Idiots in the desert

We have just returned from a trip 200 k into the Simpson desert. We nearly cleaned up a motor cycle on top of a sand dune. we asked him if he had a radio but no radio and another bike following and a back up vehicle following them no radio between the three of them. Just before that we had passwed a Troopcarrier camper rental also no radio. in it was a german couple, they did have a satphone but the danger is another vehicle coming up the dune on the other side. The protocol as we understood was to be on ch 10 and broadcast your position every 2-3 k so that you know when another vehicle is coming. The day before we passed around 12 vehicles coming the other way so the risk of collision is very high. One group of a 4wd club we met were on channel 12 but monitoring ch 10 this didnt work as we did not know they were there until we saw their flag on the same sandhill as us, I thought a 4wd club would know better
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Reply By: Member - Captain (WA) - Sunday, Aug 19, 2012 at 15:37

Sunday, Aug 19, 2012 at 15:37
Many sides to this one!

If the 4WD club were chatting on ch10, then one would have probably complained they were tieing up the channel. If you had your radio on scan then you would have known they were there, and perhaps anyone else who wasn't broadcasting on ch10 but chatting on another channel.

I don't believe there is a perfect solution with radios, having a sand dune flag is arguably a better solution and in this case appeared to work for you.

Cheers

Captain
Its not what you drive, but how you drive it!
LC 200 + AOR Quantum

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Follow Up By: Dugald S - Sunday, Aug 19, 2012 at 15:44

Sunday, Aug 19, 2012 at 15:44
They should have been broadcasting thier position on 10 which they werent doing
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Reply By: Member - Berylvt - Sunday, Aug 19, 2012 at 15:37

Sunday, Aug 19, 2012 at 15:37
How do yOu tell where the oncoming vehicle is from a radio call?
AnswerID: 493188

Follow Up By: Dugald S - Sunday, Aug 19, 2012 at 15:42

Sunday, Aug 19, 2012 at 15:42
We used to call our distance from the nearest landmark on the map given out with our desert parks pass also if you call from between the dunes the distant calls are scratchy
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Reply By: Tonyfish#58 - Sunday, Aug 19, 2012 at 16:14

Sunday, Aug 19, 2012 at 16:14
Not sure I would call them Idiots?

But a sand flag to me is a minimum. You are very inconsiderate :-) if you do not have a decent sand flag up, that's for sure.

There was very little traffic last time we were there, so we soon tired of the radio thing & left it up to the Flag. That worked a couple of times.

Cheers Tony
AnswerID: 493191

Reply By: Allan B (Member, SunCoast) - Sunday, Aug 19, 2012 at 18:09

Sunday, Aug 19, 2012 at 18:09
This has been debated before but I agree with Captain that "there are many sides to this one".

After a number of Simpson crossings I have concluded that UHF radio is an unreliable method of ensuring safety from head-on collision on dunes. It may be helpful but is certainly not reliable.

A good dune-flag mounted at the front of the vehicle and at least 4 metres above ground level is a reliable device that reveals your location without depending on the responsibility of others.

Of course a dune-flag will not prevent a total idiot from charging into you, but neither will anything else!

Cheers
Allan

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Reply By: Member - Berylvt - Sunday, Aug 19, 2012 at 18:23

Sunday, Aug 19, 2012 at 18:23
Maybe these are not inconsiderate nor idiots! A coup,e of years ago we did a day trip from Birdsville to Eyre Creek. That included Big Red and about 15 other dunes. Despite being a regular on this forum and having researched to the best of my ability, I had not heard of flags nor of radios as a safety measure for dunes. Since I hadn't seen a sand dune before I didn't forsee a problem and so I probably did not recognise the solution. Of course the first time we saw a flag approaching over the top of a dune we knew we should have had one! It was only later that we saw flags on sale in the Birdsville service stations. My point is that perhpas more prominance should be given to the issue around Birdsville and at the start of the roads leading to dunes.
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Reply By: Crackles - Sunday, Aug 19, 2012 at 19:12

Sunday, Aug 19, 2012 at 19:12
As I often travel in large groups we never use channel 10 in the Simpson so as not to bother the mass's with our banter. We do however have the trip leader & tail end monitor it & make the occational call when cresting a large dune. Every 3 KM's.........I don't think so.
Rather than rely on radios which clearly are not being used by all it's simpler to crest each & every dune as though there was an on coming vehicle, that is fit a tall flag & back off.
Cheers Craig..............
AnswerID: 493204

Reply By: Member - Outback Gazz - Sunday, Aug 19, 2012 at 19:12

Sunday, Aug 19, 2012 at 19:12
Dugald

I would rather put up with those idiots in the desert than the idiots running this country !

