Simpson Desert – Safety

Safety is a major concern on any long distance trip and we all want to make it back home safely. To ensure we have the best chance of doing that there are a few things to consider.


It is critical to ensure we are all travelling in well maintained vehicles.  Around town there is always ready access to the RACQ or your local spare parts shop, however as we know, these things are hard to come by in regional and remote areas of Australia.

I am embarking on maintenance overhaul of the Jeep at the moment.  The braking system is being reviewed at the moment with some enhancements that I’ll talk about shortly, however during this process, my mechanic discovered that my rear axle bearings where pitted and shot, an the rear axle seals had deteriorated.

This is not something you can see until you basically remove the brakes so it was a timely discovery. These will be replaced and with the front bearings and seals being replaced about 6 months ago, we should be all good to go on that front.

Other things like diff oil, transmission oil, CV joints, uni-joints, shock absorber function, tyres should all be checked thoroughly by someone qualified.

The electrics are the next area that I will be looking at, and will most likely replace both my alternator and starter motor.  Neither have been replaced and with an Automatic Transmission, not having a healthy starter motor or alternator is a big concern.

Best to start thinking about these things now, so you have plenty of time to get things done and to make sure the changes are ‘run in’ before we head off.

Road Safety

Beside car accidents, travelling vast distances on regional and remote roads comes with two inherent risks. Windscreen damage and animal strikes. While you can get windscreen repair kits, and I for one, will be taking something along with me, you can’t get kangaroo strike repair kits and as such, it’s best to ensure you have adequate frontal protection before embarking on this sort of journey.

Here’s a comparison that highlights the benefits of a good quality steel bullbar.

Our journey will be almost a 50% mixture of bitumen and dirt. Most of the dirt roads will be fairly good and apart from the occasional corrugations we should be able to average between 60 and 80km/h on most sections.

That being said, road trains will also be on some of these roads and while we are taking steps to minimise this, by taking as may back roads as possible once off the bitumen, there will still be times were the road train is king and we simply have to move out of the way.

Keeping a good amount of distance between the vehicles and ensuring we use our UHF to notify everyone in the group of any risk or hazard, then we should be in a good position.

Desert Safety

Lastly, safety in the desert is paramount.  This is not a place to let your guard down and we need to be extra vigilant to ensure we don’t fall victim to break down or accident.

You’ve all read the post about Safety/Sand flags and if not, go back and have a read.  This is the last line of defence in preventing a head on collision with another vehicle, so be sure your’s is up to standard and tested before we get to the desert.

The Simpson Desert has a designated calling channel on the UHF that travellers are advised to use to call out to other travellers to let them know where you are, the direction you are travelling and how many vehicles are in your party.

That being said, we should be careful not to use this channel for general ‘chatter’ as it will only annoy other travellers. Before we leave we will define our chatter channel preference which will be our primary convoy chatter channel. Ideally we’ll keep chatter to a minimum and only use the UHF for the afore mentioned hazard notification, or if someone needs to stop or other specific reason.

It would be good for everyone to familiarise themselves with the operation of their UHF, read the manual and if possible, configure your UHF scanning to scan on a few selected channels.  For example, I plan to have my UHF set up to primarily scan on channels:

  • 5 (emergency channel)
  • 10 (Simpson Desert channel)
  • Our chatter channel (I normally use 15)
  • 18 (grey nomad channel) 
  • 40 (truckies channel)

I haven’t worked out how to do this yet, but will be reading up on it in the manual between now and June.  If you haven’t got your manual, have a dig around on the internet and you should be able to download the PDF version.  I put these PDF manuals on my iPad so I have them all in one place.

The only other point to mention here is that we should never leave things out overnight while in the Desert.  Goannas, dingos and birds all inhabit the desert and they won’t hesitate to rummage around in your stuff if you leave it out, so we’ll need to keep all rubbish securely stowed.

Thanks enough for this post.



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