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Old 3rd July 2024, 11:40   #1
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Crossing the Mighty Simpson Desert solo in a 4x4 | Mitsubishi Pajero Sport

Some of you may remember my last years attempt to cross the Simpson desert, which got washed out due to heavy rains. (Link (Exploring Central and South Australia in a Pajero Sport & Landcruiser | 6000 km & 10-day road trip). but this year we were fortunate to complete it without any issues. Simpson was very green this year after 2 years of above average rain.

Crossing the Mighty Simpson Desert solo in a 4x4 | Mitsubishi Pajero Sport-desert0.jpg

Total distance covered : 4800 km
Total mud roads and tracks covered : 1500 km ( out of 4800)
Total sand tracks covered : 400km ( out of 1500)
No of sand dune : 1100+
No of corrugations & bog holes : Millions
No of days : 8
No of states covered : 5

One big learning from last year was NOT to plan very detailed, but keep it flexible - plan in terms of start/end dates & day wise travel details.

Unfortunately my other travel companion - the Landcruiser 76 series couldn't join this time, that means I will be alone attempting to cross. But a friend of mine who is living in Singapore said he will join me, so I started making arrangements for 2 of us.

First week of June was kept as the start date due to low temperatures in desert, least amount of flies and comparatively firm sand conditions.

My friend booked his tickets for June 7th hoping to start on 8th; but a heavy rain event on June 1st caused the trip to be postponed to June 15th. He didn't book his return ticket until June 12th when we took the final call to start on 15th.
By June 12th we have confirmed reports of crossings after the rain event and weather forecast for next 10 days looked positive

Pajero Sport on top of the biggest dune..the big red (40m high)
Crossing the Mighty Simpson Desert solo in a 4x4 | Mitsubishi Pajero Sport-desert1.jpg



Isolated outback -



Clay pans
Crossing the Mighty Simpson Desert solo in a 4x4 | Mitsubishi Pajero Sport-05-claypan-upclose.jpg

Be at 3 states at the same time
Crossing the Mighty Simpson Desert solo in a 4x4 | Mitsubishi Pajero Sport-05poeppels-corner.jpg

Last edited by arjithin : 6th July 2024 at 07:10.
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Old 3rd July 2024, 11:45   #2
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Crossing the mighty Simpson desert - Preparations

The key to a successful crossing is preparation, even more important if attempting to cross as a single vehicle. One need to carry all the items ( water, diesel, food, spare parts, tools, recovery items etc for 5 days (+ 3 days for contingency in case something goes wrong). My car was full to the roof with all items even after removing the second row seats.

Vehicle preparations:
Most important one is to keep the weight to a minimum possible. More weight means more fuel consumption, more load on vehicle and more chances of digging into sand & mud. So only items necessary was taken. I removed my second row seating & subwoofer to save a bit of weight.

The real tricky part of this trip is NOT crossing the desert, but to get to the desert and reach back civilization from the other end. Those are some 500km+ of real bad tracks filled with corrugations and very sharp stones. So tyres, suspension and associated drive train take a big beating. Ideally a light truck construction AT or MT tyres are preferred; but since I have an almost new AT (Falken Wildpeak) and I am lightly loaded (compared to load rating), I took the calculated risk of going with my existing tyres, one spare tyre and a tyre repair kit. I chose to drive at a lower speed ( say 80kmph at dirt roads) and checked all 4 tyres, temperature on the side wall etc every time I got out of the vehicle

The distance between fueling points are roughly 400km. But in desert one is constantly driving in 2nd or 3rd gear and hence as a general rule of thumb, fuel efficiency will be roughly half of highway. According to my calculations ( and experience of previous Pajero sport crossings), I needed 80-90L of diesel. So I choose to carry 65L main tank + 3X20L jerry cans to be on safer side. Also carried water separator filter as outback diesel could be contaminated with water. (we saw water inside our jerry can later)

Given my vehicle is relatively new (5 yr, 65k km driven), I just got the car serviced and carried some spare parts that are known to fail or needed..eg air filter, intercooler hoses, coolant etc
A proper tool set with cable ties, duct tapes, tie wires etc was also set up.

