Steep Pt to Byron Bay and home the long way round.


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I arrived home a few days ago from an Epic adventure, traversing from Perth to Steep Pt and completing a Western Most point to Eastern most point crossing via the Anne Beadell, Lamberts Centre and the Simpson Desert. Returning home via the Vic highlands and Nullarbor etc. I've posted this report on the Paj forum also, so rather than write it all up again, I'll copy it here.

I’ll start the trip report with some vital statistics:

Days away from home = 29 days/28 Nights
Nights camped = 20 Nights
Friends/Cabins/Motels = 8 Nights
Km’s travelled: 14,893 km
Fuel Used: 2381.31 Litres (Diesel)
Total Fuel Cost: $4099.27
Average Fuel Consumption: 15.99 L/100km
Cheapest Fuel: Port Augusta SA, $1.389 per litre
Dearest Fuel: Ilkurlka Roadhouse (Anne Beadell) SA, $3.00 per litre
Fuel used on the important bits 
Anne Beadell (Laverton – Coober Pedy) 1490 Kms (249.34 Litres) 16.73 L/100km
Simpson Desert (Mt Dare – Birdsville) 595Kms (124.97 Litres) 21.00 L/100km
Self-recoveries: 4 recoveries via winching, one in the Simpson and 3 uses of the winch in the Vic Highlands on the Mt Pinnibar Track from Tom Groggin camp ground to Wheelers creek Hut.

I wasn’t far off in my estimated figures for fuel use as I’d figured I would use an average of between 16 and 17 L/100km. The Paj weighed around 3400Kg with full fuel and water, (yes, way over GVM, but you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t carry all the tools/recovery gear etc when travelling solo) plus the drag of the items loaded on the roof has a big effect on economy as well as reduced pressures on the rough stuff. All up roof weight including one full Jerry can was an estimated 135Kg, the jerry was only filled for the Anne Beadell and Simpson sections and emptied at the earliest opportunity to reduce roof weight.

The Lovells HD rear springs will be coming out in the near future and be replaced with an Extra Heavy Duty version of an as yet to be determined spring. The Lovells performed ok, but even with 30psi in the airbags the rear is dragging and the Paj is nose up. The Bilstein shocks performed brilliantly, with the highest temp recorded at 103 degrees Celsius after some severe corrugations.

My recovery gear came in handy when I had to join several straps together in the Simpson to get enough purchase around a clump of three trees to recover myself. The Mickey Thompson ATZ P3’s handled the trip extremely well with no issues, I am sure I would have staked a lesser tyre one night on the Anne Beadell when I hit a clump of tree roots. We inspected the tyres at camp the next morning and found a stick about 10mm in diameter had gone through a tread lug, but no real damage done, so we removed it and carried on.


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Day 1. Perth-Kalbarri Camp site
Finally our trip was underway! I picked my mate(Mick) up from the airport last night and we had a few bourbons and finalised the next days plan. We were both up early and eager to get going. The Paj was loaded and we were underway around 8:00am. I’d reckon our all up weight with full fuel and water was in the vicinity of 3400kg, so well and truly over GVM. We had around 115Kg on the roof with the spare Jerry Can empty, and our height clearance was 2.4 metres. The problem travelling as a solo vehicle in remote area’s is the need to carry all the tools/spares/recovery gear/tyre changing equipment etc etc. Your damned if you do and damned if you don’t, but I’d prefer to be heavily loaded than finding myself in a situation without the correct gear to give us the best chance to repair or recover the Paj when days from anywhere.

Loaded and itching to go, I'm the short arse on the right and my Mate Mick is on the Left, the Ferret in the front was left at home ;)

As we were making good time, we decided to go and have a look at the Pink Lake at Port Gregory. Man! What a sight! I had been here before, but can’t remember it being such a vivid pink colour.

We ventured out to a few of the lookouts around Kalbarri for a bit of a squiz at the coastline. It’s certainly one of Australia’s most forbidding coastlines and you wouldn’t want to be on a ship going down off here! You’d have no chance of getting up the cliffs if the sharks hadn’t already eaten you ;)

A quick stop in Kalbarri for a loaf of bread etc and we were heading for the Natures window lookout and various other lookouts over the Murchison river. The road out to the Natures window was freshly graded and in pretty good condition. The views of the gorges carved by the Murchison river is spectacular and certainly worth a visit.

