4W Drive or Ride the Madigan Line – Fully catered Simpson Desert Expedition 2019
Crossing the Madigan Line from East to West is one of the most challenging and remote desert crossings in Australia. With good preparation, planning and the right vehicle setups it’s also one of the most enjoyable. Traveling with experienced professionals and being catered with outstanding food and service means you can relax and enjoy the journey.
Things really kick off at the famous Big Red Sand dune (named by our friend Denis Bartell in 1980 after one of his many extraordinary desert crossings, check out his book Desert Walker) followed by 750km of vast beauty before you see any kind of civilization at Mt Dare Station.
Imagine sitting atop a red sand dune in the middle of the largest sand dune desert in the world inside the traditionally owned land of the East Arrernte people, a long dining table tastefully set in full view of the setting sun as you enjoy a quiet drink and pre-dinner snacks around the fire reflecting on the day as dinner is prepared.
Crepes with vanilla bean ice cream, freshly baked bread, ground coffee, cooked breakfast, fresh fruit and pork belly on the menu adds a sense of luxury in the heart of central Australia.
The Madigan Line should not be taken lightly, the track can take its toll with vehicles fully loaded working hard to get over the dunes and suspension being pushed to the limit taking on the mogul sections of the track. It is very remote so breakdowns are not fun, best to deal with these before taking on a crossing like the Madigan Line.
Not your average weekend getaway so preparation is the key. See in the Vehicle Checklist tab for vehicle preparation, fuel usage and safety information.
From the east, the approach to the dunes is steepest, between the dunes the track crosses an ever-changing land making for great riding and pleasant driving.
Bikes eat this track up. There’s nothing like riding in the desert unladen, free to enjoy the ride on flowing sand tracks. Great fun but it’s not a race. Take it easy. Anyone riding dirt bikes needs to be backed up by their own vehicle.
This means a rider has complete freedom without the need to carry excess weight, fuel, spares whilst in the saddle. An unforgettable experience in one of the most remote areas of central Australia.
Traveling from Victoria and South Australia. Our first meeting point will be Port Augusta where we will load you up with food.
From Port Augusta we will ride out past the impressive Flinders Rangers on our right past Leigh Creek before stopping at the iconic Farina Bakery, Trent loves donuts. Then we ride on to Marree and the start of the Birdsville Track, stretching our legs out at one of our favorite outback pubs, Mungerannie before pushing onto Birdsville the following day.
Travelling from New South Whales and Queensland. We all meet in Birdsville early afternoon in time to drive to Big Red for Sunset. Depart Birdsville 5am for sunrise and breakfast on Big Red. Starting at the iconic country town of Birdsville, home to the old Birdsville Pub and the infamous Birdsville races where we’ll head out the next day to Big Red and north through private property with thanks to the great managers of Adria Downs Station Don and Judy and land owner David Brook.
Special permission is required to visit Madigan camps 20, 21 and 22. Our first night camp is a special one – Adria Downs Station at Kudaree Waterhole – the birdlife through this area is incredible. Onto Madigan’s camp 16 and 14 before turning West and into the Northern heart of the Simpson Desert and into traditionally owned land thanks to the Aboriginal Lands Council.
Large dunes, often faint tracks led by GPS we make our way across this remote area of the Simpson to Madigan’s camp 1A. Onto Old Andado station, a living, breathing historic monument to Outback farmers en route to civilisation and Mt Dare Station.
