Mud Crab 2

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July 25th 2013
Published: August 4th 2013
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You will have to forgive me for being a little bit brief on this blog, as most of you know I do try and write the blog while Andy is driving and now we are in the desert this is hard to accomplish so I probably have not written as much as I normally would and will try to describe as much as I can.

We woke up in the Simpson Desert, which was fortunate as that is where we went to sleep last night. It was a great feeling, Andy peeled back the canvas on his side and we watched the sun come up over the dune, it was just after 7am when we got out of bed to get the kettle on.

I cannot tell you how well I slept, especially after last night and worrying about the confined space of being in the swag, I really was tired and just wanted to sleep but my subconscious kept waking me to start with so that I could keep an eye on the gap in the canvas cover, I don't know what time I got to sleep fully but I really need to get used to this, we will be sleeping in the swag for possibly 8 nights or more, depending on how our journey pans out.

The fire was already lit, Steve & Mandy are early birds and were up well before the crack of dawn and gradually everyone joined the group, but with little time for socialising as we needed to get breakfast and packed up. The fire was extinguished and buried, you would not have known we had even been there.

Just before we left, we saw another group drive past us, it was the group Dale and Peter were with, we all waved and just at 9.30am we pulled out, Andy and I using our new call sign of Mud Crab 2.

It was really exciting to think that we had a day of driving through the desert ahead of us, we followed the Rig Road South so that we could turn left onto the WAA Line, this road should not be quite as busy as the French Line and rumour has it the dunes are higher with sharper drop offs on the other side, so it should it should be exciting.

Just to inform you that all these lines across the Simpson Desert have been created by Gas and Oil exploration companies in the early 60's in order to get drilling equipment, stores and supplies into the desert. The Simpson Desert was originally crossed by the first vehicle ever in September 1962 and because of these companies who's bulldozers carved these tracks, it has given 4 wheel drivers like us the opportunity to traverse the Simpson Desert.

We are unsure if these tracks are maintained but this part of the Simpson Desert is a National Park and has to be accessible to recover broken down vehicles and making no bones about it, this trip is not for the faint hearted.

We heard a story before we left of a Mitsubishi Triton that was loaded incorrectly (too heavy) and had snapped in half on one of the dunes.

We see Dale and Peter again, they have stopped for morning tea, I think they had been on the go for an hour, morning tea was the last thing on our minds as we had only just hit the track.
Mud Crab 2Mud Crab 2Mud Crab 2

Us proudly displaying our new sand flag, call sign mud crab 2

The road to start with was really bumpy, rutted with the occasional sandy bit thrown in, it seemed to be slow going to start with, eventually the tracks became more sandy and it really did start to feel like the desert, we could pick up the speed a little too with smoother tracks.

Camels were spotted off to one side of the track, there were a group of 10 camels. We have learned since that camels have been culled to keep the numbers down, which I am told was not overly successful, that said I wonder where they all are as we were told that there are thousands in the Simpson Desert, along with feral donkeys, but for the 5 years we have been living in Australia, I do think these are the only wild camels we have seen (apart from the dead one in Lake Eyre).

I took over the driving for a while, I could not let Andy have all the fun and there was no way we were driving through the Simpson Desert without me having my fair share.

We looked into the distance and could
Show me they wayShow me they wayShow me they way

Caroline, holding up the sign board
see that the other Mud Crabs had stopped on a dune, we pulled up in behind. It was really sandy and there was another high peak on the top of this dune, one track went round the other track went over. Everyone took plenty of photos and eventually it was time to move on.

One by one they all went straight over the top, so there was only one thing for me to do and that was take the same route, there was no way I was going to let the side down and go round the chicken track.

So with 1st gear engaged, already in high 4, I went for it and sailed smoothly to the top of the dune and nicely over the other side.

Every now and again another voice interrupts our conversations on the UHF, we really only passed 3 other vehicles today coming in the opposite direction. The only other people on this track were Dale and Peter's group that we saw earlier, we had long overtaken them, but could still hear them on the UHF.