We headed to a camp site not to far from the highway that a Paj forum member had provided some co-ords and a map plot to. We found our way there without too many issues, but after telling my mate how good the Paj was in sand, I promptly got bogged in the river bed while seeking out a camp site, damn stuff was a lot softer than it looked. After a quick air down and wiping the egg off my face we made camp for the night at around 5:50pm. It was a pretty windy night and neither of us slept too well with the tents etc flapping around. I vowed next time to not be so lazy and put some pegs in the ground.

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Kalbarri-Steep Point

Day2: Kalbarri-Steep Pt.
Up early again and we were off at around 6:30am, we had discussed heading back to Kalbarri for fuel as were concerned at the fuel consumption and weren’t sure we could make it to the Overlander roadhouse. A quick look at the maps showed another Roadhouse called Billabong about 50km’s further south than the Overlander Roadhouse, so off we headed. We took on 124 litres of fuel @ $1.86 per litre and had averaged 16.9lph.

We Made a couple of diversions along the way and checked out Shell Beach. This beach is entirely made of small shells and is quite a sight to see, we also checked out the Stromatolites at Hamelin pool.

Hamelin Pool below:

Shell Beach below:

Heading out to Steep Pt we were pleasantly surprised to find the road was in pretty good condition and we could sit on 100kph for most of it.

We took a diversion off to one of the blow holes and as we approached we could see it shooting into the air in the distance. By the time we got there the tide must have changed just enough that the blowhole was a bit more subdued. It’s still a scary proposition looking into a blowhole and listening for the rush of water coming up before quickly getting out of the way ;)

The road got a lot rougher and corrugated about 20 or 30 km’s before Steep Pt, but nothing too bad and the views along the way were stunning. The ocean was just a brilliant aqua colour and was a stunning sight.

We camped about 9km's from the Point itself and decided we would get up early and head to the Western most point before turning East and heading for the Anne Beadell.



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Steep Pt -Anne Beadell

We awoke early once again and set about packing up camp before heading off up to the point. We both felt like this was the real start of a trip that had been a long time in the planning. Finally we would hit the start point of our West to east crossing of Australia!

There were a few blokes doing a bit of fishing off the cliffs and chasing the Pelagics using Helium filled balloons to float their lines out. They use just enough helium in the balloons to bob the bait up and down in the water and attract the likes of mackerel etc. I'm not much of a fisherman but I can appreciate the effort these guys go to, to chase their prized catch! A lot of hard work and a long way from anywhere. It's around 2-3 hours from the highway to get to Steep Point depending on road conditions. If camping you must pre-book, as it is a pretty popular place and it's a long way to go to find out their are no spots available! The camp sites are situated well apart from each other, so no problems with privacy.

You can just make out the helium balloons in this pic:

Our official start point :)

A Gratuitous shot of the Paj at the western most point.

And we were off! Not too much to report on this particular day, other than we were initially heading for Kalgoorlie as Mick had never been there and wanted to see the superpit. We took the Butchers track which is a little south of the Overlander roadhouse and just wound our way down towards Kalgoorlie. Around early afternoon we worked out we were still going to be around 400 or 500km's from Kalgoorlie so we made the decision to scratch it off the list, as it was basically a day out of our itinerary to look at a hole in the ground for ten minutes. I have been to Kal plenty of times and was a bit relieved when Mick reluctantly agreed that it was just too far out of the way from our planned route.

The dirt roads were all in very good condition and had been recently graded, so it was all 100kph dirt roads. Looking at the GPS I noted a spot not far off our route that simply said 'Meteorite Crater" So we detoured up to this spot with visions of a Wolfe Creek style crater in our minds! Imagine our disappointment when we came across this ;)

Hahaha! It was Australia's smallest proven meteorite crater at just 25 Metres across! We had a good chuckle and set off again. camp for the night was just a pull up off the highway and head bush for 100 metres or so.

Not too many pics on this day, but a nice fire shot!

The next day we headed into Sandstone and fuelled up before taking a short detour out to London Bridge. Awesome looking spot!

Goanna's were the most prolific wildlife we saw apart from plenty of Galahs etc.

From here we made a beeline for Laverton, fueling up before heading onto the Anne Beadell. I asked the local shopkeeper where the Anne Beadell started but I think he was too stoned to answer! Then the local copper pulled up at the fuel bowser, so I asked him and he had no clue either! LOL.

For anyone else trying to find it, head out of town onto the Great Central Road and its only a km or two down there and turn right, can't miss it.