Day 1: Depart from Birdsville
Lunch & dinner, depart from Birdsville after breakfast (not included) Onto Big Red (40km) Travel via Dickerie Waterhole O/N Kudaree W/H (120km)
Day 2: Overnight at Camp 16
Overnight at Camp 16 (90km cross country), breakfast, lunch & dinner
Day 3: Overnight at Camp 12
Overnight at Camp 12 (70km cross country), breakfast, lunch & dinner
Day 4: Overnight at Camp 7
Overnight at Camp 7 (80km cross country), breakfast, lunch & dinner
Day 5: Overnight at Camp 5
Overnight at Camp 5 (50km cross country), breakfast, lunch & dinner
Day 6: Overnight at Camp 1A
Overnight at Camp 1A (60km cross country), breakfast, lunch & dinner
Day 7: Onto Old Andado homestead
Onto Old Andado homestead (70km) Overnight at Mt Dare homestead (170km) Dinner in the pub (not included), breakfast & lunch
Day 8: Finish trip, depart from Mt Dare for home
*Please note this itinerary should give or take a day depending on track conditions, group pace and or any mechanical issues that could arise.
For trip inspiration, read the Outdoor Journal’s story on Taming the Munga-Thirri Desert with Mike Horn
|Trip Dates||25 – 31 July 2019|
|Arrival/Departure Location||Birdsville, Queensland||Mt. Dare Station, Witjira|
|Included||Guides and support vehicles include lead motorbike
Chef catering vehicle, all meals includes freshly brewed coffee and baked bread, cooked breakfast, morning tea, lunch, antipasto and dinners
Sat phone and emergency equipment
|Additional recovery equipment
Aboriginal land council permission
Private land owners permission
|Not Included||Camping equipment
Vehicle and bikes
Soft drink & alcoholic beverages
|Rates||1 person / 1 vehicle $3850 inc GST, additional passenger / co-driver $2500 inc GST per person.|
|Children under 12 years travel for free. *One vehicle two adults travel with two children under 12 for free. One vehicle one adult travel with one child under 12 for free.
Additional children under 12 $360 inc GST 12 years – 17 years $950 inc GST Includes
|Guide vehicle, support vehicle and catering vehicle with chefs, all meals including breakfast, morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner, tea, and coffee were included in the itinerary. Private land access, Aboriginal Land Council permission, camping fees at Birdsville and Mt Dare.|
|Hire vehicles available. Approximately $3300AUD for 10-day hire.|
Only the best roof over your head will do on this expedition. The Southern Hemisphere night sky. You will have the option to book a cabin at Mt Dare and Birdsville, we recommend you do this in advance directly. As you would expect the best accommodation on the planet can be found out here sleeping under the biggest canvas in the world, the Southern Cross and Milky Way, out here the night sky is lit with stars, a view you can only get in the desert. We recommend a good swag on a stretcher, roof top camper or tent with some warm bedding inside, it can get cold at night out here. No trailers.
Professional chef prepared meals includes tea and coffee, breakfast, morning tea, lunch, antipasto and dinner. Think pork belly, poached eggs benedict, home made bread and baguettes, roast lamb. Each vehicle will be required to have a good fridge and will be given a food pack from the chef to carry. You will be required to carry your own water and non alcoholic beverages such as soft drink, beer or wine.
It’s a big journey, we can guarantee a few tyre punctures at minimum, its vital you have your car prepped properly, and adequately insured.
Safety is our number one priority
In the Moon Tours kit it’s likely we will have some extra items on board for your piece of mind.
- Satellite phone
- Large first aid kit including broad spectrum antibiotics, painkillers, muscle relaxants and morphine whistles
- Welding equipment
- Tool kit
- Stainless steel knives
- Stainless steel forks
- Stainless steel teaspoons
- Salt & Pepper shakers
- Cutting boards
- Bottle openers
- Fleece blankets & Table cloths
- PVC Wash bag (for dirty dishes)
- Melamine plates
- Cotton and paper napkins
- Polycarbonate wine goblets
Every vehicle will be required to have, at the absolute minimum, the following.
