This was the second trip across the desert for four of our number. We were really excited also to be carrying out the trip in reverse, from west to east, rather than from east to west.
We found crossing the desert from west to east was less challenging, as the eastern sand dune faces are generally steeper due to the direction of the wind. The further east we drove, the bigger the sand dunes were. They also became quite soft in the heat of the day.
The weather was bullshit cold in the mornings with frost on two of the mornings. It made for a couple of late starts, as certain people could not get out of bed, not naming any names…ok it was me.
We encountered a bit of water after Dalhousie Hot Springs as we drove into the night. Unfortunately, the Dalhousie campground was completed packed out. The next camping spot was Purni Bore, however, no campfires are allowed, so we made the unanimous decision to cross into the Simpson Desert Park so we could enjoy a nice warm fire on the first night. Unfortunately, this meant we had to drive in the dark. We saw a lot of skittish rabbits in the headlights as we drove to the east.
Following the Simpson Desert crossing, we were amazed, as we pulled into Little Red, just how many vehicles were lined up for early bird camping. We later heard that people were lined up for hours to get in. We were very glad that we had decided to stay in Birdsville that night and drove straight into town for a hot meal at the Birdsville Pub and well-deserved (and much needed) showers!
The following morning we got up and hastened to the bakery to try some of their scrumptious camel pies. We then headed out to Big Red for the Big Red Bash. We enjoyed 3 days of live country music, camping, amazing sunsets and even tried line dancing. Everyone had a ball.
It was with a sense of sadness that we left Big Red and travelled north toward Bedourie. We attended the Bedourie Camel Races, which was a lot of fun. There was Camel racing, piglet Races, wood chopping, camp oven throwing and numerous other activities. It was a great afternoon. We decided to head back to camp for dinner and noticed dark clouds threatening the horizon. Luckily we didn’t get dumped on that night, but we arose early and packed up camp and set out to Tobermorey where we were planning to camp the last night.
It would not be a Simpson Desert trip without rain on the last day, and so it did, from Boulia to near Alice Springs! The gravel roads became slippery and we discussed the fact that the Plenty Highway was likely to close because of the rain and no one was keen to set up camp in that slop. So we continued on all day and a bit into the night until we arrived safely back in Alice.
It was a really great trip and I would highly recommend it to anyone thinking about crossing the Simpson Desert. It is such a great experience and an adventure.