Monday 28 March 2016

3 Corners & a Double Simpson Desert Crossing - Day 6

Day 6 - 28/3/2016 - Simpson Desert Camp 1 to Poeppel Corner and Camp 2

It was a slightly earlier start because we wanted to try and make as much distance as possible today.  Also the temperature was also staring to climb so packing up while it was cool made it a lot more comfortable.

Campsite by morning
It wasn't long before we found another "The CARP" sticker.

We were starting to see a contrast in the vegetation and how isolated the rain must have been out here.  In some locations it was still very green.  A lot greener than we were expecting.

And then in other locations it was very dry.  Here is an example of the dry look.  It also shows going up the dunes and how careful you had to be coming down the dunes on the blind side.  As you came over the top of the dune you couldn’t see which way the track went.  So you had to be careful as you came down that you didn’t run into a sand wall or vegetation.

Needing to do a quick turn left to avoid the sand lump!
Even though we hadn’t seen any other vehicles on the track so far, we were announcing ourselves over the UHF.  It turned out that we were heading towards another vehicle travelling towards us.  It was the first group of people we had met since leaving Birdsville.  After a few more kilometers and sand dunes we finally met up with them.  They said that they were pretty much the second vehicle to leave Mt Dare as soon as the road had opened.  We never encountered the vehicle before them.  The group mentioned that there were some pretty soft and difficult salt flats/mud pans to cross.  By looking at the state of their vehicle it would have still been a lot of difficult work getting through.

Not long after the group telling us about the mud on the slat flats we then had to cross the largest salt flat that we had come across so far.  The ruts were well defined but there were still a few soft spots in those ruts.  Obviously not as bad as what the other vehicle had been through from the Mt Dare end.

The deep rutts
Made it through no worries
A bit of perspective to show the size of the lake - Snowy is in the far distance
Snowy catching up
Still a way to go until Poeppel Corner
No wonder everything was looking so green and the salt flats were still a bit soft.  There was actually a decent amount of water still around.

Water in lake
As we were getting closer to Poeppel Corner we came across a second group who had left from Mt Dare.  They also said that they had difficulties getting through the mud.  They also mentioned that it was pretty slow going from Mt Dare to Dalhousie as there was a about a 70km stretch of bad corrugations that you could do no more than about 40kph on.  We thanked them for the info and kept moving.

A relatively stock Ford Everest with lots of mud on it
And a Jimny
Just as we were arriving at Poeppel Corner we saw a helicopter circle around above the corner and then come in to land.  It managed to be in the field of view of the GoPro.

Coming into land
After we took the photos of the corner we also had a lunch break in the shade of the visitors hut.  We also started chatting to the guys from the helicopter.  We found out that they were doing reconnaissance for the Young Care charity to mark way points for a group who were going to walk more than 250km from Poeppel Corner to the Geographic Centre of the Simpson Desert to help raise funds for the charity. An absolutely outstanding effort by the group that are going to tackle it.  I certainly hope the temperature drops of for their trek at the end of April beginning of May because it was 45degC while we were having lunch at Poeppel Corner.  And again the GoPro shut itself down without me noticing due to the heat in a closed in vehicle.

The Northern Territory side of the original post replica
The South Australian side - You can't quite read the carving due to the contrast in the photo
The Queensland side - And the same on this side
The old post is a replica of the original.  The original is held in the Historical Relics Collection in South Australia.  The original post was placed too far west in Lake Poeppel due to the survey chain that Augustus Poeppel was using stretching due to the heat.  He later discovered the error and the boarder was resurveyed and the post relocated into the position shown.  The concrete one was placed in a more recent survey, I couldn’t find a date but there is still a discrepancy of several hundred meters between the confluence of the officially specified latitude and longitude of the boarder

Selwyn off recoding the confluence of the latitude and longitude of the real location
As we left Poeppel Corner I noticed an unusual squeaking coming from the front right suspension so I stopped to investigate.  It appeared that the front strut had leaked a bit of oil.  We suspected that it was due to working fairly hard the last couple of days in the high temperatures and also probably a bit of mud in there from the salt lake just prior to Poeppel Corner.  After the more mechanically orientated, (Selwyn and Snowy), also checked it out, it was determined that it hadn’t completely failed and I would continue on extra carefully and make sure that it wasn’t hitting the bump stop and we would check it out further that evening at camp. 

As we were travelling along the French Line there was more evidence of the early surveys that were done.

After setting up camp that afternoon I took off the wheel that had the squeaking strut.  The squeaking had settled down a fair bit after we were moving again after lunch.  It looked like no more oil had leaked out of the strut and the bump stop was not used.  So after the closer inspection I was feeling a bit more comfortable about it and continuing on.  I was going to be keeping a close eye on it.

That night the wind also really started to blow.  Even the extra guy ropes on my tent weren’t really stopping the tent from collapsing in on itself due to the direction of the wind.  The wind only started after we had setup camp so the tent wasn’t positioned the best.  The only thing that helped was to park the vehicle beside the tent from the wind direction and this really helped.  With it also being so windy you couldn’t open the windows in the tent because it would have just filled up with sand.  So another hot night in the tent.

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