For the second year in a row we’re lucky enough to be heading west, on an outback loop that will take use through far western NSW, looping around SA and heading into the NT before cutting across the Simpson Desert back into Queensland at Birdsville. Along the way we’ll check out Tibooburra and Cameron Corner, spend a few days travelling through the Flinders Ranges and check out the underground living and opal mining oddities of Coober Pedy.
The main game is a crossing of the Simpson Desert following a route traversed on camels by the Madigan Expedition in 1939, in fact the desert was named after sponsor of the expedition Alfred Simpson who is better known for starting the famous washing machine manufacturing company.
This is an iconic desert route that is gaining popularity but is travelled by only a few dozen vehicles each year. The trip requires access permits from the Central Land Council and various state National Parks services.
In total our trip will cross roughly 5,500km of Australia’s most remote and inaccessible areas, crossing millions of dirt road corrugations and over a thousand desert sand dunes. Added to that challenge is the likely need for crossing flooded creeks and boggy clay pans as a result of the late rain that swept across this normally arid region.
Speaking of unseasonal rain, we are closely monitoring several roads and tracks that are still closed or are limited to vehicles not towing. We are hopeful that these will open in coming days with sunny weather forecast, but will have to make a decision on day of departure whether a change of route is necessary…
To ensure that the rig is ready for the task I’ve inspected, adjusted and serviced all of the main items that are punished by this sort of outback travel, including changing filters and oils and greasing components even though they’re not due yet, simply to give them the best chance of surviving…
Weight is a critical factor and excess or poorly distributed weight is a cause of stress that can lead to component failure. In readiness for the trip we’ve removed any equipment or accessories that aren’t going to be needed, such as; vehicle awnings, unneeded cooking and camping equipment, tools and implements. We also had the complete rig weighed to give a good baseline to our load calculations.
To fit the trip in between my regular cancer treatments we’ll have to push out some long driving days getting to and from the desert, so to keep things simple we pre-make a lot of meals. This ensures we eat well and don’t fall into the trap of skipping meals or grabbing road house take away food (well, the occasional treat is okay haha). These frozen meals are carried in the Dometic freezer in back of the car and are reheated in the Cruiser’s 12V oven when driving, or on the gas stove when at camp.
Inland temperatures can be very cold through winter with icy mornings the norm, and strong cold winds also likely. The TVAN’s diesel heater is serviced and tested, an electric blanket is on the bed and extra blankets are loaded – plus plenty of warm clothes as well.
As the days count down to our departure the lists are being triple checked and stores double counted. Water and fuel tanks are full and all that’s left to do is finish loading our personal gear and hitch the TVAN… we can’t wait!!