An Adventure of a lifetime

It’s “S Day” we woke feeling a little excited but knew we had a few things to do before we could head down the Birdsville Track to start our Simmo adventure.

We spent the morning letting the canvas on the trailer fully dry and moving things between the 2 vehicles that we either didn’t need to take or did need to. We then dropped the trailer at the Birdsville Caravan Park for storage for the next 2 weeks.

Filled up with fuel and the popped into the Birdsville bakery for a couple of pies, bread rolls and a muffin for Chris. He has had the curried camel before and didn’t like it so this time he got a standard chunky beef and something a little more adventurous kangaroo claret. Chris said the kangaroo was very nice.

Now we were really getting excited as we headed out of town, down the track towards the Warburton Track.

A South Australian Desert Park Pass is required to drive and camp in the Simpson. At time of writing it was $160 and is valid for 12 months. The pass includes a guide, permit and some maps. It can be purchased in advance from the SA National Park website, or from places in Birdsville or Mt Dare. We opted to buy ours in Birdsville just in case something came up that changed our plans, like rain or flooding.

Some areas of the Birdsville track were very rutted from where vehicles had driven along the track in recent rains. In many places there was water alongside the road, water on the road in several places and even some grading being done. All in all it’s not a bad road and we saw plenty of people towing caravans up the track.

A sand/safety flag is also required to travel across the Simpson Desert, check the SA National Parks website for up to date requirements.

The turnoff to Warburton Track is 200km from Birdsville, now the adventure really begins.


It is 385 km from Windorah to Birdsville and according to our Bossy Betsy GPS it takes 4 1/2hrs. The road for the first 100 odd kms Is a single lane bumpy rough bitumen road. You travel through some very flat treeless landscape with a few sand dunes. 266km from Birdsville you hit the dirt/gravel.

For many Birdsville is just a dot on the map. Many wouldn’t think how far it is from the east coast of Qld. What is there and why would you want to go there. Many don’t really realise how remote it actually is. We have been to Birdsville several times but again we are reminded when you have to travel nearly 1600km with the last 266km on dirt road passing through some flat barren landscape that Birdsville is indeed remote and in the middle of nowhere. Of course these days with the Birdsville races and in more recent years the Big Red Bash it’s not as remote as it once was.

We pulled into Birdsville a little after 2pm. First stop was the info centre where we purchased our Desert Parks Pass and booked into 3 O’Clock Creek near Dalhousie. The powers that be insist people book before you go now. Since we didn’t know the exact day like so many other travellers we were told to book several days. Which yep means that we have booked days we won’t be there, like other travellers will do, so the camping areas will be booked out with no one in them. Crazy crazy system that some fat cat in the city office has decided was a good idea but hasn’t thought about the practicality of that.

Every time we come to Birdsville we find discover new things. We had a look around town, then went back to the Windmill camping area to setup camp.

We went to the Birdsville pub for tea, roast meat and veggies was tonight’s menu @ $28.50 each it was a big meal that was so so but filled the tummy and supported the town.

This dog we assume was waiting for his master, and why not have a peak in the window while he waits 🙂

Cooper Creek – The Legend

We have a little tradition that we like to leave after Chris finishes work and get a few hours under our belt. Makes us feel like we are really off on our next adventure. This time was no different with us stopping at our usual place when heading west Swinging Bridge at Cooyar.

We had a very early start the next morning wanting to put a big full days drive in and knock off a few km’s. This trip we had some Audible books we listen to via the Audible App on our phones through the car speakers. It certainly helped keep our minds occupied and the km’s just seemed to slip away. We had a great run and stopped for the night approximately 100km’s east of Quilipie at a large area near a communication tower. It was well off the road, private, quiet and we had it all to ourselves.There was plenty of wood lying around so we had a nice fire and an early night.
We weren’t in a hurry the next morning on the road by 9am with Cooper Creek near Windorah as our goal. With us planning on being there early arvo to just enjoy the area.
There is a lot of road kill on the road, more than we have seen before. It was like slalom through the road kill.
We arrived at Cooper Creek just before lunch, we took the track down to the creek and have a great spot overlooking the creek. After a quick setup, we had lunch and then sat back and enjoyed the creek and bird life.
Cooper Creek is a lot more popular than last time we were there with campers on both sides of the river. On one side there is a 12km nature trail.