I am not sure if I mentioned
Waking up in the desertWaking up in the desertWaking up in the desert

On the first morning of the 2nd day, the new swag was fantastic
previously, but all traffic should be on UHF 10 in order to convey their positions along the track, and in which direction they are heading, so oncoming vehicles are aware of other traffic and thus making the ascent on a sand dune as safe as possible. e.g. "4 vehicles heading East on the WAA Line, position marker 271".

During our lunch we were listening to the UHF and heard the other group say that the tracks were chewed up and they actually accused the Mud Crabs of doing it. I think people forget that the UHF is an open channel and that we could still hear.

How wrong they were, our tyre pressures were adjusted correctly and we were making ease of these dunes, Andy and I feeling comfortable and enjoying the fruits of doing our 4 wheel driver training.

I noticed, don't ask me how, but the Rolf Harris song that refers to Lake Cadibarrawirracanna is spelt differently, but Kevin assures me that it is the same place. Anyway, we spent most of the day making up different versus to go with the Rolf Harris song, none of which I
The Simpson DesertThe Simpson DesertThe Simpson Desert

If you don't like sand dunes, forget this trip
can repeat on this forum. As the day got hotter for some reason, I ended up singing christmas carols.

The temperature increases throughout the day, the texture of the sand gets softer and more like bull dust later in the afternoon, but none of us experience any problems.

If you were fed up with the dunes by now, then it is not a good time, with somewhere in the region of 300-500k's of sand ridges and 1100 -1200 dunes, we still have a long way to go. Up one dune, down and then up the next and so on up and down, up and down, the track is clearly marked and the undulations are fairly vigourous.

I followed our progress on my mapping software on my iPad that has GPS capability, although there were few reference points marked on the map, I was comfortable that at any given time I knew exactly where we were and if needed I could relay GPS coordinates.

Camp that night was somewhere on the WAA Line, GPS coordinates below, we were not too far from the intersection with the Erabena Track, we
Posing on a dunePosing on a dunePosing on a dune

What about that for a blue sky moment.
had covered 89.3k's today.

We noticed that one of our grey tubs that we used to store some firewood had destroyed itself with the constant bashing it has taken in the back of the truck, we were not too disturbed by this as our firewood had just run out.

Our camp was in a large sandy expanse between two dunes, we had plenty of room between us, the camp fire was organised and so was a shower, Steve had set up their shower and once they had finished, very kindly offered us the use of the shower and tent.

We were both grateful for this, we were not expecting to get a shower until we got to Birdsville as we had left our Aqua Cube in Gypsy not wanting to bring it on this trip. It was lovely and refreshing but equally nice to get dry, dressed and back in front of the warmth of the camp fire. We had to contribute our water to the shower, but Andy was very mindful of ensuring that shower water was used sparingly, should we get stuck in the desert, water would be our lifeline.

I had noticed three other vehicles come over the dune and instead of driving on, they pulled up and made camp on the other side of the track. This disappointed me somewhat, all this space and they had to camp near us.

It was a little warmer tonight and we left the canvas flap open in behind our heads, allowing the cool desert night air to waft in, this also made me feel more comfortable in the swag and less enclosed, there was not a man made sound or any light pollution whatsoever, the night sky was black, full of stars and the clarity of the Milky Way.

Sleep came easy after an exhausting day in the dunes. (53S 730015E 7086499N)

Additional photos below
Photos: 13, Displayed: 13


Which TrackWhich Track
Which Track

Oh that one!

4th August 2013

The title of this comment says it all...what an experience. Fantastic pix.
4th August 2013

Swag Bags
Brill pictures and fantastic blogs. Whilst in the USA by Granby Lake, Colorado we were invited to an asparagus breakfast by 3 young men who had just graduated from Uni in America and were working on conservation projects. They told us that they were sleeping in their vehicle when they took trips away which was not satisfactory. We told them what you two were doing, along with your sleeping arrangements in a swag bag. They were very interested in this and were going to see if they could find anything like this in the USA. We spent a very interesting couple of hours with them until a huge thunderstorm sent us running for shelter.

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