What a can of worms this topic can open from the sublime to the ridiculous.
Yes I can hear you all saying it right now. “But trailers are not allowed or able to be taken across the Simpson desert “Or“ it is strongly advised against “.
However people do take them across and I am one of those who has and I might add with ease on my particular trip from Mount Dare to Birdsville covering a combined route which still included most of the French Line. The reason I say on my particular trip is that the conditions can change rapidly in this part of our country.
I was driving a 100 series Turbo diesel Landcruiser with Adventure Camper trailer in tow. In our group we also had another 100 series Turbo diesel Landcruiser fully loaded and a Ford F250 6 cylinder Turbo diesel with an Adventure Tray Top camper on the back.
I might just mention now that the fuel consumption for all vehicles was around 140 litres with the trailer towing Cruiser TD using the least fuel.
The fully loaded TLC did on one occasion get itself caught on top of one of the many dunes requiring a gentle snatch backwards to have a second attempt which was done with ease.
The Ford was another story having new truck tyres with a recommended inflation pressure of 80 psi, yes that’s right 80, the question was how low do you go?
Well the low tyre pressures for desert driving were the same as the other vehicles being around 16 psi or less
But what about the vehicle with the trailer in tow I hear you asking.
Well no assistance was required at all for the main trip, except for Big Red. All that was needed was sensible driving and respect for the track and those to follow. If a dune was not conquered on my first attempt we simply reversed the trailer back down, reassessed our gear selection and made it over with ease. Yes we did have more second and the odd third attempt but this was due to our desire to make the point that trailers do not and are not damaging the dunes. It felt as though the trailer was smoothing over the tracks that we were driving in and this was agreed to by all other parties following the trailer in our group.
To prove my point even further, I thought what the hell maybe BIG RED can stop me and my trailer.
Well to a degree it did but I was so close to the top that with a light snatch, I was over the center track on big red with trailer in tow, point made!!.
What we should be doing is educating more diligently to all users of the desert the need for correct tyre pressures. In my line of work of camper trailer hire and sales I hear of people thinking they are super hero’s because they didn’t need to deflate their tyres or even use 4wd for there trip across the desert. Spinning highly inflated tyres in 2wd does a lot more damage to the tracks and dunes.
This is what is doing the damage NOT trailers.
Lets be realistic for a minute also if you think that you can just go out and buy a new 4wd and so called off road trailer and simply drive across the Simpson desert your asking for trouble.
As Dave from Mount Dare Homestead mentioned to our group this is a real test track it will test everything. He also mentioned that an experienced person with trailer in tow will not have too many dramas. A very experienced tour operator out of Alice Springs is often at Mount Dare and he takes his trailer everywhere including the Simpson.
Another consideration in the education process should be that those wanting to tow a trailer should be at least with one other vehicle with or without a trailer and they should know how to reverse their trailer and I mean confidently reverse too.
You should also be aware of your vehicles performance capabilities in sand .Go somewhere close to home for a weekend and put yourself and vehicle through its paces to see what works best. By this I mean tyre pressures high range or low range 4wd and be honest with yourself is the vehicle up to the trip with a trailer in tow.
I myself had a 1989 2.8 Litre diesel Hilux and know that this vehicle would not have managed a crossing of the desert with a trailer in tow and I am sure to this even others may and will disagree.
The debate can go on and on with someone even saying “why would you even want to take a trailer across the Simpson?” Well I believe that this is up to each individual to decide for themselves using the Think, Assess and Decide principals of 4wdriving.
There are many remote tracks in our country on which trailers are taken with out such controversy and still the chances of major trailer damage and costly recovery expenses to the owners.
My findings are that the majority of negative feed back in relation to trailers and the Simpson are from those who have done the trip without a trailer or not even done it at all.
Perhaps they are disappointed that:
- They didn’t take their trailer along.
- They do not own a capable off road camper trailer or own one at all.
- They do not have the experience required to take a trailer along with them.
I have looked closely on my trips to this area and seen those ready for the SD crossing and am bewildered at how much weight some have put on their roof racks and vehicles alike. Not to mention keeping the vehicle within it’s gross vehicle mass capacity and what this is doing to the vehicles center of gravity increasing the possibility of a rollover.
Trailers are a much safer means of seeing our great country with out having camping gear packed in tightly around the kids and other passengers.
Stop the nonsense I say and start to be realistic that there are quality off road camper trailers manufactured today that are more than capable for these types of trips .
Lets begin to educate more stringently the precautions that should be taken rather than the current response of “ No you cant “ because “yes you can “.
Keep on towing.