The Anne Beadell was in pretty good condition and had been recently graded on this section at least. We were able to maintain 100kph with no problem. We travelled for a couple of hours or so and made camp at Point Sunday. This was a bit of a rock outcrop and offered reasonable protection from the wind. We were going to camp at the old abandoned Yamarna Homestead, but it was a rubbish dump so we continued to Point Sunday. We passed the only vehicles we would see for the next few days. Two Motorbikes with a support ute who had just done a a few days loop around one of the salt lakes and were heading home.



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Point Sunday (Anne Beadell) To SA Border

We had a bit of a late start today and were off by about 8:30ish. The road so far had been well graded and was mostly 80-100kph dirt. After about half an hour or so we came across the abandoned Yeo homestead and were regretting not travelling a little further the day before to camp here.

We could have slept in the homestead and not had to set up camp.

There was even an old shower setup that would have been ideal to use.
For showering along the way we have been using a Lifepo4 rechargeable Ironman shower which does the job well though. Heat up a bit of water in the Kettle and add 5 litres of cold water to a plastic tub and you can get an acceptable wash. The bonus of no cord other than the shower hose is great.

We made the obligatory stop along the way at the old Goldfield air services wreck. The track in is about 10km's or so and is pretty windy and crosses over quite a few dunes with a few soft spots. No drama's though, just slow going with corrugations. Well worth a look as the plane is reasonably intact and an interesting sight to see.

We headed back along the track and towards Ilkurlka Roadhouse, we arrived during lunch time, so stopped for a quick lunch over the road as they are closed between 12:30 and 1:30, it must be hard to handle the huge volumes of customers ;)

Fuel was $3.00 per litre, but considering the effort they need to go to to get fuel out here, it's to be expected. This was the dearest fuel of the trip. The lady at the roadhouse (Forgot her name sorry) said we were the first people through here in the past week. She had word from another group that were heading west but had broken their camper trailer on the famed corrugations near Emu Airfield and had given up their quest and returned to civilisation.
It's around 800 km's from here (Allowing for diversions) to the next fuel stop at Coober Pedy, we took on 107 Litres for a cost of $321.00. Average fuel consumption between here and Coober Pedy was 16.8 L/100km.

The road east of here begins to deteriorate, Yippee! We headed from Ilkurlka towards the WA/SA Border and made camp at a roadside water tank and shed about 9km's before the border. The water tank was bone dry, so don't rely on this for water.



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SA Border to Coober Pedy

Heading for the WA/SA border and beyond, we passed some amazing country, travelling along the windy track through the red sandhills of the Great Victoria desert and the Mamungari Conservation Park. I'd travel out here again just to do this section.

The border crossing marker:

These were the first camels we had encountered in the entire trip, the first live ones anyway, we had seen plenty of dead ones that had been shot. I'd guess as part of a camel cull. They ran along the track in front of us for a few km's and wouldn't get out of the way. We stopped for a few minutes and let them run up and around the next corner, but we soon came across them again still running up the track!

As we came up and around a corner we were surprised to see all the wildflowers, we hadn't expected to see these so late in the season! Awesome sight which the pics don't do justice to.

The fields of flowers continued for quite some time and mixed in with the red of the sandhills, this was a thorougly enjoyable drive.

Next on the viewing agenda was the remains of a Jayco Dove Pop Top caravan. Why you would even contemplate trying to tow this out here, I have no idea. Obviously would have been an expensive lesson for the owner. Sections of the track will put any vehicle to the test, but we hadn't hit the rough stuff yet.

There are quite a few of these Permanent stone markers along the way, I am guessing they were put here by the Len Beadell crew? Not really sure though.

Eventually we made our way into the Woomera defence restricted zone and headed for the Totem sites.

Some of the camera tower wreckage left behind, not really much to see but this was still a must visit site for the historical side of things. It was a strange feeling wondering about how it looked prior to the tests.

I am guessing this sign says "Don't eat the radioactive kangaroos" ;)

We had been informed by the lady at Ilkurlka roadhouse that the track deteriorated around the Emu airfield area and she wasn't wrong. These make the Cape York Corrugations look like a super highway. We were down to 15kph in parts and we measured the corrugations at 900mm apart and 75mm High. Driving faster on these types of corrugations just doesn't work and will only result in breaking something. The Paj dash had already taken a beating and was fairly loose with a lot of movement. We had resorted to draping a folded up tea towel over each end so the doors would put some pressure on the ends of the dash. This worked well, but I'll strip the dash down when I get a chance and tighten everything up.

