In the Australian winter of 2008 Louis-Philippe Loncke crossed the 170 000 square kilometers Simpson Desert spreading over three Australian states; South-Australia, the Northern Territory and Queensland. Characteristic about this desert is its long parallel sand dunes that lie along a SSE/NNW axis. (Click to enlarge)
Apart from walking across remote wilderness areas, Louis-Philippe is also a painter and photographer and he loves scuba diving (click to enlarge)
The wheels of the CamWheels were twin wheels with yellow, flat free tyres; specifically yellow to make them visible from far and to reflect the maximum heat. To strengthen the wheels and to avoid them from sinking into the sand, a stainless steel ring was riveted and glued to the rims. If the sand was too soft or muddy, he had foam bars to add between the yellow flat free tyres (click to enlarge)
Campsite in the early morning (click to enlarge)
A well deserved rest at the end of the journey (click to enlarge)
The map comparing the planned and done routes. Images courtesy of Louis-Philippe Loncke/ simpson-desert-trek.blogspot.com (click to enlarge)
Debrief: Belgium Louis-Philippe Loncke alone across the Simpson Desert from North to South

Posted: Oct 15, 2008 02:49 am EDT
(ThePoles.com) The Simpson desert lies in central Australia and is called Arunta by the Aborigines. In the Australian winter of 2008 Belgium Louis-Philippe Loncke crossed this desert from North to South.

The route

Louis-Philippe explains on his website why he started his walk at the Northern side of the desert, Well, at first it's easier access than starting somewhere South of the Simpson where there's no road.

Secondly it's very obvious that from North to South you go DOWN (Yep I go down on the map!) Ok, I'm kidding, am I? Well not really. The Simpson desert is flat and at low altitude, but I'm going lower because I'm heading to lake Eyre which is below sea level. The South-West of lake Eyre is even the lowest point of Australia at around -15m below sea level.

Before he left, Loncke set himself two milestones on the route: The geographical centre of the desert, and Poeppel's corner where South-Australia, the Northern Territory and Queensland meet.

Before Louis-Philippe could travel this route he had to get permission from the Aborigines from Atnetye to whom some of the land belong, to cross that area.

The CamWheel

As he went solo and without support, Louis-Philippe pulled an aluminum framed, two-wheel cart behind him, which he called his CamWheel; short for camel on wheels.

The wheels of the CamWheels were twin wheels with yellow, flat free tyres; specifically yellow to make them visible from far and to reflect the maximum heat. To strengthen the wheels and to avoid them from sinking into the sand, a stainless steel ring was riveted and glued to the rims. If the sand was too soft or muddy, he had foam bars to add between the yellow flat free tyres.

Food, gear and water

All the food, gear and water for the entire expedition were loaded on the CamWheel.

Food: High protein muesli cereals, salted peanuts, fruit muesli cereals toasted, Mexican Chicken dehydrated, spaghetti, oats, salami pepperoni, omega3 Mexican wraps, chocolate roast almond, chocolate cashew, vitamins, one litre olive oil for drinking, protein chocolate powder and lots of muesli bars.

Louis-Philippe took all his water with him in Jerry cans. He provided to use an average of 2 to 2.5 litres per day. As expected he drank less and less water as his body adjusted to the extreme desert conditions. Louis-Philippe told ExWeb that at the end of the expedition he had used 130 of his 140 litres in 35 days.

The clothes that he used were sandals, 2 pairs of trail running shoes, 1 swimsuit, a hat, beanie, head net, sunglasses, 1 long sleeved polyprop shirt, 1 shirt anti-UV, 1 anti-UV pants, no underwear (used the swimsuit), 1 boxer underwear (sleep), 3 pairs of socks, 1 fleece jumper and gloves,

Communication and safety equipment: Iridium satellite phone, EPIRB tracking system, 6 maps, 1 compass, 1 GPS, 1 headlight, 1 tiny safety torch, a medical kit and carbon trekking poles.

The start

His home team reported on the kick-off, He left Alice Springs at 1pm Australian time in a 4WD and was dropped off near Jervois. The real adventure begins now, as he will do the rest by foot with a cart weighing a grand total of 210 kg! He has now entered the Aboriginal land called Atnetye and is now heading for Atula Creek.

In the first week the team reported: Making headway is quite difficult because of spinifex, grass typical of arid Australia: two or sometimes three tries are needed to get over it. The cart required a few repairs, but is holding on.

Thorns everywhere

In the region of the 24 parallel Louis-Philippe entered a place Captain Charles Sturt once described as hell (thorns everywhere, big humps) and after walking just a few kilometers on 25 July, much below his anticipated daily average, he decided to try something to make more progress. He cut the weight in half, carrying one part on one day, coming back during the night with an empty CamWheel and get to move the second half on the next day. The challenge was to find the way back with his GPS as he left the food, tent and sleeping bag in the second part.

A camel encounter

On one day Louis-Philippe spotted a group of camels coming towards him. At first he was not suspicious and allowed them to come closer but soon enough they were getting quite close and gathering like a Roman legion just before an attack. He then went to hide but figured the only way to get out alive was to flee which he did with the camels chasing him! Fortunately they stopped after a while. He came to understand that they were probably trying to protect their young.

Desert center to Macumba Station

Although it was winter in Australia Louis-Philippe reported temperatures up to 35°C during the day. Nighttime temperatures were cooler and he took advantage of the full moon to walk at night as well.

At the geographical centre of the desert (position 25° 22 East and 137° 05 South) Louis-Philippe raised the Aboriginal flag on a pole symbolizing his respect for the deep connection that the Aboriginal people have for this desert.

According to his home teams dispatches he headed for Poepples Corner from there, but on his updated maps it seems like he had changed his course and headed South until he reached Macumba Station on the Southern side of the Simpson Desert to finish his journey.

According to Louis-Philippe and his home team, He is the first man ever to cross the worlds longest sand dunes desert unassisted in its length (North-South).

Read more about Louis-Philippe and his other adventures and activities in the links below the pictures.

The Simpson Desert, or Arunta as the Aboriginal People call it, covers 170 000 square kilometers in central Australia. It spreads over three Australian states; South-Australia, the Northern Territory and Queensland. Characteristic about this desert is its long parallel sand dunes that lie along a SSE/NNW axis.

In the Australian winter of 2008 Belgium adventurer Louis-Philippe Loncke walked solo, unassisted from North to South across the Simpson Desert. His route took him from Jervois, across the centre of the desert to Macumba Station in the South.

Louis-Philippe has a passion for the Oceanic countries where he already has traveled thousands of kilometers. Some of his adventures: He walked solo, unsupported across the West MacDonnell National Park in Australia, starting West and walking East to finish in Alice Springs; walked solo, unsupported, South to North across Fraser Island, the biggest sand island in the world; and walked across the Tasmanian wilderness.

Apart from walking across remote wilderness areas, Louis-Philippe is also a painter and photographer and he loves scuba diving.


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