Old Andado Station

We were told by a traveller at Dalhousie that the road up to Old Andado was really good and they had gone at 70-80kms an hour but you could go even faster. There are two ways to Old Andado, one is up the Binns Track, the other is via Charlotte Waters and New Crown. One is longer in kms and one has large sections of bull dust, lots of them. Only one of them allows you to get over 60kms hrs. We did both.

The Binns track has large sections of bull dust like we have never seen before, we could see in the mirrors the amount of bull dust being dumped on the Ute, the road does improve in the second half but is still very dusty. When we got to Old Andado and opened the back doors and saw the red dust sitting on the fridge and other areas we decided we would go back the longer route. Just as well we like to take different routes when we can.

The camping area was pretty dusty so we elected not to camp here. There are several fire pits and a camp kitchen. But for those interested it was $10 pp and that included hot showers. You can also pay just to have a shower.

As you approach the front gate of the house there is an information board that starts of saying “Imagine living in a house with no closed in veranda’s, no windows, no flyscreen and no doors. The temperatures in summer can escalate to over 50 degrees …… no plumbing, no power, kerosene lanterns for lighting and fridge’s, wood stove cooked the food and boiled the water ” There is no doubt the conditions were harsh, when Kate was younger living with her parents we lived in the bush and built a house out of flitches that had no windows, doors, flyscreens, no plumbing, we used kerosene lanterns and even had a kerosene fridge, we also had a wood stove that we cooked on and heated the water. The wind used to howl through the windows over our beds. Thankfully we didn’t have the 50 degree heat, or the dry conditions, we did have the snakes and mice.

The difference between Old Andado and other old places we have seen is this place is not set up like a museum, this is someone’s home, who just walked out and left it the way it was for others to see and appreciate the way life was. Donations are asked for and if you do visit I think you will find you are more than happy to donate a few dollars to help keep the place going. It was very interesting and bigger than we expected.

Anotherr traveller who knew Molly personally told us a few fascinating stories about Molly, one was how she started off training as a nurse and due to ill health at the time had to stop her nursing. She so wished to be a nurse. Another story was Molly opened the kitchen cupboard one day to find a brown snake in there. She got the shot gun and shot the snake putting a hole in the back of the cupboard. When Molly and her husband first built the place they had a bad sand storm and ended up with meters of high sand in the house they had to cart out with wheelbarrows. The caretaker is also filled with stories about Molly. Molly sounded like a read character.

The road through New Crown was a better road, through several closed gates and cow paddocks. You could get a bit more speed up on this road, it was still dusty and a few areas of bull dust as most of the roads out this way are.

We decided to head back to Dalhousie and camp at the springs campground and then have a dip in the warm waters after tea, which we did and it was lovely.

Mt Dare Hotel

The word had obviously spread that coming the way we did was the better road to Mt Dare as there was a bit of traffic on it going both ways. The road was pretty good, apart from the last 10km to Mt Dare.

We filled up both tanks at Mt Dare, the guy had a grin on his face when we were filling up. Diesel was $2.17L we filled up with 113L, so $245 we travelled 871 km from Birdsville. Chris was thrilled at the fuel mileage we got.

Chatting to the bloke at Mt Dare he said the way we came was the best way to go back. Over the Finke Race weekend they had ran out of fuel for several days. He said even Alice Springs ran out of fuel. One night they made over 200 meals for dinner. He also said the grader was on it’s way to grade from Dalhousie to Purnie Bore but don’t know if it would be done by tomorrow when we are going back on it.

He also said the French Line was pretty torn up, rough and slow going and said we would be fed up of it by Birdsville and suggested another route. Have to say that we are advocates to not taking trailers across. Most people may do the right thing and lower tyre pressures but it only takes a few who don’t that ruin the track for other travellers.

After a bit of a look around inside we jumped back in the Ute for the next part of today’s journey.

Blood Creek and Federal Station

We have been up to watch every sunrise since we have been in the desert. My friend would be proud, just don’t tell her it rises later over here 😛 We had a big day ahead of us and wanted the option of being able to camp on route so we packed everything up and headed off early. We have also divided the day into 3 posts otherwise it would be too long.

