Simpson Desert crossing: photos from Patsy and Don

As I compiled the 12 posts on our Simpson Desert crossing photos from the other nine cameras drifted in. Those from Patsy and Don, however, arrived after the series was complete. Their collection contains some excellent landscapes I certainly would have used, had they been available. This selection tells the story of our crossing with links to the earlier posts in the headings.

The preliminary earlier posts were:

We met Patsy and Don, Irene and Ian at Mt Dare, which is the western launch point for Simpson Desert crossings, so we’ll pick it up from there.

Simpson Desert crossing 1: Mt Dare to Purni Bore

Here’s the Mt Dare Hotel, with Ian and Don in the picture. The third figure may be Irene:

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It’s amazing to realise that Cyclone Yasi in February 2011 put the whole area, which is dead flat, under water:

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Diesel is a precious commodity at $2.45 per litre:

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Helpful advice on entering the hotel:

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Inside with Irene, Ian and Don:

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Starting out we very soon had the feeling we were in a desert:

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The two leading cars, Don and Patsy, Ian and Irene, cut a corner and arrived at Opossum Waterhole before we did. When we got there these two birds were side by side on a branch:

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A well-photographed flower:

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I don’t recall a problem with flies. This traveller was well-prepared:

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This dingo had disappeared by the time we came along:

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So had this healthy specimen!

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Simpson Desert crossing 2: Purni Bore

Near Purni Bore:

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Len photographing the sunset at Purni Bore:

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Patsy and Don too were impressed by the full moon:

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Simpson Desert crossing 3: Day 2

Out amongst the sandhills the value of the 3.5 metre high flags was immediately apparent. There are three vehicles between these two sandhills:

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Patterns in the landscape:

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At 3.20 pm by the camera clock Don and Patsy found us a campsite:


Coffee, beer or wine, with our first campfire ready to go:


Simpson Desert crossing 4: Day 3

Day 3 started badly when our vehicle, “The Beast” refused to go. Farmer Erik appeared from nowhere by magic and is here already taking matters in hand:

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Erik, being prudent and forearmed, had two spare fuel filters and his Toyota part fitted our Nissan, so we were soon on our way.

The sand was deep enough for the running board to scoop up some sand. Luckily it stayed on the outside:


Here’s the lone gum tree, a coolibah, growing where it just shouldn’t be:


I must interpolate here a photo from Darral, which was too late for the earlier post. It shows a nest in the tree. If anyone else saw it, no-one photographed it!


Sandhill after sandhill, here we have Ian and Irene tracking behind:


Take a look at those holes scalloped out of the track:


Here’s a close-up:


Simpson Desert crossing 5: Day 4

Day 4, Patsy is up early and finds some homes of desert critters:


She finds Don with breakfast over the rekindled fire:


Tracks in the sand:


Later, a heavily encrusted salt pan:


White rock outcrops approaching the Approdinna Attora Knolls:


Stark beauty in a very dry landscape:



Don and Patsy’s magnificent camper:


Beauty in the wilderness:




It’s about 2pm, we pause for some reason and Ian drops by for a chat:


Zooming in, you can see our torch with a solar panel, being recharged through the car window:


Margot cocooned in the back seat, where she saw approximately half the scenery. I offered to have a turn multiple times, but she reckoned I wouldn’t fit!


The top of the post at Poeppel Corner marks the junction of the Northern Territory, Queensland and South Australia very precisely. The post is maybe 30 cm in diameter.


Ian, Irene and Don:


Simpson Desert crossing 6: Day 5

A sea of sand:


The track:




Some of the best landscape photos:


Margot and Patsy thought of these dead shrubs as “little people”






This is not Big Red, but getting close:


Simpson Desert crossing 7: Big Red

18 minutes later and there it was – Big Red, the last and by a fair margin the largest sandhill:


Four tracks over the hump presented themselves. This one looked easiest. Don and Patsy tried and failed:


This one looked the hardest. No-one got up that way:


Meanwhile a footprint. Is that a camel?


At this stage the sandhill is winning:


Len tries and fails:


Patsy takes in some of the scenery:



Eventually Len made it up on a fifth track to the right, followed by Don and Patsy, Ian and Irene. Darral and Marion, Eoin and Betty charged the one where Don and Len had failed and made it OK. Margot and I walked up, which took about 15 minutes.

Don and Patsy soon follow Len up. It was the highest crest and here they are looking down on the platform where I think champagne breakfasts are served at sunrise to tourists willing to pay:


Ian and Irene soon followed:


Along the crest:


Looking back to the west:



Don and Patsy face off with cameras at five paces. With Don are Len, Betty and Eoin:



Me, Margot and Len. Margot is doing up her shoelace. That’s just before her hat blew off!


This one is superb!


Simpson Desert crossing 8: Birdsville

I think of Birdsville as very dry. And it is, but it also has water, being on the Diamantina River. This is near the camping ground:


Inside the pub:


Water and camping:


The famous Birdsville bakery, where we had our last gathering on the trip as a group:


That was almost a year ago to the day, and that’s where we must leave you now, for the time being. Hope you enjoyed the ride!

5 thoughts on “Simpson Desert crossing: photos from Patsy and Don”

  1. Brian
    many thanks for these wonderful pics – amazing – gosh cant a person think of a better word!!!! – journey; amazing shots – must go back and look at your earlier packets – Im wondering what pressure was in the tyres on that deep sand track??? Many thanks . Will be accepting your offer to share with friends.

  2. Beth, thanks for that. The series seems to attract a small but steady stream of visitors.

    I put a lot of the practical stuff in the post Red Centre holiday: the challenge of the Simpson Desert crossing.

    This is what it said about tyre pressure:

    As recommended we all reduced the pressure in our tyres to maximise friction with the sand. Len had ours at 15 psi in the back and 13 in the front by the time we hit Big Red. Any lower and you risk a tyre coming off the rim. So an air compressor to re-inflate the tyres for the highway is standard kit.


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