Category Archives: Simpson Desert Trip

Blog of the Simpson Desert trip

The Trip Home

fullsizeoutput_12f1We left Alice Springs and started the first day of a massive week in the car. To get us home we had to cover 2500 kilometres in 8 days. I even brought Alec a new DVD to watch on his little player. I needed something different to be played over and over and over.

We followed the Stuart Highway north for a short while than turned east onto the Plenty Highway. The Plenty highway started with bitumen but soon turned into the usual Northern Territory unsealed road. Dusty and corrugated.


I like seeing the open signs.


Sandy and corrugated. I wouldn’t expect anything less.

The kilometres ticked over as we bumped and rattled our way along this so-called highway. We stopped for lunch at the Gemtree caravan park. Later in the afternoon we found camp for the night at Jervois Station. A lovely bush camp not far of the highway.


Gemtree Caravan park for lunch. Might have to camp here one day.



A lovely morning photo of the bush surrounding our camp.

In the morning we got away early and just like the following day, we spent most of it in the car. Lunch was at Tobermorey station on the Northern Territory and Queensland border. A lovely grassed area was set a side for camping. We almost stayed the night. Unfortunately it was too early in the day and we hadn’t done our travel quota for the day.

We crossed the border and was surprised that the road improved. Still dusty and corrugated, just not as much. Maybe it was because we were not longer on the Plenty Highway. At the border it changed to the Donohue Highway.


About to be back in our home state.

Not far from the border we came across a couple of road trains parked near a set of cattle yards. It seem like a great opportunity for a photo. We drove across to the trucks and got a few good photo’s. It turned out the drivers were still about and we all had a good chat. Alec even got to sit in one of the trucks. We were told that 4 more trucks were on their way and will be loading in the morning. The property was de-stocking due to the dry conditions. The cattle were being moved closer to the coast where feed was more readily available.


They make them big out this way.



We passed a couple of the other trucks as we continued on.

We arrived in Boulia late in the afternoon and set up camp at the caravan park. We than treated ourselves with dinner at the local hotel. After another big day in the car the swag actually felt comfortable for a change.


Another town another selfie.

Waking up slowly the next morning we packed up camp and found the local roadhouse. Then fueled the car and ourselves. Nothing like a greasy roadhouse breakfast to get the heart pumping.

As we digested breakfast we drove out of town and headed south. Our goal for the day, Birdsville.


Yes we are heading back to Birdsville. I really want to drive up Big Red. The trip down to Birdsville was fairly uneventful. The road was a mixture of good gravel and some bitumen. It was a lonely road and we didn’t see a lot of traffic.


Nothing to see here.


We came across a look out. The view was amazing. Some might say boring.

We arrived in Birdsville and booked into a cabin at the caravan park. The same one as our last visit. Staying two nights in Birdsville, we used our day off to drive out to the edge of the Simpson desert. To have another attempt of driving up Big Red. With out all the weight of the fuel and water for the desert crossing we did this without a problem.

Once on top of  the big sand dune we spent time soaking it all in. We were lucky enough to have the dune to ourselves. Alec and I had great fun running around in the sand.



Another visit to Birdsville another photo in front of the Birdsville Hotel. 

Satisfied after driving up Big Red. We had an early dinner and got a good nights sleep. Tomorrow we would be back in the car, this time heading east.

As we left Birdsville, we crossed the causeway and the bridge that straddles the Diamantina river. Much dryer than five weeks ago when we crossed it with the tag along tour.


Where did all the water go?

Windorah would be our camp for the night and again the trip was not that exciting. We had traveled this road on the tag along tour and not much had changed. As we got close to Windorah the road turned from dirt to bitumen. That was the last of the dirt road for the trip. Our adventure rapidly coming to an end.

We camped in the town camping area. The same spot we camped during the tag along tour. At least this time we weren’t worried about the water level of the Diamiatina river and if we could get in Birdsville. Again I was lazy and we walked down the local pub for dinner.

We had a great time down at the pub. A fire was going and Alec met a new friend to play with. It was the cooks daughter and the children got a huge plate of nuggets to share.


The next day we traveled 480 kilometres to Charleville. Another day of sitting in the car and not even the excitement of dirt roads to keep us occupied.



Yep another exciting day on the road.


We stayed a little bit out of town at the Evening Star Caravan Park. An absolute gem of a place. Very welcoming, clean and with a bar and fire in the evening.


Not a bad way to relax.


Alec was a little cold in the morning while eating breakfast.

The next morning I woke up feeling a little worse for wear. I might have had a couple too many drinks the night before. So we slowly packed up camp and continued heading east. We made it to Mitchell and came across the Great Artesian Spa. Perfect, exactly what I needed.


Like a big warm bath.



After the swim and lunch we were back on the road. However driving was the last thing I felt like doing. 88 kilometres down the road we pull up and found a place to sleep. Roma was the town and a nice hotel for our last night for the trip was found. Only 287 kilometres was traveled. The next day was going to be a 500km day to get us home.

