Crossing the Simpson Desert — Alice springs to Birdsville 

StatsTotal trip Alice Springs to Birdsville 970 Kms 

Vehicle – Henrietta Hilux queen of the desert 

Simpson desert part ( Mt Dare to Birdsville via Rig Road , Knolls track , 40 km of French line , and QAA LINE — 550 Kms ) 

Total trip 4.5 days 

Fuel carried — 180 liters

Fuel used 106 liters 
In Simpson 5.18 km per liter or about 19 liters per 100 Kms 
Water – some with dirty Alice Springs sludge and some with alcohol 

90 liters – lost about half the main tank ( about 40 liters ) with a leak 

15 liters beer

2 liters wine 
Other safety kit

Sat phone 

Winching gear including sand anchor

Beadbreaker for tyre repairs 
Equipment carried included  


Near St Teresa – an Aboriginal town 

Departed early from Alice bound for Mt Dare , a remote staging point on the western entry to the Simpson desert . Very picturesque scenery in the drive in via St Teresa settlement with stunning mountain ranges on both sides. Very happy to have added this section in as our first leg as we approached the Simpson Desert starting point 



Mt Dare sits inside a national park , and serves a useful function as a last stop point before venturing into the desert. They sell the last fuel and food you will see for 3 -4 days. They specialize in recovery work for the unfortunate ones who have breakdowns that require retrieval. The Parks authorities require the removal of vehicles at owners costs and the bill for getting rescued will add into the thousands . The recovery vehicles are special 4×4 army type trucks that they charge out at $400 per hour plus drivers labor and given the long hours of torturous driving time to come to find you the bill will be simply colossal . Then you have the cost of fixing your 4×4 !   

Had a great meal at Mt Dare and a few too many beers which the overly eager staff were pushing our way , a slightly amusing sales strategy to get the most profit possible from the ” Simpson Pilgrims ”

Got chatting to an Aussy couple , Margaret and Bill. We were discussing driving and in particular ” Sharing driving ” Paul and I have a sensible hour on hour off regime which keeps us both engaged so to speak . 

Margaret said , 

” well I like 4×4 driving but I have to do it by myself ” 

Bill looked plaintively towards us and said , ” I can’t be a passenger as I can’t do anything with my hands ”

I was just going to say in my best Australian , ” fair suck of the sav — cobber — that sounds pretty lame ” when Paul whispered that the body language was getting tense . Bill stood up bidding us goodnight and Margeret followed in tow.   
   We set off for Dalhousie Spring ( about 70 km of Rocky road ) which is the real start of the actual desert trip . The spring itself was pretty nice – stripped off for a dip in the deep spring -( Paul was a little bit of a prude here 😉)  water probably about 35 c – very nice way to start the trip proper . The springs are uprising waters from the ” great artesian basin ” – a massive underground water reserve . 

We set off for Dalhousie Spring ( about 70 km of Rocky road ) which is the real start of the actual desert trip . The spring itself was pretty nice – stripped off for a dip in the deep spring – water probably about 35 c – very nice way to start the trip proper  The Simpson desert was called the ” Great Ribbed Desert ” prior to getting its washing machine tag because of its link to that Mr Simpson of washing machine fame . From the air it look like giant ribs laid out nth south that stretch for over 300 Kms . The ribs are all ridge sand dunes , thus to cross the Simpson one must pass over about 1000 dunes . They are approx 30 meters in height but vary. There is normally a flat area between each ridge , some have salt lakes in them. 


The trip over had us camping for three nights. We saw the odd groups ( 3 or 4 vehicle convoys ) but few and far between . We took the less travelled route , via the Rig Road and back up the Knolls track . Lots of interesting varied scenery , plenty of dingo present and we often saw fresh camel tracks. Lizards galore and some bird life. The desert had winter rains this year so we had plenty of wild flower to see too.
Has been an educative trip for me -( thanks Paul for guidance and tips )  testing just where Henrietta is capable of going in sand country. With lower tyre pressures I have been amazed at just how doable this sand country can be . 


This is Pauls monster swag –what city folk did to the useful simple compact swag of yesteryear . Now it is 10 times the packed size of a tent ! For a man who snores ( very loudly ! ) it is perhaps a good option. His smart lady would need a swag of her own – some distance apart maybe 😉 



Poeppels Corner — this marks the intersect between SA , NT and Queensland . Celebratory beer 


Our trips end . Pic of Paul ontop little Red – the easier option than Big Red – from there it was an easy 30 km to the famous outback settlement of Birdsville . Food , fuel , bakery and the famous pub. May be a big night 😊

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