Getting to the Start
How much does it cost
Reaching the start of the race at Purni Bore can be a challenging trip.
As a minimum allow three days from Melbourne, three or four days from Sydney, two days from Adelaide and one day from Alice Springs. Those leaving from Queensland often arrive via Birdsville and drive along the course to the start. This does give you a sneak preview of the track but requires you to carry enough fuel and water for an out and back trip.
The quickest approach from the Southern states is via Pt Augusta heading north along the Stuart Highway, turning off the highway at Coober Pedy. This route is sealed until you turn on to the dirt road from Coober Pedy to Oodnadatta. If you have time, the Oodnadatta Track (via Maree) is a nice trip and follows the old Ghan railway line.
Approaching Purnie Bore, the last (limited) supplies available are at Oodnadatta and Mt Dare. Do not expect to fill up with water at these points. Coober Pedy has good water available at 20c/40 litres. You can get water opposite the Shell servo coming into town. Port Augusta has several large supermarkets and a basic bike shop. Birdsville is the last supply point from the eastern side.
Allow plenty of travel time. The track from Dalhousie to Purni Bore can be slow and rough. Drop your tyre pressures and speed once on the dirt and you will be less likely to have tyre damage on the way there.
Check road conditions in the National Park prior to your departure using the Desert Parks Hotline: 1800 816 078. Call Transport SA Road Condition Hotline 1300 361 033 for road updates outside of the National Park. Bulletins are also posted on the www.parks.sa.gov.au website.
Coober Pedy – motels, backpacker accommodation, camping, pubs, restaurants, mini-supermarkets, water, fuel, ATM, PO, public phones, mobile coverage. Click for website
Oodnadatta – camping, cabins, pub, meals, fuel, basic supplies, public phone, EFTPOS, limited water.
Pink Roadhouse Oodnadatta 08 8670 7822 Click for website
Maree – camping, cabins, pub, fuel, public phone, EFTPOS, basic supplies, limited water.
Mt Dare Station – fuel (they may have other supplies but ring ahead first) phone 08 86707835 Click for website
Dalhousie Springs – toilets, showers, hot springs (no drinking water)
Purnie Bore – shower, toilet, bore water (no drinking water)
Birdsville – camping, cabins, pub, motel rooms, fuel, water, basic supplies, EFTPOS, phone. Click for website
Birdsville Hotel 07 4656 3244 Click for website
Birdsville Caravan Park 07 4656 3214 Click for Website
Carrying your Bike
Transporting bikes to and from the race can potentially damage the bike. Rough roads, dust and long distances can cause damage if bikes are not packed carefully.
1. Bike Box: The best method is to pack your bike in a box (available from bike shops) and carry it (upright) inside the vehicle.
Space is always at a premium though, so you may want to consider other options below…
2. Towbar Mounted: (4×4 specific)
The ‘ISI Bike Carrier System‘ is the only recommended towbar mounted rack for use in the desert. It is a well designed product that has been proven in the desert and provides the ground clearance that prevents bottoming out in ruts. It’s designed specifically for off-road conditions.
Conventional towbar mounted carriers are not recommended.
3. Roof Mounted: A rack mounting on the vehicle roof is a good option. Be careful using mounts which attach to the front forks with the wheel removed. These have been known to bend the forks. Make sure that the frame is braced so the forks don’t take all the strain.
Plan to arrive at Purni Bore with plenty of time to rebuild, check and adjust the bike.
From Oodnadatta take sufficient fuel for at least 800k (to reach Birdsville).
Fuel usage (a rough guide):
- Diesel – 150 litres
- Petrol – 200 litres
- Always allow extra fuel for unplanned detours.
- Dual tank vehicles can usually take enough fuel without the need for jerry cans.
Experience over the years has shown that correct tyre pressures are critical. In the gibber country on the way in, and around Birdsville, pressures around 25-35 psi seem to suit most.
Once we hit the sand, around 25 psi rear and 20 psi front suits most.
Over-inflated tyres are often the cause of bogging and tyre damage.
A UHF Radio is required in each vehicle during the event for convoy operations. It’s preferred that they be installed in the vehicle but handhelds are adequate.
We use Channel 10 and this is the standard frequency for all vehicles in the Simpson Desert.
UHF Radio in the Desert is Channel 10.
Channel 40 for on the Highway
Managing your rubbish
We endeavour to have a minimal impact on the desert as we cross it. No rubbish is buried or left at our camps. All your rubbish must be carried with you.
Rubbish Dumps are at Dalhousie Hot Springs and Birdsville.
Camper vans are difficult to tow across the Simpson Desert. Bogging on sand dunes is frequent and can slow down the convoy significantly. You will need a high powered vehicle, recovery gear and good sand driving skills to get across.
Your trip will be much more pleasant without this worry. We recommend that you do not tow anything.