Things didn’t start well. It rained in the . By the time it dried out and I got away it was noon. Then Purni Bore, my first chosen camping spot, was disappointing. So I continued into the desert. That was, after all, the point of my trip.
Just do it: Travelling the Simpson Desert solo
The first thing I noticed about the desert was how vegetated it was. I was expecting rolling red sand dunes. What I got was rolling red sand dunes covered in vegetation – scrubby wattle trees, grasses and a few wild flowers. It hadn’t been a wet winter so there weren’t a lot of flowers out, but the were beautiful.
The second thing I noticed was . I’d been driving for over 100km, and since Purni Bore, at not much more than walking pace. Driving along with the roof and windows open, I could smell the desert and had time to look around.
I’d stopped a few times to look more closely and was just thinking to myself that things were a lot easier than I expected, when suddenly they weren’t. And I do mean suddenly.
Things went from “I’m really enjoying this”, to “get me out of here”, with nothing in between. Up until this point I’d been driving on the Rig Road, which is the road built for the heavy mining vehicles, to get around the desert. When I say “road”, I really mean a clay-capped, red-sand track, but that clay capping on the dunes made a lot of difference.
But when I turned onto the WAA line, I hit real sand dunes. No more clay capping. Just soft, red sand and the biggest dunes I’d traversed so far. Problem was, I still had over 300km to go!
But the biggest thing I noticed was the peace. And the isolation. And that really is what I went to the desert for.
It's nearly 500km from Dalhousie to Birdsville via the WAA line, so I had a lot of time on my own. Completely on my own. For the three days I was on the WAA I didn’t see or hear another soul.
I’d drive in the morning, then pull up, set up camp and spend the afternoon just soaking up the desert - the sounds, smells, and the changing light. To me, this was heaven.
Some of my takeouts from the desert are:
But perhaps my biggest take out is that I can do it. I challenged myself, and I came through.
I got bogged and had to dig myself out of holes five times (three times on the same dune) and I did it. I nearly tipped the car once and didn’t panic. I camped alone, and even managed to drive over the dunes in 2WD - long story. And that last one in particular taught me I should trust myself more.
If you want the full story on my travels across the Simpson Desert, have a look on.