15 March Friday
After filling up our tanks as well as all the extra jerry cans, we left Mt Dare just after 10.30 am. This is the last refueling spot until we reach Birdsville. Vic, who likes his tea, also had to have a cup first, before we could leave.
The road wasn’t to bad, just a lot of stones, corrugations and hobbles.
The Simpson desert doesn’t have a “gate” where permits are checked, only a sign that states that you are now in the desert and that it was closed from 1 December until 15 March.
We made a stop at the Dalhousie ruins, which are really a bit of a disappointment. It’s more like a “not very old” homestead that has fallen in disrepair. The parks board in their “wisdom” decided to remove all but 2 of all the date palms that were growing there and also did some patch work on the ruins to make them look better. It now looks like a fairly recent stone work on a “modern” ruin.
We are now in the Witjira National Park.
The Simpson Desert is underlain by the Great Artesian Basin, one of the largest inland drainage areas in the world. Water from the basin rises to the surface at numerous natural springs, including the Dalhousie hot springs, which will be our next stop.
The outside temperature was 45 degrees C. The Dalhousie hot springs forms part of a group of over 60 natural artesian springs. It’s a great place to take a swim in the middle of a parched desert landscape. The water temperature is about 38 degrees C and very pleasant to swim in. At the hot springs is a modern clean ablution block and it should be quite a pleasant place to camp for a day or two. Under the shade of the ablution block we also talked to a derelict person that was camping there out of the boot of his dilapidated car. He was visiting the springs because the water was good for his skin. Cut a large plastic coke bottle length-wise in two and you have two shoes. All you need are a few ropes to tie it onto your feet. This is what he was wearing……. he claimed that the dingos had stolen his shoes.
Purnie Bore is where we made our camp for our first night in the desert. Purnie Bore was sunk during the oil exploration years. Over the years, leaks in the bore caused a substantial amount of hot water to surface and develop into a sizable lake. Conservationists were worried that the salty water from the water body would change the native habitat. Since then, most of the old bores have been closed off and the overall flow has been reduced to a trickle.
It was a beautiful cloudless night sky. Many of the star constellations were visible. There were a few dingos sneaking around our camp site, but, they never came close and weren’t aggressive.
While making dinner, Esmé missed a few heart beats. As she turned around, there a dingo was standing right behind her. But, he took off as quick and quietly as he came. This would also be the last place where we would have a toilet and shower for a few days. There are wild camels roaming around the desert and they took care of most of the night sounds with their snoring.
16 March Saturday
We started driving again at 8.30 in the morning, after only waking up at 6.30. Following the French Line, we passed one vehicle on our way to the Erabena Track. Apart from that we were making the first tracks in the desert for the season.
At the Erabena junction we turned towards the WAA line. We followed the WAA line, an east-west seismic line, similar to the French Line, for parts of the day and ended the day back on the French Line.
We made camp for the night in the open near the track. Fortunately there were a few small shrubs around that could provide some ablution privacy when needed. The starry night sky was spectacular, shining glitter everywhere above.
A southern wind, tugging our roof tent, was gusting at about 25 km per hour and that brought the temperature down to about 38 degrees C. It was almost cold at times.
Tomorrow we will be deeper into the dune world.