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Old 06-24-2007, 03:32 AM   #1
jasonveale OP
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Simpson Desert - Australia

The Simpson Desert is pretty popular this time of year for bikes and 4wds. The Finke race brings a lot of people into the area.

Our group of 4 decided not to go and see the Finke beforehand because we wanted to concentrate on our unsupported crossing of the Simpson. Most bikes do it supported but that means having to wait for the car all the time and heh, we wanted the challenge.

This is my DR650 on the trailer with a friend's GSX that was being taken to the new ebay owner.

it is a long straight 2 day drive to Hawker where I was leaving the car.

I met up with Terry (KTM 950) who I hadn't met before but the others knew well enough to figure he was up for it - which he was. We had a nice morning in the Flinders Ranges before meeting up with Peter and Paul, both on 640 Adv.

The first night's camp west of farina

Paul and Terry with the bikes outside the pink roadhouse in Oodnadatta. Terry was carrying an extra 50 or so litres in some trick soft petrol carrying packs.

a couple of days on flat and sometimes rocky ground to get to the simpson proper.

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Old 06-24-2007, 03:46 AM   #2
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At the west end of the simpson is dalhousie springs which are natural hot springs.

some guys who were about to cross the simpson enjoying the bath with a cold beer. The joys of supported riding.

We ran in to Claudio from Switzerland on a very trick AT. Check the website at

50L tank. Lots of Touratech bits. only a few days in to a tour of Australia and NZ so everything was shiny. A seriously large tent. It could have eaten my little MSR tent as a snack.

Paul's keen to get going

We did the simpson west to east because the dunes have a gentler slope and steeper drop off that way - predominant wind direction. This was the start of the 'French Line' which is the shortest track through but is the sandiest track and harder on the rider and fuel economy.

Very red sand. Not like beach sand.

You can easily get bogged even going up the gentler slope

The tank holds 30L but you can't actually get all of it out. because of the height of the carb inlet. I had 10l in one pannier and 10l of water in the other and 4l in the camelback. Food for a few days and as little camping gear as I could possibly take.

This shot shows the track going down between and then over the dunes

Go for the fun riding, stay for the sunsets and is calm late and early in the day. Pretty magical experience at these times. It was bollocks cold at night and the wind kept the daytime temps to not much above 15C

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Old 06-24-2007, 04:19 AM   #3
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Terry on the 950. Tough bugger keeping that bike going over the dunes with all the fuel and gear.

I think only Peter didn't crash that I know of. Most of mine were low speed spills trying to change directions and the top of the dune. The top tends to get blown over and creates a sharp turn as the cars go around the blown over bit. So it is really hard to turn a loaded bike in soft sand at the crest.

My silhouette in the dune.

Once we got off the French line the dunes started to have small-large clay pans which at least gave us a bit of a rest.

It isn't quite like the Dakar dunes. They aren't as high and there is plenty of vegetation growing. Recent rains had increased the amount of grasses. This is 'elegant acacia' or wattle. Looks great but actually smells a bit like burning clutch when you pass a lot of them which is disconcerting.

There are feral camels out there (tracks sighted only) and we saw some dingoes. Not sure what this was. Lots of lizards as expected.

We camped twice, once near the erabena track junction and then on the QAA track about 20ks east of the NT border. We thought we might make it to Birdsville on day two but we got tired and just camped. It was a good move because you start to resent each dune instead of enjoying it, heh, we were on holiday.

Sometimes the track between the dunes was sandy as well which left no time to recover. This bit wasn't so bad though.

Big Red - the tallest dune and the last one that doesn't have a hard packed road over it. It is about 40ks west of Birdsville. By this time i was on reserve, Paul was behind me having run out and Peter and Terry were in front getting fuel for Paul.

I gave it a big handful and zoomed up only to run out at the top. got a little more out to get down to the road to wait for Pete to give me enough to get in to Birdsville.

The rains created this strange green field on the other side. Very weird sight in the midst of the desert.

Gratuitous ADV shot.

Terry headed off home from Birdsville while Paul, Pete and I had a nice night with a few well deserved beers and a good curry at a cafe that just runs through the winter tourist season - in summer it is baking hot and very few tourists travel out there. Apparently he is moving to Narooma on the NSW south coast so won't be there for too many more seasons.

