Mobile Living Made Easy Australia Issue 15 - Page 19

FEATURE — JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF THE SIMPSON
The Geocentre as it ’ s become known , is one of several geographical ‘ centres ’ in the Northern Territory . The best-known of these ( and the easiest to get to ) is the Lambert Centre , the ‘ gravitational centre ’ of Australia , located 22 kilometres west of Finke ( Aputula ) Community - the halfway point of the Finke Desert Race .
The Lambert Centre ’ s location was calculated using 24,500 high-water marks along Australia ’ s long coastline . And , in 1988 , the Lambert Centre was commemorated with a very distinctive monument : a scaled-down replica of the distinctive flag pole found on top of the Commonwealth Parliament House in Canberra .
The Simpson Desert ’ s Geographical Centre was also calculated using the " centre of gravity " method by latter-day explorers , Warren Bonython and Denis Bartell . Denis , the famed ‘ Desert Walker ’, wrote about his many Simpson Desert adventures in magazines during the 1980s , inspiring people like us to follow in his steps , keen to experience the alluring red sands , the endless sky , the jewelstudded nights of Australia ’ s most remote areas .
IMAGE CREDIT : AMANDA MARKHAM
IMAGE CREDIT : AMANDA MARKHAM
IMAGE CREDIT : AMANDA MARKHAM
As lunchtime approached , there was still no sign of the wind-swept tyre tracks we ’ d hoped to find : those left by one of last year ’ s expeditioners to the Geocentre , the same intrepid explorer who ’ d given us his detailed trip notes and GPS points . So far , we ’ d found nothing but spinifex , cane grass and increasingly sparse and straggly acacias .
This left us navigating by GPS with the aid of a topographic map . Just like early explorers , we lined up compass bearings and pointed our Prado towards the next landmark . Sometimes , we aimed for large bushes , other times it was a lone Bloodwood tree , or even the next dune crest .
Of course , driving off-track in the Simpson , means you very rarely travel in a straight line . There ’ s sand moguls to skirt , mulga stakes to avoid — believe me , changing a tyre in soft sand is not fun — along with hidden erosion gullies and deep , loose sand drifts .
Without the tracks of previous adventurers to follow , we set a course for an old oil well marked on the topographic map , knowing there ’ d be at least some rusting remains left from a half-century before . If we were lucky , we ’ d also find the faint tyre tracks of more recent visitors .
Mobile living made easy . — 19