We knew from past experience that the road to Mt Dare was pretty rough, several other people confirmed this at Dalhousie and suggested we take the road that leads past Blood Creek and Federal Station. We were considering going past them anyway so if it was a better road then that sealed the deal, only 13km longer.

All that is left of Federal is the old stock yards.

At Blood Creek the old windmill is still standing and turning next to an old well and some old water tanks.

Oasis in the desert

It was a very quiet night apart from the dingoes howling. Yummy pancakes for breakfast while we discussed our plans for the next few days.

First up was secure the tent as we had some serious soaking to do. A soak in the hot spring before we had morning tea.

Then we did a walk around the camping area, some great spots but all very dusty. During the day the wind came up and several willy willies formed with dust being lifted and spread about.

The grader has been grading the roads in and out which is making the roads smoother but more dusty. We have more dust on the Ute and inside it than the whole time on the desert. It confirmed our decision to stay at 3 O’Clock Creek was the right one.

Checked out the info station which had some info boards and then went for a walk around the springs.

Then back in for another soak before lunch.

After lunch we went and checked out the Dalhousie Ruins. We love coming out to these remotes areas but we can all complain about the dust, flies how drying it is on our skin etc but when you see the outback ruins you are reminded how lucky we are to have vehicles with air conditioning to explore the country.

Then it was back to the springs for another soak, we found floating on your back with the aid on the noodle to be very relaxing, ahhh.

Then it was back to camp, we had a few things to do before racing back to the ruins for some sunset shots.

All up we had a very busy day.


We were up early and on the road by 9am wanting to be at Dalhousie for lunch.

The small section of the French Line we went on had much smaller sandhills than we had been on the day before but they were far more chopped up. Some big holes in the dunes.

We made Purni Bore by morning tea, we had planned to stop there but it was packed with bikes so we just went up the road and had a cuppa.

The Spring Creek Delta Bypass Track from Purni Bore to Dalhousie is a shocker. Some parts were gravel, some very rocky, rutted, then there would be a big area of sand that would also be corrugated or chopped up or both. There were a few clay pans that were smooth. Then it would be back to the rough stuff.

We were glad to get into Dalhousie but were reminded we have to do that section again in a few days.

Yah, hip hip hurray we made it 🙂 we crossed the Simpson and the Ute did great. We celebrated by having lunch and a good soak in the Dalhousie springs to get rid of the dust from the last few days.

It was a warm day and it would have been nice to dip the feet into some cool water instead the waters of Dalhousie were rather warm in fact too warm. Still it was nice to soak the cares of the day away for a short time before we got too hot and had to hop out.

We dropped our rubbish from the last few days at the rubbish disposal on the way to 3 O’Clock Creek. We figured we could have stayed at the campground at Dalhousie as there weren’t a lot of people there but decided we would go to 3 O’Clock Creek.

The area is mostly rocky but we did find a few smooth flat areas we could make camp. There is a water tower to fill up tanks which we have already seen a few doing.

There wasn’t a lot of flies on the desert but they are out and about here driving us nuts.


Back on the Rig

The Rig was also pretty corrugated to start with. We came across James and Trinity from Bulldust and Backroads who we had been chatting to via the MySwag forum, it was nice to meet face to face and see that they were safe and enjoying their own adventure on the Simmo.

Approx 6km further up the Rig is the Lone Gum Tree, which is not actually a gum tree, it is a Coolabah tree which is a box eucalyt.

There we met another couple of fellow adventurers travelling in some sort of truck off road motor home, I’ll let the photo show you what we mean.

We chatted to them about where they had been and they told us some stories about the accidents and mishaps some of the trail bikes had been having. An ambulance had to do a late night run out to Poepple Corner to attend to someone who had seriously hurt themselves on their trail bike, and this was before the Finke race. It’s a long way from help out here.

A few kms past the Lone Gum Tree we pulled off the road to stop for the night. Didn’t take us long to setup and find we had plenty of wood for a nice cosy fire.

We heard a dingo howling last night and the wind came up for a while. We re started the fire to have breaky by it. On the road a bit earlier this morning.