Can't go wrong with the flag


Cheers

Gazz
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Reply By: Member - Phil G (SA) - Sunday, Aug 19, 2012 at 19:39

Sunday, Aug 19, 2012 at 19:39
Hi Dugald,
You might have struck a bad couple of vehicles, but we were out there 2 weeks ago and having done plenty of previous Simpson trips, I was impressed at how many people were using channel 10 responsibly and calling their position. My conclusion was that the message was getting through. Also it was rare not to see a sandflag.

There was however, a group of quad bikes who initially were not using or monitoring channel 10 but started doing so when it was explained to them. However they said there was no way the lead quad bikes could hear the radio as they were riding along. They also had a pair of Ultralights with them - they had no probs at all :-)

Hope your trip was as good as ours!

Cheers
phil
AnswerID: 493207

Reply By: Steve M1 (NSW) - Sunday, Aug 19, 2012 at 20:05

Sunday, Aug 19, 2012 at 20:05
you don't have to go to the Simmo to be confronted with some idiot coming at you in the middle of the road or even on the wrong side of the road
AnswerID: 493210

Reply By: olcoolone - Sunday, Aug 19, 2012 at 20:38

Sunday, Aug 19, 2012 at 20:38
Dugald S... I'm with you on this one and when off the beaten track we always use channel 10, even when in convoy.

If we are travelling by ourselves we scan a range of channels.

I think it is important to warn others of you location and what's going on.... we always have but not every X amount of kilometres, we do it every 15-20 minutes.

Plus listening to other groups general chit chat takes away the boredom and can make for good conversation around the camp fire.

Flags are a must have but communications is much better..... I want to know someone is coming towards me a few k's then to have them come over a dune with a sandflag with both parties panicking and trying to avoid an accident or damage to vehicles.

We have nearly collided with a few vehicles in the Simpson where they had no comms.
AnswerID: 493215

Reply By: Member - Scott M (NSW) - Sunday, Aug 19, 2012 at 20:55

Sunday, Aug 19, 2012 at 20:55
Funny - I came across this from another forum

http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=807304

Bike riders want to ride Birdsville - Mt Dare - Birdsville in 24 hours..... no support vehicle ....

Hood ornament anyone?
AnswerID: 493218

Follow Up By: Allan B (Member, SunCoast) - Sunday, Aug 19, 2012 at 21:48

Sunday, Aug 19, 2012 at 21:48
So now its a bloody race track?

I just hope the Rangers get wind of this!

Cheers
Allan

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Follow Up By: olcoolone - Monday, Aug 20, 2012 at 13:52

Monday, Aug 20, 2012 at 13:52
Someone has asked the question but it doesn't mean he will do it.....

520 kilometres on an capable off road bike would be achievable safely but it would take a lot out of the rider and bike.

Start at 6am and finish at 8pm during daylight savings and that's less then 40 kilometres per hour average speed.

Most of the Simpson is a super highway anyway.

What's the ranger got to do with it?
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Follow Up By: Member - Scott M (NSW) - Monday, Aug 20, 2012 at 14:27

Monday, Aug 20, 2012 at 14:27
Doable? - for an experienced rider - probably - just the concern is without flags, radio, and backup vehicle they're asking to become a potential hood ornament on any crest...
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Follow Up By: Allan B (Member, SunCoast) - Monday, Aug 20, 2012 at 16:00

Monday, Aug 20, 2012 at 16:00
Well Olcoolone, let me explain.

Firstly, Scott said "Bike riders want to ride Birdsville - Mt Dare - Birdsville in 24 hours..... no support vehicle ...." and my reaction was to that expression.
However when I followed his given link it appears that they are only riding from Mt. Dare to Birdsville in 24 hours, only half as bad but still not good.

