First to cross the Simpson Desert in 2012

Submitted: Sunday, Mar 25, 2012 at 13:22
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Just completed an epic journey across the Simpson Desert, the first to do so in 2012.
6 days in the desert with a few mobs of camel to act as short time travel companions and not another vehicle in sight.
Starting at Mt Dare, the tracks were wet but passable and with Dave Cox from Mt Dare leading the way to Dalhousie ruins and then on to Dalhousie Springs.
The amount of new growth around the track made for a very green approach to the desert, a sight not common to regular travellers to this area.
Dalhousie Springs were deserted except for the flies during the day and we would except mossies during the night. A night on the French line was a better idea.
Being the first to cross the dunes, a wall of sand had to be negated after a short run up. The dunes would have been a lot easier from the other direction with a drop off at the top. There were no tracks to follow which also meant that all the corrugations had been blown away during the summer closure. Even the run up Big Red was very smooth.
The reason for a early crossing was to try and experience what the first vehicular crossing might have been like 50 years ago. It was not as tough as the first crossing but we conceder it to be as close as possible in this day and age.
I have crossed the desert many times before, but this would have to be one of the most remembered.

Wayne

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Reply By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Sunday, Mar 25, 2012 at 13:42

Sunday, Mar 25, 2012 at 13:42
Hi Wayne

Would have been a great trip and I bet the sand was nice and soft.

We were like you a number of years ago, wanting to know what it would have been like, and we were fortunate enough to it first had. We did a Geo Desert crossing, starting at the Mac Clarke Reserve, through to Geosurvey Hill, the Geographical Centre then out near Poeppel Corner.

We were out there for 14 days and it was low range, first and second with no tracks at all, so for us this is just how it would have been for Reg Sprigg.



Cheers and thanks for that.




Stephen
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Reply By: Crackles - Sunday, Mar 25, 2012 at 14:01

Sunday, Mar 25, 2012 at 14:01
"There were no tracks to follow which also meant that all the corrugations had been blown away during the summer closure."
Well thank the lord for that. I was afraid all the damage people go on & on about being caused by the trailers was permanent ;-))
Sounds like a great trip Wayne & well worth travelling in the warmer weather to experience some virgin sand. The big dunes on Warburton track will be another route worth going on when eventually open seeing its been closed for several years now.
Cheers Craig.............
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Follow Up By: Member - Warrie (NSW) - Sunday, Mar 25, 2012 at 18:24

Sunday, Mar 25, 2012 at 18:24
Tut tut Crackles, we can't have the true facts getting in the way of govt. can we. Three and a half months of summer closure and the wind restores the dune over the track as Wayne reports. Another little problem has also arisen. If Wayne was first in 2012 and saw no other vehicles, when did the Mini cross??? The story while interesting is hardly news and more like history. At the very least the journo could have been up front about it....................W
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Follow Up By: Wayne (NSW) - Sunday, Mar 25, 2012 at 18:39

Sunday, Mar 25, 2012 at 18:39
Warrie,

From what I have read about the Mini crossing it must have happened some time last year.

Part of the report from the Mini crossing said that it had to do the Eyre Creek by pass. With our crossingEyre Creek was dry.

Also there was no mention of the crossing at Birdsville. Such an event would have been news worthy around the town.

Wayne
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Follow Up By: Crackles - Sunday, Mar 25, 2012 at 18:56

Sunday, Mar 25, 2012 at 18:56
"when did the Mini cross??? " Now there's a conspiracy! I suppose they didn't advertise it at the time just in case it all went pear shape a bit like the Mercedes debarkle on the Canning :-)
Next secret mission over the Simpson will be the G60 Nissan convoy. The spy camera's will no doubt be out to get a photo of the old girl bogged or broken down.
Cheers Craig.............
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Follow Up By: Wayne (NSW) - Sunday, Mar 25, 2012 at 19:27

Sunday, Mar 25, 2012 at 19:27
Just had a look at the Mini crossing video. The desert was a lot greener, even the Oodnadatta track had green grass growing in the middle of it.

Wayne
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Reply By: Mick O - Sunday, Mar 25, 2012 at 17:00

Sunday, Mar 25, 2012 at 17:00
Great trip by the sound of it Wayne. Will you blog it and add a few photos. There will be plenty who will enjoy the read.

Cheers Mick
''We knew from the experience of well-known travelers that the
trip would doubtless be attended with much hardship.''
Richard Maurice - 1903

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Reply By: Dave(NSW) - Sunday, Mar 25, 2012 at 17:15

Sunday, Mar 25, 2012 at 17:15
G'Day Wayne,
Sounds like a great trip was had, As others have said a blog with some photos would be great.
Glad to see your back to your old self and hopefully feeling better.
Cheers Dave.
GU RULES!!

