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Published: August 5th 2013
Caroline in Northern Territory, Andy in Queensland and the photographer is in South Australia!
Day 3 - Crossing the Simpson
The Tri State Expedition
It was definitely a cold night, you could feel the dampness on the canvas inside the swag. When we emerged from our cosy little cell, we could see the frost cast across some of our belongings.
The sun was well on its way to being up and there is not a cloud in the sky. Although we did not want to appear unsociable, as soon as we were out of bed we got breakfast on the go and started to break camp, as everyone wanted to get out on the tracks slightly earlier than yesterday. We have a lot of mileage to cover before we can get out of the desert and because of the sand and track conditions the going can be pretty slow, so we need to get more than 100k's done today.
We were ready to go by 8.30 which was nice and at 9.00 when everyone was ready, we hit the tracks, just in time for the other group with Dale and Peter (incidentally their call sign is Mount Your Camels, we shortened this to
One of many!
the camel group) to appear over the brow of the dune, they were stopping for their morning cuppa after being on the track for an hour already this morning. We always seem to be able to stay just one step ahead of them.
Not long into the journey we topped a dune and saw a Grey Falcon sitting quietly in a tree on the right hand side, completely unperturbed by the traffic that had just passed it. A while later I heard over the UHF that the camel group went past the same spot and mentioned the same bird, perhaps it likes watching the traffic go by, unless it was stuffed!
Driving over the dunes, one by one, over and over again, we eventually take a turn left onto the Knolls Track, this track is mostly driving up between the dunes, it is not too bad, rough in a couple of places, but we can pick up the speed a little here. I think Andy has forgotten that we have 3rd and 4th gear in the truck, most of the journey is done in 1st and 2nd gear.
pull over to let a group of 12 vehicles come through and then a short while later we stop for lunch just south of the Approdinna Attora Knolls (two low, flat topped hills, that stand out in this landscape).
Unfortunately when we opened the back of the truck we notice that with all the shaking and rattling about the spare 2 litre carton of milk had somehow acquired a leak and most of it was dripping down the back end of the truck, having soaked tea towels and other stuff along the way. There is nothing worse than the smell of spilt milk when it has dried, it is a hot day and it has dried quickly!
Anyway, off we set and eventually we are at the intersection with the French Line where we turn right to head toward Poepples Corner. The UHF is constantly interrupting with people advising their whereabouts and gauging if others are heading toward them on the dunes, the track gets rougher and busier.
We find ourselves traversing the dry lake beds, the white salt glistens in the distance, the driving is easier on these sections as
I think, but it is one of many!
we are able to get some speed up, there are a few chewed up sections, but some bypass tracks are visible to pick out. It is not recommended to drive on the dry salt lakes as they may appear firm, but beneath the crusty surface it can be very soft and boggy, so it is wise to stick to the designated track.
It would be lovely to see water in these vast salt lakes, but that of course would make our journey more difficult.
It must have been about 5pm when we arrived at Poepples Corner, named after Augustus Poepple the Surveyor who marked the South Australia/Queensland border in 1880.
Poepple's corner actually marks the intersection of 3 States, Northern Territory, South Australia and Queensland. Just a small point of interest for you, Lawrence Wells, later determined that the chain used during the survey had lengthened and the marker was 300 metres too far to the west in the middle of Lake Poepple and thus moved the marker to the edge of the lake.
It was in 1962 when the famous geologist Reg Sprigg and his family first
crossed the Simpson Desert, his company Geosurveys did an astro fix and determined the point of a surveying marker and he wanted to take the original post back to Adelaide to preserve it and was the last man to see Augustus Poepple's corner post in situ. The post was in poor condition because it had been eaten by termites and was laying on the floor.
Last year was the 50th anniversary of the first crossing of the Simpson Desert by Reg Sprigg and his family, we recently met Doug and his sister Marg Sprigg at Arkaroola.
Just before we arrived, Andy asked me if we had any curry sauce for tonights dinner, I said yes, but I just had that awful feeling, it was all intact at lunchtime when we found the milk, but it had been another rough afternoon drive and when I jumped out of the truck toward the back, I could instantly smell curry sauce, my heart sank.
I need not have worried about everything smelling of sour milk! I peeked under the canvas and found that our plastic tub containing most of our food had broken (completely
destroyed) there were tins everywhere and amazingly enough, there was no broken glass but the lid had come off the large curry jar and everything was covered in curry sauce, including our chairs.
Tins were punctured and lids had worked their way off the salt, pepper, chilli powder, you name it, there was a spice sprinkled all over the back of the truck. All we really needed to do was throw a chicken in and cook it all up for the perfect curry!
We all wandered over to the post that officially marked the corners of the three states, each one of us walking around the post from South Australia to the Northern Territory and to Queensland.
It feels a lot hotter today and in fact a temperature check on the truck revealed that we seemed to peak at 30 degrees, this was noticeable on the last few dunes, as the sand was much softer and harder to traverse.
There is a marked camp site at Poepples Corner and this is where we are stopping for our 3rd night in the Simpson Desert and thus found a suitable
spot to set up camp. I need to add that when I say camp site, it only has some suitable flat (ish) areas to set up camp in, there are no luxury toilets or showers, just a sign board explaining the historical significance of this position.
Todays journey had brought us 112k's closer to finishing the Simpson Desert.
Andy and I sorted through and tidied up our gear the best we could. We could not really wash anything off as we wanted to conserve our fresh water for drinking, the big clean up would have to wait until we got back to Dalhousie Springs.
I merged our kitchen utensils with the remainder of our food in our last tub, this should see us through to getting back to Dalhousie.
Still not to be deterred from getting a curry on the go, Mandy came to the rescue with some spices, Tony turned up with some chilli's and we still had a butter chicken sauce amongst other useful items for our chicken curry.
That evening we sat down to a selection of curries, Lamb (courtesy of Pete)
Poepples Corner, Marks three states
Hence the reason we called the blog the "Tri State Expedition"
Roadkill (courtesy of Mandy) (I have no idea if this was a joke or not!) and chicken curry, washed down with an awesome couple of glasses of red wine courtesy of Tony, oh and the McLaren Vale and Coonawarra wine regions of South Australia.
A splendid evening at Poepples Corner was had by all, and a night cap of Port (thanks Steve), it was a perfect evening to finish an almost perfect day.
What really could be better, we were still in the Simpson Desert and it felt great.
By now I am getting used to the swag, it was such a warm night we left the sides rolled up and watched the stars until sleep drifted over us.
p.s. hope you don't get fed up with photos of sand!
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