Leaving Roma the first thing I notice was the amount of traffic on the road. We were no longer in the remote desert county of central Australia. As Brisbane and home got closer the end of this adventure also got closer. We finally arrived home after 7 weeks of travel. But not the home we left 7 weeks ago. But a new home for me and Alec, but that’s another story for another time.


That’s a Bit Random.

Somewhere between Boulia and Birdsville I pull off the road to take some photo’s. The landscape was like the moon and just went on forever. This was the sort of country where you might pass one car an hour.

I climbed up on to the roof rack of the patrol to try to get a photo that really encapsulates the remoteness of this county.

As I was taking photo’s I notice a speck in the distant coming along the road. As it got closer I realised it was a bicycle. I watch the bike approached then a small wave and a nod was exchanged with the rider when he passed. As if nothing was out of the ordinary.

Maybe 6 weeks of fly’s and heat were starting to get to me.


Believe it or not but there is a bike in this photo.



We arrived in Alice Springs and set about getting organised for the next part of our trip. My brother and Alec’s grandparents will be flying to Alice Springs and then traveling down to Uluru with us.

Alec was very excited to see his grandparents and uncle as we greeted them at the airport. With very little trouble we got them thought the airport, picked up the hire car and found there accommodation for the night in the centre of town.

The next morning Alec and I packed up camp and then met our new travel companions on the outskirts of town. We then heading south down the Stuart Highway stopping once for a coffee break and then a lunch stop at Erldunda roadhouse. Alec’s and my second visit in as many weeks, and just as busy as the first time.


Bitumen all the way.

After lunch we turned west onto the Lasseter highway and to Yulara. The resort village that caters for all the tourist visiting Uluru and where we will be staying for 4 days.


On our way to Yulara we pulled over at a road side lookout. That is Mt Conner in the distance.


Across the road from the look out was a salt pan. It required a short climb up a sand dune but the view was worth it.

There are numerous options suiting everyone’s budget and taste at Yulara. We shared a split level apartment. This worked well for us. More comfortable and stylish than we were use to and it was good to spend time together with family.

Over the next 4 days we played tourists and did a variety tours and activities.

First we did a sacred site tour. This gave us an understanding of the cultural significance of Uluru to the local indigenous population. As part of the tour we visited the interpretation centre and got a guided walk though some of the sacred sites around the rock.


Everyone soaking up the information from our tour leader.


 This water hole is only supplied by water running off the rock after rain.

A sunset viewing is a must. We did a tour again. Getting picked up from the resort and driven to the viewing area. The tour also included wine and nibbles.



Just couldn’t help my self. It is a Scania bus after all.


Everyone trying to get the perfect picture and Alec making sure he get his fair share of the food.

Both David and myself enjoy bike riding. We couldn’t go past riding around Uluru. So we hired bikes and rode around the big red rock.


Right we shouldn’t get lost.


Another tag along bike. I wish Alec would pedal more.


This is the starting point for the walk to the top. This will be closed permanently in 2019.



Selfie time.



While I got a well deserved nap in. Everyone went and watched a native animal display that is on at regular times at the resort. Alec and Grandad were very brave.


The reptile’s weren’t the only desert animals that we came across. Grandad, Grandma and David decided to ride a camel. Alec was to young so we couldn’t go. Instead we got to watch while everyone got on and off the animals. Very funny indeed.


On the way up.


Made it safe and sound. 


David nice and comfy.


Alec and I fed the farm animal’s while we waited for the camels to come back. Hopefully with people still on them.


We also got to check out some of the other camels.


Grandad saying thank you for the good ride and not biting him.



On the final day David and I drove out to Katu Tjuta and did a bush walk. Katu Tjuta is a group of large rock formations not far from Uluru and is well worth a visit if in the area.


Katu Tjuta from a viewing platform.


David admiring the awesome rock formation.

We also did a night tour of the Field of lights Uluru. This is an art installation by artist Bruce Munro. Photo’s were near impossible due to the low light. Below is the link to the website which will give a good idea what we had seen.

Field of lights Uluru

Once our four days were over we drove back to Alice Springs. We had a day to fill in before we had to part ways. We decided to go have a look at the National Road Transport Hall Of Fame. This also includes the Kenworth Dealer Hall of Fame and the Old Ghan Heritage Railway.



This was Alec’s favourite because it had a crane.


Uncle David showing Alec how it is done. Wait what?


I did my apprenticeship working on this model Scania truck and now they are in museums. I feel so old.



The Kenworth hall has an impressive selection of trucks.


New vs old.

The next day we said our good byes. Alec and I made an early start. We had some kilometres to make over the next week. The final leg of our journey. Alec’s grandparents and David would fly out later that day.

Watching Cranes.

In the caravan park that we were staying at in Alice Springs, new cabin’s were being added to the park. The cabin’s are made off the property and trucked in. We were lucky enough to be there when three of the cabins arrived to be put on site.

Alec loves his cranes and this was a super exciting time. We were able to spend the time watching the crane lift the cabin’s off the truck and onto the cement pad.

Alec watching with great interest and often explained to me what was happening.

