Saturday, 26 April 2014

Crossing The Simpson Desert - Part 3

Day 8 (16 Aug)

The wind blew a gale during the night and three Dingoes serenaded us at different times so we did not get much sleep. Up early and first stop was just 12 Km at the ruins of the Dalhousie Homestead which is amongst date palms with a small spring. The Homestead was builtin 1872, but was abandoned early in the 20th Century, looking around at the landscape which is just desert for miles in every direction i can understand why it was deserted and left to ruin. 

We continued to Mt Dare Hotel to re-fuel then headed North on the BinnsTrack to Old Andado Station, travelling parallel to the Finke river we encountered the worst bulldust I have ever seen,  just after the Finke River crossing (never saw a river) Grunter had a slight problem and had to be snatched. Once we had him out we found the reason The centre securing posts for his bash plates had sheared off and the back plate now covered bolts. Time for the “bush doctor” we dug a hole reversed the Tcan to its edge then dug long holes behind the front wheels, when the Tcan reversed further it dropped into the wheel holes and the bash plate came into contact with the edge of the original hole, reversing further bent the plate forward so we could remove the bolts.

Once we had removed the bash plates we continued to the old Andado Homestead for our night stop. Old Andado Homestead is seen as the only remaining Homestead of its kind in Australia. It is a poignant reminder of how life was without modern amenities such as mains electricity, hot water systems, mains water, the telephone and glass windows in some cases! For many that come through Old Andado it is an ‘eye opener’ and they find it staggering that someone could live there for over 50 years, for others it reminds them of their grandmother’s homes. It is a real testament to its rigid framework construction that it still standing today!

Molly Clark the pioneer of Old Andado Station passed away in late 2012 and passed her legacy onto her 5 Grandchildren.  In 2013 the Old Andado Charitable Trust was formed with the goal of maintaining, restoring and bringing to life this amazing place and piece of Australia’s history.

For more information

Day 9 (17 Aug)

An early departure the next morning for the Lamberts Centre of Australia via New Crown and Finke (Apatula)

Extract from the Australian Gov. Web. site:

In 1988 the Royal Geographical Society of Australasia determined, as a Bicentennial project, the geographical centre of Australia. A monument was erected to mark the location and named in honour of Dr. Bruce P Lambert, a former Director of the Division of National Mapping, for his achievements in the national survey, levelling and mapping of the continent. Similar to the centre of gravity method, the location was calculated from 24 500 points at the high water mark of Australia's coastline.

In the 1930s when Dr C.T. Madigan travelled through Central Australia he calculated the centre of gravity by using a metal cut-out of Australia with a plumb bob and string. His crude measurement was surprisingly accurate as he selected a point less than 11 kilometres due west of this present position.

The computed result of the 1988 project was:

25° 36' 36.4" South, 134° 21' 17.3" East; position on SG53-06 Finke 1:250 000 and 5746 Beddome 1:100 000 scale maps.

We discovered a second marker about a 50 meters East however all our GPS’s showed the actual position to be some 600 meters West so we blazed a trail and planted our own marker.

From here it was back to New Crown turning South for Oodendatta via the Abminga ruins for lunch.

Next stop was Oodendatta and the Pink Roadhouse for one of their hamburgers and we just made it before closing time, having done 476 Km.

Day 10 (18 Aug)

After breakfast it was down the track to Coober Pedy, about half way there Grunter cam on the radio to say that ‘wee Grunter’ had left his blanket at Oodendatta so we did a did a U turn and went back to collect it arriving in Coober Pedy at lunch time. As Dozer and I had been here before we visited the Breakaways – just outside town while the others visited the Old Timers Mine etc.

We spent the night at the underground camp site about 1 Km down the William Creek Road. Some did not bother to put the tent up.

Day 11 (19 Aug)

After a latish breakfast it was down the Stuart Highway to Pimba and headed for Roxby Downs then to Andamooka

It was onto the Mulgaria Track at a cost of $25 per vehicle! Unfortunately we did not find the fish fossil on the Northern edge of Lake Torrens and did not have the time to look as it was late afternoon and our destination was Farina.

We passed the homestead at 6:24PM so the next 81Km was in the dark; I think it was on this stretch where I damaged my fuel tank. I was in the lead doing about 70Km and did not see a wash away in a slight bend and got air-born landing on the side of the road, everything seemed ok but I was to find out the next day that I had a fuel tank leak. We stayed the night at the Copley Caravan Park, one of the best I have stayed at after doing 707Km arriving at 9 PM.

Day 12 & 13 (20 & 21 Aug)

Dozer and Turtle decided to drive home in one day and so departed at 6AM for the 15 odd hour journey home.

Grunter and I decided to do it in two days so headed for Tailem Bend for the night stop we stopped at Redhill for fuel, as usual I filled until I could see the diesel at the brim. On my return after paying I noticed a large pool of fuel under the Tcan and more dripping from the tank, we had a look under but could not see where it was coming from. I decided to drive for Adelaide and noticed that there was no large movement of the tank needle so after a 100Km we stopped and had a look the leak had stopped, I estimate that I lost about 5Lt so decided to continue, and not fill the tank.