Each vehicle entering the desert is required to have a flag of 3m height mounted to the car to aid on visibility. So bought a good quality fiber flag.

There is no cell phone coverage in and around the desert. Most of the communication is via UHF (CB radio) and emergency communication is via Satellite phones. I have a 5 watt CB radio installed in my car and carried another 5W handheld. We also rented a satellite phone to keep in touch with family during night time.

Each vehicle is supposed to have their own recovery gear. I carried snatch straps, shackles, equalizer strap, 4 recovery boards and rear tow hitch based recovery point.

A permit is needed to enter the desert and camp inside. This can be purchased online or from one of the roadhouses just before the desert.

Our plan was to camp and cook as much as possible. For camp, I have a 2.5m X 2.5m awning on the car, a room that can be attached to the awning, 2 stretchers and 2 swags.

For food, I chose not to carry my 60L fridge to save on weight and space. This meant not much of cooked meals during the trip. We managed with bread, pre cooked roti/chapati, rice and ready to eat curries.

Carried around 60L of water for both of us in 6X10L containers for cooking, morning chores etc

Carried only essential medicines. The major health risk is snake bite, and we decided not to venture out unnecessarily.

Car was packed to the brim with all these. Items were grouped in stackable 50L boxes where ever possible.

Last edited by arjithin : 4th July 2024 at 15:23.
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Old 3rd July 2024, 11:51   #3
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Crossing the mighty Simpson desert - Day 1

Start time : 07:00AM (Melbourne, Vic)
End time : 08:00PM (Port Augusta, SA)
Distance covered : 1070km

Day 1 was nothing but driving all day. We reached our destination Port Augusta late in the evening, went to a nearby supermarket to buy water and fruits ( They will cost a lot more as we get to outback) and crashed to our motel room.

Our travel plans for next 8 days
Crossing the Mighty Simpson Desert solo in a 4x4 | Mitsubishi Pajero Sport-img20240706wa0003.jpg

Last edited by arjithin : 6th July 2024 at 11:01.
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Old 3rd July 2024, 11:54   #4
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Crossing the mighty Simpson desert - Day 2

Start time : 06:30AM (Port Augusta, SA)
End time : 05:00PM (Oodnadatta, SA)
Distabce covered : 702km

Day 2 started with entering the famous Stuart highway.

Our breakfast stop - rest area beside Stuart hwy

Crossing the Mighty Simpson Desert solo in a 4x4 | Mitsubishi Pajero Sport-02-breakfast.jpg
Crossing the Mighty Simpson Desert solo in a 4x4 | Mitsubishi Pajero Sport-02-desert-train.jpg

Beautiful Stuart Highway

Crossing the Mighty Simpson Desert solo in a 4x4 | Mitsubishi Pajero Sport-02-stuart-highway.jpg
Name:  02 IMG_2034 Road.gif
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We reached Coober Pedy after lunch and filled 3 Jerry cans with diesel (total 61L) and purchased firewood.

Crossing the Mighty Simpson Desert solo in a 4x4 | Mitsubishi Pajero Sport-02-cooberpedy.jpg

The famous 5500km+ dingo fence passes through Cooberpedy
Crossing the Mighty Simpson Desert solo in a 4x4 | Mitsubishi Pajero Sport-02dog-fence.jpg

After Coober Pedy, no major sealed roads for next 5 days.

Crossing the Mighty Simpson Desert solo in a 4x4 | Mitsubishi Pajero Sport-02-final-bitumin.jpg

Oodnadatta (An outback settlement) Pink roadhouse. Camped in their camp area that night. (Oodnadatta holds Australia's hottest recorded temperature record)

Crossing the Mighty Simpson Desert solo in a 4x4 | Mitsubishi Pajero Sport-02-pink-road-hose.jpg

Topped up diesel here, costliest diesel purchase of this trip
Crossing the Mighty Simpson Desert solo in a 4x4 | Mitsubishi Pajero Sport-02-costly-diesel.jpg

Camp for the night
Crossing the Mighty Simpson Desert solo in a 4x4 | Mitsubishi Pajero Sport-02camp.jpg