Simpson Desert

We head off for our trip to the Simpson Desert with anticipation, excitement, a few butterflies of nerves but with a great sense of adventure. It’s good to have a healthy respect for the remote areas of Australia, a lot can go wrong, a well prepared vehicle is a must. The Simmo has been on our bucket list of places we would like to see for many many years. Finally the time has come.

With a trip like this a lot of preparation and planning is required. You really need to think through every aspect of the trip, do lots of research and ask lots of questions. Many do take their camper trailers across the Simpson and get across perfectly fine, but it’s strongly discouraged. We decided to leave the camper trailer at the Birdsville Caravan Park in storage for 2 weeks, but still have the use of it to and from Brisbane.

It’s a balance of what spares, tools, water, fuel, food, recovery gear etc is needed and what you can leave at home to lighten the load.

The back seat has come out again to make room for the tent, bedding and a few other bits. Chris has secured a table over the top of the compressors etc which, gives us a flat base for packing, protects bits and gives us a table to use 😀

Some rearranging and removing of items not needed has made room for items that usually go in the trailer like clothes, food, plates etc

We are allowing 2 weeks from Birdsville taking the Warburton and Rig road across to Purnie Bore and onto Dalhousie, where we will stay a few days. Run up to Mt Dare to fill up and maybe do a run up to Old Andado.

Then we will take the French line, Poepple Cnr and QAA line back to Birdsville. Well that’s the plan anyway. 🙂

The times they are a changin

As Bob Dylan sung back in 1964 “The times they are a changin” and they certainly have for us in the last few years. In a great and wonderful way with 3 beautiful grandchildren. The configuration and setup we have had in the Ute for the last 6 years has suited us great but with the addition of our crazy Labrador Jess and some little munchkins that will like to come camping with “Mama and Grandude” we needed to do some slight modifications which included putting the back seat into the Ute.

Sounds easy enough but if you recall the back seat area was where we had installed the batteries, the chargers, inverter, air compressor, air tank and all the air hoses and wiring that go with these items. As well as a set of draws on both sides.

Finding new places for the items was not an easy task. It took many weeks to find just the right spots. It was also an opportunity to change over our batteries as we weren’t happy with how the current ones were performing. Now lithium batteries would have been nice but since we haven’t won lotto yet we opted for 2 x 150amp Fullriver AGM batteries. Chris still wanted to keep them low and as forward as he could. Behind the genie proved to be the sweet spot.

With the chargers and inverter just above them on the front wall of the canopy in a little nook that wasn’t been used and well protected.

Chris also installed a new battery monitor, that gave him a lot more information and details.

Another unused little spot is under the back seat. Chris managed to fit 2 compressors, all the air hoses and wiring under the seat and the 2 fire extinguishers easily accessed on each side. The air tank will have to sit outside protected between the cabin and canopy.

A new addition is a 175w solar panel that will be installed on the Ute canopy when we are not taking the kayak. This and the current 100w solar panel on the Ute will charge the FullRivers and starter battery.

When we have the kayak the 175w solar will travel on top of the existing solar on the trailer charging the trailer batteries as we travel and of course like the other one come off and be setup when we are staying put for a while.

All up we think the new changes work very well and will suit us very well for our upcoming trip crossing the Simpson Desert.

Q – Heifer Creek

Heifer Creek – F, OR, B, W, D,ND, BR. 41km from Gatton on the Clifton-Gatton Road. Beside a creek is a large grassy area. Lots of trees for shade. Tables and chairs, bins, toilets, creek. Fairly sheltered area. A memorial commemorates the contribution of the Thiess Brothers (Bert and Leslie) to Australian earth moving. Rating – 4

Heifer Creek Theiss Memorial

Don’t you just love GPS’s especially on country roads. They take you on roads you wouldn’t think of traveling up and down windy roads, past lovely vistas. Try and send you up some dirt road short cut, or just try and tell you to turn down a road that just isn’t there and then get you lost. I’m sure they do it deliberately and have a little laugh about it, we call ours Bossy Betsy.