Your 6am to 8pm yielding 40 kph makes no allowance for rest stops. The task would be formidable with adequate rest stops but without them the fatigue would make it foolhardy for both the riders and any other travellers on the route. If they take more hours and travel in the dark then it would be stupidity as despite your assertion of it being a "superhighway" it is a sandy track with sharp turns on the dunes and prevalent blowholes.

The proposal is to have no support vehicle which also means no advance warning vehicle. belting along at 40kph on a bike means it is unlikely that they will be using UHF to warn of their presence and you can bet that they would not be carrying dune-flags so the first awareness that you may have of their presence is when they come over a crest into your vehicle. Mind you, even if they did have a support vehicle it would be hard put to keep ahead of the bikes.

There are other race events across the Simpson. An ultra marathon 15-30 Sep and the Desert Challenge pushbike 25-29 Sep but both of these are officially organised with accompanying stewards and vehicles to ensure safety of both participants and general public. A very different arrangement to being akin to drag-racing on a public street.

So what I hope the Rangers may "have to do with it" is introduce a bit of common-sense to these fellows before either they or an innocent traveller become harmed.



Cheers
Allan

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Follow Up By: Member - Outback Gazz - Monday, Aug 20, 2012 at 17:11

Monday, Aug 20, 2012 at 17:11
G'day Allan

Firstly - let me say I do not wish to engage in arguement with you !
( I noticed you had a whinge about motorcyclists before on this site )

I have ridden the desert 4 times - in both directions and on most tracks. For an experienced and physically fit rider to ride from Mt Dare to Birdsville on a well prepaired enduro bike in a day is a walk in the park and in no way a danger to other travellers. You are assuming that motorcycle riders fly up a sand hill at 80 k's and hour and are airborn over the crest for 15 metres ! I take tours across the desert and I can assure you that NOT ONE of my trip participants would hit the crest of a dune at more than 5 kph - they are instructed to back off as they aproach the crest letting the soft sand slow them down to 5kph or less
( this happens in less than 2 bike lenghts ) then check for oncoming vehicles first then check the track for dangers then continue enjoying the ride !

As mentioned in my last reply to you there has been numerous occassions where us motorcyclists have helped out, rescued and gone 100'of kilometres out of way to help unprepaired 4 wheel drivers in the desert ! The desert is there fore everyone to enjoy not just a select few 4wdrivers who think they own the place ! There ARE of course the poorly prepaired and inexperienced dirt bike riders that do not possess common sense that give the majority of riders a bad name !

I am pushing 60 and currently training and prepairing to ride the desert next year completely solo with no support and no other riders - can't wait !

Once again Alan I am not having a go at you just giving another side to the story !


All the best


Gazz



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Follow Up By: Allan B (Member, SunCoast) - Monday, Aug 20, 2012 at 17:33

Monday, Aug 20, 2012 at 17:33
Fair enough Gazz. I also do not intend to engage in argument, just airing my opinion which of course could be quite mistaken even though it was based on earlier observations. What was the whinge I had earlier? I have no recollection of it.

I certainly agree that the desert is "there for everyone to enjoy" and I have seen poor dune driving behaviour by 4WD vehicles also. I only hope that the riders in question have the same attitude to safety that you espouse.

Cheers
Allan

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Follow Up By: Member - Outback Gazz - Monday, Aug 20, 2012 at 18:22

Monday, Aug 20, 2012 at 18:22
G'day Allan

Old age is a bugger - I think it was last year sometime ( who said alcohol affects your memory ) that there was a post about idiots on motorbikes in the desert and both you and I said pretty much the same thing as we have on this post !

It doesn't matter what sport or hobby people have there are always some idiots that will spoil it for the majority of people who do the right thing !

A number of years ago we were on our way back from the desert half way down the Birdsville track - parked as close as possible to the left hand side of the track to refuel the bikes when the Variety club Bash came past. Most of the cars passed us over on the right hand side of the track but some of the entrants with no consideration and or no common sense passed us not more than 6 feet away travelling at about 120 kph and showered us and the cars in rocks ! One cracked rear window, numerous large stone chips and one of my support crew copped a rock to the head = large gash and fair amount of blood. I won't go into what happened when we caught up with them later !!!