Last edited by arjithin : 6th July 2024 at 06:03.
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Old 3rd July 2024, 13:40   #5
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Crossing the mighty Simpson desert - Day 3 - entering desert

Start time : 10:30AM (Oodnadatta, SA)
End time : 05:30PM (Purni bore, SA)
Distance covered : 245km

I put all of the jerry cans on my roof rack previous day at Coober Pedy. But the first 180 km dirt road (called Oodnadatta track and Mt Dare road) or so was a teaser of what to expect later. Due to the weight on top and the never ending corrugations, I didn't feel comfortable hauling 80kg on top of roof supported by few nut bolts. So decided to move the bulky items like sleeping tents to roof and move the Diesel cans inside the car. This also meant re arranging the car, which took some time. I was carrying empty jerry cans on a storage rack on tow hitch, and that was dismantled and put inside (again original plan was to put that on the roof)

The second issue was finding my flag mount. Each vehicle entering the desert is required to have a flag of 3meter height mounted to the car to aid on visibility. I had fabricated a mount to be attached to my roof rack, but I couldn't find it anywhere. I knew its somewhere safe inside some box, but not sure which box . So went to the roadhouse's workshop, asked their help to fabricate a mount. Unfortunately their mechanic wasn't available, but they let me use their tools to build one. few cuts and drills later , a crude mount is made.

Crossing the Mighty Simpson Desert solo in a 4x4 | Mitsubishi Pajero Sport-03flg-mount.jpg

Unfortunately, these 2 wasted 3 hours of precious morning time and we hit the tracks at 1030am.

We encountered our first road train soon. Its always best to stop as far away from the roadtrain to escape from the flying rocks & dust

Crossing the Mighty Simpson Desert solo in a 4x4 | Mitsubishi Pajero Sport-03-road-train.jpg

First stop was Pedrika siding (remains of old Ghan railway)
Crossing the Mighty Simpson Desert solo in a 4x4 | Mitsubishi Pajero Sport-pedrika.jpg

We entered the first national park
Crossing the Mighty Simpson Desert solo in a 4x4 | Mitsubishi Pajero Sport-03-desert-entrance.jpg

Proper road crossing signs in the least populated areas of the country
Crossing the Mighty Simpson Desert solo in a 4x4 | Mitsubishi Pajero Sport-03road-crossing.jpg

Later we stopped at Dalhousie ruins (old cattle station ruins)
Crossing the Mighty Simpson Desert solo in a 4x4 | Mitsubishi Pajero Sport-03dalhousie-ramains.jpg
Crossing the Mighty Simpson Desert solo in a 4x4 | Mitsubishi Pajero Sport-03car.jpg

Lunch was after a refreshing bath at Dalhousie springs
Crossing the Mighty Simpson Desert solo in a 4x4 | Mitsubishi Pajero Sport-dalhousie_springs.jpg

Soon we entered the desert !!
Crossing the Mighty Simpson Desert solo in a 4x4 | Mitsubishi Pajero Sport-04-track-info.jpg
Crossing the Mighty Simpson Desert solo in a 4x4 | Mitsubishi Pajero Sport-04-car.jpg

Views for next 3 days
Crossing the Mighty Simpson Desert solo in a 4x4 | Mitsubishi Pajero Sport-03-views.jpg
Crossing the Mighty Simpson Desert solo in a 4x4 | Mitsubishi Pajero Sport-04-chopped-tracks.jpg

Camp for the night - Purni Bore
Boiling water from spring
Crossing the Mighty Simpson Desert solo in a 4x4 | Mitsubishi Pajero Sport-03spring.jpg

A visitor (dingo) to the camp
Crossing the Mighty Simpson Desert solo in a 4x4 | Mitsubishi Pajero Sport-03visitor.jpg
Crossing the Mighty Simpson Desert solo in a 4x4 | Mitsubishi Pajero Sport-03camp.jpg

Last edited by arjithin : 6th July 2024 at 06:09.
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Old 3rd July 2024, 13:43   #6
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Crossing the mighty Simpson desert - Day 4

Start time : 9:00AM (Purni bore, SA)
End time : 06:30PM (deep in the desert, no humans probably in 40km radius)
Distance covered : 172km

Day 4 was driving at a constant 15-20 kmph, call out our position in radio for opposing traffic, climb dunes and repeat
This was the most deserted day, we saw only 3 groups coming against us and unfortunately one of them right at the top of a dune. Luckily spotted their flag first and I was able to reverse all the way down for them to pass. Both of us had called on the radio, but some how that wasn't heard on other side.

