"It is amazing how much the look of these sand
dunes has changed since the last time I was here a few weeks
ago," said Eti, the guide from Geographical Tours.
have no idea how huge dunes such as the Big Red in the Simpson
Desert can change but one thing is clear - - it is tall,
wide and made of the finest sand. Crossing it presents a
real challenge for the vehicles and their drivers.
to the 2.5 ton weight of each vehicle some of them are loaded
down with hundreds of kilograms of equipment. But the expedition,
as hard and tough as it is, must continue.
bright yellow vehicles are lined up and ready to roll after
a little air has been let out of the tires to make them
softer and cope better on the dune. But crossing this area
will be mostly down to holding onto the steering wheel and
hoping for the best.
driver is on their own to make the crossing a success, but
there is help. Itzik Mini has taken part in every Isuzu
Challenge to date and is in charge of all the technical
and 4x4 aspects of this expedition. He is as an expert 4x4
driver and has, in previous treks, overcome many of the
problems we now face. We want to believe him when he says,
in a cool calm voice, "we can all make it across
us we have fun bets on whom will make the best job of driving
across the dune: the men or the women.
at the edge of the dune, Itzik directs each driver - one
by one - on the best route across. The lucky ones, who get
stuck along the way, enjoy being rescued with the Warn winches
that make easy work of a tough job. But as each car makes
the crossing it is difficult to hear Itzik's advice over
the loud applause and cheering.
me, the real issue is not if the vehicles are able to cross
the sand dune," says Itzik, "what impresses
me every time is the way people work together as a team
to complete this difficult task. Every person who has completed
it will never in their life forget the experience."
few minutes later when the vehicles have all crossed Itzik
not only receives more loud applause from all the participants,
but is thrown over one of their shoulders and paraded around
toward Birdswill - a small town on the eastern edge of the
Simpson Desert that has a population of 120 people. However,
after four days in the lonely desert, these people are seen
finally - a gas station. For the past four days we have
been pouring petrol into our tanks from containers stored
on the roofs of our vehicles, but today we see a proper
gas station finally. So no need for our containers . Well,
not today anyway.
: Gerry Avramovich