The worst of the corrugations covers around a 150km stretch from Emu Airfield down to the Tallaringa dog fence on the eastern side. There are numerous diversions and it is a wise move to take all the shortcuts you see. While they are still corrugated, they are generally the lesser of two evils!

We drove into the night and headed for Tallaringa well where we made a quick camp for the night, before getting going early once again. Mick had some breathing issues with Asthma which were a little concerning at this stage, so we were keen to get a bit closer to civilisation. driving such long days and into the night has its own hazards and I ran over a clump of tree roots in the road that I simply didn't see. Just a minor stake through a tread lug, with no real damage done, so all was good.

The Dog fence on the Eastern side of the Tallaringa conservation park, marks the end of the corrugations, and it is all 80-100kph dirt road from here to Coober Pedy.

We arrived in Coober Pedy and booked into a hotel for a much needed break from camping. Mick was feeling ok during the day so we weren't overly concerned. Later that night he told me he would need to go the hospital and get them to put him on the Nebulizer to stabilise his Asthma, but once he was there they decided to keep him in overnight.

I had a few more beers at the Italian-Australian miners club and walked back to the hotel. I talked with Mick on the phone the next morning as I wasn't sure when he would get out. He said they wanted to keep him for two or three nights but he thought he would be ok and felt much better with his breathing back to normal. So the decision was made to continue on with the trip.
The plan was to head up to Oodnadatta via the Painted desert and then on to Eringa waterhole and camp for the night.

Les PK Ranger

4x4 Earth Contributer
Awesome TR Steve, thanks for the info and pics . . . suspect there's more to come ??

Day 1, day 2, etc seemed to get lost somewhere, but looking forward to the next installment for the drive up and the simmo.

Those 3 sec tents are great for such trips, aren't they ?
I just bought a 3 man one and, with a nice shadecloth underneath for protection, it is perfect for quick set up and breaking camp.


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Awesome TR Steve, thanks for the info and pics . . . suspect there's more to come ??

Day 1, day 2, etc seemed to get lost somewhere, but looking forward to the next installment for the drive up and the simmo.

Those 3 sec tents are great for such trips, aren't they ?
I just bought a 3 man one and, with a nice shadecloth underneath for protection, it is perfect for quick set up and breaking camp.

Glad you are enjoying the report, I was hoping for some better photos around Steep Point, but Mick had a couple of settings wrong on the camera he used and they turned out blurred. We had some better views of the blowhole with the Paj parked next to it.

The 3 Second tents are great, no need for pegs unless it's really windy. I only pegged it 3 times on the entire trip. I have the larger XTRA model as I had to pick the Missus up in Brisbane for the return leg.


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Coober Pedy-Lamberts Centre

I arrived at the hospital at about 8:00am and waited for Mick to appear, he was out by 8:30 and we headed into town to fill a prescription he had. After visiting the chemist, Mick was sure they had given him the wrong stuff, so we headed back to the hospital to ask the doctor again. Sure enough the chemist had screwed up and given him the wrong medication! Bloody hell! The doctor drove down to the chemist and met us there to give the pharmacist a blast and ensure Mick got the correct medication.

Coober Pedy Hospital and a relieved Mick below:

Mick seemed confident that everything was good now and he would be ok to continue, so off we headed for the Oodnadatta track and the painted desert. (I Don't really know why they call it a track anymore, it's all very wide road and 100+ kph dirt.) The painted desert road is just basically a loop off hte main road for 50 or 60km's.

A working bore along the way:

Although their doesn't seem much for the cattle to eat out here, they were some of the healthiest fattest cattle I have seen. No pics unfortunately.

We came across this lonely grave of a four year old boy and felt a strange sense of sadness at some of the hardships suffered by the people out here.

The different colours in the hills is an amazing sight and well worth the drive out here. I thought I had more pics of this section, but can't find them at the moment.

The obligatory shot of the Pink Roadhouse at Oodnadatta.

Followed by a beer at the pub!

We continued on and turned off the Ood track heading towards Hamilton station and onto the Eringa waterhole. We were going to camp here the night, but the roads had all been freshly graded and we were making good time so we continued on.

We headed up to the Old Ghan Route and the Abminga siding ruins.

After an explore around the ruins we toyed with the idea of trying to follow the old railway line from Abminga to (Finke)Apatula. But after a couple of km's it soon became evident this would be a major undertaking and would be extremely slow going, so we retreated and followed the road, eventually crossing the border into the NT.

As we had made such good time we decided to head to Lamberts centre to camp for the night, arriving there an hour after dark. Mick wasn't feeling the best again, so this was cause for concern with the Simpson leg due to happen the next day.

