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Published: August 5th 2013
A morning shot
Before the sun came up
Even I was out of bed before 7am this morning, it was a beautiful morning and watching day break and sunrise in the desert was just amazing.
It had been a fairly warm night, I am glad that we left the canvas flaps open it let some air circulate. By now I am getting used to the swag and feeling very comfortable with it, but that is easy with the flaps open and two doonas to help keep us warm.
Andy started the day off for all of us by making pancakes which we had with either Maple or Golden Syrup and cream, delicious and filling but wondering if it was not going to be the best meal to sit on our stomachs when we hit those undulating tracks over the sand dunes again.
Now smelling like an Indian Restaurant, we pulled away from the camp site at 8.50am we all headed down toward the lake edge to take the K1 Line toward QAA Line and Birdsville, the wind was blowing the sand over the top of the dune, the temperature is already 24
degrees and climbing, this makes the sand much softer and with the wind blowing the free sand over the top of the existing tracks, this could make for a harder journey today, we know there is at least one group ahead of us and we cannot see which way they have come this morning.
The scenery seems to have changed, the sand ridges are slightly higher, there are longer spaces between the dunes and there is definitely more scrub and trees around, we are now in Queensland after having weaved in and out of South Australia, Queensland and Northern Territory this morning.
We find ourselves on tracks that are undulating, my map also shows the sand dunes are an average height of 14 metres, as we get closer to Big Red the average height of the dunes is 18 metres, you can really see the difference. A couple of the dunes cause us to lower tyre pressures again, the day seems to peak at 27 degrees, such a hot day is causing the sand to be softer and easier to bog fortunately we did not get bogged though.
We cross several
clay pans and dry lakes, we are fortunate that there is no water in the lakes, otherwise we could potentially increase the kilometres by another 100k's or more each time, even Eyre Creek, which looks as if it could be quite deep in places, is as dry as a bone, the bypass track could easily add another day to our journey.
There is a mounting excitement amongst the Mud Crabs the closer we get to Big Red which was our target for tonight's camp, by now the tracks are fairly long and straight, but there are some rough areas where they have been chewed up and now we are getting some strong corrugations, these bring some light relief from the undulations!
Eventually, there she is "Big Red" right across the landscape in front of us, another wow moment and hard to take it all in. One by one we all drive down the dune and onto the vast flat as Nappanerica "Big Red" Dune draws us in.
The sheer size of this dune seems incomprehensible, it has always been hard to imagine what Big Red was like and now we are
here and standing underneath all it's might.
I grab some photos while everyone ponders their next move. Steve starts to go up the track, we watch with abated breath but he is soon reversing back down and then takes another route.
Andy drives up to me and beckons me back in the truck, he is ready to go, so we follow Steve up this other route and before we know it, we are over the top and quite happily driving down the other side, followed closely by all the others.
Oh actually scratch that, I was thinking about keeping this amongst the group, but the truth of it was that Steve got stuck, followed by Andy who got stuck, Kevin could go nowhere because we were stuck and the only one that got up was Pete, but it turns out that particular track was probably the easy one (sorry Pete).
Then Pete had to come up the other side so that one by one he could snatch us out of the soft sand onto the top. Our tyre pressures were down to 12 psi (our normal running pressure
is 50). So for now Pete has bragging rights, he was the only one who did not get stuck and he had to rescue 3 of us from the might of Big Red.
In our defence, we have come across over 1100 sand dunes in 4 days and nearly 500 kilometres and this is the only one that we got stuck on, which catches most people out anyway.
In Steve's defence, he seems to have lost his 4 wheel drive, which may have caused him to get stuck in the first place.
I watched a Dingo run down Big Red and stealthily rushed to the edge of the Lake Nappanerica below us, he seemed very cautious and then he ran into the lake and stood there for a long while taking a drink, he must have been parched, I wondered when he last had a decent drink.