This was one of the high lights of Alec’s trip. Sometimes it just a matter slowing down and observing what is around you. It very easy to get caught up in all the tourist places and hot spots. To a four-year old anything can be an adventure and interesting.







Alice Springs and Trip About Part 2

With a hearty pub meal in our stomach and a good nights sleep we headed north. This time on the smooth bitumen of the Stuart highway. A nice change from the rough roads we had driven the previous two days. Driving 74 kilometres we then turn west on to the Lasseter highway. But not before getting fuel and having lunch at the Erdunda road house.


Ah. Smooth bitumen

There was no way to escape the fact we were back in civilisation and at a very busy tourist stop. The Erdunda roadhouse is the half way stop for all the tourist going to Uluru from Alice Spring. As well as a major fuel and rest stop for caravans and road trains traveling along the Stuart highway. It was a shock to the system after being in such remote area over the last few days

107 kilometres along the Lasseter highway we turned onto the Luritja road. Once again heading north. Alec and I weren’t going to Uluru just yet. Our goal Kings canyon.

Arriving in the afternoon we found a home at the Kings Canyon resort. Staying in single room accommodation for the 2 nights.

Unfortunately we didn’t see much of the canyon. Alec was a little young to do the rim walks. So we decided to do the 2km walk into the canyon. However we got half way in and found the track closed.


This is the one we can do dad.


Lets go dad.


The resort had a sunset viewing platform. It was very popular.


Sunset is a special time in central Australia.


Looking from the sunset platform over the resort.


The resort had a dingo problem.

Leaving Kings Canyon we traveled on the Red centre way. This well maintained gravel road loops around to the MacDonnell ranges. A permit is required as the road passes though Aboriginal lands. I enquired at the resort reception and was told ” Yes you do, however we can’t sell you one as we don’t have any left. They are supplied by the local traditional owner’s and they havent supplied any new ones. However it will be fine to travel the road.” At least I tried.


Some of the red centre way. Some might say it was rough. But we had driven far worse of the last few days.


We came across this look out. It is also a free camp spot.

We had been traveling for a while soaking in the amazing country as we went. We came across a turn off and a sigh pointing to the Tnorala conservation reserve 12 kilometres away.  We could see a small mountain range in the distant and decided to go have a look. I am glad we did. The mountain range turns out to be the remains of crater formed by a comet crashing to earth 142.5 million years ago. A picnic area is located in the centre of the crater and a number of small walk’s start from there.  Alec and I climbed a rocky out crop to a look out. Alec did an amazing job climbing. We pretended we were mountain climbers.


A view of the crater.


Alec and his mountain climbing pose.

From the crater we continued to the MacDonnell ranges. Stopping to take photo of the amazing hills and mountains as we went.


As we got closer to the Macdonnell ranges the country changed. Often with large rocky escarpments on either side of us.


Yep. Driving a tourist route.

We stayed at Glen Helen resort. This time sleeping in simple bunk house accommodation. A small room with 2 bunk beds, a light, fan and communal bathroom and shower. We were only going to stay 2 nights but the service, food and location was amazing so we stay 3 nights. I can’t recommend this place enough.


Glen Helen resort is in an amazing location. The resort is old and a little run down in parts. But the service and food were spot on.


This is what you look at from the deck and bar area.


Alec having a paddle in a section of the river in front of the resort.

We spent our days exploring the gorges of the Macdonnell rangers and having the occasional cold swim.



With reluctance with left Glen Helen and made the short trip back to Alice Springs. We had to get ready for the next part of our journey, and meet up with family who are flying in to join Alec and myself on our next part of the journey.


The story of the missing child.

Glen Helen resort is located near the Glen Helen gorge. The main section of the gorge and swimming hole is approximately 500 metres walk from the resort.

Alec and I had arrived back to Glen Helen after another day of exploring the gorges. We were having a treat and relaxing on the resorts deck which over looked the river and the cliffs of Glen Helen gorge. While doing this I started chatting with a family from Western Australia. Alec got bored with daddy chatting and wandered in the reception and bar area. By this stage the staff had gotten to know Alec. I assumed he had found someone to play with or at the least had found something to occupy him.

After about 10 mins one of the staff members found me and said they think Alec has wandered down to the gorge. They had received a report of a child by him self down by the water.

I toke off down the gorge and found Alec coming back up with some fellow travelers . They had realised he was alone and got him to follow them back up.

Alec was a little upset when I reached him. I gave him a big hug and we had a talk about what had happen. He told me that I had promised him a swim and that’s why he wandered off.

A couple of days later we were back in Alice springs and just so happened to be camping next to the family from Western Australia. I woke up early one morning desperately needing to pee. Alec was still sound asleep so I grabbed my shower stuff.  I figured I might as well have a morning shower while at the amenities block.

I quickly had my shower then headed back to camp. As I got closer to camp I could see my neighbours up and about and around my camp. Then I saw Alec up and about.

Alec had woken up and decided to get up and look for daddy. The family had heard Alec and was looking after him. I was so embarrassed. Twice in as many days this family had seen me fail as a father. They didn’t seem to mind but I did.

