Fussell Family Simpson Adventure - Wrap up

Friday, Jul 17, 2015 at 13:38

Member - Tony&Jac

It's been a bit over a week since we came home, and I thought I'd wrap up our trip

Best Camping: In the dunes of the Simpson desert. We usually just drove till about 3 or 3:30 and at the top of a dune looked left and right and spotted a flat spot in the lee of the dunes. We were not looking for established spots but rather places that were not used often and had plenty of wood, such that our usage would not be noticed. We always dug a firepit and extinguished it with left over washing water, and buried our coals. The aim is to not leave any trace. (although we couldn't rub out our tyre tracks or footprints.

Best shower/bath: Dalhousie springs. It was 38 degrees in the water. My wife and kids spent 3 hours in it. Of course you can't use any detergent or soap in the water, but after 3 hours they all came out pretty clean. Camping was ok as we were still before school holidays.

Best pub: we only visited a few but Mt Dare had the best atmosphere. Everyone had been doing similar stuff, and everyone sat around the bar and chatted. The staff were very friendly.

East or West: we preferred the Journey East to west. The dunes are steeper but that’s no problems with no trailer and low (16psi) tyre pressures. The oncoming traffic is manageable with everyone using flags now and everyone using channel 10. The big advantage of this direction is that the eastern side of the dunes are not cut up as bad as the western side.

How to cross the desert: Engage 4wd, Low tyre pressures (12-16 psi) and nice and slow. We used 2nd gear high range heading West, but when the dunes were really cut up heading East we slowed down to high range first gear just a bit above idle. At some stages we were only averaging 15kmh. Some people were racing up these hills bouncing all over the place. They run the risk of damaging their suspension or cracking their chassis. Their beer and food will also be shaken up. Go Slow and look after your car, your passengers and the dunes. Allow an extra day in case you need it. The worst that can happen is you need to spend another night camping amongst those awesome dunes.

Best Track: For us our favourite was the WAA Line. It had nice red dunes that were fun to drive but had far less traffic so the dunes were not cut up. We started driving at 9am this day and didn't see another car until 1pm.

Should you take a trailer or camper: No. it'd be hard work and it stuffs up the dunes. You can leave the camper at Birdsville then use tent or swags. Do a double crossing and return to Birdsville to pick up the camper.

Double Crossing?: We were concerned we might be sick of the desert after the first crossing and had an option to come back another way, but on our 4th night camping in the desert we realised that would be our last night if we quit. That made our decision easy. We decided to fuel up at Mt Dare and head back again, enjoying another 5 nights camping in the desert, and lapping up those right red dunes.

Kids: Our kids are in primary school. We bought them some 7" tablets and loaded them up with educational games, fun games, and some software to take video or photo Journals. They also had some educational exercise books. While driving they were required to do some educational stuff first then were rewarded by being allowed to play games. We also had a load of audio books that were a reward. They loved the Roald Dahl books. At Camp they were not allowed to play games anymore and had to help setup camp and cook. We also went for walks in the dunes looking for animal prints, and they took videos on their tablets. The aim at the end of the trip is to have a video journal that they are able to present to their class at school. We still need to polish that up though.

Other highlights: Camping at Trilby station on the Darling river. It really is setup so well. Each site is spread apart a good distance from the others. You can collect as much wood as you want from their property. The hosts are very friendly and helpful. A great model for a station stay and the best we've ever stayed at.

Tony and Jacqui Fussell

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