Part 6 - Moguls . . Moguls . . Moguls . .
As we travel deeper into the Simpson Desert it's the moguls, not the sand dunes that are slowing us down.
After a big day yesterday driving east along the French Line from Purni Bore we wake up to a beautiful morning in the Simpson Desert and the words ‘how’s the serenity’ definitely come to mind.
Last night before we went to bed Sara had the inspired idea to wrap some of our potatoes in foil and throw them in the coals with the idea they’d be cooked and still warm for breakfast.
The promise of baked potatoes and melted butter this morning entices the girls out of their swags and we head over to the remnants of the fire in anticipation.
Gently uncovering and lifting the foil packages out of the ashes I’m immediately concerned out how light they feel - almost weightless!
They’re still hot to touch and as I unwrap the first one it’s a small nugget of charcoal inside rather than a steaming hot baked potato we were hoping for.
In fact it’s so over cooked it crumbles into ash when prodded with a sharp stick.
A quick check of the other three packages and they are all the same - completely and totally overcooked.
A lesson learned and I console the girls by reminding them we have more potatoes and will have another go in the campfire tonight - maybe not leave them in there all night though!!
Our mission for today is to get as far along the French Line as possible and try and make up some of the ground we didn’t cover yesterday.
Ideally we’ll get past Poeppels Corner and onto the QAA line which will leave us a manageable distance tomorrow into Birdsville. But if the track is the same or worse than yesterday then this may be a bit optimistic.
And with the dunes gradually getting larger as we head east, I have no reason to expect the track is going to get any easier.
So with that in mind we get packed up and ready to go.
But before we get back on the track, Savanna breaks out the ‘L’ plates for her first ever drive of the Landcruiser.
She turned 16 earlier this year and has had a few driving lessons in Jens car in the shopping centre car park near home, but she’s never driven a manual or a 3 tonne 4WD.
Savanna driving the Landcruiser for the first time - not nervous at all 😉
Our camp is on the edge of a large clay pan which is flat and firm and free of obstacles so it’s a perfect opportunity for her to get some practice in and despite our time pressure, she jumps in the drivers seat and quickly gets the hang of the clutch and gears.
While she drives, I film her on my iPhone and offer encouragement and I’m definitely impressed by her natural ability to manage the car.
Having successfully logged her first Landcruiser drive, we swap seats and it’s time to get back on the French Line and we hit the dunes a little after 9:00am.
As we steadily push east the dunes predictably get taller and further apart and after a few hours of steady driving we’re averaging around 15 kmph of actual distance covered.
Our scraping issue on the back left tyre has reduced but not gone away completely and I inspect the tyre on a fairly regular basis to make sure there is no serious damage occurring.
It looks like my mods to the inside of the guard last night with the hammer have helped.
Early in the afternoon we reach our first salt lake, Lake Tamblyn, and soon after that we reach the junction of Knolls Track which heads south from the French Line for about 43km before joining the Rig Road.
A change of scenery as we start encountering salt pans
I look forward to exploring Knolls Track, the Rig Road and the other tracks that criss cross the Simpson Desert on future expeditions when we have more time and most likely at least one other vehicle.
But this being our first trip across the desert, it's really just a chance to experience the desert first hand so we can then plan bigger trips in the future knowing what to expect.
Continuing on it’s dune after dune with moguls in between and I’m really enjoying the drive.
The car is running well and we’re not burning as much fuel as I had budgeted for so I have no concerns about running low, even with the slow pace.
The sky is clear and the sun is warm and right now there is nowhere I would rather be.
The girls are mainly watching films they downloaded from Netflix on their iPads and reading which is fine by me. They are relaxed and happy to just go with the flow.
A perfect day in the Simpson Desert
By late afternoon we’ve travelled 90km for the day, about 22km short of Poepells Corner, and we find a great spot to camp on top of a dune that has plenty of firewood nearby and a big view to the north east.
I’ll be up early to film the sunrise.
With our swags rolled out and the campfire burning I get busy whipping up dinner, spaghetti again but this time with a variation of a Jamie Oliver vegetarian bolognese receipe I found a while back.
It’s pretty much like conventional bolognese except you substitute the mince meat for a can of lentils and some dried porcini mushrooms - I’m no vegetarian but I have to say I love this recipe and when I make it for Savanna at home I have it myself as well instead of the meat bolognese that Jen, Sara and Sienna prefer.
Despite being full from dinner, Sara is determined to have a baked potato so another 4 spuds are wrapped in foil and placed carefully in the coals.
Rather than leave them overnight we give them an hour to cook which turns out to be the perfect amount of time.
They’re steaming hot and soft as mashed potatoes when we unwrap them and smother them with butter.
Not a bad finish to what has been pretty much a perfect day.
Tomorrow we have some serious distance to cover, around 180km I estimate which is double the distance we covered today.
I’m expecting the QAA line to be easier going than the French Line but it is still a long way so we call it a night around 9:00pm ready for an early start and a big day tomorrow.
The moon rises over a perfect Simpson Desert camp
Our second attempt at baked potatoes in the coals