15-Aug-2001 -- Part of our two month trip through the outback of Australia was the crossing of the Simpson Desert. Starting point for this part of our journey was Alice Springs. Ahead of us desert tracks of about 1100 km before we would reach Birdsville in the middle of nowhere itself. With plenty of water and 260 liter diesel we headed for the desert. After leaving Dalhousie Springs the real desert begins. After we bogged our Land Cruiser in the only remaining mudhole within hundreds of kms we were helped by an Aussie couple travelling the same direction. We decided to team up for the desert crossing.
Following the Rig Road our heading was mainly east. Hundreds of dunes have to be crossed. Normally this is not a big problem but one has to be careful of oncoming traffic. It is Murphy's Law that the few vehicles crossing this remote area would meet on top of one of the dunes. Because of recent rain the desert was in full bloom. Carpets of flowers and green bushes everywhere made the landscape look everything but desert like.
When we reached the Knolls Track we left the Rig Road with a northerly bearing. Just south of the border to the Northern Territory we came to the junction with the French Line. This track is crossing the Simpson Desert pretty straight and is well known for its slow going. Compared with the Rig Road there are no artificial improvements of the track and therefore the average speed is reduced to about 20 to 30 km/h. We found out about this ourselves on the last 40 km before we arrived at Poeppel Corner. At this point it is where Queensland, Northern Territory and South Australia meet. The junction of the three states is defined by the confluence of 138°E 27°S.
The surveyer Augustus Poeppel was the first white man visiting this corner during his border survey expedition in 1878. He marked this corner with a wooden peg carried in from as far as Birdsville. The original position was about 1 km away from today’s border marker. After his return to civilisation he checked their equipment to find out that the chain measure had worn out and therefore lost the expected accuracy. Larry Wells was engaged to re-survey the area in 1884 and positioned the marker at the location of today. The next white visitor of the corner was Ted Colson in 1936. He found the peg on his return trip from Blood's Creek to Birdsville. In the 1960s Reg Sprigg replaced the wooden peg with a concrete pillar as we can see it today. He is believed to be the 4th party to visit this remote area within 90 years since Poeppel’s visit. Today Poeppel's Corner is visited quite often in the wintertime by 4WD drivers crossing the desert using the old tracks from the days in the 60s when the Simpson Desert was explored by oil companies.
We camped about 30 km north of Poeppel Corner just across the Queensland border overlooking a saltlake. The next day we followed the QAA line eastwards. The last mayor obstacle before arriving in Birdsville was the Big Red. This last big dune marks the end of the Simpson Desert crossing to the east.
Since I only heard of the Confluence Project after my return to Switzerland I did not know about the rules applied. But since nobody else has filed this remote corner yet I registered our visit anyway with the evidence I brought home.
Coordinator's Note: This visit has been changed to an attempt, based on GPS data provided by the second visitors to this confluence. The concrete post marking Poeppel's Corner is actually 363 metres north-northwest of the true confluence.