Simpson Desert and a peek at Madigans Track

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ozimick
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Simpson Desert and a peek at Madigans Track

Post by ozimick » Sat Jun 05, 2010 6:41 pm

For the last couple of years myself and my loyal and fearless wingman Scotty have been toying with the idea of crossing the Simpson via Cecil Madigans Route. Each trip out there we skirt the edges of the route but for one reason or another we are yet to get things together to make the crossing a reality.
This year however we (well I decided and forced Scotty to join me) decided to get a bit more serious about following the steps of the great Madigan and his team of camels.
So, last month ventured out to the desert playground with thoughts of an attempt at the elusive Madigans crossing. Things were not to be however, with common sense telling us the time was not right, but we had a lot of fun anyway, here’s how it went.

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I was a bit behind the eight ball with preparation, having flown home from work the day before departure date, clearly I still had a bit of work to do before I was going anywhere. So I got to work and soon had Katey all dressed up and ready to roll.

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Well I rolled up to Scotts place the following day at around 5pm off memory all be it about 8 hrs late and after a quick cuppa we decided to it was time to venture west for a look about. Through the night we travelled at a fairly sedate pace, dodging skippys relatives most of the way.

After around 14 hrs and some 1200 odd klm we rolled into Windorah , dropping in at the usual stop off point, Merv and Bubs Mobil Servo for fuel and a regroup.


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The recent rains and associated flooding in the west meant we would have to continue north from Windorah up through Bedouri and Boulia and then across the Plenty hwy to get to our western start point, Mac Clark reserve.

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Onward from Windorah we forged and after dodging the wildlife all night the powers that be must have decided a change was required and gave us these to dodge throughout the day.

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It pays to give these fellas a bit of space .....

The plan was to make Jervois for our first stop over and generally speaking, after dropping onto the dirt north of Windorah the road is pretty much like this all the way, not much to do but sit and gnaw away at the distance in front .


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Its always good to hit the first dirt after Windorah and about 1400 klms of tar travel.

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The floodwaters were playin a bit of havoc with our travel, for the most part it was more of this though and you can cover some good ground on the big twins in this sort of going, All good !

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We made it into Boulia somewhere around mid afternoon and with another 470 odd klm to Jervois it was evident there would be some night riding involved if we were to make our destination.

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So with full tanks we ventured on
It wasn’t long and darkness was upon us and we soon encountered a problem with night vision on Scotts bike… no lights !


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So we did a bit of roadside investigation but soon lost interest and decided to punch on for the remaining 100 odd klm into Jervois under the lights of my steed. Scotts bike had also developed a somewhat worrying exhaust leak somewhere in the vicinity of the rear pot, but again, in the darkness we were unable to find the source of the problem. Perhaps tomorrow in the daylight with the benefit of some sleep and some daylight things would be a little clearer.
Last edited by ozimick on Sun Jun 06, 2010 3:24 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Grimmus
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Re: Simpson Desert and a peek at Madigans Track

Post by Grimmus » Sat Jun 05, 2010 6:54 pm

:popcorn: Keep it comin' - tasty start!
Grimmus
"I was wrong once, but that was when I thought I'd made a mistake!!!"

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ozimick
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Location: Southside Qld 4570

Re: Simpson Desert and a peek at Madigans Track

Post by ozimick » Sat Jun 05, 2010 9:05 pm

It had been a big day so we both slept well and morning came around pretty quick.

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We set too checking out the bikes and soon found the exhaust leak on Scotts bike, a plug for some sort of sensor had blown out so that was an easy fix… all we needed was a 10 mm bolt and good to go.

While we were dicking around a young fella that had rolled in after us came over for a chat. Turns out young Nicko was a crazy Dutchman even crazier than us….. He has rolled into Australia, borrowed a friends Nissan Patrol and set off in outback Australia to do a bit of exploring on his own. Made our little adventure pale in significance compared to what he was doing, he was a champion young fella too.


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Within about ten minutes of meeting him Scotty had persuaded him that it was ok to remove certain parts of the Patrol in order to fix the big 950 and he set too with a spanner and removed the 10mm bolt required to fix his exhaust leak.
While Scotty was scamming the Dutchman I went for a bit of a look about


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Parked in the Marshal River.... apparently someone forgot to tell the Marshal that there was some serious flooding going on in the great outback.

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Crossing the Marshall River on the Plenty Highway at Jervois.

Right, back to work.
Now from Jervois we had a slight detour to tend to before continuing west just in case we actually succeeded in conquering the Madigans. The plan was to head down the Hay River as far as Batton Hill camp and drop off some fuel just in case we were successful in conquering the Madigan track.


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At a distance of 705 klm between fuel stops it was likely we would need a bit of a top up to make the final klms into Jervois on the return leg.
Heading off down the Hay and you get a reality check...


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We rode the Hay River Track last year and it is an awesome ride, beginning at Poepells Corner in the South it runs north right through to the Plenty Highway its another “must do” ride for intrepid motorcycling adventurers.

