A first crossing of the year of the Simpson Desert along the French Line, but heavy rain made this trip more difficult than usual.
In 1962, Reg Sprigg and party completed the first motorised crossing of the Simpson Desert. Fifty years on, Vic Widman led another group on the first crossing of the Simpson for 2012. The adventures of Vic’s group were quite different to those of the exploration party and just as challenging as rain had transformed some of the desert into lakes and a muddy sponge. The video also features an interview with Marg and Doug Sprigg who tell us about their adventure crossing the Simpson Desert with their parents on that first crossing. And you will also see the Oodnadatta Track, Mt Dare and Birdsville.
The rain that fell in late February of 2012 nearly caused the cancellation of the trip, when all the access roads to the desert were closed up to a week before the group departed from Port Augusta. There was evidence of water everywhere – in Lake Eyre South, at creeks flowing over the Oodnadatta Track, claypan detours and deviations where there was water over the track.
Due to the intense heat of summer and the harsh conditions prevailing, the desert is closed from 1 December of each year and reopens on March 15. Our trip was timed to coincide with the March opening, despite the wet conditions.
Soon after leaving Dalhousie Springs, the group encountered the sponge of the Spring Creek Delta and this proved to be the major obstacle. At first there seemed no way to continue, but one vehicle finally got through. Unfortunately, the second vehicle was not so lucky and was bogged for some time.
One of the best advantages of all the water was that the desert vegetation was flourishing everywhere, sometimes in the wheel tracks. Areas of sand were covered in green, of trees, small plants and grasses to the amazement of the travellers.
Yes the group finally crossed the Simpson Desert and found their way to Birdsville. The whole adventure can be found in this DVD. And for more Simpson Desert adventures see the Madigan Line and also the Binns Track.