The dirt road to Birdsville was very dusty, with a few mud puddles. We stopped in Betoota, a deserted town with a population of zero, to explore the abandoned buildings. With no fuel between Windorah and Birdsville, our first stop was the Birdsville Roadhouse, a well stocked outlet for supplies with lots of local knowledge. We then went to the Birdsville Hotel, got settled into our room, and headed to the pub for dinner, which was a very generous and tasty meal. The next day our adventure to the Simpson Desert began.
We left Birdsville along a rough dirt road, travelling about 40km to the bottom of Little Red Sand Dune. After lowering our tyre pressures we made it to the top of Little Red with no trouble. The view from the top, of the red desert sand, stretched for miles in front of us. We then headed back down Little Red and travelled along a track at the base of the dune, to get to Big Red, which is on the same sand dune, but a few kilometres north. The eastern side of Big Red loomed high in front of us, but we made it up quite easily. The eastern side of Big Red is the most used, so the sand is fairly compacted. At 40 metres high, it is the Simpson Desert’s highest sand dune, and the view from the top is awesome. Our camera got a very good work out. After feeling like we were on top of the world it was time to venture further into the desert.
Going down the western side of Big Red proved quite challenging. The sand was very soft, giving way from under
our tyres, as the car slid to the bottom. What a ride! As the day progressed we continued further into the desert, along the QAA Line, making our way over many sand dunes, some rough and some smooth. A flag attached to the bullbar is a must when travelling in the desert to avoid a head on collision over the crests of the sand dunes. At the top of each dune the track ahead stretches as far as the eye can see.
By early afternoon we made it to Eyre Creek where we stopped in the dry creek bed for lunch. Some years Eyre Creek flows a couple of metres wide and deep, but when we were there it was bone dry. We decide it was time to make our way back to Birdsville, so began our journey east along the QAA Line. The view heading in the opposite direction was just as amazing. We arrived at the base of Little Red where we enjoyed playing on the dunes, before deciding to move along to Big Red again for one last adventure. This time as we made it up the eastern side of Big Red, we took a different line at the top, which had a blind turn, resulting in the car falling in a hole behind a clump of grass. After digging away at the red sand and using the club’s Maxtrax’s we were able to reverse the car out of the hole.
We saw a group of cars had now gathered at the base of the western side of Big Red and were contemplating going up a very steep, rough track to the top, so we decided to go back down the western side to watch them. They all neededseveral attempts each at getting up this challenging track, so we thought we may as well have a go. After three failed attempts with tyres at 17psi, we lowered the tyres to 14psi, and with a long run up over some big bumps, we hit the sand dune with speed, negotiating deep ruts and holes, making it over the steep incline on our fourth attempt. After a day filled with adventure that we’ll never forget we made our way back to Birdsville for another well earned pub meal.
The next leg of our journey saw us we travelling north to Boulia, then east to Middleton, Winton and Longreach, meeting many outback characters along
the way and making the typical tourist stops to see dinosaur remains, museums, cattle properties and sheep stations. We came across a map in Winton, which travelled a remote dirt track to Opalton, which has a population of only two. Following this map we realised we were well off the beaten track, on remote dirt, muddy road. A breakdown here could prove to be a disaster, with no other passing motorists for days. Making it back into Winton just before sunset we breathed a sigh of relief.
We continued our travels east to the coast over several days, arriving in Rockhampton and enjoying a visit to Capricorn Caves. We then headed 100km
north to Byfield National Park, through some inland tracks and up a sandy track, aptly named Big Sandy, before arriving on Nine Mile Beach, a pristine untouched paradise. We camped at Nine Mile Beach, enjoying having the whole beach to ourselves. A midnight re-blow up of our air mattress saw the mattress end up in a bin back in Rockhampton the next day!
Heading back down the coast we ventured to Bundaberg for Gary to visit his little piece of Heaven on Earth……the Bundaberg Rum Distillery. Arriving back in Brisbane after a two week whirlwind tour, we are already planning our next trip…bigger and better!
by Gary Eikenloff