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Trust me, its an absolute hoot

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The big bikes were lovin this

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Off memory, from Birdsville to Jervois via the Hay it is about 695 klm and for looking for a track a little less travelled I would highly recommend you consider this route, running with the swales it is not overly difficult but still challenging enough not to be boring . Do it !

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Oh ye we're havin some fun here

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He He, Old Scotty is a musterer from way back, couldnt help himself when the camels presented themself. He had em rounded up in a jiffy !

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Batton Hill Camp is a must do destination, again, hot showers, sweet! Permit is required but no drama to get.

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So with the fuel drop done, we pinned the ears back and settled into killing some distance, we were looking at putting our self well down the other side of Alice Springs by day’s end so we needed to hook in.

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And true to form, Scotty settles in to the job at hand... No idea what he's up to here but tacking along at around 110 klm/h not lookin whare he's goin , one hand at the controls and the front wheel just skimmin the terra firma !! Ah, if only it were that easy for me .
Last edited by ozimick on Sun Jun 06, 2010 3:30 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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1coolbanana
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Re: Simpson Desert and a peek at Madigans Track

Post by 1coolbanana » Sat Jun 05, 2010 9:39 pm

Awesome :D :clap:



:popcorn:


Man........Nothing compares to the big KTM in that kind of territory :D
Last edited by 1coolbanana on Sat Jun 05, 2010 10:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Cowabunga dudes .......

Benny

Re: Simpson Desert and a peek at Madigans Track

Post by Benny » Sat Jun 05, 2010 9:59 pm

I'm loving this :popcorn: Top stuff mate :thumb:

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woodie
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Re: Simpson Desert and a peek at Madigans Track

Post by woodie » Sat Jun 05, 2010 11:28 pm

Bring It On - Thats what this game is all about
This RR = I must Do!!!

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ozimick
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Re: Simpson Desert and a peek at Madigans Track

Post by ozimick » Sun Jun 06, 2010 8:03 am

The run across the Plenty is a pretty straight forward affair, another dirt super highway and its not uncommon to have the odd Landcruiser and the likes round you up at around 120 kph if you happen to be dawdling along.

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We called into Atitjere for fuel on the way but being a public holiday there wasnt anyone around..... I think the store was opening a bit later in the arvo but we didnt want to hang about, didnt matter we were pretty right so just kept rolling on . For anyone travelling through Atitjere has fuel and a well stocked shop so a good place to drop into for supplies, dont think I would camp there though.

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A little ways down the road we came across these fellas and pulled up for a chat. Man this bus was 5 star accomodation and then some, it had all the whistles and bells. Apparently the bus is made in Brisbane and these fellas get the job of transporting it across to the sales outlet in Perth. They do the trip about once a year I think, not a bad lurk, free transport and a cheap holiday.

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Bit of road improvement going on up there too. Got talkin to the fella on the stop go sighn at this spot, he had been on the road for about 5 years just following work and had seen pretty much allof Australia. Turns out that before he headed off on his working adventure he had lived two houses down the road from where I currently live, small world eh ?

A little while later in the day we rolled into GemTree
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Gem Tree is located on the western end of the Plenty Hwy and is a pretty good spot, they have fuel food and camp facilities available .
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Recomend as a stop off point .

We had a chat with the owners and a pie and it wasnt long before tour boss Scott was cracking the whip and we were back on the road again. Another 60 klm west and we made the Stuart Highway
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And from there it was another short 60 odd klm run down into Alice Springs.

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Another quick stop at Alice then we headed off down the Santa Teresa Rd heading for Mac Clarke Reserve and the start of the Madigan track.
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We stopped in at Santa Teresa and took on a full load of fuel for the journey ahead, Santa Teresa would be the last fuel until we reached Jervois again if we were going to make the crossing. There are good facilities at Santa Teresa, fuel and a mini supermarket so a good place to stock up if your heading into the desert from the western side - Iwouldnt recomend camping there though.

So we left Santa Teresa with full tanks and we were now carrying around 70 litres of fuel and another 20 in water but the big girls took it in their stride and continued to behave quite reliably in the handling department.
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The road remained in good condition for the next 30 odd klms
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Approaching Andado Station boundry, road, conditions deteriorated (improved for us) somewhat so we started to have a bit of fun here and there.
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All the while pushing on
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A challenging section here and there
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Note the greenery in the pics at times the contrast between the bright red sand and the lush greenery had to be seen to be believed. awesome !
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With Scotty in the lead continued on into the night again
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and with limited light on his bike (we didnt manage to get his high beam working) his Katey decided she had had enough at around 8pm and had a little lay down. No real drama except Scott managed to kick and bust the tap off his water tank there was a bit of scurrying going in the dark on at that point while we stemmed the flow of the precious resource. We managed to stop the leak without much loss and decided that maybe it was a good time to pull up stumps for the day. We hadnt done too bad, having left the eastern coast of Australia two days prior we had covered some ground ....
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Young Scotty makes a mean camp fire too .

One thing guaranteed, after long days in the saddle I really look forward to climbing into the swag and I reckon it sure beats anything the Sheraton has to offer. Love It !
Slept well again that night and bounced out of the swag early (ahem, well I did anyway :) ready for the days adventure that lay ahead.