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Reply By: Allan B (Member, SunCoast) - Sunday, Mar 25, 2012 at 18:57

Sunday, Mar 25, 2012 at 18:57
Congratulations Wayne. I would love to have been part of it.

Cheers
Allan

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Reply By: Member - Old Girl - Sunday, Mar 25, 2012 at 19:08

Sunday, Mar 25, 2012 at 19:08
The pressure is on. Now for a blog. Well done,another must do“s off your list. :-)
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Reply By: Member - Phil G (SA) - Sunday, Mar 25, 2012 at 19:42

Sunday, Mar 25, 2012 at 19:42
Nice report Wayne. Thanks for sharing it with us.
It would have been no different with or without closures - as very few people were silly enough to cross in summer anyway.
Cheers
phil
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Follow Up By: Member - sparra - Monday, Mar 26, 2012 at 08:05

Monday, Mar 26, 2012 at 08:05
G'day Phil, Iused to be one of the 'silly' ones back in the early 1980's ,i was the supply truck driver on a seimic crew working out there. we would have a month off at xmas and then back into it. once a week i would head to coober pedy for drinking water,fuel and the big food order from mick lucas shop.the truck was an isuzu 6x6 with super single tyres,let them down and it would crawl up the dunes no worries, i really enjoyed that job.

cheers, sparra

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Reply By: vk1dx - Monday, Mar 26, 2012 at 08:37

Monday, Mar 26, 2012 at 08:37
Good report Wayne Thanks

As a novice to the Simpson and looking forward to our first crossing when I am well enough I am confused.

When I first started planning a crossing I was sure all and sundry said the East to West would be harder due to wind blown sand build up on the eastern side of the dunes. You mentioned, unless I read it incorrectly, that the build up was on the western approach.

I am not having a go at you or your report, but from your report I would take it that an east to west run would be the easier. Which way is it mate?

Phil
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Follow Up By: bob smith 1 - Monday, Mar 26, 2012 at 11:05

Monday, Mar 26, 2012 at 11:05
I surprised someone hasn't piped up yet but I'll give you my opinion based on previous trips.
West-east not as steep up the dune but steep drop offs going down the east side. East- west you dont have the drop off. I reckon that's what he would be suggesting.
In general some parts east are harder and others going west.
In the peak of the season going east the track is cut to buggery in places yet while heading west the dunes while steeper are not cut up.
And why do the eastern sides not get cut up as much as the west, who knows.
Traditionall west-east seems to be the way for first timers, that's we did like many others.
BS
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Follow Up By: vk1dx - Monday, Mar 26, 2012 at 11:17

Monday, Mar 26, 2012 at 11:17
Thanks Bob.

I would still like a response from Wayne to get his idea. I believe the prevailing winds are westerlies and therefore the drop off on the eastern side. Interesting that the wester side had some also.

I would also suggest that the predominant side used as the approach is the western side hence it would be cut up by the additional "drive" to the wheels whereas the eastern would generally be "light" drive to the wheels and maybe even more of a free wheel down. Used to do a lot of beach driving (in the kingswood) for surfing from the 60's to the 80's. Similar scenario.

Sticking to the west to east for the moment. East to west would better suit the rest of the route.

Thanks Mate

Phil
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Follow Up By: bob smith 1 - Monday, Mar 26, 2012 at 11:28

Monday, Mar 26, 2012 at 11:28
I too was chasing the waves in the 70's and 80's and yes in a kingswod and a cortina before that, and the places those bloody cars went. Only the leyland brothers drove 4wd's back then.
BS
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Follow Up By: vk1dx - Monday, Mar 26, 2012 at 13:00

Monday, Mar 26, 2012 at 13:00
Check this out. I may have beaten you to it by a few years. My first board was Midge Farrelys old balsa.

Thanks for the info on the Simpson. I think it may be a bit harder than what we went through but I would love to try. Saw on youtube a Dattsun 1600 going over Big Red. The son's 1600 would do it but then again at's a class "A" rally car now. Not a basic 1600.

Phil

A video that was initially taken on an old 16mm movie camera mainly at The Farm

Quality nneds to be desired but you will get the idea.
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Follow Up By: bob smith 1 - Monday, Mar 26, 2012 at 16:03

Monday, Mar 26, 2012 at 16:03
Yes classic stuff and to think longboards have made a comeback. Single fins were around when I started and then twins started to come in followed by thrusters which I think are still the go even though the shape has changed somewhat.
BS
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Follow Up By: Wayne (NSW) - Monday, Mar 26, 2012 at 17:28

Monday, Mar 26, 2012 at 17:28
Phil,

The desert can be unpredictable some times.

