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Old 06-27-2010, 02:14 AM   #1
edog200 OP
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Triple crossing of the Simpson Desert, AUS

Inspired by a wonderful thread posted on this site by fellow Aussie Adventurer DannoJ, I start my pilgrimage to the Simpson Desert in four days time, the 1st July.

This is a four week, 7000 kilometre supported journey with me being the only bike rider. My steed for the trip is a KTM640 Adventure, just about stock standard, with the exception of a wind screen, designed by fellow rider John Corby, well known to Aussie Adventurers.

I don't understand my attraction to the Simpson but this has been a life long ambition. However, I'm not the only one, with riders regularly posting their adventures of this area on this ride reports site.

So what is unusual about this trip?

Well I guess that not many people undertake a triple crossing of the Simpson in one go. Firstly west to east, via the French Line, then south to north via the Hay River Track and finally west to east, via Rig Road.

It was intended to be a dual crossing but recent flooding rains have given us an excuse to travel around the base of Lake Eyre, and up through Oodnadatta to take on the entree of the French Line Crossing (see rough map below) before taking on the more challenging south north crossing.

But our real focus is the south north, Hay River Track crossing. The dunes of the Simpson Desert are lined up south north and the Hay River Track winds between dunes rather than up over them as is found in the other crossings.

Fuel is another challenge. On the route we are taking there is a stretch of about 900 ks without fuel. The support will come in handy at this stage.

In comparison to Danno's trip, I've got it pretty easy, and certainly don't have to carry the weight of essential gear and fuel that burdened Danno.

One of the advantages of this trip is we are going to take our time and this will give me an opportunity to chase my second passion, filming Adventure rides. Whilst I don't expect to be in a position to post video until early August, I do hope to be able to submit some posts along the way with some photos. I hope these posts will be useful to those about to take their own adventure of that area or for those interested in the trip.

Below are two rough (and I mean rough) maps to give readers an appreciation of the ride.



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Old 06-27-2010, 02:31 AM   #2
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Old 06-27-2010, 02:52 AM   #3
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brilliant maps - very impressive
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Old 06-28-2010, 06:24 AM   #4
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Have a ripper of a trip Dave -- you'll be traveling through some stunning country, and will not be disappointed

Cheers,
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Old 06-28-2010, 07:04 AM   #5
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Thanks Danno.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DANNOj
Have a ripper of a trip Dave -- you'll be traveling through some stunning country, and will not be disappointed

Cheers,
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You're to blame. Once Ian and I saw your trip, we just had to do it. Ian is taking Shirley in a 4Wd.

Count down is on now. We've just been going through the GPS waypoints and maps to make sure they are reliable and correct. There is a tremendous amount of work behind the trip. I think I need to explain that more thoroughly. The irony is I'm too flat out preparing!
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Old 06-28-2010, 09:28 PM   #6
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It's a long way.

I think this image assists our neighbours from the northern hemisphere to appreciate the distance we're about to embark on. For our European friends the trip equates to riding from Paris to western China.

[IMG]Photobucket[/IMG]

I'll post a schedule of the ride and do a quick vid on the bike before I head off.
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Old 06-28-2010, 09:48 PM   #7
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EPIRB v Satellite debate

Not many people; no let me rephrase that, just about no one, apart from nutty adventure types, are found in the Simpson Desert. But with the milder climatic conditions of winter, this is the time all the nutty types come out to play. But I stress, for some parts of the trip we don't expect to bump into anyone for days, if not a week.

A very isolated spot, with no water and no shelter. However conditions are mild at this time of year and I would expect to wake up to a -5c day with a max around 23c.

If you stuff up out here you're likely to die as either people don't know your missing, or in trouble, or haven't worked out you are over time in your travelling schedule. One thing you can be certain, it is extremely unlikely someone is going to bump into you on the trail.

We've had the epirb vs Sat phone debate and have decided to run with the Sat phone. I would like to do both but the bills are adding up for this trip and we think the Sat phone is likely to be the best alternative. Having said that, reception is not guaranteed. The other problem for me is that once having activated the epirb you can't turn it off, nor modify the response provided. This bothers me because I don't want to waste rescue resources that could be used for someone more in need. Anyway that was the decision.

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Old 06-28-2010, 10:30 PM   #8
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Permit to remain on Aboriginal Land required

The south north crossing of the Simpson Desert in what is known as the Baton Hill Hay River area requires a permit to enter and remain on Aboriginal Land. This is a national permit, managed by the Central Land Council.



This is a great system as it restricts the numbers of visitors to this sensitive wilderness area. They also have a rough idea of your progress along the track.

One of the highlights for this part of the journey will be going on a Bush Tucker Trip, that may go some way to helping me understand how the hell Aboriginal people survive in this most arid of environments. Frankly, I just don't get it.




A desert pass is also useful and I think it is important to contribute to the sustainable management of the area.

There is little doubt that in this isolated area you could probably sneak through and avoid purchasing these permits, but ultimately that approach short changes all of us.

It also rips off the people who scrape out a living, telling us about their culture. Let me tell you I'm keen to see how other people live. Had my final meeting in the guts of Sydney today before going on this trip. The city is filled with expressionless people, trapped in an environment of concrete, cars and noise, doing the same thing day in day out under the gaze of flourescent lights. Can't wait to see the 'office' of these desert people. Shit I really do need a holiday!

Now where was I, yes, the Desert Parks Pass that is issued is a great resource with very good maps, advice, local knowledge, contact numbers, information on flora and fauna and local history. The whole package is good value.