Towards end of the day drove 3 hours (~50 km) into the evening with the hope of finding someone else who is camping , but didnt have any luck; so we camped on the side of track by 630PM. A typical outback traveler does 100-120km in a day, but we did 170km as there wasn't much on coming traffic and the push at the last 3 hours.

Desert mornings and evenings are magical and this morning was no different

Crossing the Mighty Simpson Desert solo in a 4x4 | Mitsubishi Pajero Sport-04morning-sky.jpg

We entered the second national park
Crossing the Mighty Simpson Desert solo in a 4x4 | Mitsubishi Pajero Sport-04park-entrance.jpg




Last edited by arjithin : 6th July 2024 at 06:12.
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Old 3rd July 2024, 13:45   #7
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Crossing the mighty Simpson desert - Day 5

Start time : 8:00AM (Bush camp, SA)
End time : 05:00PM (Birdsville, QLD)
Distance covered : 186km

Day 5 was the most exciting day of the crossing...clay pans, large dunes, river crossing etc

Beautiful morning again
Crossing the Mighty Simpson Desert solo in a 4x4 | Mitsubishi Pajero Sport-05-morning-glory2.jpg
Crossing the Mighty Simpson Desert solo in a 4x4 | Mitsubishi Pajero Sport-05-morning-glory.jpg

Salt/Clay pans are typically found in the space between dunes. Once it rains, the clay becomes mud and it is next to impossible to drive until they dry up.

Crossing the Mighty Simpson Desert solo in a 4x4 | Mitsubishi Pajero Sport-05-claypan.jpg

Poeppels' corner is where you can be at three states at the same time
Crossing the Mighty Simpson Desert solo in a 4x4 | Mitsubishi Pajero Sport-05poeppels-corner.jpg

Lake Poeppel ( ~20km across) - Imagine driving across this one week before, just after 20mm of rain.
Crossing the Mighty Simpson Desert solo in a 4x4 | Mitsubishi Pajero Sport-05-claypan-upclose.jpg
Crossing the Mighty Simpson Desert solo in a 4x4 | Mitsubishi Pajero Sport-05-claypan-2.jpg

Dunes
Crossing the Mighty Simpson Desert solo in a 4x4 | Mitsubishi Pajero Sport-05-tracks.jpg
Crossing the Mighty Simpson Desert solo in a 4x4 | Mitsubishi Pajero Sport-05-views.jpg

Eyre creek crossing
Rain water from northern Queensland travels thousands of kilomters to reach Lake Eyre. This area gets flooded 4-6 weeks after heavy rains in northern Queensland. Eyre creek could be dry or 4km wide depending on the flooding situation. This particular spot is the typical crossing point, but during floods, it will be 4-5 meter deep in water. Luckily for us there was a point 500m south which was knee deep and we could cross the creek without any trouble.
Crossing the Mighty Simpson Desert solo in a 4x4 | Mitsubishi Pajero Sport-05-eyre-creekoriginal.jpg




Big red is next
Crossing the Mighty Simpson Desert solo in a 4x4 | Mitsubishi Pajero Sport-05-big-red-view.jpg

But we need to cross this clay pan first
Crossing the Mighty Simpson Desert solo in a 4x4 | Mitsubishi Pajero Sport-05-claypan-1.jpg

Big red
Crossing the Mighty Simpson Desert solo in a 4x4 | Mitsubishi Pajero Sport-05-big-red-slope.jpg
Crossing the Mighty Simpson Desert solo in a 4x4 | Mitsubishi Pajero Sport-05-big-red-1.jpg

