HOW TO SURVIVE IN TOTAL COMFORT
WAVE after wave of sand hills become addictive, rather than boring, when you are doing it in the comfort and style of a modern airconditioned ute.
But you should never underestimate the Simpson Desert.
Take 4-5 litres of water a person a day and enough spare fuel, taking into account extra consumption in the sand and in low range.
The Simpson Desert is a harsh place with huge temperature variations from below freezing in winter nights to the high 50s on summer days, so be prepared with proper clothing and camping gear.
You can’t have enough spares and tools, yet you also want to keep weight down so you don’t get bogged in the sand.
We found cable ties, superglue, racing tape and Silastic the musthave items in the tool box.
Another low-tech necessity is a flag on a stick that you mount on your vehicle so other drivers can see you coming up over the steep dunes.
On the more hi-tech side, good satellite navigation and UHF radios are vital. They keep you in touch with the many adventurers plying the few marked tracks.
An EPIRB (Emergency PositionIndicating Radio Beacon) or satellite phone is necessary only if you venture off the track or go in the hazardous summer months when there are few other travellers in the desert.
But the Simpson is not just sand. There are also claypans or saltpans in the south, gibber plains, flood plains, low hills, tablelands and major watercourses.
The claypans and salt lakes can have a thin crust and quickly bog an adventurous vehicle.
Together with recent rains and the soft red sands, they make recovery gear vital.
We included snatch straps, but all we ever used were MaxTrax, designed and invented by 4WD expert Brad McCarthy in Brisbane.
They are made of nylon, so they are light and tough. Simply shove them under the car or bike wheels and drive out. No need for another vehicle to rescue you.
The best tracks are now the QAA Line, French Line, WAA Line and Knolls Track, though weather and usage can dramatically change the condition of tracks in a matter of days.