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Old 06-29-2010, 03:36 PM   #9
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Riding Schedule

Home to Broken Hill 1-3 July
Broken Hill to Maree 4-6 July
Maree to Simpson -west east crossing via French Line, then south north 7-12 July - Hay River Track
Alice Springs, Boggy Hole, Kings Canyon, Ayers Rock, Kings Canyon, Chambers PIllar, Dalhousie Springs, Poppels Corner 12-21 July
Poppels Corner to Simpson - west east Rig Road 23-26 July
Birdsville 26 July
Innaminka to Cameron's Corner 25 to 26 July
White Cliffs, Wilcannia Tibooburra Dubbo 27 to 31 July.
Home 1 August

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Old 06-30-2010, 03:31 AM   #10
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The steed with....Hard Panniers

Well here is my steed. With less than 10 hours before I leave, there is nothing more that I can do. I just hope the bike holds together for the ride. Had a very fortunate find when I had my valve clearance checked. The eagle eyed mechanic noticed that my wiring harness running along the backbone of the bike, that is responsible for engine management, was so badly worn that a number of wires were missing insulation. That could have been disastrous. Certainly planted a seed in my head. The bike has got 18 thousand k of decent adventure miles.



A lot of riders have tried to steer me towards soft panniers for the desert as many have experienced getting their heels caught between the front of the pannier and the ground when the going gets tough. I generally ride sand pretty well, so I am hoping that I won't have a problem. But nothing is certain.

There is a heap of fast miles in this trip and the Corby Screen should prove it's worth yet again. A little taller than most, it bounces the air over to your helmet leaving you with a smooth unbuffetted ride. I think John should put in a patent. They work really well.

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Old 06-30-2010, 04:53 AM   #11
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You'll have a blast mate. A bunch of guys from work are running a trip in the 4WDs out there leaving Sydney the same day as you. Doing the Hay River etc. Lead vehicle is a red shorty GQ Patrol, if you see it say G'day to Paul!
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Old 06-30-2010, 06:06 AM   #12
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Will Do

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fatguts McCantRide
You'll have a blast mate. A bunch of guys from work are running a trip in the 4WDs out there leaving Sydney the same day as you. Doing the Hay River etc. Lead vehicle is a red shorty GQ Patrol, if you see it say G'day to Paul!
Will do. Time for bed...8 hours to Cobar tomorrow.
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Old 07-12-2010, 11:27 PM   #13
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A quick update from Alice Springs

AN UPDATE FROM ALICE SPRINGS

After just over 4000 ks and two desert crossings under our belt we’ve well and truly earned some r and r at Alice Springs. Outside my window it’s raining, an extremely unusual event for this time of year but a familiar theme of the entire trip.

The Simpson Desert is wet again for the second time in months and at times the going has been really tough wrestling the big bike in the mud. We have heard the patter of rain on our tents in the evening quite regularly but this event has been more frequent as we moved north on the Hay River Track.

But these challenges have been more than rewarded by seeing the very rare but different side of the desert, full of life, colour and a sweetness in the air that only good rains bring.

I've been happy with my choice of tyres. The Metzler Saharas, although not as aggressive as some had recommended, have done well in most of the extremely varied conditions. However I did get caught out under inflating the rear and tore out a valve stem.

On the first west east crossing of the Simpson Desert by way of the French Line we were greeted with saphire blue skies.



It took me a little while to adjust to the conditions and got bogged once before sufficiently lowering my tyre pressures. Considering the extremely isolated area we were in I was surprised by the numbers of the four wheel drives and was highly aware of the potential for a head on coming over the crest of a dune.


The wild flowers were distracting.



Because of the prevailing westerly winds the dunes gradually get bigger and the distances between them shortens as we headed east. A pleasant break from the gruelling rhythm of the dunes is the occasional salt pan.



After completing the French Line we turned north to take on the Hay River Track. There were signs everywhere of significant and recent flooding and it wasn't long before we were greeted with long stretches of mud and water.



Fortunately the cloud made for great sunsets.



Budgerigars (small parrots to the uninitiated) were everywhere. Small flocks eating grass seed would explode in flight with a brilliant flash of iridescent green.



Around mid morning yesterday we completed the north south, Hay River crossing of the Simpson. I felt relieved that I had managed to complete the job without getting bogged and I looked forward to getting out onto the Plenty Highway for what I thought would be an easy 400 k trip into Alice Springs. Unfortunately my expectations were dashed as this so called highway had two hundred metre bog holes that ran the width of the road. Clearly the rain must have been pelting down in recent days. Large pools of water lay beside the road and there was no traction to be found in the muddy sections.

In the next week we head out to Uluru, Kings Canyon and some other great spots before taking on our third crossing of the Simpson.

Worst decision so far: Taking metal panniers in the sand. DannoJ had warned me about banging the back of my legs on the cans. However there is a positive, it's made me stand on the pegs going through sand and my balance has improved. Little wonder, believe me I've had the practice.

Close calls: Nearly went straight up the arse of a Wedge Tailed Eagle just out of Maree. Both of us were as determined as each other not to collide but it was close, I could have reached out and touched his talons and I was under his huge wings. I would imagine, that had we collided it would be akin to colliding with a large turkey.

Drops: 4 slow speed drops in the mud.

Funniest moment: Having a rough landing in a hot air balloon in the Flinders Ranges. We hit mother earth at a reasonable speed and the basket tipped over and we were dragged along the ground. That was an absolute hoot. (Danno, you would be pleased to know Ian was with me.)

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Old 07-13-2010, 03:14 AM   #14
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Great stuff edog200.

I did a Simpson crossing (WAA line) in '07 and it rained then too. You are right about it being a special place after the rain.
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Old 07-13-2010, 04:10 AM   #15
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Great Ride report and pictures mate....

Ride safe and keep it coming...

Cheers

Bala
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