We arrived home at 4Pm on the 21st Aug after a fantastic trip, feeling a bit sad after such a great time but also pleased to be with our loved ones again.

Some statistics
Distance on spedo 5,533KM,
Diesel 805 Lt
Cost $1,140.00
Average 14.56 L/H
Worst 26.85 L/H (Simpson Crossing)
Most expensive $1.85 /L at Mt Dare
Simpson dunes crossed 1043

The final count is
Shredded tyre
Gas tank

CB Antenna
Shovel holder
Bash plates

Wheel/fuel carrier
Rear snatch point ripped out

Wheel carrier
Fuel tank

Until next time ....................... Love what you have

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Crossing The Simpson Desert - Part 2

Day 4 (12 Aug)

After breakfast we packed up then filled all the fuel tanks and checked that all was ready for the crossing. First stop was Big Red for a bit more fun then at 11:30 AM it was down the QAA line to Eyre Creek for lunch, only to discover that none of us had bought bread so we were on biscuits for many days to come.

Not long after crossing Eyre's Creek we came to the official Simpson Desert National Park boarder, although there was no change in the landscape.

Late afternoon we found a area below a dune and set up camp for our first night in the desert.

We had traveled 145 Km, crossed 146 dunes and passed 29 vehicles cumming in the opposite direction.

Day 5 (13 Aug)

We had a good nights rest in what seemed like the middle of nowhere, no glow from city lights could be seen in any direction, the only sound that could be heard was the silence of the desert, it was a clear night and the stars were magnificent. How wonderful it was to sit quietly and just enjoy the moment.

After a good breakfast we packed the vehicles and set off for Poppel Corner, along the way we decided to have a 'drag race' on Lake Poeppel it's dry at this time of the year and I'm not sure how often it has had water, it covers about 1,100 hectares.

And the winner is.........

In 1880, Augustus Poeppel, a South Australian Government Surveyor, marked the corner with a coolibah Eucalyptus microtheca post, 2.1 metres long by 0.25 metres in diameter. The post was dragged 58 miles (92 kilometres) westward from the Mulligan River. On three sides Poeppel chiselled into it the words South Australia, Northern Territory and Queensland. Below the South Australia inscription he carved LAT 26 LONG 138 for the latitude and longitude. The post was placed by Poeppel to complete his survey of the South Australian/Queensland border along the 26th Parallel. From this point, the South Australia/Northern Territory border ran east across the Simpson Desert and the Queensland/Northern Territory border ran due north to the Gulf of Carpenteria.

                              'Old Post'                                                          'New Post"

Then it was down the French Line making our way to the Knolls, along the way we had some fun

Not long after the wind started to blow causing a mini sand storm

At Lindsay junction we turned South down the Knolls Track to the Approdinna Attora Knolls a rare and fragile gypsum outcrop of great scientific significance, they are the highest vantage point in the area. David Lindsay was the first European to visit the Knolls on 11th January 1886

As it was late afternoon we found a nice spot to camp some 15 Km later.

We traveled 93 Km crossed 182 dunes and passed 30 vehicles cumming in the opposite direction

Day 6 (14 Aug)

Sun Rise
Packed the vehicles after breakfast the continued to WAA Corner, turned West along the WAA line to the Junction then South to the Lone Gum Tree. It is in fact a box eucalypt, a member of the Coolibah family, they normally grow in the clay soil of flood prone areas, but this one is far from the nearest watercourse it is thriving - strange to see

The Lone Gum
Then it was back (North) on the Erabena Track passed the Rig Road Junction and WAA Junction heading for the French Line when after 13 Km (from WAA Junction) there was a call on the radio from Dozer who was bringing up the rear “guys I think I just lost something” and he had, in the middle of the track was the remains of his wheel/fuel carrier! We also noted that my wheel carrier had a crack so the wheel was removed and we divide the load – thank goodness for the roof rack and proceeded to the French Line and turned West once again to find a camp spot for the night.

We traveled 196 km, crossed 211 dunes and passed 5 vehicles cumming in the opposite

Day 7 (15 Aug)

We continued (saw a herd of 6 camels) to the Wonga Corner turning South to the Mokari Airstrip, then back up to the French Line then onto the Creek Track to Dalhousie

Dalhousie Springs are collection of natural artesian springs on the Western fringe of the Simpson Desert. The water temperatures range from 38 to 43 degrees C. and highly mineralised but drinkable if you like that kind of thing.

                                                                  Mokari Airstrip

We all crossed without assistance (snatch etc.) although we needed a second or third attempt on some dunes. Only time I needed a helping hand was while having a play on a dune and not using the track – this was done many times by all for fun.

What a pleasure to have a swim in the thermal pool, most enjoyable.

We traveled 200 km, crossed 516 dunes and 10 vehicles in the opposite direction, that’s a total of 634 km, crossing 1055 dunes and passing 74 vehicles in the opposite direction, i used 151 Lt of diesel.

We had now crossed the Simpson but this was not the end of our trip, there was still more to come.

Until next time.....................seize the minuet

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