Big red climbing videos






We reached Birdsville before sunset
Crossing the Mighty Simpson Desert solo in a 4x4 | Mitsubishi Pajero Sport-05-birdsville.jpg
Crossing the Mighty Simpson Desert solo in a 4x4 | Mitsubishi Pajero Sport-d19population.jpg

Camp for the night
Crossing the Mighty Simpson Desert solo in a 4x4 | Mitsubishi Pajero Sport-05-camp.jpg

Last edited by arjithin : 6th July 2024 at 06:00.
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Old 3rd July 2024, 13:47   #8
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Crossing the mighty Simpson desert - Day 6

Start time : 8:00AM (Birdsville, QLD)
End time : 05:00PM (Copley, SA)
Distance covered : 610km

Last day in desert !
We drove though Birdsville track covering the southern part of Lake Eyre basin, with many many washouts, mudholes etc.

Crossing the Mighty Simpson Desert solo in a 4x4 | Mitsubishi Pajero Sport-06-birdsville-track1.jpg
Crossing the Mighty Simpson Desert solo in a 4x4 | Mitsubishi Pajero Sport-06-birdsville-track2.jpg
Crossing the Mighty Simpson Desert solo in a 4x4 | Mitsubishi Pajero Sport-06-birdsville-track.jpg



Lunch at Mungeranie roadhouse

Crossing the Mighty Simpson Desert solo in a 4x4 | Mitsubishi Pajero Sport-06-food.jpg

Reached Marree SA where sealed roads resumed. This is again an old Ghan railway station . Visited the old rail museum and left for Copey,SA for the night.

Crossing the Mighty Simpson Desert solo in a 4x4 | Mitsubishi Pajero Sport-06-maree1.jpg
Crossing the Mighty Simpson Desert solo in a 4x4 | Mitsubishi Pajero Sport-06-maree.jpg

Australia's cattle stations are HUGE. You can read the story of Cattle king Kidman here . When he died his cattle empire covered 320,000 sq km
Crossing the Mighty Simpson Desert solo in a 4x4 | Mitsubishi Pajero Sport-06-kidman.jpg

Chose to stay in a motel than camping
Crossing the Mighty Simpson Desert solo in a 4x4 | Mitsubishi Pajero Sport-06-hotel.jpg

A little bit about the tyre pressures I kept - most of the dirt tracks were done with 28psi and 80-90kmph, western part of dunes (day 1 & 2) were done in 22psi, and as we progressed eastwards, tougher dunes required 18psi. I reduced to 15psi for big red.

Last edited by arjithin : 6th July 2024 at 05:56.
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Old 3rd July 2024, 13:49   #9
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Crossing the mighty Simpson desert - Day 7

Start time : 8:00AM (Copley, SA)
End time : 05:30PM (Wilmington, SA)
Distance covered : 420km

on day 7 we visited the important attractions of Flinders ranges

Quote:
The Flinders Ranges are the largest mountain ranges in South Australia, which starts about 200 km (125 mi) north of Adelaide.
Cleaning of air filter in the morning after sand runs. Sand was found everywhere inside the engine bay

Crossing the Mighty Simpson Desert solo in a 4x4 | Mitsubishi Pajero Sport-07airfilter.jpg

A rainbow inside fog
Crossing the Mighty Simpson Desert solo in a 4x4 | Mitsubishi Pajero Sport-07bitumin.jpg
Crossing the Mighty Simpson Desert solo in a 4x4 | Mitsubishi Pajero Sport-07-rainbow.jpg

Great wall of China
Crossing the Mighty Simpson Desert solo in a 4x4 | Mitsubishi Pajero Sport-07greatwall-china.jpg

Lookouts and roads



Crossing the Mighty Simpson Desert solo in a 4x4 | Mitsubishi Pajero Sport-07road1.jpg

Crossing the Mighty Simpson Desert solo in a 4x4 | Mitsubishi Pajero Sport-07roads.jpg

Crossing the Mighty Simpson Desert solo in a 4x4 | Mitsubishi Pajero Sport-07lookout.jpg

Crossing the Mighty Simpson Desert solo in a 4x4 | Mitsubishi Pajero Sport-07lookout2.jpg