From then on I have been much more cautious. I have changed how I parent to accommodate Alec’s new-found independence and his ability to use zips.




Birdsville to Alice Springs Simpson Desert Crossing


We woke up early and with a mixture of excitement and anxiety had breakfast and packed the car. Once our morning briefing was over we left Birdsville behind to cross the worlds largest sand dune desert.


No, I wasn’t letting Alec run around in the desert with no shoes on. I got him out of the car just for the photo. This was often problematic. He didn’t like the fly’s. I don’t blame him. They were terrible.

It will take 3 days to travel the 600 kilometres between Birdsville and Mt Dare. This is the real deal. Once we start the crossing there will be limited help. Medical or otherwise. A vehicle recovery service is based at Birdsville and Mt Dare. As you could imagine the service does not come cheap and is not covered by any of the automotive club membership’s. RACQ, NRMA etc. We carried 140 litres of fuel, 50 litres of water and enough food to feed an army for a week. As well the usual spare parts, tools and first aid.

We drove the 40km to the edge of the Simpson desert and to the first and the largest sand dune of the Simpson desert. Big Red. Here we dropped tyres pressures and had another short talk with our group leader. We then proceeded one by one to cross the first of many dunes that we would have to navigate over the next three days.

Forty metres at its highest point big red has to be crossed if traveling east to west or vis versa. However the main track doesn’t take you over 40 metres of dune. You drive over a smaller section know as little red. Big red is reserved for the people who want to challenge themselves and there vehicles.

On our rest day in Birdsville, most of the group went out and tackled big red. Much easier when not loaded up with fuel, water and camping gear. Alec and myself decided not to go and have an easy day. We both needed it. We would have the opportunity to try the following day as part of the crossing.


Everyone gathered on the western side of big red. There is a number of tracks to try. The left hand one being the hardest.

Big red is north along the dune about 500 metres from little red. Myself and a couple of other’s had a go at the various different routes up the step section of the dune. Did I make it up? You will have to watch the video below.

I tried a couple of times. Each time I only just missed out. I could have tried different tyres pressure, larger run up or one of the easier tracks. But I was concern with my fuel usage and time was getting on. After all we were about to cross a desert. I was little bit disappointed I didn’t make it up. Maybe next time.

After our play on big red we headed west into the desert. Over the next three day’s we drove up and down sand dunes, rolled across flat salt lakes and felt and saw the isolation and beauty of the desert. The absolute vastness of Australia is really brought home when after two long days of travel, you crest a dune and you can still see nothing but more dunes. It really is an amazing experience and something that no picture can truly capture.

But I going to try anyway. Because pictures are much better than reading my dribble.



Alec was fascinated by the salt lakes.



Alec standing at Poeppel corner. The intersection of the South Australia, Northern Territory and Queensland borders.





This is what happen’s when you give a four-year old a go pro.


It’s amazing the reaction Alec got with the camera. I certainty don’t get this sort of excitement when I have the camera.

By mid morning on the third day the sand dunes started to become smaller and the track less sandy. We stopped for lunch at an abandoned oil well. It is now a running bore, creating a small oasis in the desert. While stopped we inflated our tyres back to gravel road pressures. The soft sand dunes behind us now.

After lunch we continued along the dry and dusty track to Dalhousie ruins. The ruins were the original homestead of the first settles in the area. It’s hard to believe that a living was made from such a vast and unforgiving landscape. The area is no longer farmed and is part of the Witjira National Park. We left the ruins and made our way to Dalhousie Springs. Our camp for the night.


Alec in front of some of the Dalhousie ruins. You have to be tough to live out here.


Alec enjoying a swim in the Dahousie springs.

Once camp was set up we had a swim in the spring. It was like having a warm bath. Which was good, we hadn’t had a bath or shower for three days.

We spent the night in the tent. We were warned that the mosquitoes would be bad. This created a bit of a problem. Normally we would have dinner early before the mosquitoes arrived. We couldn’t do that this time as the fly’s were bad. I wasn’t taking any risks, mosquitoes love Alec. I decided we would eat a whatever was handy meal in the tent and chill till bed time. We both had fun reading books and playing games till we both nodded of to the sound of dingo’s howling in the distant.


 I couldn’t cook so this is what we had. It wasn’t very flash but it filled our bellies and we didn’t get eaten by mosquitos.

The next morning we set off to visit the first slice of civilisation that we had seen since leaving Birdsville three days earlier. Mt Dare Hotel. Which is the finishing point of our Simpson desert crossing. Here we fueled up the cars, had lunch, toke photo’s and enjoyed the feeling of satisfaction of what we had achieved. Alec even got a well deserved ice cream.IMG_3917IMG_0558

We then headed north, leaving South Australia and entering Northern Territory and to our last camp for the tour. Old Anandado Station. Our camp was situated at the old homestead of outback pioneer Molly Clark. She passed away in 2012. The homestead has been preserved as a museum and is open to the public for viewing.