- Pre trip inspection carried out by a reputable 4WD work shop, not your local car mechanic. (We recommend Outback 4WD if you’re in Melbourne)
- Radio with external aerial GPS with appropriate maps (we recommend downloading the HEMA Australia app and maps)
- Bull bar
- Snorkel Upgraded suspension
- Heavy Duty all terrain tyres
- Dual Battery system (we will be moving every day with other vehicles so you may get away without this, make sure you have a good battery and low current drawing fridges and lights)
- Fridge Camp lighting. If you’re using a roof rack it needs to be HEAVY DUTY
- Two spare tyres on rims
- Basic tyre repair kit with plugs
- Basic recovery equipment
- Snatch straps, shackles, shovel, axe, heavy duty jack or air jack
- Compressor and tyre gauge
- Basic tool kit
- Fire extinguisher
The bike preparation
- Pre trip inspection by your local workshop, your bike should be in tip top shape
- We recommend Moose Tubes Protective wear.
- Helmet, boots, gloves, armour
- Spare front / rear tubes, air filter, levers, spark plug. As you would a weekend trip.
- Chain / Sprockets in good condition (no lube)
- Pre oiled replacement air filter
- Two Strokes should be re-jetted so they don’t run lean.
- Suitable fuel and pre mix oil for
- Two Strokes Gear oil Tool kit to suit your bike
- Hand held UHF Radio
- Hydra pack Fuel for 750km (the average bike will use 10Lt per 100km)
How much fuel do I need
- Minimum 200 litres depending on your vehicle
- Minimum 70 litres based on 10lt/100km, that would get across most of the good stuff
How much water do I need?
- 40 to 50 litres per person, 80 – 100 litres per car
What camping equipment do I need?
- Swag or tent, warm bedding for cold nights
- Recommend a stretcher these days
- Camp chair
- Cutlery and dish washing
- Head torch and camp light
- Axe, shovel
Minimum Spares Kit Recommended
- Fan belts
- Oil Radiator stop leak
- Radiator hose tape
- Two spares tyres on rims
- Air Filter
- Fuel filter
- Brake Fluid
- Engine oil
About Moon Tours
The ‘Moon’ name has been synonymous with adventure travel for this at least, the third generation. From guidebooks to guided tours, travel writing to MIA Hunters, Dive, Kite, SUP, 4×4 and Geographic magazines across the globe to the movie ‘Born Free’ and fortunate relationships with instrumental saviors of African Wildlife, the late ‘George Adamson’ and his equally important successor ‘Tony Fitzjohn’. In one way or another, this adventurous spirit and willingness to explore and discover has been passed down through the generations.
Trent Moon spent his childhood in the footsteps of modern day explorers, parents Ron and Viv Moon. He’s covered nearly every corner of remote outback Australia, worked in Africa as a guide in multiple countries and visited 11 in total. Since 2012 Trent and his now, soon to be wife Stephanie, have combined their expertise, contacts and experience together with their passion of surfing, kite surfing, stand up paddle boarding, scuba diving, fishing, 4×4 off roading, camping, yacht charters and African Wildlife Safaris to bring you truly unique adventure travel experiences.
All the Moon Tours adventures are structured to accommodate the sporting and non-sporting participants in absolute comfort with activities for the whole family. Let our team handle everything for you, from door to door we manage and tailor every part of your journey based on your needs.
About your Guides
Trent and Stephanie have been sharing their travel experiences with groups for the last seven years, from Australia to Mozambique, Tanzania, Botswana, Zambia, Papua New Guinea, Maldives, Fiji and more. Trent grew up in the footsteps of his parents Ron & Viv Moon, 4WD legends and modern day explorers who made a life out of remote travel, publishing 4WD Guidebooks, mapping Australia and travel writing for the best part of 40 years. Ron was editor of 4×4 Australia Magazine for 15 years and is still the editor at large today.
There is nothing they enjoy more than traveling and being involved with Moon Tours together. Trent was lucky to start driving in the outback at a very young age and before the age of 12 would often be found behind the wheel taking on Australia’s toughest tracks. Not something we recommend these days.
In 2017 Ron & Trent crossed the Madigan Line with Denis Bartell, who then at 83 had notched up 40 odd Simpson Desert crossings and named Big Red. Denis was the first person to have walked solo West – East, North – South and the first to drive across the Northern part of the desert.