September 3rd, 2008 – by: skippyed
Glen got up at sunrise this morning to take some photos of the wetlands. Purnie Bore would be the last time we would see water except the 120 litres we carried between us, until we got to Birdsville
. The next three days we would be driving 490 kms across the desert, averaging about 15 to 20 kms an hour and crossing about 500 dunes! Our aim was to get to Birdsville on the Saturday although our timing wasn't exactly well planned as we would be there for the Birdsville races and finding a camp spot might be a challenge. We planned to get to Birdsville, find a nice spot along the river and have dinner at the Birdsville pub but somehow we couldn't see that happening, anyway we decided we would wait and see when we got there as to what we would do.
The weather was pleasant now, sunny everyday and in the low 20's and the nights much warmer than what we had down south. Our Victorian friends who we had met back at Dalhousie ruins were camping not too far from us and they planned to cross the desert in 2 days so they could get to the Birdsville races on Friday, it was going to be a challenge for them but they were taking the direct route up the French Line where we planned to deviate off to the Erabena Track and WAA line over the next 3 days. It wasn't long before we met the Simpson Desert NP sign and the track started to become more sandy. Not long after the dunes started, so it was time to put the flags on the cars so drivers coming the other way could see us coming over the dunes. As we moved further into the Simpson we were seeing a true desert come alive around us with patches of lovely wildflowers and stumpy bush.
It wasn't quite spring yet but during spring when the rains come, the desert is totally carpeted with colourful wildflowers so we were only getting a taste of what was to come. As the dunes became higher and the track became more sandy, it was time to let the tyres down to make it easier for sand driving. As we drove we kept our eyes open for wildlife. We saw a few small lizards running across the track, a few nice colourful birds and the odd Wedgetailed Eagle, Australia's largest raptor. Camels, kangaroos and emus were also known to be out here in the desert but we hadn't stumbled across any as yet. We stopped for lunch under a lone tree between a couple of dunes, there wasn't much shade and it was pretty warm, not to mention windy. The flies were being a nuisance so we didn't hang around too long.
Steam rising out of Purnie Bore
We continued along the French Line having fun navigating the dunes, around 4pm we decided to start looking for a camp spot. The dunes were quite a distance apart and there wasn't much in the way of trees to shelter us from the strong wind but we did find somewhere that had a little bit of shelter. Putting the tents up was a challenge the wind was blowing a gale, we only managed to get the inner shell up, the outer shell would have to wait until sunset when the wind died down. Gay and I got into our tents to get away from the damn flies! The sunset was lovely and Vaughan and Glen hiked up the top of the nearest dune to get some pictures. There was plenty of firewood around so we had a nice evening around a fire. There was evidence that the desert was pretty much alive with scorpion tracks and we thought we saw some moving across the sand in the dark but it turned out to be a couple of very large spiders stomping through our camp, which were flattened in seconds!