It was green around the homestead. Some very localised rain had fallen in the area. 


The resting place of Molly Clark. Also in the photo is the current caretaker. He has lived and worked in the area most his life. Well worth a chat around the camp fire.


Not a bad sunset.

We had a slow start in the morning for our last day of the tour. Alice Springs our destination and a day of driving. However it was some of the most interesting driving on the tour.



We traveled parallel with the dunes for a some time. For some reason I really enjoyed the drive.


As we got closer to Alice Springs the dunes stopped and the mountain ranges started.

We were making good time and was approximately 150km away from Alice Springs when one of our group called over the radio. Their four-wheel drive had lost drive and had no choice but to pull over. The transmission had sprung a bad leak and no road side repair would be able to get them any further. A tow truck was the only option.


Getting the vehicle off the track and into the shade.It will be some time before the tow truck would arrive.


Rest in Pieces. Oh so close.

We left the stricken vehicle and made our way to Alice springs. We found a bed in a caravan park and got ready for our final meal together at the local sports club. Over dinner we recounted our adventures, laughed about the mishaps and exchanged contact details. Tomorrow we would be going our separate ways. I could not of asked for a better bunch of people to travel with.


We made it.



Nine started seven finished. We had another one of the group leave after we crossed the desert due to health reasons.



 The Award For The Worst Place To Stop For Lunch.


Eating lunch next to a carcass of a cow might not the best idea that was had during the tour. But I not sure it was the worst either.

Alec’s Making Money Skills.

I had with me a dust pan and brush. I use it to sweep out the tent. A fellow traveler realised this was a good idea and asked me if they could borrow it. Unfortunately whenever I got the dust pan out Alec would play with it and get upset when I toke it off him. So I told our travel companion that he would have to negotiate with Alec. After much haggling a rental fee was agreed upon. A princely sum of five dollars.


Alec was very proud of his new-found wealth.

A Big Thankyou.

A single father taking his four-year old son to cross the Simpson desert is not something most parents would think do for a holiday. For some reason, I thought it would be a great idea. I not sure what that makes me. Totally insane maybe.

There are many reasons that I want to do trips such as this one with Alec. I obviously enjoy them but also I want Alec to experience life outside the cosy surrounding’s of the suburbs. To grow up with wonderment and amazement and not to be afraid of world and the people in it.

I like to describe this trip as an adventure and not a holiday. A holiday always sounds like relaxing on a beach drinking cocktails. This trip definitely wasnt that. We had tough times but also many amazing times.

However none of this would have been possible without help. I owe our fellow travellers a huge thankyou. You all toke to Alec and treated him not like a four year old but another person in the group. Including him within the group and maybe spoiling him a touch. All helping to make his trip awesome.

I also thank everyone for helping me. Might have been keeping an eye on Alec while I was busy setting up camp or putting up with a tantum while having lunch. Every little bit helps.

A big thankyou to Paul the managing director of Tag along tours of Australia who was also our guide for this adventure. For taking the risk of letting us do the tour and the many times Alec interrupted during you talks with the group. Your professionalism and dedication to the tour was outstanding.

Thankyou for the amazing memory’s.



Innamincka to Birdsville

fullsizeoutput_12abWaking up bright and early we ate breakfast and packed the car. I made sure Alec’s DVD player was fully charged and there were plenty of snacks on hand. It’s going to be a long day in the car. After a quick morning briefing we were on our way. The goal today was Windorah, 674 kilometres away.


On the road again.

Everyone settled in for a day in the car. Driving long distances without stopping spread the vehicles wide apart as were crossed the wide open plans of outback Queensland. Only stopping every couple of hours for breaks as the kilometres ticked over. A mixture of single lane bitumen and well maintained gravel roads saw us make good time. We covered the 674 kilometres in 10 hours. 7 1/2 hours of driving time.


A lot of the gravel road was wide and straight.

We arrived in Windorah late in the afternoon and set up camp at the council run camp ground. Nothing flash but a welcoming place to spend the night after a long day. Our tour leader got in contact with the local police officer to find out if conditions had changed. The news was mixed. The river had peaked with 600mm of water over the causeway. But the officer didn’t know if the road was closed or open. He would find out and let us know in the morning.

After such a big day, cooking dinner was the last thing I wanted to do. A short walk down the street to the local pub had Alec and myself tucking into a hearty county meal and perhaps a lemonade or two to get rid of the dust.


One of the locals showing Alec his dog that could do tricks. Alec loved it. One of his tricks was eating Alec’s left over dinner.

The next morning we had some good news. The road was not closed. As long as the vehicle’s could handle the water crossing we were fine to go. With a relative short drive of 400 kilometres to Birdsville, it was a much better option than driving another 1200 kilometres to loop around and enter from the south.


Discussing the water height with the local policeman.

With spirits high, everyone packed up camp and headed east. With a much shorter day of driving we stopped to do some sight seeing, but still made good progress. Again the road conditions were good. A combination of bitumen and gravel road. As we got closer to Birdsville we started to cross small dunes. A good sign since we were on our way to cross a desert.