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We had a bit of a discussion about our fuel situation and agreed that maybe we were cutting things a bit fine. Decided to empty some fuel into some spare soft drink bottles (which we would leave there at the camp site) and Back track to Santa Teresa for more fuel. A bit of a pain and about an 80 klm back track, but better that than running out of fuel in the middle of no where.

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A couple of hrs later and we were back on track and closing in on Mac Clarke.
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And the riding conditions were at there best again and the big twins thundered through this section at a fairly brisk rate !!
The track remained good as we continued south and we soon arrived at the northern end of Andado Stn around 250 klm south of Alice Springs.

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We turned off before reaching the Andado Homesteads and although it is in a pretty remote part of the country the Old Andado Homestead in particular, is well worth visiting if you happen to be out that way .
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We continued on through the morning without drama , just cruised along enjoying the sights
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Almost there now

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Tour Boss Scott just making some final checks on the gps :?

Since leaving Santa Teresa yesterday we hadnt seen a single vehicle (although a short wheel base Landcruiser did come through sometime during the night) but upon turning off the Andado track it was soon apparent there was a bit of activity going on somewhere up the road...
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And we met a few of these fellas on their way out.
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The road was well maintained and travelled too.

It wasnt long and we made the Reserve and for us, the start of the Madigan track.

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mark1957
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Re: Simpson Desert and a peek at Madigans Track

Post by mark1957 » Sun Jun 06, 2010 9:55 am

Awesome ride, reliving it might help after missing out on your Hill End ride.
My favourite trail is the one I haven't been on yet

2005 KTM 625sxc

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ozimick
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Re: Simpson Desert and a peek at Madigans Track

Post by ozimick » Sun Jun 06, 2010 10:08 am

A bit about the Madigans, sorry about the picture quality.
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The route

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Mack Clarke through to the Twins just past camp 2.

Madigans route heads north from Old Andado Homestead before turning east at at camp 4 to cross the Simpson, running roughly parallel and , I dunno,maybe 150 klm north of the French Line,ending in Birdsville for a distance of around 705 klm . There are 24 camps in all and these have been marked for travellers to observe as they retrace the steps of Madigans 1939 expedition. In recent times approximately half a dozen vehicles make the crossing each year and as far as we are aware, up until a couple of weeks ago when Qld boys Phil Hodgens and Bill Laver were successful on the mighty DR 650S,no motorcycle had made the crossing unsupported.
Some of the camps are now in prohibited areas (camps 3,4,5 and camps 17,18 and19) There is a bypass around camps 3,4 and five and on the eastern side camp 16 is now generally considered the end of the route with travellers using the Hay River track to exit the desert.

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ozimick
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Re: Simpson Desert and a peek at Madigans Track

Post by ozimick » Sun Jun 06, 2010 10:33 am

So there we were, about to put a toe in the water and see what this Madigans route was all about. The plan in general was to have a bit of a look and, if things looked ok we would push on, if not we would back out and take with us the information gained for a return and better prepaired attempt at a later date.

From Mac Clarke there are a couple of options to get to camp 2, via camps 1 and 1A (which we chose) or via the bypass. Turning at the East bore for camp 1 it became apparent that very few travellers use this option.

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With the road non existant, travel became slow.
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And while we searched in vain we could not locate camp 1.... we were not off to a good start. So decided To cut across the virgin terrain in search of Camp 1A.
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After doing battle with the dunes for a while we came across what our gps was telling us would be camp 1A.
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Hmmm :? it would appear as though someone may have moved camp 1 marker to camp 1A, no wonder we couldnt find it !!
Anyway we were happy to have succeeded in getting this far and we had found a track again which helped to improve our spirits.
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Onward in search of camp 2 we travelled.
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Came across the old Case tractor the other side of camp 2, by gee its a long way from anywhere. would be interesting to know the story behind how it got there.

Approx 5 klm past camp 2 we made the twins, a couple of rocky outcrops , so called due to their similar appearance to each other. And it was here that we would take the bypass thtough to camp 6, thereby avoiding the offlimits camps 3,4,and 5. It was noted a reasonable track continued on in the direction of camp 3 :o . It was also noted there was no track heading in the direction of the bypass :? . Anyway we continued searching for what we assumed would be a track of sorts, apart for a couple of very faint wheel tracks in one spot, no track was found.
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We pushed on but it was becoming apparent that we may have to consider aborting the attempt.
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A little while later Scotts bike shut down for no apparent reason, just stopped , kput nothing.... oh crap!!Hmmm, a bit of investigation revealed half of his sidestand swtich hanging off.
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Some bush mechanics with a scotch lock and he was soon up and running again. It did hit home however the issues we would be facing should one of the bikes suffer a non repairable failure out here...
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We soldiered on once Scott was up and running and with conditions deteriorating further we made the decision to pull out before we got in too deep and a situation we couldnt get out of without help. the last thing we wanted was to become the puropse of a rescue mission for the locals.
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One of the problems faced was that in the absence of a track we had to keep each other in visual contact, to become separated would have made it extremely difficult to locate each other again. It became important to have some predetermined meeting points in the event a separation occurred.

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