What we found being the first vehicles in either direction that the sand build up was on the western side of the dunes. That meant a short steep run up with a wall of sand that we had to push through.
If we were going east to west we would have a long run up and a drop off where the sand had built up. Going too fast would have ment nose diving on the western side of the dune.

After a few vehicles go through in both directions the top of the dune will flatten out.
So going east to west you have a long run up with a short run down, while going west to east you have a short run up and a long run down the other side.

Being first the tracks were relatively smooth on both sides of the dunes but this will change in time.

We did expect the dunes to be harder to cross with a high build up of sand, but because of the amount of bushes and grasses the sand seemed to be stable and not moving as much, however it was still a challenge.

Wayne
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Follow Up By: vk1dx - Monday, Mar 26, 2012 at 18:09

Monday, Mar 26, 2012 at 18:09
Excellent Wayne

I am quite sure that it is unpredictable. Typical of all Oz.

I will store that report away.

Still undecided when to go. Not too keen on anything too physical so am waiting until it is a little drier. Not a bludger, just have a good reason to wait.

Thanks

Phil
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Reply By: Robin Miller - Monday, Mar 26, 2012 at 08:39

Monday, Mar 26, 2012 at 08:39
Good one Wayne - its so much fun when the track disappears.

Haven't seen the Eyre ck dry for a while , its was a real obstackle for us recently.
Robin Miller

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Reply By: Member - Vince M (NSW) - Monday, Mar 26, 2012 at 13:19

Monday, Mar 26, 2012 at 13:19
Wayne
good on you, I crossed in 1977 not the first for that year but the only tracks were ours & its a great feeling & how alone we felt (single vehicle) took the kids a few years ago & it had lost that feel
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Reply By: Member - Ruth D (QLD) - Tuesday, Mar 27, 2012 at 07:20

Tuesday, Mar 27, 2012 at 07:20
Wayne,
Good trip - your cars were dirty but not muddy so that makes it a bit easier!
If it was you coming in a week or so ago - then, sorry you weren't the first for 2012. Not trying to rain on your parade at all - but a couple of cars snuck in a few weeks back (maybe that was you)!
Who cares really - as long as you had fun.
It is just the best time when there are no tracks (vehicle) and only animal ones to follow.
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Follow Up By: Wayne (NSW) - Tuesday, Mar 27, 2012 at 07:36

Tuesday, Mar 27, 2012 at 07:36
Ruth,

OK, we were the first to cross after the desert was open LOL.
There was no evidence of any other vehicle being out there and what we experienced they would have a tough trip.

Thank You for the info.

Wayne
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Follow Up By: Ozrover - Wednesday, Mar 28, 2012 at 18:00

Wednesday, Mar 28, 2012 at 18:00
I don't know who that would have been Ruth as these guys were the first vehicles that could have come across from Dalhousie Springs as before that no one could have physically been able to cross over! Simply too much water about on this side after the rain in late February?

If they crossed over earlier in February then they should have had their bottoms smacked!

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Follow Up By: Member - Ruth D (QLD) - Thursday, Mar 29, 2012 at 23:17

Thursday, Mar 29, 2012 at 23:17
Hello Jeff, They were indeed naughty. Imagine people flaunting the rules like that - weren't they lucky they didn't need to be rescued and put others people at risk?
Best wishes for a good season for you without too much rain.
Ruth
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Follow Up By: Ozrover - Friday, Mar 30, 2012 at 12:26

Friday, Mar 30, 2012 at 12:26
Ruth,

Did these people actually say that they had crossed over the Desert or did they do a loop out & back from Birdsville?

If they did cross over then they were pretty irresonsible as no one knew that they were out there, I know that there was a german fellow who had been waiting in Birdsvill for the desert to open, but I think he gave up waiting & went somewhere else.

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Follow Up By: Allan B (Member, SunCoast) - Saturday, Mar 31, 2012 at 18:31

Saturday, Mar 31, 2012 at 18:31
"Ve half been vaiting for the going but now ve are not vaiting and ve are going as ve are no longer going to be vaiting for the going". lol

Cheers
Allan

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Follow Up By: Ozrover - Sunday, Apr 01, 2012 at 08:25

Sunday, Apr 01, 2012 at 08:25
Hahahahahahaha........

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Reply By: PJR (NSW) - Tuesday, Mar 27, 2012 at 08:19

Tuesday, Mar 27, 2012 at 08:19
What are the tracks like now anyone?

We are looking at a May crossing and being our first in any decent "desert" we are keen not to do a lot of mud driving. I suppose this is a silly question for a desert drive, but with weather the way it "is,nt" I thought it is better to ask than to assume.

PJ
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