Eventually we made it to our last stop for the trip, Heifer Creek Thiess Memorial. Rather a pleasant surprise as you come up a steep hill into an open green grass area with plenty of trees for shade next to the creek. There are long drop toilets, bins and several tables. Not a bad one night stop. A memorial commemorates the contribution of the Thiess Brothers (Bert and Leslie) to Australian earth moving.

Q – Bengalla Reserve

Bengalla Reserve – F, OR, B, W, M, D,ND, BR –  There are several free camping areas along the Dumesque River not far out of Goondiwindi. Bengalla Reserve, is the fourth one along, the camping areas are sign posted on the main road, there is also a blue skip bin up near the main road. As you enter the reserve you can turn left or right, with the main one running along the top of the bank following the river.

It’s a big area with plenty of flat areas overlooking the river to camp. Also several very large areas away from the river. Even if this place was busy you would still find places to camp. There are roads leading off every where. We really like this place. Rating – 6

Bengalla Reserve

We are so are so lucky in Australia to have some great free camping areas. I know many councils are closing them down but good on the Goondiwindi council for allowing free camping along the river. Support the town and do you shopping there if staying at any of these areas.

We think we like Bengalla Reserve even more. It’s a huge area, even if there was lots of campers you would will still be well spread out. There is another blue skip bin up near the main road and the place is well sign posted.

There are several roads with the main one running along the top of the bank following the river. As you enter the reserve you can turn left or right, we went left and followed it right to the end of the reserve and it goes along way, we haven’t gone right yet. There are 3 others campers that we know of, a van not too far from us but in our spot he can’t see us and we can’t see him without walking away from camp.

We have again snagged ourselves a great spot down near the river about 5m from the waters edge, talk about river frontage and water views. Tucked up in a corner hidden from the road with a bank behind us, there is a little bit of grass here. We have not setup the annex this trip so far but with some possible rain on the way we decided to put it up and put down the floor mat.

We also have the Ute awning up and used one of the side annex walls to reach across the gap from the camper to the Ute annex. Gives us a large under cover area to walk between both vehicles ☺ works quite well.

Last night and in the late arvo we had quite a lot of rain and used buckets and any other containers we could find to collect the rain water running off the canvas. We filled the 25 Lt shower drum and 5 other containers about 80lts all up. Chris made the point how come when we are camped next to a flowing river with plenty of clean running water to fill the shower drum we get rain but it never happens when you are camped in a gravel pit etc and could do with the water. Chris kept a close eye on the river making sure if was not rising during the night since we were camped so close.

Next day was very foggy and remained overcast for most of the day. We only saw the sun for a few hrs late arvo. Next morning was also foggy and everything was dripping wet with a heavy due. But it turned out to be a beautiful sunny day. We went for a paddle up the river, very shallow in places.

We also went for a walk. It’s a big area with plenty of flat areas overlooking the river to camp.

More mice last night heard one scratching the outside of the canvas and we found a dead one in the kitchen waste bucket again. It was a pretty chilly night. We spent several hours having fun taking star shots. We have a big open sky above us, which our lenses aren’t wide enough to capture all the amazing site our eyes can see.

It will be sad to leave this area, we have very much enjoyed our time here, it has been so peaceful and relaxing. Jess will be sad to leave as well, she loves the water and her sticks.

Q – Lees Reserve

Lees Reserve, F, OR, B, W, M, D,ND, BR –  There are several free camping areas along the Dumesque River not far out of Goondiwindi. Lees Reserve, is the third one along, the camping areas are sign posted on the main road, there is also a blue skip bin up near the main road. It’s a short drive down a dirt road to a rickety old gate, which must be kept close due to cattle, which do leave their little deposits everywhere. Turns out the cattle aren’t always there.

At the end of the dirt road it opens up to a large flat area on top of the bank of the river, there is also another big open area to the left. Down a steep little hill leads to the river and some areas to camp under the trees. Area is sandy and rocky. You can also find some other little pockets to camp around the place. You can just get mobile reception. Rating – 5