Ian Vickers crosses Simpson Desert
Braving more than 20 days and trekking 400km of the unrelenting Simpson Desert while hauling a cart of supplies behind him, AG sponsored adventurer Ian Vickers has successfully crossed the Simpson Desert.
Ian crossed the desert from west to east, starting his journey at Old Andado station in the Northern Territory and ending in the town of Birdsville in Central West Queensland. He says the pain was worth it: he raised more than $5000 for the Australian Cancer Research Foundation, a charity he chose to support after losing both parents to cancer at an early age.
Relying on self-motivation and months of training, Ian scaled approximately 1100 sand dunes ranging from three or four metres to more than 40me in height. “I’d get to the top of one dune hoping that the valleys in between might start to open up, but they didn’t for quite some time, which was pretty disheartening,” he said.
For 16 of his 20 days, the determined adventurer was in complete solitude. Nine of those were spent travelling through open desert, he reached the Colson track, four days later than he had expected.
“It was physically draining, mentally draining and emotionally draining; however, it was one of the most enjoyable parts of the journey for me,” he said. “Once I started heading across country there were so many opportunities for punctures in my tires. I was so paranoid about that happening.”
Ian’s slow start, travelling only up to 7km a day, led to a change of route from his original plan, which was to walk to the centre and then onwards to Birdsville. Instead, he followed the Colson Track south to the Northern Territory and the South Australian border.
“When I finally made that decision that this is what I was going to do, it was a good day. It was very liberating to let go and take the journey on a different path.”
Among the biggest challenges at the start of his trip, he explained, was carrying the gruelling weight of the cart, 160kg when fully laden with food, water and supplies. And on the western edge of the desert where spinifex grass dominates the landscape and the dunes are often only 200m apart, dragging the cart was a challenge.
But 20 days in the desert didn’t come without its perks. “Most nights I would get myself on top of a beautiful big red dune, find a suitable position, get my bed roll out, get a fire going, get my dinner into me, write in my journal, and I’d just look up at stars. The milky way was mine every night,” he says.