Anyway - if you ever see an old bloke in the desert with a grin on his face like Ronald Mcdonald that could be me !


Cheers Allen


Gazz

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Follow Up By: olcoolone - Tuesday, Aug 21, 2012 at 08:17

Tuesday, Aug 21, 2012 at 08:17
Gazz well said..... what most people don't understand is bikes are very capable and the right ones can cover big distance with ease.

I have a current model KTM 690 Enduro R being set up for long distance off road adventure trips and the speed you can average across rough ground is mind boggling..... to go fast doesn't mean you have to break the speed limits or ride dangerously.

I would have to say I have more issues with gun ho 4WDers from the city thinking they are on some type of speed event or proving the manly abilities.

Because ones ability may lack doesn't mean the person who has the abilities are stupid or dangerous...... I think rock climbers are stupid and are treading in dangerous territory, but on the other hand I admire them and with I had the balls to do it..... to me it is dangerous to them it's a walk in the park.

Gazz what bike?
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Follow Up By: olcoolone - Tuesday, Aug 21, 2012 at 08:18

Tuesday, Aug 21, 2012 at 08:18
Gazz well said..... what most people don't understand is bikes are very capable and the right ones can cover big distance with ease.

I have a current model KTM 690 Enduro R being set up for long distance off road adventure trips and the speed you can average across rough ground is mind boggling..... to go fast doesn't mean you have to break the speed limits or ride dangerously.

I would have to say I have more issues with gun ho 4WDers from the city thinking they are on some type of speed event or proving the manly abilities.

Because ones ability may lack doesn't mean the person who has the abilities are stupid or dangerous...... I think rock climbers are stupid and are treading in dangerous territory, but on the other hand I admire them and with I had the balls to do it..... to me it is dangerous to them it's a walk in the park.

Gazz what bike?
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Follow Up By: Allan B (Member, SunCoast) - Tuesday, Aug 21, 2012 at 09:45

Tuesday, Aug 21, 2012 at 09:45
I would think that Mt. Dare to Birdsville in one day on anything with wheels on the ground (some of the time!) would be "proving the manly abilities". LOL

But then I am simply mortal ........... and aim to stay that way. LOL again.

Cheers
Allan

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Follow Up By: Member - Outback Gazz - Tuesday, Aug 21, 2012 at 21:36

Tuesday, Aug 21, 2012 at 21:36
G'day Olcool

I would send you a member message so I could give more intricate details of things but as you are not a member I can't.

I'm bikeless at the moment ! Rode the desert twice on my XR 650 - went like fudge but didn't handle or stop well - once on my WR400 - once on my WR 426 ( all sold ages ago ) recently sold my XR400.

As Im pushing 60 I'm not big on maintainence and wasn't that big on the watercooled bikes even tho I know the benefits but I love the simplicity of the old air cooled bikes. I'm not that sure my solo crossing of the desert will happen next year as my other half has other ideas - BUT you never know !

If it happens I will probabably get a DR650 - not the ideal bike for the desert (bit heavy) but I am looking at getting something I can do some adventure riding later on and should the desert ride happen I am not intending to do it in one day so provided I don't ride like I'm 21 it should be fine.

A mate (much younger than me) has got a KTM 990 Adventure and I can't tell you on this great site how long it took him to get from Birdsville to Marree one trip !

Allan B seems like a nice (and educated) bloke but obviously has never ridden enduro bikes - as you said in your reply - it's extremely easy to cover large amounts of kilometres over rough terrain in a short amount of time without doing anything stupid ! I've done the desert over a dozen times in a 4wd where you average about 40 k's an hour depending on track conditions - it's approx 520 k's from Mt Dare to Birdsville so on a good bike with a good rider and a very easy and very safe average speed of twice a 4wd including rest stops you can see it's very do-able in a day !

Olcool - have you done the desert ?

Where abouts roughly do you live ?