Crossing the Mighty Simpson Desert solo in a 4x4 | Mitsubishi Pajero Sport-07lookout3.jpg

Arkaroo Rock (15000 year old rock paintings)

Crossing the Mighty Simpson Desert solo in a 4x4 | Mitsubishi Pajero Sport-07rock1.jpg
Crossing the Mighty Simpson Desert solo in a 4x4 | Mitsubishi Pajero Sport-07rock2.jpg
Crossing the Mighty Simpson Desert solo in a 4x4 | Mitsubishi Pajero Sport-07rock3.jpg

Heysen trail
Crossing the Mighty Simpson Desert solo in a 4x4 | Mitsubishi Pajero Sport-07walking-trail.jpg

I included a buffer day in my original plan, and we didnt use it so far; so we decided to go home fast!

Last edited by arjithin : 7th July 2024 at 11:43.
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Old 3rd July 2024, 13:53   #10
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Crossing the mighty Simpson desert - Day 8

Start time : 7:15AM (Wilmington, SA)
End time : 10:00PM (Melbourne, Vic)
Distance covered : 1080km

Final day of the road trip. Plan was to drop my friend at Adelaide, SA instead of Melbourne so he could save a day and I drive back to Melbourne alone. The previous night was very cold with temperatures close to 0 degrees. Roads were icy when we started.

Lake Bumbunga (pink lake)

Crossing the Mighty Simpson Desert solo in a 4x4 | Mitsubishi Pajero Sport-08pink-lake.jpg


Silo art @ Owen, SA
Crossing the Mighty Simpson Desert solo in a 4x4 | Mitsubishi Pajero Sport-08at.jpg
Crossing the Mighty Simpson Desert solo in a 4x4 | Mitsubishi Pajero Sport-08art.jpg
Crossing the Mighty Simpson Desert solo in a 4x4 | Mitsubishi Pajero Sport-08car.jpg

Final sunset shot from the trip
Crossing the Mighty Simpson Desert solo in a 4x4 | Mitsubishi Pajero Sport-08car-2.jpg

Next day was cleaning day. Red dust has entered every nook and corner of the car, spent close to 4 hour pressure washing the underside cleaning the mud and salt. Installed the rear seats and life is back to normal.
Crossing the Mighty Simpson Desert solo in a 4x4 | Mitsubishi Pajero Sport-08dust.jpg

Hope you enjoyed the journey and thank you for staying with me so far!!

Last edited by arjithin : 6th July 2024 at 05:54.
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Old 7th July 2024, 18:43   #11
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re: Crossing the Mighty Simpson Desert solo in a 4x4 | Mitsubishi Pajero Sport

Thread moved out from the Assembly Line. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 7th July 2024, 19:45   #12
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re: Crossing the Mighty Simpson Desert solo in a 4x4 | Mitsubishi Pajero Sport

Very interesting travelogue.

8 days of driving over such a wonderful terrain, and being cut out from the all time connected life, is truly a bliss!

Do you have breathers for your differentials?

And, reckon the Sport has the triptronic gear box similar to the Gen4 Pajero, so were you mostly on 4H , except for the dunes part?

Finally, how much of fuel, that you took, did you end up using?
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Old 8th July 2024, 11:39   #13
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Re: Crossing the mighty Simpson desert - Day 8

Quote:
Originally Posted by arjithin View Post
Hope you enjoyed the journey and thank you for staying with me so far!!
Fantastic travelogue! The SUV atop the Big Red dune was awesome!
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Old 8th July 2024, 12:19   #14
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re: Crossing the Mighty Simpson Desert solo in a 4x4 | Mitsubishi Pajero Sport

Epic adventure and amazing Narration! I aspire to do outback expedition some day!

Glad there was no recovery needed anywhere. But, what would have been the recovery situation incase you would have gotten struck somewhere?
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Old 8th July 2024, 12:39   #15
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re: Crossing the Mighty Simpson Desert solo in a 4x4 | Mitsubishi Pajero Sport

A great travelogue with beautiful photos. It must have been an epic drive. Congratulations on successfully completing the drive. Thank you for sharing.
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