It was slow going on the last 100 odd kms on the Rig. The road was corrugated, narrow, very rutted in places, windy, sandy. This end of the Rig is certainly rougher than the end we started at. Chris hardly got out of second gear.

Markers are placed at 5km internals along the tracks so that travellers can easily identity their position if they should break down, need assistance or communication with other traffic. The markers have 2 components 1) A track designation code of 3 letters which is an abbreviation of the track’s name. 2) The number code which show in km’s the distance from Dalhousie. In the photo below, the marker shows we are on the Rig Road and 158km’s from Dalhousie. We found these could be hard to find and the tops were often missing or chewed off.

At lunch time we stopped at the base of a sandhill and had a bit of an explore.

We came across some more Finke riders and their support vehicles as well as 2 lots towing camping trailers.

We have heard from several travellers that the French Line is pretty churned up from all the traffic and people towing trailers. Hopefully it will settle back down before we come back across it.

We stopped for the night 2km from where the Rig joins the French Line, tomorrow we should be at Dalhousie.

Knolls Track, WAA Line & Erabena Track

Chris decided he liked the idea of doing a slight detour off the Rig Road and take the Knolls Track up to the WAA Line across to the Erabena Track and then back onto the Rig.

The Knolls Track runs from the Rig Road to the French Line. It is sandy in the southern end but to the north the going is quite slow as the track bounces over gypsum formations near the knolls as we were to find out later. Rig Road/Knolls Track Junction GPS 26° 23’ 23” 137° 39’ 31”

The Knolls Track was narrow and was like we were driving half way up a sandhill at one point. We had a couple of 4×4 and some trail bikes we had to move over for heading in the opposite direction. We were told there was several more.

At the junction of Knolls and the WAA Line there were approx 10 trail bike riders having a break. They informed us of a lot more bikes and 4×4’s coming our way along the WAA line, so much for being quieter.

The WAA line is an east-west line. It is unclayed and is supposed to be a quieter track. WAA Corner GPS 26° 19’ 28” 137°38’43”

The WAA Line was sandy, rocky, had holes in the sand, it was very much up and down, round bends, lots of low bushes close to the road giving the Ute a few new pin stripes.

We ended up passing so many bikes and 4×4’s we lost track all heading home from the Finke Desert Race. Hopefully today will be the most traffic we will see.

We crossed several salt lakes, which are lots of fun to drive on when they are dry.

We stopped on the edge of a large clay pan near a salt lake for lunch before we crossed the lake. It was awesome. There was lots of wheel ruts where people had decided to get off the main track and got stuck. Have to say it was lots of fun crossing it.

The sandhills started to get bigger after this, lots of curves and twists. As we came up the top of the crest it could be hard to see which way the track went. Chris would get on the CB and say, ” single vehicle west bound on the WAA about to come up a crest” letting oncoming traffic know we were there. At one point we did have to back down to let 2 vehicles come through.

It was pretty slow going, the Ute had no issues at all going up the sandhills.

Erabena Track runs from the Rig Road to the French Line and is clayed. WAA Junction 26° 19’ 26” 137°20’ 44”

Erabena Track was pretty corrugated the whole length we travelled on it. It was a lot wider and more heavily used. We didn’t see any other traffic on this track.

Simpson Desert – Rig Road

The Rig Road was originally constructed by the petroleum companies to support semi-trailers carrying heavy oil rig equipment. The road was clay capped to make it easier, now the road is badly eroded in some parts. The Rig crosses the southern part of the Simpson Desert.

On the Warburton we were driving along the swales, as soon as we turned onto the Rig Road we started going over Sandhills. Some of these were very rutted, some were very soft and sandy on the top, some like to give an extra challenge with a turn in soft sand at the tops.

Peera Peera Poolanna Lake was a dry salt lake, that was absolutely huge. You drive along the edge of it for km after km. We stopped and went for a walk on it, totally fascinating. Dry cracked clay making interesting patterns encrusted with white salt. The top layer was hard and crusty but not that far under the surface it was damp.

The lake seemed to go on forever, just when you think you had come to the end of the lake and went over a sandhill you came to another section or side to it. It seems Peera Peera Poolanna Lake is a series/group of lakes.