This pic below is of the Milky Way, taken at Lamberts Centre, it is basically 12 shots overlaid on each other and processed using an Astro Photography program called deep sky stacker. This shows you what the eye can't see, the brightest section is the light from clusters of stars.

Tomorrow would bring about a big turn of events with implications for the rest of the trip.


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Lamberts Centre-Alice-Mt Dare

We arose to another beautiful day at Lamberts centre, but Mick had a few problems during the night. I am sure anyone with Asthma can appreciate the sense of fear when you are potentially facing an Asthma attack. Its hard to keep the panic at bay and try and steady your breathing. Asthma can be fatal, so this was very concerning for Myself and especially for Mick.

He had been taking the correct medication, but I think that coupled with our remoteness the mental side of things was hard to overcome. Although we had a satellite phone, if the attack was bad it would be goodnight Irene before help arrived. We made the decision to call into the Finke medical centre and see if they could help. Mick had some serious soul searching to do and some hard decisions to make.

Firstly a couple of pics of Lamberts Centre, we only had one other couple camped here, firewood is scarce so bring your own in. Plenty of it a few km's down the track.

We had arrived here after dark, but this pic was taken the next morning on the way to Finke. The track in is fairly slow going, but nothing hard.

I was here in May 2013, but was towing a camper then and the paj was a different beast to what she is now. It was much easier with just two of us this time around, rather than Myself the Missus and four of the kids last time!

We arrived into Finke early in the morning and found the medical centre, but they were of no use to Mick. So I said well its your call, we can head up to Alice Springs, which is aboit 230km's via the Old ghan route and you can fly home from there or if you are confident you can make it we will head to Mt Dare and onto the Simmo. Mick was fully aware of how remote we would be and the decision was made that it was just too risky in his current state of health. So with some reluctance we set off for Alice Springs.

I also had to make a decision as to whether I was going to cross the Simpson solo or travel via the Blacktop. I am fairly confident in my mechanical and driving abilities and have extensive remote area experience. The Paj was well prepped for the journey, so I decided I would continue with the planned route and do the Simpson solo.

We headed up the Old Ghan road to Alice and snapped a few shots along the way, the mood was pretty sombre though and I knew Mick was taking it hard.

There are numerous abandoned railway sidings along the way:

This building was actually covered in graffiti, but some photo shopping soon sorted that out.

Unfortunately I have no pics, but the road was recently graded and 100kph was no problem, but it was littered with railway spikes and I mean literally hundreds of them, about 8 inches long and an inch thick sticking up out of the dirt. This went on for about 100km's and I was sure i would stake a tyre. trying to avoid the ones you could see was hard enough, but there were plenty you couldn't see buried just under the surface.

I just took this shot of one of the railway spikes that I picked up along the way, these things were evil and were all over the road, with some pointing straight up in the air just waiting for an innocent tyre to come along!

I dropped Mick in Alice and we made sure he had a room for the night near the hospital and flights were organised for the next day. I then headed back to Mt Dare, once again avoiding the railway spikes by pure luck. I was on a mission and made it from Alice to Mt Dare in 4 hours, arriving 15 minutes before fuel was shut off for the night.

There were three guys there in two Landcruisers from the Landcruiser club of Australia. One was the President, just my luck turning up at a Landcruiser club trip in a Pajero. We had a few beers and some banter was thrown either way. Dinner with the the Mt Dare owner/manager and his family, (Sorry I am a shocker with names) was great and informative. I retired early ready for a big day ahead. I had elected to book a cabin, to get a good nights sleep and be showered and nice and fresh for the next day.

I don't have any pics of Mt Dare, but do have some video footage as I was driving out the next morning. I'll get around to editing and uploading it eventually.
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Mt Dare to Simpson camp one.

Please excuse some of the pics in the next couple of sections of this trip report. My Photographer has gone home and I am now using an iPhone. Some of the pics are screen grabs from an Ion Air Pro action cam mounted on the drivers side grab rail.

After a shower and a good nights sleep at Mt Dare, I headed off around 6:30am towards Dalhousie springs where I would turn towards the Simpson. I had intended on travelling in convoy with the guys from the LC Club, but when I mentioned this to them, I was met with a snort of "If you can keep Up" So my first thought was FU, see if you can catch me ;) They were going to do the WAA Line as it was the easier option, I elected to take the French Line and see how chopped out it was.