I have another orginised bike trip across the desert next year not long after it opens after the summer closure ( depending on weather etc )

Cheers

Gazz










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Follow Up By: wr450tractor - Tuesday, Aug 21, 2012 at 22:29

Tuesday, Aug 21, 2012 at 22:29
Gazz

Simpson on a wr450 with half dozen blokes now that would be awesome. Near 50 hope to be still on the wr at 60

cheers George
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Follow Up By: Member - Outback Gazz - Wednesday, Aug 22, 2012 at 07:27

Wednesday, Aug 22, 2012 at 07:27
It's easily done George

You just have to use your brains before you use the throttle !

Each time I get thrown off is because I get the urge ( too cocky ) and ride like I was 21 - the bikes have improved at a faster rate than my ability and 100 kilo's of beer and pizza doesn't bounce - it goes THUD !!!

Ride wisely and try not to give us bike riders a bad name ( especially in the desert )


Cheers

Gazz



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Follow Up By: olcoolone - Wednesday, Aug 22, 2012 at 20:58

Wednesday, Aug 22, 2012 at 20:58
Gazz we are Adelaide based aswell..... One of the hardest things is trying to find a good long distance enduro bike, there are plenty of highly strung 450's around but with very short service intervals, high maintenance and having design emphasis's for short distance high speed fanging.....

Or you go the other direction and look at the long distance based adventure tourers..... Ended up with the 690 as it offer the best of both worlds... something I can fang around with mates on their 450's in the forest or cover long distances and tackle the hardest tracks with ease, the 690 is also 2 up capable and the biggest advantage is it's 7500k service intervals.

The main thing for getting the 690 was so I could ride in winter as my other bike is a current GSXR1000 (not the best in the wet).

You get sick of riding road bikes after a while... only so many roads you can ride.

A few friends may be heading out this weekend from Port Augusta for 2 days of riding ending up at my mates place at Quorn.

Yes have done the Simpson on numerous occasions including most the main track, done Madigan line, Hay River and we have done a lot in the Northern Simpson using only GPS mapping around the Plenty Lakes looking for aboriginal sites and rocket/space junk.

Meant to be doing a big trip next year looking for the unknown camps of early explorer Ludwig Leichhardt...... over 15 years in the making, we did a similar trip about 3 years ago.

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Reply By: cookie1 - Sunday, Aug 19, 2012 at 22:49

Sunday, Aug 19, 2012 at 22:49
I have said this before but I'll make it again

Whenever we go out we have a handheld radio on scan, the handheld is less sensitive so anyone that is broadcasting will be picked up only if in close proximity.

Whenever we crest a dune we sit there for a moment and look at where the track is going and whether there is any traffic or fresh tyre marks ahead. We also put out a call on the main radio with a decent antenna "white cruiser heading East" asnd wait for any responses.

Sandflags are a must and believe that it is covered in the documentation in the Desert Parks Pass.

Cheers

Colin
AnswerID: 493226

Follow Up By: Tonyfish#58 - Monday, Aug 20, 2012 at 15:52

Monday, Aug 20, 2012 at 15:52
Boy you must have a lot of spare time :-)

Wait & call on top of every dune? That's at least 1100 Radio transmissions :-)

Cheers Tony
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Follow Up By: cookie1 - Monday, Aug 20, 2012 at 15:59

Monday, Aug 20, 2012 at 15:59
It isn't Friday is it?
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Reply By: Mudguard - Sunday, Aug 19, 2012 at 23:38

Sunday, Aug 19, 2012 at 23:38
How many vehicles on the Simpson at any particular day? How many are what colour travelling Nth,sth east or west? How many are calling out their guesstimated position every few minutes? or talking about ****with obsene language? Its like driving in city trafffic take your eyes & ears off the track to LOOK at the scenery and? Common -cense people
AnswerID: 493229

Follow Up By: CSeaJay - Monday, Aug 20, 2012 at 14:16

Monday, Aug 20, 2012 at 14:16
Fact is, as supported by a number of posts above, it works

No it won't result in 100% takeup or elimination of incidents, but it goes a long way

Once you are there you quickly pick up which way other parties are heading, and it is amazing how easy it is to tell that you are coming closer together based on radio clarity

Do not knock it, it ia heaps better than nothing

CJ
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Follow Up By: cookie1 - Monday, Aug 20, 2012 at 16:03

Monday, Aug 20, 2012 at 16:03
Agree CSeaJay
At least you minimise the likelihood of a collision