Stopping at a look out, you start to understand how large this county is. It goes forever.


Having a rest stop. 


Indigenous artwork of a Dreamtime serpent.


One of the many small sand dunes on the way to Birdsville. 

20 kilometres from Birdsville everyone had to pull up. We had a water crossing to navigate. A small lake at the base of the dune had been made by the flood waters. The water wasn’t deep but did create a little bit of excitement. With the country so dry it was good to see some water around. Although it was a sobbing reminder of what might lay ahead.


It was a bit of a surprise to come across this water.

All the vehicles crossed the water without a problem. We then travelled the last 20 kilometres to Birdsville. Well almost. Stopping on the outskirt of town we got our first look at the flooded Diamantina river.


Welcome to Birdsville. Well almost. We still have to cross a flooded river to get into the town.


The groups first look at the river.

To cross the Diamantina river and enter Birdsville a bridge and a long causeway has to be crossed. There was no water over bridge only the cause way, in four different places. The first crossing being the deepest. One a time each of the group crossed the deep water. The last 3 sections everyone followed each other though as the water was not very deep.



Slowly but surely the group crossed the 4 sections of water to get into town.


The last crossing before town.


Sweet action shot.

It was with the feeling of triumph and relief as we all rolled into the Birdsville caravan park. Instead of camping, Alec and I decided to stay in a basic cabin again. It was a good choice. With all the water from the flooding the little blood suckers were out in force. Mosquito’s at night and fly’s during the day. Not the best for camping. That night everyone met at the Birdsville Hotel for dinner, happy to final arrive at this historic and famous town.


Alec enjoying some chill time after a couple of big days.

Alec and I enjoyed a sleep in and a slow breakfast the next morning. This was a scheduled day off. Allowing everyone to sight see and get ready for the desert crossing. We didn’t leave our comfortable cool quarters till midday. We both needed the rest. We then made our way to the famous Birdsville Bakery for a yummy but somewhat unique lunch. We then visited the information centre which had a small indoor play area, which Alec made full use of away from the fly’s and heat.


Yes Alec is shooing away the fly’s. This the best pic out of 4 others.


I was told when in Birdsville you have to try the curry camel pie. I had one and it was amazing. Alec prefers the more traditional sausage roll.


No trip to Birdsville is complete with out visiting the Birdsville Hotel.

Fuelling the car and performing final checks filled in the rest of the afternoon. Having early dinner and bed time allowed us to savour the last time in a bed for some time. Tomorrow we head into the desert.



While in Birdsville one of our fellow travelers had a birthday and a simple cake was organised. Of course Alec was front and centre for his piece of cake. Which of course was given more than his fair share.

This was a common trend for the trip. Our fellow travelers really toke to Alec and involved him in everything. No to mention a touch of spoiling. I couldn’t have asked for a better bunch of people to travel with.


Cunnamulla to Innamincka

fullsizeoutput_12a7The excitement was building as we toke care of the last minute preparations. Getting know the small town of Cunnamulla as the job’s was ticked off the to do list. Simpson desert here we come.

Day one of the tour arrived. However we weren’t actually going anywhere and nothing was planned till the afternoon. We spent the day getting to know our fellow travellers and in the afternoon we all had our first briefing as a group. Giving everyone a chance to meet our tour guide and to get a general idea of what to expect traveling in a tag along tour.

It was mentioned there were flood water’s coming down from Winton and Longreach. Which could make it interesting getting into Birdsville later on in the trip. Little did we know how interesting it would get.


Everyone having a chilled afternoon getting to know each other before the adventure begins.


Everyone was given a tour hat and stubby cooler. Alec loved his hat and wore it a lot during the tour.

Once the formalities were over we were then bused into town for a welcome dinner at a local hotel. A BBQ style meal with a fire pit and entertainment from an old bushy helped everyone relax and set the tone for the trip ahead.


Lets just say there was some interesting entertainment for our night out.

Day two was when the tour really kick off. Waking up extra early we dressed and had breakfast. Then packed camp up. Our starts were often earlier than the rest of the group as none of them were traveling with a four year old.

After a morning briefing everyone started their four-wheel drives and as a group drove out of town heading west. Our destination a bush camp on the banks of the Wilson river. An easy day of bitumen driving as everyone settled in to the rhythm of the tour.


We had a morning briefing ever day. This was our first.


Heading west into the unknown. Well for me anyway.


Alec settled in for the adventure.

Along the way we stopped in the town of Eulo. While the rest of the group wandered though the historic buildings. Alec and I found something more our style. A cool prehistoric creature and a park to have a play at.

The artesian mud baths were also visited. Alec was little confused with the concept, but he did like all the cool old bath tubs. Another stop at the town of Thargomindah had us looking at the first ever hydro-electric power plant in Australia.


Meet the Kenny the Diprotodon. The life size recreation of a skeleton found in the area.


This was Alec’s favourite bath. Next time we visit we might actually take a mud bath.

