Sunday 27 March 2016

3 Corners & a Double Simpson Desert Crossing - Day 5

Day 5 - 27/3/2016 - Haddon Corner to Simpson Desert Camp 1

Generally not being an early riser, it was getting easier to get up earlier due to the sound of the birds at dawn, and the heat slowly but noticeably increasing.  We were all up relatively early this morning.  It was only our second day of actual camping so we were all still getting into the groove of our camp packups.

Selwyn packed up and was the first to head off so that he could try and source some spare parts in Birdsville before everything closed.  We still had a 260km or so run into Birdsville from Haddon Corner.

I was the next to leave.  I was about an hour behind Selwyn because I took my time packing up and I also took a few photos.  Snowy was the last to leave and he was about an hour behind me.

It was a fairly easy run into Birdsville and there were a few things to see on the way.

I arrived in Birdsville at about 11:30. 

I was not sure exactly which road the road conditions sign was referring too, but it was still only 4wd access to Innaminka, the direction we had just come from.

I found Selwyn setup in the shade of a tree with all of his tools and half his tray unpacked working on trying to fix his fridge wiring.

Unfortunately the roadhouse didn’t have any of the bits and pieces that he was after.  The lady who ran the roadhouse also ran the hardware store.  She was good enough to open up the hardware store for Selwyn to check for parts when she closed the roadhouse at midday.  Snowy rolled in at about 11:45, (he made good time despite leaving about an hour after me), and it was only then that we realised that we needed to race to the roadhouse to refuel because it was closing at 12pm!  We only just made it.  I also had to fill up the extra jerry cans so that took a bit longer to refill than normal.

Once we were refilled we all met back where Selwyn was fixing his fridge.  After a few minutes he reappeared and again without any of the parts they he ideally wanted.  In the end he was able to rig up a fuse and some cable from his emergency spares to bypass the BCDC charger.  Once it was installed it seemed to be working ok.  The fridge was running and the auxiliary battery was charging when the vehicle was running.

So with that problem solved it was onto the the next issue - trying to contact family members back at home.  Being Easter Sunday and our last change of any communications for a few days, we were all trying to ring home.  However there was a Telstra outage in town.  No mobile signal.  And you guessed it, we all had Telstra mobiles.  Apparently Optus was still working.  So Snowy and Selwyn were trying to use the phone cards bought at the roadhouse all to no avail as everyone they tried calling was not answering.  I was able to try the satphone and managed to get through.  It was a good test to make sure that the satphone was going to work if we really needed it while out in the desert.

We then headed to the Birdsville pub for a few beers and lunch before we started the next part of the adventure.

I did’t realise it at the time but it was while we were inside having lunch that my GoPro stopped recording.  I had it on the windscreen recording all of the driving and I had been just letting it run the whole of the time.  The temperature on the car thermometer was reaching the low 40’s so inside a locked vehicle the temperature would have been far greater.  I hadn’t seen this happen before with the GoPro and I think it was because we had never stopped for an extended period of time.  On the previous stops the engine and aircon had always been running or the stops had been shorter.

This was in the shade under the awning! (The time wasn't correct)
Over the road from the pub are some monuments to the early surveyors and explores who crossed the desert or passed through Birdsville.

After lunch it was time to start to tackle the desert.  The access to Dalhousie was still closed so therefore we still had to stick to Plan B which was to cross the desert as far as we could and return to Birdsville.  The conditions were going to largely determine how far we were going to get as this was going to have an effect on time and fuel.  With no access to Dalhousie we weren’t going to be able to get through to Mt Dare to refuel.

In order to do that we had to cross the first, (of about 1100), sand dune, Big Red.  Because it was only the start and we didn’t want to use fuel unnecessarily so we decided to cross it at Little Red.  It was a crossing on the same dune a few kilometres south that wasn’t as high and steep.  We were going to save conquering Big Red for the return leg.

On top of Little Red looking to the east
Little Red 
Some of the wild flowers from the recent rain 
Little Red, looking to the West
Even though our tyre pressures were already reduced for the dirt road driving, we decided to reduce them even further.  I went down to 18psi, which is my standard for sand driving.  While lowering my tyre pressures I found that the left rear tyre had been damaged.  We were not sure how it happened but suspected that the tyre has just hit a decent sized sharp rock at the wrong angle and has cut the rubber.  A whole lug was missing off the tyre and it was down to the canvas.  I decided to continue with the damaged tyre and change it that afternoon when we reached a camp site.

Photo taken at home after the trip :-)
We also fitted the sand flags which were compulsory for the Simpson Desert. 

Sand flag fitted - Big Red in the background
It took us another hour and half and a few more dunes to reach the start of the Simpson Desert (Munga-Thirri) National Park on the Queensland side.  

Entering the Simpson Desert at the QLD side
Because the temperature was still so high, it was still around the 38degC at 5pm in the afternoon, we decided to keep pressing on while we had light and it was still hot.  It was better idling along in the air con of the vehicle than sitting in the sun and heat.  There was very little shade.  So we continued along for another hour and half until we found a decent camp site.  When we stopped it was still pretty warm but at least the sun was going down and we had some shade due to the height of the sand dunes.

After setting up camp I also set about changing my damaged tyre.  I managed to get it all done just before sunset so I could get out and take some photos.

It was the best night so far with minimal clouds, so after dinner Selwyn and I went and tried some night photos before the moon started to rise.

This is what it is all about!

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