Next day it was off to Innamincka and out to Coongie Lake for a day run. Very large lake that gets filled by Cooper Creek which is itself filled by rains falling in SW Queensland hundreds of ks away. Plenty of water out there but not much bird life which is unusual. It may be because there is water elsewhere at the moment and this is where they go when other sources have dried up. Just a guess.

From there I had the coldest ride of my life back down to Hawker. Bad cold cross wind. Fortunately the mp3 player piped into the earplugs reduced the boredom. I really wanted a GS for that day. Paul and Pete went back to Mildura via Arkaroola.

I can recommend the unsupported ride but you need to pack light and have a very good idea of your fuel economy in sand. The French Line for me was like mx/trail riding and not much like long distance adventure riding. It was very physical and constantly changing direction, on the pegs and shifting weight around.

I did Stockton beach as a warmup but frankly it wasn't really like the Simpson. the dunes at stockon allow you go any direction whereas the wheel tracks in the Simpson are a whole different thing.

There are a few more of my photos here:

I will post Paul's photos (more riding shots) when I get his CD in the mail.


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Old 06-24-2007, 04:45 AM   #4
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some great pics of a great journey mate
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Old 06-24-2007, 05:31 AM   #5
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Excellent report and pics! You Aussies have it all... great weather, terrain and quality of life
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Old 06-24-2007, 02:48 PM   #6
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Excellent Jas !!!!!
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Old 06-24-2007, 03:26 PM   #7
jasonveale OP
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stealth at


We are sure that you are going to dig a long hole (he is tall) and bury Claudio and steal his AT. It has everything you have wanted on one (ok perhaps a few more storage boxes than you would normally ride with) and it is an 03 model I think.

We gave him your number for the mandatory 'GregCheck' that all AT owners must pass when they come to Australia. And he can ride the thing.


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Old 06-24-2007, 03:53 PM   #8
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Excellent pictures and report Jason..

Looks like hard work but very satisfying at the same time..
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Old 06-24-2007, 07:49 PM   #9
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Great write up and pictures. I can't wait for the next 12 months to pass quickly enough, so that I can do what you have!

Thanks for taking the time to post
"Motorcyclist are always going to be frowned a pond..." an inmate in the AUS group

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Old 06-24-2007, 10:13 PM   #10
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re Big Red and the green expanse

Re the green vegetation...the guy at the cafe(who does a great Goat curry btw) said that it's only the second time in white man's history that this has happened.

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Old 06-24-2007, 10:35 PM   #11
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Nice report and great pics. Thanks for posting.

Is it just me or does it seem like the Aussie reports get responses mainly from Aussies, and same goes for the American reports? It's just something I've been noticing.
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Old 06-24-2007, 11:56 PM   #12
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Another great Aussie ride report. keep it coming, I'm looking forward to seeing the rest. By the way what kind of fuel milage did your friend with the 950 get. When I ride in the sand I'm lucky to get 240km from a tank of fuel. Is that enough. What kind of distances between fuel stops? I noticed every one was running on empty.
"Did you hit him? You shoulda hit him, right in the throat. How dare he. Next time someone expresses concern for my well-being while i'm sprawled out in a public place, i'm gonna pull out their tongue and use it to paint my boat, and then i'm coming for their family."--SinFrenas

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Old 06-25-2007, 01:11 AM   #13
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top notch photos and very interesting ride. really want to visit your vast country.
What's next? More action!
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Old 06-25-2007, 01:50 AM   #14
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In 20 years you'll only regret what you didn't do.

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Old 06-25-2007, 02:21 AM   #15
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Glad you had a great and safe trip Jason. Interesting what you say about Stockton as my mum lives there i have had a bit of experience up that way. I have watched a lot of guys talk about spending time in the dunes to practice for the desert. As you have found it is a bit different to the pristine dunes of stockton with a lot less options when you are stuck in ruts and wheel tracks. The trouble is that when riding on Stockton people tend to have fun and ride around obstacles/ruts etc but when conserving fuel and trying to make headway you need to push on straight out in the centre.

"wishing for a GS" does this mean the DR is about to be moved on.
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