The road from Mt Dare to Dalhousie is a shocker with some severe corrugations, down to 30-40kph in sections. This road passes through a lot of rock fields and would be near impossible to grade smoothly. This took me about an hour and a 1/4 to do the 60km to Dalhousie. I'd visited the springs last year so only called in for a quick toilet stop and a check out of the camp grounds. There was not another sole in sight!

Heading out of Dalhousie and out to Purni Bore on the Spring Creek track I passed the rangers working on a fence, they flagged me down and asked the usual questions about supplies/water etc I was carrying and also checked I had a desert parks pass. This would be the only time on the entire trip that any of my permits were looked at. The road was fairly rough in sections, but I think I now have a skewed perspective of what counts as corrugations after doing the Anne Beadell :) I had picked up some radio chatter and the LC Club guys were around 20km's behind me. It's always good to know someone else is out there!

There are a lot of these types of rock fields out in this neck of the woods and the going can be slow, tyres can be shredded in no time on this stuff.

Purni bore came into view and I took the chance to eat the (Jesters) pie and chiko roll I had thrown in the Travel Buddy Oven earlier. I can highly recommend these ovens. the West Australians among us will know what a Jesters Pie is! mmmmm mmmmm!

Purni Bore is a haven for the wildlife out here. The flies were getting bad so I moved on.

From Purni bore it was simply head east towards the French Line/Rig Rd intersection and make a decision from there on which way I would head. The going was pretty easy so far.

I elected to take the French Line for at least part of the way and see what the conditions were like. It was 38km's from here to the Colson track Intersection. It took me over 3 hours to do this 38km section though, as it was chopped up to buggery and contrary to the norm, it was the Western side of the dunes that was chopped up the most. The eastern faces were all relatively smooth.

I had a few stops along the way to pick up various tools and objects that had fallen out of someone's toolbox. I ended up with Spanners/Hammer/Ropes/Tent pegs/Big Screwdriver and the best egg flip I have ever seen along with other bits and pieces. Sorry if it's yours but finders keepers on the egg flip ;)

One night on the Anne Beadell we actually found a complete stainless steel kitchen that had obviously fallen out the back of a camper. I wondered if the owners had seen it fall or if they got to camp and wondered what happened to it? It looked brand new! ;)

I also came across this memorial to the French Seismic crew who initially worked out here. I worked in Seismic exploration in my late teens/early twenties and found this very interesting. I was a Juggie initially which is what basically every person who works in seismic starts out as, and eventually worked in pre-loading the explosives after the drills had finished and finally as the crew shooter. (The shooter basically hooks up the charges to the capacitor and fires the charges) This would have been tough going for these guys out here when they were using the equipment they had. No air conditioned comfort back then!

Eventually I arrived at the Colson Track intersection and elected to head down to the WAA line and then across to the Erabena track. I was worried about pushing too hard over some of these sandhills, and being solo the last thing I wanted to do was break something.

The Colson track was a good run south as it runs between the dunes most of the time and is easy going. It was only about a 20km run down to the WAA Line where I again headed East.

After 52km's East on the WAA line I again turned South onto the Erabena track and was heading down to the Lone Gum. This tree is a bit of an oddity out here, and there is no explanation as to why it is here.

The sign is a bit hard to read sorry:

The temps were up around the 42°C mark and it was bloody hot so I continued on and made my way back to the Rig Road and headed towards Knolls track. The Rig Rd was much easier going than the French Line.

I kept going until an hour or two before sundown and decided to camp about 25km's East of the Erabena Track. This would bring to a close my first day of Solo desert travel. What a day it had been, I love the isolation and there is no better place to feel isolated than in the middle of the Simpson!



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Simpson Camp 1 - Simpson Camp 2

I arose at first light and got myself organised for another day in the desert, and what a hell of a day it would be!

Most of the rest of todays photo's are the Action Cam screen grabs, so the quality is not the best.

I headed off towards Knolls Track and had an uneventful journey. Just cruising along admiring the scenery. I could hear the odd crackle on the radio every now and then and wasn't sure where the LC Club guys were. The drive up Knolls track past the Approdinna atoll was a pretty easy affair.

I was headed back to the French Line and eventually to Poepells Corner. Approximately 16km's East of the French Line/Knolls Track Turn off, I became stuck on this sandhill.

I had underestimated how sharp the lip of the dune was and simply wasn't going fast enough to clear it. The sand is extremely soft at this time of year and I was running 12psi in the tyres, but she just got caught on the lip. Not to worry I thought, a bit of shoveling and I'll be on way. Big Understatement!

