from Publician. Most hard floor campers come in at around 1 ton for a bed and kitchen. My swag and gas stove don't weigh that much. Of course they cause damage, of course they limit you in all areas of four wheel travel. Do they make travel more comfortable? Of course and I'll eventually get one for my travels. But be assured regardless of how good you think your vehicle is or your driving skills are if you get bogged with a trailer on and it will eventually happen it's a damn lot of work to get it out. Got no problems with them most of my travels are with friends who cart them along and have seen them bust a gut in soft sand and and..... Do they have it as easy when traveling on sand, steep inclines, winding goat tracks, reversing etc, well now that's common sense!!


AnswerID: 36886

Follow Up By: ThePublican - Wednesday, Nov 12, 2003 at 18:44

Wednesday, Nov 12, 2003 at 18:44
Ray,sorry to disapoint you,but use a tiny bit of common sense and some plain and simple maths,,3 odd ton was an example only, no matter what the all up rig weight is ,less damage is caused by 6 wheels than 4 on sand,,is the basic sand driving principle to SPREAD the weight or is it to dig in with high tyre pressures ect... have seen 4x4 loaded so full that all up weight would exceed 4 ton and that does not include the driver or passengers,,easier to reverse?? yes,,safer and kinder to the sand ?? not in this life time.
FollowupID: 26783

Follow Up By: Member - Glenn(VIC) - Wednesday, Nov 12, 2003 at 23:42

Wednesday, Nov 12, 2003 at 23:42

How does 6 tyres do less damage than 4 tyres?

Common sense?Just Do It!

FollowupID: 26826

Follow Up By: ThePublican - Thursday, Nov 13, 2003 at 08:35

Thursday, Nov 13, 2003 at 08:35
Glenn vic.,, just that!! common bl--dy sense tells you that any given weight SPREAD over a larger area will generate less damage.
FollowupID: 26845

Follow Up By: Ray - Friday, Nov 14, 2003 at 11:44

Friday, Nov 14, 2003 at 11:44
True, that is comparing a 4 wheel drive to a 6 wheel drive will have this effect. Not so when comparing it to towing. The forces in train are completely different your trailer is cantilevered from the vehicles rear axle and you are dragging the weight. Comparing apples with apples, so very similar gear being taken by both parties there will still be approx 1 ton extra in the camper scenario simply due to the trailer, kitchen etc, etc. Your pulling this in the sand not carrying it on another set of footprints as per the car. Confusing the situation with different tyre pressures and driving skills between set ups dilutes the quality of the argument. A camper is certainly the way I'll go in the future. But do I believe I'll be able to effortlessly glide up soft dunes without even so much as spinning the wheels as suggested by others in this discussion??? Hardly. Using the same argument a semi trailer should be able to simply cruise up Big Red as all the weight is being towed with multiple tyres.

FollowupID: 27018

Reply By: duncs - Tuesday, Nov 11, 2003 at 23:54

Tuesday, Nov 11, 2003 at 23:54

I have just come back from a trip across the Simpson towing a Trak Shak camper.

I have TD4.2T GU I had no problems at all except on a couple of the salt lakes. Better tyres would have solved most of these. On the sand I barely spun a wheel. Even on the steepest dunes. I missed out on big red by less than a car length and if I had been there earlier in the day I am confident I would have got up.

The guy at Mt Dare explained why they don't like you to take a trailer but didn't say anything about it being illegal. When I challenged him about his attitude he backed away from blaming trailers and admitted that it was more likely overloaded and badly driven vehicles that cause the damage.

My trailer goes everywhere with me. Cape York, Western Queensland, NW Victoria, Blue Mountains, Chambers Pillar, Lake Eyre the list goes on.

Most of the people who complain about trailers either haven't towed one or have come across someone who was doing it wrong.

Be sensible a little conservative even but take your Kimberly adn go wherever you want to. Thats what I do and will continue to do.

AnswerID: 36955

Follow Up By: duncs - Tuesday, Nov 11, 2003 at 23:59

Tuesday, Nov 11, 2003 at 23:59

I have not found anything in the Desert Parks Pass that says not to take a trailer to any of the places covered by the pass.

FollowupID: 26716

Follow Up By: Greg - Wednesday, Nov 12, 2003 at 10:20

Wednesday, Nov 12, 2003 at 10:20
I cannot believe the number of people who cross the Simpson say it was easy. Maybe I went across the wrong desert. I have towed trailers in extreme conditions and there is no doubt in my mind it makes life a lot harder no matter how good the trailer. To tow a trailer across the Simpson is something I wouldn't do because just doing it in the vehicle was very hard on vehicle and driver although the 2 landcruisers, 2 pajeros and a 4.2 diesel nissan did it without problems. In my opinion the Simpson is 600-800 kms of hard going and that comes from someone with 40 years of 4wd experience including extreme experience with trailers. I am sure the Prado and KK will handle it but I still say trailers and caravans shouldn't be allowed in difficult offroad situations.
FollowupID: 26741

Follow Up By: Member - Stephen (Broken Hill) - Wednesday, Nov 12, 2003 at 22:45

Wednesday, Nov 12, 2003 at 22:45
Hey Duncs,

Got the photos from our Simpson Desert trip on CD now. I'll get T to give them to R at school.

Stephen J.
FollowupID: 26811

Reply By: Mike - Wednesday, Nov 12, 2003 at 16:55

Wednesday, Nov 12, 2003 at 16:55
I must have one more shot at this.

Yes, my KK went everywhere else we went, including a lot of sand tracks and, yes I am confident that I could have towed it across the Sinpson, when we crossed last year, but I chose to adhere to the REQUEST of NPWS and others. We passed lots of trailers on our trip and we also saw how incredibly chopped up the tracks were after them. Now you can justify all your trips guys and say how easy you did it, BUT, you weren't following you. This question always raises the same arguements.

Graeme, you will enjoy the Plenty an donohugh Highways, turn left at Boulia and call in to Birdsville, it's a magic place. You can carry on to Innamincka and east past the Jackson oil fields to Noccundra, great trip.

Happy trails, Mike.
AnswerID: 37027

Reply By: cant - Wednesday, Nov 12, 2003 at 23:42

Wednesday, Nov 12, 2003 at 23:42
We have towed two trailers (on separate occasions!) across Simpson, one a lightweight conventionally sprung, and one a TVan. No problems at all with sensible smooth driving with correct tyre pressures (low!). I hasten to add we travelled West to East both times and incorporated French, WAA, and Rig Road. I am of view East to West is more difficult. Unquestionably there is more drag with a trailer. However, a good driver towing is better that a bad driver not towing anyday! There are too many smarties who do not engage 4WD until they are already digging sand or just blasting their way through - they are the main problem with regards degradation.

Unfortunately too many Parks and Wildlife people would disallow all access to parks other than themselves if they had the opportunity!

Go TVan - very smooth over the Simpson. I'll be back!
AnswerID: 37102

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