Common sense isn't all that prevelant as per the OP

Cheers

Colin
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FollowupID: 768834

Follow Up By: Tonyfish#58 - Monday, Aug 20, 2012 at 16:07

Monday, Aug 20, 2012 at 16:07
I recon the less chatter the better :-)

A good sand flag is all that is needed :-)

Cheers Tony
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FollowupID: 768835

Follow Up By: cookie1 - Monday, Aug 20, 2012 at 16:19

Monday, Aug 20, 2012 at 16:19
Yep I'll see you at the top of the dune and brake as soon as I see your flag - Sand flags aren't the be all and end all - ask the chap who had a head on on the Canning Stock Route.

We do not chatter on every dune but just every now and again and look out for anyone ahead or indeed behind

Mate don't want to be a smartarse but anyone that has done extensive OH&S will tell you to do everything possible to prevent a bad outcome

We were following some rangers once and guess what they were doing - the same thing as us...


cheers

Colin
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Follow Up By: Tonyfish#58 - Monday, Aug 20, 2012 at 19:13

Monday, Aug 20, 2012 at 19:13
Coiln - I did a risk assessment

The installation of a sand flag eliminated most of the risk,

adding constant chat on the radio did not change the risk factor :-)

In fact in some circumstances it added to the risk, as it was a distraction :-0

So sand flag will do me :-)

Cheers Tony
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FollowupID: 768853

Follow Up By: Litlbalt - Monday, Aug 20, 2012 at 22:08

Monday, Aug 20, 2012 at 22:08
We had a 6 Db aerial on our UHF and we found that the rand was very limited by the Dunes. Soon as we starting hearing chatter we would call out asking for a "where abouts are ya, which way you heading and how many vehicles"

The combo of the UHF as a heads up and then the flags for when you get closer is the best option to cover all bases
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FollowupID: 768877

Reply By: Litlbalt - Monday, Aug 20, 2012 at 20:20

Monday, Aug 20, 2012 at 20:20
Without reading every single post

We just got back from The Simpson.
Originally we were Solo, but ended up in a convoy with some others midway through ( ok we had a catastrophic engineering failure and they saved our arse )

We had our UHF on 10 and broadcast every so often with our location in relation to marks off our HEMA app. The benfit of modern in Car GPS is its pretty easy to call out your exact location , so that others also with in-car units know exactly where they are in relation to you. People would call back with where they were and how many in their crew, and we could figure out a basic cross over eta. Or at least be aware they were in proximity.

What I found was the most productive and successful method was when ever we hit a high dune I would sit for a little bit and scan the horizon for flags and cars. You didn't have to do it every dune just on the big ones where you can see for ages.

I must say some of the flags people were using were next to uselss. From Tshirts or socks on UHF Aerials to Proper poles with green or blue flags that could'nt be seen

We passed a number of Biker crews and it was the cars on the track that would call out the bikes location, and crew size for others
AnswerID: 493286

Follow Up By: Litlbalt - Monday, Aug 20, 2012 at 20:29

Monday, Aug 20, 2012 at 20:29
Best advice is for people that havn't done the Simpson before is to get your Desert Parks pass early and read the info book.
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Follow Up By: cookie1 - Monday, Aug 20, 2012 at 21:16

Monday, Aug 20, 2012 at 21:16
I agree, if the rangers do it then it suggests it is the best way to go
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Reply By: The Landy - Wednesday, Aug 22, 2012 at 13:56

Wednesday, Aug 22, 2012 at 13:56
The issue I have about the use of radios is that it isn’t mandatory, and don’t confuse that with sensible.

But the issue is that unless it is mandatory to carry one and to make radio calls you have to work on an assumption that there could be someone coming up the other side of the sand dune that you are not aware.

The only thing you have control over in this situation is to make a radio call, if you feel the need, and have a large flag mounted on the front of your vehicle, and approach the dune as though there is someone on the other side.

The flag is the much better option, as it might be totally ambiguous as to where the other vehicle making the radio call is, and could give a false sense of security. You could also stay at the crest of a dune for a few minutes every so often and observe the dunes ahead to see if there are vehicles approaching.
AnswerID: 493392

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