By mid afternoon we were at the historic Noccundra Pub. Only a few kilometres away from our camp for the night. I decided dinner at the pub was good idea, so after we had soaked up the history we pre-ordered our meals and went down the track to set up camp by the Wilson river water hole. Alec had a play by the water’s edge while some of the group had a swim.


Our home for the night and our first bush camp.

With an awesome pub meal and a couple of well earn drinks Alec and I had no problem sleeping that night. Even if my swag was a little hard. I must be getting old.

The following day we packed up camp and all meet at the Noccundra pub for a group vehical photo  and the morning briefing. The goal today was South Australian. More precisely Innamincka. Approximately 30 km from the Queensland South Australia border. Not an overly hard day’s drive but we did experience our first unsealed road as a group.


Everyone trying to get the perfect shoot.


A good looking 4×4 I reckon.

We had a couple of stops for the day. All centred around the explorers Burke and Wills. The famous Dig tree first. Then once we had crossed the border into South Australia we visited the site of  Burke’s grave.


I first time in south Australia for both of us. Not the usual way most people visit the state.

Not all went to plan for one our group when we were visiting the Dig tree. While taking care of business in a long drop toilet her phone fell out of her pocket and down the hole. With ingenuity, patience and some fishing gear the phone was recovered and return to the very relieved and grateful owner.


This lovely photo was taken while we waited for the phone to be recovered.


The famous dig tree. You can read all about the story of Burke and Wills here.

Arriving in Innamincka we set up camp in what is called the town common. A bush camp below the pub and general store. Which is pretty much all Innamincka is. While the group was busy making a home for the night our tour guide was trying to find out if we could get into Birdsville. Although the reports were a bit unreliable at best. The general conclusion was we weren’t going to be able to get into Birdsville. Not from the south anyway.


A place to fuel the car.


And a place to fuel the driver. Welcome to Innamincka

With this news in everyone’s mind we all gathered for dinner at the large dinning room attached to the pub. The dinner was organised by the tour company. We enjoyed a roast dinner as alternate plans were discussed. The decision to stay an extra day in Innamincka had all ready been decided. Hopefully the news would be better the next day.


Alec got well looked after. With his own special plate.

Waking up slowly the next day. I started to work out what Alec and I would do for the day. It was hot, dry and the fly’s could carry you away. How I was going to keep a 4 year entertained and keep my sanity. The answer a cabin. The pub and general store both had basic accommodation available. We got a cabin with air conditioning, tv, bathroom and an early check in. Perfect. We spent the day chilling in the room. Alec caught up on some TV and me computer work.


We did leave the air con for a wander. Not really what you want to see on a sigh.


Innamincka in all it’s glory. Well kinder.

In the afternoon we all gathered in the dinner room to discuss options for the rest of the tour. The bad news had been confirmed. If the tour was to continue and get into Birdsville, the start point for crossing of the Simpson desert. Then the only way in is from the north. A 1800km trip up to Longreach and Winton. Then across to Boulia and down to Birdsville. With a slight possibility of better news once we get the Windorah. Windorah to Birdsville is the usual route taken if traveling from the east. With little choice we went to bed early. Knowing we had some big days of travel ahead of us.


The group together to discuss the news and make new plans.

I was concerned how Alec would go. The trip so far had been tough on both of us. The heat was one thing but the fly’s were something else. I had trouble getting Alec out of the car and once outside it was uncomfortable and almost impossible to eat. Now with some huge days driving ahead of us things weren’t improving. Taking it day by day was the only option. The extra day in Innamincka had done us some good. Hopefully enough to keep us going.


Why a tag along tour.

Although I am happy to travel with Alec to remote destinations. With any trip or activity I always way up the risks. The Simpson desert crossing was a no brainer. The remoteness of the Simpson desert is extreme. Doing a solo crossing is taking a big risk. Taking a 4 year old is just outright irresponsible. So for us a tag along tour was the answer. These tours aren’t traditional tailored for families and definitely not for a single father with a 4 year old. The tag along tour company we went with didn’t take the decision to let us join the tour lightly. I had a couple of discussion’s with the company director to make sure I was fully aware of what I was getting Alec and myself into. The fact that Alec and myself had done a fair amount of remote touring already helped.

This decision making process speaks volumes for the professionalism of the tour company and we were happy we chose Tagalong Tours Australia.

Flood water

Now you might be confused about the flooding that is stopping the group from entering Birdsville. As no real rain had been reported in the area. Well here is my best attempt of explaining how the river systems works in this part of the world.

The town of Birdsville is located on the Diamantina river and in the geographically area know as the channel country. Which cover’s 150,000 square kilometres. The Diamantina river starts above Longreach and eventually flows into lake Eyre 900km away. With Birdsville approximately around 500km away from the start of the river.

The water that was causing the tag along group so much trouble was a result of flooding in Longreach and Winton 4-5 weeks before the trip. That is how long the water takes to get to Birdsville.

Oh course it very hard to pick precisely when the water will reach a certain point and at what depth. They are lots of variables that can affect the flow. If group had been day or two earlier we wouldn’t of had a problem. The river peaked just as we were planning to cross.