We only saw one other traveller coming in the opposite direction that asked about the condition of the Warburton and told us what the Rig was like.

You would think out here there would be plenty of places to find a camp spot, but in a tent you want to find a flat spot void of vegetation hopefully in a bit of a sheltered position as the wind does come up a bit. We often saw tracks leading off to such spots were other travellers had gone in search of a similar spot. We found our spot between 2 Sandhills on a flat clay pan, approx 110km from the yards we left this morning.

After a quick wipe down last night it was sooooo nice to have a shower tonight. We ate our tea watching an awesome sunset over the Sandhills. And sat under the awning reading until it got too cold to stay up.

It was a bit cooler last night but warm enough under the covers. Cool morning with the sun not up and since we were at the western base of a sandhill it took a while for the sun to reach our camp spot. Note to self camp on the Eastern side next time.

We had several trail bikes and 4×4 pass us in the opposite direction. The guys on the trail bikes were being a bit silly and doing one wheelers.

We stopped at the old Poolawanna Oil Well for some photos.

Simpson Desert – Warburton Track

We have been given a free copy of an Audio Tour of the Birdsville Track to review. We will do a full review on it soon but what we have heard so far is awesome, so stay tuned.

For some people, like us, crossing the Simpson Desert is on their bucket list. For others it may not even be a thought, for others you may like to, wish you could or the opportunity or practically may not be an option for you. We are not sure if we will have the opportunity to cross the Simmo again which is why we are crossing one way and coming back another route and allowing 2 weeks to do it.

We write this as a record for ourselves, track notes for others planning a trip but also for those who are not as fortunate as us in being able to tackle such an adventure. We hope you can experience your Simmo crossing through our journey.

At the turnoff to the start of the Warburton Track are some signs, one stating that sand flags must be used, Chris stopped and put ours up.

Driving on the first part of the Warburton Track was like driving on a bush access track. Driving through some low-lying areas of the flood plains. At the river is a sign saying no camping, water is for stock only but we knew many ignored this as there was a small caravan already setup. One assumes just come off the Birdsville Track in search of a quiet campsite. Five 4×4’s were just ahead of us and they seemed to disappear around this area as well, we assume up a side track near the river.

About 26kms up we came to a turnoff to the left that wasn’t signed posted. There was a track off to the right as well, we confirmed with the Hema Android map we were on the right track. From here the terrain changed slightly driving past many clay pans, the road became more corrugated and bumpy. Not a terrible exciting track.

19km futher on was some old stock yards, with a large flat clay pan behind it. Many trees lined the dry creek bed behind it. This is where we decided to make camp for the night.

Just as we were setting the tent up a big gust of wind camp up and we had to hold tight onto the tent and peg the awning on the Ute down. Didn’t take us long to be set up, with our bed looking pretty cosy in the tent. There was plenty of small dry wood lying around so we collected some up for a fire.

Cameras and tripods came out for the anticipated sunset. The sunset itself was a bit of a fizzy but the afterglow sometime later nearly caught us off guard as we raced back to our cameras.

It was a pleasant evening around the campfire looking up at the open clear skies and the millions of stars.

We were snug as a bug in the tent and were surprised when we zipped the door down in the morning how much warmer it was in the tent. We were greeted with the sky lit up with red and yellow hues, awesome.

Chris re started the fire which we sat around eating our breaky. Can you get a more awesome start to the day.

The group of five 4×4’s passed us as we were packing up, we weren’t in a hurry and had morning tea by the remains of the fire before heading off.

Starting to get into sandhill country now, the vegetation is sparser. Approx 16km from the yards we crossed into the National Park. The terrain changed again with lots of dead trees and flat clay pans in the swales of the Sandhills. The road changes many times, with corrugations, sand and ruts.

60km from the yards is the old Kuncherinna Oil well, there is an old sign that marks the spot but it is very hard to read. We climbed up and explored one of the sandhills.

Just a few meters up from that is Kuncherinna Junction, which is the turn off to the Rig Road and K1 Line. GPS 26° 42’ 11”  138° 15’ 58”


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.