I dug for an hour in 42°C heat and was getting nowhere fast, the Treds came out and still I couldn't get it clear. It seemed every shovel full of sand I dug from underneath was replaced by a shovel full falling back in! I wasn't particularly worried as I knew it was recoverable, but not in the heat of the day.

I tried a few different tricks, letting the tyres down to 8 psi etc, but she wasnt moving forwards or backwards. While sitting in the car to cool down, the UHF crackled to life and I found the LC Club guys were about 20km ahead of me. I gave them a call and explained I was stuck, but I would get out eventually. They elected to come back and assist. I could almost hear the glee in their voices on the radio ;) I sat for a few minutes and looked at a small clump of trees in front of me, and thought Nahhh, surely they wouldn't hold the winch? The thought of suffering the indignity of being recovered by a Landcruiser spurred me into action.

I tried winching a few times, but every thing I hooked on to just fell apart or was torn out of the ground, eventually I joined a couple of straps together and looped them around a clump of three or four trees. I had a grin from ear to ear when I got back on the radio and told the LC club guys, that I was out!

They pulled up about 5km's away and had lunch while I packed up my gear and headed on my way.

It was about this time, I was regretting my decision not to buy a Lan-cor ground anchor, it would have had me out in no time. I thanked the LC Club guys for turning around and coming back to help. I would have done the same for anyone else stuck out here. While I was grateful they were coming back, I was more pissed off at the thought of a LC recovering me. Thank God that didn't happen!

If the winch had failed and the LC club guys were not there. I would have waited until the temps dropped and recovered myself with a bit more digging. I ran into the guys up the track at their lunch stop and thanked them for turning around. This was the last time I saw them.

Continuing on my merry way, I passed many salt lakes and eventually made it to Poeppells corner where SA/QLD/NT meet borders.

Travelling east from Poepells, I came up a dune and met my one and only vehicle coming the other way, he was coming up the dune pretty quickly and was on the horn early. I think he crapped his pants when he saw me ;)

We stopped for a quick chat and then carried on, I had planned on making Birdsville tonight, but that wasn't going to happen. The dunes were severely chopped on the Western side and the going was slow. I made camp about 40k's West of Big Red. Absolutely knackered after my recovery efforts earlier, I had a good old Bombay lamb stew that I had placed in the Oven earlier followed by several JD and Coke's!



Well-Known Member
Simpson camp 2 - Byron Bay

I was up again at the crack of dawn and eager to get going. The flies had started at sunrise and were the worst of the trip so far, although to be honest the flies were far better than a previous trip to Dalhousie/Uluru in May 2013.

It took me an hour or so to finally see Big Red come into view.

This turned out to be one of the easiest climbs along the way, I made my way up and took in the sights for a while. No one else within coo-ee! Just myself and the Trusty Paj.

Heading back down Big Red and the view west, I cant say I was sorry to be finally getting out of the dunes.

After crossing the final Dune (Little Red) I headed for Birdsville, the wind was howling and a sandstorm was blowing across the road making it hard to see what was coming. I arrived in Birdsville about 9:00am and took the obligatory pub shot and fueled up.

My initial plan from here was to head to Byron via the Cordillo Downs Road, but now I was travelling Solo I was on a bit of a mission to complete this leg of the trip, so I eleccted to take the shortest route and stay on the blacktop as much as I could. not really too much to report on this section. I left Birdsville at 9:30am Wednesday and was in Byron by Midday Thursday.

I drove until about midnight and my speed was down to 80kph at times due to the large volumes of roos on the roadside. I had a few close calls, but the lightbar did an awesome job of lighting up the sides of the road. Long hours behind the wheel in this country was nothing new to me as I drove trucks for many years between Brisbane-Cairns-Darwin and surrounds. I had intended to pull up earlier, but just found myself keeping going.

Between Quilpie and Charleville, I passed a crashed car in the bush and after a few km's I was thinking something didn't feel right about it so I turned around to go and double check it. It was a late model Prado on it's roof and in the tree's, fortunately for me it had already been flagged off with tape, but I doubt the occupants had survived as it was a mess and went into the tree's at full pelt I would say. I've come across a few accidents like this in my time on the highways and it leaves a strong feeling in the pit of your stomach and you hope they were all ok.

Arriving into Byron Bay after the isolation of the desert was a bit mind blowing and I cant say I like the place much anymore. Way too touristy compared to 30 years ago. The surrounding area's are beautiful though.

Finally the lighthouse came into view and i was promptly charged $7.00 to park and go and look at it. I asked the parking guy where my welcoming committee and brass band were? But alas no such thing for me ;)

Made it!