Armidale to Cunnamulla

fullsizeoutput_11e6We left Cracknback and drove back up the range to Armidale. Enjoying the amazing views and scenery as we went.

The next couple days we spent mostly in the car. We had 2 days to get to Cunnamulla for the start of Simpson Desert crossing. Armidale to Cunnamulla is approximately 800 kilometres.

From Armidale we headed west, our goal Moree. Or at least somewhere close. Moree the half way point. I decided to take the road less traveled and toke a more direct route instead of following the major highways. Traveling on a mix of bitumen and good unsealed roads we worked our way down the western side of range. Joining the Gwydir highway at Warialda.


I do love a well maintain dirt road. It was a great drive down the range. 


We stopped at a look out a little bit past Warialda. Looking back at where we had come from.

Pushing on to Moree the country flatten out. We started to see large tracks of land being used for cotton production as well as some cereal cropping. The extensive irrigation channels and dams used for cotton production could also been seen.


Yep lots of straight flat road out here.


A bare cotton field as far as the eye can see.


Some of the large earth works required for the flood irrigation used in cotton production

We fuelled up at Moree and made our way to the small town of Boomi. I read that the town of Boomi had a artesian pool and cheap camping.IMG_3728

Unfortunately we got in later than expected. 15 mins before the pool closed. The lady in charge must have felt sorry for us and let us have a free swim and allowed us to stay past the closing time until she had packed up for the day. The Artesian poll was like having a large hot bath. Perfect after a big day behind the wheel.

After our swim we set up camp and found dinner at the local pub.


Our camp at Boomi. The pool in the back ground. Sorry no pictures of the artesian pool. To busy enjoying our limited time to take any.

We got going early the next day. We had another 400 km to travel before we would reach our next camp. From Boomi to the town of St George the cotton country continued. Most of the paddocks were bare. So when we found one with cotton that had not been harvested. I toke the opportunity and pulled over and showed Alec cotton in it’s natural state.cotton


We picked up this bit from the side of the road.

For morning tea we somehow managed to be at a pub. That’s what happen when you follow sigh’s on the side of the highway. The Nindigully Pub is famous for being Queensland’s oldest hotel. Still located in it original condition and position on the Mooni River. After our morning tea and a look around we continued on to the town of St George for lunch.


A healthy morning tea.



With all the stops in morning is was well into the afternoon by the time we left St George and that when I realised we still close to 300 kilometres to go. We settled in for the long drive. Alec with his DVD player and snacks ready to go. We left town and headed west.

It seem like a line had been drawn at St George one side cotton the other side just scrub county. All the way to Cunnamulla the country didn’t change much. The scrub not overly tall but enough so you couldn’t see over it. Which made it feel very lonely. Tracks going off into the bush were often seen. A home-made sigh at the entrance the only indication that there was any sort of life in the scrub.

We made to camp late in the afternoon. Having to slow down a couple of time for Kangaroo’s and goats as they picked on the green grass on the side of the road. Happy to arrived and ready for a couple of days out of the car and to get ready for the next part of our adventure. Crossing the Simpson Desert.


Even on the road washing has to be done.


We started to meet some of our fellow travellers for the trip across the desert.

Brisbane to Armidale


After spending most the day packing. Finally at 4 o’clock in the afternoon we left home. Not the most ideal time of the day to leave for a 7 week adventure into the centre of Australia. Good thing we only had a short drive to Beaudesert for our first night. You just can’t beat sleep over’s at grandma’s.


My passenger was keen to get going.

The next morning we tried to get going early. But as everyone knows that’s impossible when leaving your grandparents house.


Bye bye grandma and granddad.

Our destination a campground called Cracknback, on the banks of the Macleay river. From Beaudesert we made our way on to the Cunningham highway and up the long climb that is Cunninghams Gap. Not much further along we turned onto the New England highway and followed the granite belt south though the towns of Warwick, Stanthorpe, Tenterfield and on to Armidale.

At Armidale we turned east and wound our way down the range the last 90 kilometres to our camp for easter.


Our first taste of unsealed road for the trip. The road into the down the range to camp was dirt.

Arriving just as the sun was starting to set we set up camp. It was good to finally stop and relax after a long day in the car.


For this trip we are going back to basic’s. Tent and swags.

The camp ground organised an easter egg hunt for the kids. Alec managed to get his fair share. With a little help from dad.


Everyone waiting in anticipation for the big hunt.



Everyone had lots of fun playing in the water. We were able to float down the river as it was running.


The Macleary river is perfect for swimming.


Our fellow campers brought there remote controlled four-wheel drive’s for a play. These aren’t toys you buy for your child. These are a serious bit of gear. Although the kids do get a turn once the adults are finished.


I decided to have a play with my new go pro while the fun was being had. Below is short video I made from some of the footage I recorded.

Warning very heavy music used in video. You have been warning.


It was a relaxing couple days. Its always good spending time with friends. It’s what we needed before the big adventure really begins.


Photo of the week. Not a bad effort I thought.