It was a weird feeling, we had just crossed the Simpson Desert yet, I felt deflated, that was it, we had done it and there was no fanfare or bells and whistle's, not even a sign that said "You have successfully
crossed the Simpson Desert!"
I am not sure what I expected but I guess Big Red was the icing on the cake and in a little way it is disappointing to think that this part of the adventure is over.
We did not stop until 6pm we camped underneath little red, the camp fire was on the go, Steve and Mandy had set up the shower tent so I managed to grab a shower, even though we knew we would get one in Birdsville tomorrow.
Unfortunately the last of our plastic tubs also destroyed itself today, so I had to resort to putting the remaining tins and kitchen utensils into Woolworths bags for the journey back.
We had our own celebration sat by the camp fire, there it was, we had done it, crossed the almighty Simpson Desert.
(54S 307821E 7134006N)
Sunday (part 1)
You know what they say, all good things come to an end, the end of another week and the end of our Simpson Desert Crossing and the end of our short journey
Mud crab 3 (Kevin and Stuart) needing to refuel
with our fellow Mud Crabs.
We wake up just below little Red this morning, it had again been a warm night and we slept with the swag fully open, it seems that just those extra hundred or so kilometres have made a big difference with the temperature, especially now that we are in Queensland, I think someone has turned the thermostat up.
I heard everyone stirring but 6am was too early for me, I did lie there and watch the beautiful sunrise though, I had a single and very lonely tree in my vision, the sky had turned from darkness to an orange hue that melted into a lighter blue, just one of those little pleasures of waking up out in the wilderness.
I heard a vehicle and saw that it was heading toward the Simpson, I felt envious for a while as I now know what type of adventure they have lying ahead of them, but we have done it and although I know we could go back over the Simpson, we would be travelling alone this time and in many respects it is a punishing trip and somehow I
feel less prepared for the journey back.
Our equipment has taken a bit of a battering and although we know our vehicle is very capable, we figured that we would just savour what we have already done. Also we are keen to get back to Dalhousie to pick up Gypsy and we think that taking the long way round will actually be quicker and less punishing, despite being on dirt roads.
As soon as we are up we start to break camp, Steve has a look at his 4 wheel drive to see if he could figure out what was wrong with it, but it seems that it needs a garage and as we are heading into Birdsville today, he may be able to, but of course it is Sunday so very unlikely.
We drive in, it is almost silent over the UHF, we drop our rubbish into the bin when we enter Birdsville and head to the Birdsville Hotel to get our prize, which is an esteemed photograph of us all with the Hotel in the background, a well earned drink will come later.
In the meantime,
priorities are about and we head to the bakery to grab a decent coffee and some had to grab a camel pie (I really did not fancy one of those).
A long while ago while we were staying at Helen's I read a book by Evan McHugh about his year in Birdsville, by coincidence he is in Birdsville Bakery today doing a book signing, but I had read the book and did not want to buy it just for his signature, but it worth a read.
Next on the list was having a $5 shower at the caravan park, while this was happening I did a little bit of laundry (always take the opportunity) and then onto the Birdsville Hotel for a slap up lunch and glass of wine.
It always comes to that point, when you have hooked up with some great people, this is always the worst part.
Standing outside the Birdsville Hotel, we say our goodbyes wish each other a safe journey and we head off down to the Service Station to top up on drinking water and a few other supplies before hitting the
road out of "town".
Quite by coincidence we catch sight of the Mud Crabs as they cross the road in front of us, for them their journey goes East and on to Innamincka (Inkaminka in Yeti speak - Steve!) while we head South toward Maree, before we need to head north again toward Oodnadatta.
Saying goodbye over the UHF we drive past them as they take their turn off, eventually the UHF falls silent and we are on our way down the Birdsville Track now, Andy has taken down our desert flag, we are no longer part of the Mud Crabs, we just take with us our great memories and some lifelong friends.
Ahead of us lies another adventure, we just need to regroup with Gypsy and hopefully have a couple of rest days, the next few days will probably be fairly full on with driving.
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