KathSwinbourne » Having it all and enjoying every minute of it ... mostly

Jul 26 2017

Simpson Desert, part 5

Day 5. 337k into the desert

Simpson wildflowers_08I’ve probably only got a couple more days in the desert so decided to make the most of this one and took my time this morning. I still got up just before sunrise, but I took more time to pack up and enjoy my morning coffee. And I went for a walk. Not too far, and keeping the car in sight, but I had a look around. And found more wildflowers. They are so small and delicate that you really do have to look for them. That’s what I love about travelling slowly, taking the time to see these things.

I got on the road at 8.13am. Four hours and forty minutes later I’d travelled 20k and arrived at Poeppel’s corner. Not because I was driving slowly, because I had to dig myself out of a hole twice, well three times actually. On the same sand dune!

Animals arriving in my campsite are not a good omen for the next day’s travel!

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Jul 25 2017

The Simpson Desert, part 4

Day 4.  286k into the desert

Simpson Tree camp4No near roll overs, no having to dig myself out of a hole today. All in all, a good day.

The problem with getting on the road early is that I’m heading east – straight into the rising sun. While the sand is harder, it’s more difficult to see the detail of the track on the side of the dunes that I have to go up. And sometimes at the top of the dunes, when the car is at a certain angle, it is impossible to see anything at all, let alone the direction the track is taking.

So, I misjudged my first dune this morning and had to roll back down to make another attempt. Second time lucky, I was up and over the top. Because of the difficulty seeing properly I was probably a bit more cautious this morning than I needed to be, and used low range where it wasn’t necessary. Though, better to be safe than sorry. As the morning wore on, I could see better, and I was more used to driving the conditions, I used low range less and less, only for steeper dunes and those where it was particularly cut up at the top.

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Jul 24 2017

The Simpson Desert Part 3

Day 3.  215k into the Simpson Desert

Simpson second camp_01My how things change, and in a short space of time.

From being cruisy and not in a hurry to get anywhere, I was up before dawn this morning, and straight into packing up. I wanted to get onto the dunes while they were still cool, because that’s the easiest time to drive them.

Though I wasn’t in that much of a hurry that I couldn’t relight last night’s campfire and make myself a coffee. Which I enjoyed while watching the first pink rays of the sun appear over the dunes.

I was on the road at 7.23 this morning. Still not really early, but that was just as the sun was appearing over the dunes. Sunrise isn’t too early either.

I’ve changed my course at the last moment twice today. And both times I paid for it.

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Jul 23 2017

Travelling the Simpson Desert. Part 2

Day 2. 155k into the Simpson Desert.

Simpson landscape_03Not being in any hurry, I lay in my swag and watched the sunrise. If only somebody was here to make me coffee! That’s the trouble with travelling on your own, you have to do everything yourself. Eventually I had to get up and make my own coffee, after relighting the fire from the night before.

After taking my time and having a look around I thought I’d better pack up and get on the road. As per usual with my travels, it was 9am before I got away. No sense in hurrying anything!

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Jul 22 2017

What is it really like to drive across the Simpson Desert (part 1)

Day 1. 89k into the Simpson Desert

Simpson corrugationsI don’t like to admit it at the beginning of a trip, but I was a bit worried. I decided to come into Dalhousie from Oodnadatta rather than go through to Mount Dare. That meant an additional 130k worth of fuel usage before I started in the desert. I’d calculated that from Oodnadatta, based on all information I had, I would make it through the Simpson and have around 10 litres of petrol left when I got to Birdsville. Not a lot, and no room for error, but I was fairly confident. Sort of. The car had been using a lot of fuel before I got the head gasket fixed, but it was ok now. Wasn’t it? Problem is, if I ran out of fuel most other people passing would have diesel, so it might take a while before I could get any help.

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Jul 21 2017

Dalhousie Springs, an oasis in the desert

Kingfisher sprin Dalhousie_01Right on the western edge of the Simpson Desert Dalhousie Springs is either the first or the last point in a Simpson Crossing. And it  was where I was heading from Adelaide to start my desert adventure properly. Straight up the Ooodnadatta Track, past Lake Eyre, and on to the desert. Because of my enforced layover in Adelaide I had no time to stop anywhere. The Ooodnadatta Track would have to wait for another trip.

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Jul 04 2017

Adelaide – the world’s best wine regions (and not a bad place to be stranded)

20160726_080212So much for my triumphant setting off to go to the desert.

I got as far as Adelaide where I finally conceded. The car is at the mechanic’s getting a new head gasket.

Despite (or perhaps because of) driving 1700k in 2 days OK, the problem is getting worse. Water is being pushed out of the radiator and the engine is overheating (in that order). It is also guzzling petrol, and that is getting worse too. I was considering driving home to get it looked at, but I’m not sure I would make it that far. I also don’t think I can afford the petrol at this rate!! My fuel consumption has increased by about 60%.

So I’m still in Adelaide. There are worse places to be.

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Jun 28 2017

Getting your car ready for a big trip

I’m starting to think my little Suzuki doesn’t actually like adventures.

My suzuki VitaraI was supposed to leave last week for outback South Australia and the Simpson Desert. That is, until something went wrong with my cooling system – the day before I was due to leave.

Doc is a mechanic, so he not only gives the car a full service, he checks everything over very carefully to make sure it’s all ok for an outback trip.

Yet, last time I started having car trouble almost as soon as I left home.

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May 14 2017

Top five places to (re)visit in Australia

Find-yourself-in-an-ancient-landOne of the best things about going on holidays is thinking about where to go. And while doing that, looking back on where you have been.

Should I go somewhere completely new? Or go back to somewhere I really enjoyed before?

Parachilna or Woomera? Uluru via Oodnadatta, or the Simpson?

Australia is such a vast country that you can travel for years and not see it all. Or you can go back to familiar places via a new route. Some places just keep drawing you back.

Here are my top five places to visit again, all of which, except Uluru, are not on the main tourist lists: Read the rest of this entry »

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May 07 2017

Beach driving – more preparation for the Simpson Desert

tracks“Driving on the beach is different to driving in the desert” said Doc “See if you can stay in the other tracks.”

Great advice, if I could identify which set of tracks he meant.

We were on the beach at Stockton. Around 17km of driving over mainly soft sand, with dunes stretched tantalisingly alongside you as you drive along the beach. Tantalisingly, because that’s what I wanted to practice – dunes – and that’s where you aren’t allowed to go.

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