That was one hell of a trip with some unexpected twists and turns. I spent the next few days catching up with family and friends on the Gold Coast/Brisbane and caught up with Mick. Mick was feeling ok now and was full of remorse for not being able to complete the trip, but sometimes it just isn't worth the risk to your health.

I organised a cabin for the night close to the pub and went and got legless, I woke up face down on the bed at 3:00am still fully dressed, so i guess it was a good night?

After I picked up the Missus in Brisbane we headed south and began the long journey home. I'll post up the more interesting sections of that in the next few days as the adventure is still not done.


Epic trip, have stood at that lighthouse many a time, beautiful part of Australia.

Super keen to stand at the most western point so thanks for the inspiration.

Les PK Ranger

4x4 Earth Contributer
The 3 Second tents are great, no need for pegs unless it's really windy. I only pegged it 3 times on the entire trip. I have the larger XTRA model as I had to pick the Missus up in Brisbane for the return leg.
Yeah, I got the Malamoo 3 too, very nice for a couple, and the double swag fits perfectly with a bit of room each side for duffle bag of clothes.
A little more privacy for the missus, otherwise the swag alone would suffice.

the road was recently graded and 100kph was no problem, but it was littered with railway spikes and I mean literally hundreds of them, about 8 inches long and an inch thick sticking up out of the dirt. This went on for about 100km's and I was sure i would stake a tyre. trying to avoid the ones you could see was hard enough, but there were plenty you couldn't see buried just under the surface.
Usually there aren't that many on the track, off the track yeah, no doubt a grading would dredge them up.

Great TR, looking forward to your long route home Steve.


Well-Known Member
Brisbane - NSW

The next section of this trip report is a bit more touristy as we spent a lot of time on the blacktop, I'll skim through this with a few pics along the way of various camping spots etc.

After catching up with Mates in Brisbane for a few days I picked Bren up and we headed South. The first days drive was out to near Rathdowney and a trip down the old Lions Road to Kyogle. The last time I did was over 30 years ago and much has changed through here. The road is now all bitumen but still a nice drive in sections. The roadside camping has now been replaced by 'Proper' Campgrounds :(

This road takes you past the border ranges national park and also the Railway loop where the railway basically does a loop right around the mountain.

From here we headed to Nimbin. We didn't make it out of the carpark before we were approached by one of the local street dealers asking if we wanted to buy weed!

After spending an hour in town we headed off and down towards Tenterfield where we made camp about 15km's off the highway in the Girard State Forest at just a bush camp by the side of the track. The land in here looks like it is all being sold off as private allotments, as we saw real estate signs everywhere and a bit of clearing going on.

Arising early in the morning we were keen to get going and we did the usual touristy things along the way. We made our way down the New England Highway and headed through Tamworth etc eventually making our way into the Wollemi National Park. This was a stunning area and in stark contrast to the scenery I had witnessed over the past two weeks, everything was green! We live in a wonderfully diverse country.

We passed through the beautiful Bylong Valley, another area marked for Coal seam gas with the locals actively campaigning against it.

We were using the wiki camps app to look for any possible camps late in the afternoon, it led us out to Dunns swamp campground near a town called Olinda. There were a few other campers around, but generally we felt quite secluded in our spot. I would have liked to spend some more time exploring this area.

The resident wallabies came out to ensure we were doing the right thing.

Our next day on the road, saw us head to the famed Mt Panorama race circuit at Bathurst where we did what is possibly the slowest lap ever in a fully loaded Pajero ;) The speed limits are heavily enforced here by the local cops, but I did manage a whopping 80kph in some sections ;)

We were heading towards Canberra via Goulburn etc, once again passing some stunning scenery. We generally avoided most of the larger towns, much preferring to stay out in the 'Bush' Trying to navigate our way to a camp spot shown on the wiki camps app, we ended up in some private property and passed over a ford and several locked gates before we realised we weren't getting to where we wanted via this route.

Back on the correct path we were headed for the Lowden Forest park and The Waterwheel campground, located in the Tallaganda National Park and forestry area near Queanbeyan. What a stunning spot it turned out to be.

The working waterwheel was great to see, along with the remnants of the old logging days.

The campsite had basic drop toilets and fire places.

After a short bush walk in the morning, we were off and headed to the War Museum at Canberra, before venturing to the Snowy Mountains. On the way out we just had to get a photo of this:
I love some of the Letterboxes that you spot in country Australia!