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Complete Guide to Crossing the Simpson Desert By Motorcycle (2023)

The Simpson Desert by Motorcycle is a dream of many riders and we’ve decided to create a guide to help 1st-time riders traverse the Simpson safely.

Like any desert, you’re going to need to be well prepared to do this on 2 wheels. It’s similar (but easier) than the popular Canning Stock Route crossing and is possible to do solo, as long as you plan.

Simpson Desert By Motorcycle

There have been hundreds of people who have completed the Simpson Desert by motorcycle. Most of these people did it with a support crew.

Simpson Desert By Motorcycle

Let’s look at some of the facts:

DistanceApproximately 900km start to finish
Permit needed?Yes. Purchase online with the NPWS in South Australia.
Dogs permitted?No. You cannot bring dogs into the Simpson Desert Conservation Park, unless they are guide dogs.
DingoesYes. You will find dingoes while riding through the Simpson Desert.
FiresYes. You can have a fire in the Simpson Desert outside of fire ban season.
CampingBYO tent accommodation
ToiletsYes. Available at Dalhousie Springs and Purnie Bore currently.
AnimalsPlenty. Snakes, emus, kangaroos, dingoes and lizards.
FuelYes – there is fuel available. More info below.
Time takenIt will on average take 6 days to make the expedition for motorbikes.

The main tracks that 4×4’s utilize is the QAA Line and French Line. It’s best for dirt bikes to follow that same route and no doubt you’ll come across other vehicles on the journey.

On an average week, there are 100 vehicles somewhere on this track. Essentially, you won’t be alone out there and if you do break down, help isn’t too far away.

Also, it takes 4 to 6 days to make a successful crossing of the Simpson Desert. This assumes an average speed of 25km/h and 6 to 8 hours of driving each day.

Whether conditions

Winter is the best time to head into Australia’s deserts. Essentially most ADV riders do this trip between May and September.

Simpson Desert Weather conditions

This is for several reasons:

  • There is a lower risk of dust storms forming in winter
  • The wet season has truly passed so no creek crossings
  • You won’t need to carry as much water for each day
  • If you do get a flat tyre, then it’s much easier to change

Summer is the worst time to go anywhere near the Simpson Desert. It’s hot and dry with the track being completely closed for the entire summer, with access only given to station cattlemen and women.

Simpson Desert fuel

The longest stretch of no fuel on the Simpson Desert is approximately 500km. So you’ll need at least 50L of fuel carried on your motorcycle remembering that you’ll be doing slower speeds of around 30km/h.

Mt Dare has a fuel station and so does Birdsville. There is nothing between these two spots.

There are sometimes people who do fuel drops. This way they can reduce the amount of fuel carried on the bikes.

Going solo vs Group rides

We recommend going with a group ride for your first time through any of Australia’s big deserts. You can either choose an organized group ride or an impromptu ride between a group of mates.

If you do the Simpson Desert solo, then you’re responsible for taking absolutely everything with you. It’s simply going to be much harder.

Solo through the Australian desert

Sure, you will come across a few people every day coming the other direction. You might even share a campsite together. But to have a truly enjoyable experience, it’s best to do this with a bunch of mates.

Essentially, a Simpson Desert solo crossing is really for experienced riders. The cost of vehicle recovery could be thousands of dollars.

Simpson Desert dangers

It can be dangerous to cross the Simpson Desert. Here are 7 prime examples:

  • You’re bitten by a taipan, black snake or death adder which are common in the region. The RFDS takes hours to reach there.
  • You sustain a motorcycling crash on the Simpson Desert which often happens. The sandy conditions aren’t very forgiving.
  • The desert heat causes dehydration and fatigue, with personnel succumbing to the elements and later being found dead.
  • You are attacked by dingoes late at night which often hunt in packs. This is another key reason why you shouldn’t go for a solo expedition.
Simpson Desert dangers

Now this isn’t here to deter you from the wonders of the area. You can indeed have fun, but play it safe too. Numerous people have died in the Simpson Desert over the years.

In summary

Crossing the Simpson Desert is a lot of fun! It’s serious freedom with sandy tracks and no restrictions. You’ll certainly feel like you’re a million miles away from everything.

But a comfortable crossing starts in the big preparation. That is: Bringing enough food, water, fuel and essential spares/tools for the big trip.

If this is your first time, then do it with a trusted adventure company.

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