The West

Vintage Patrol follows historic tracks
Vintage Patrol follows historic tracks

_DESPITE _ big advances in four- wheel-drive technology, a crossing of the Simpson Desert today is forbidding.

So in 1962, when the Sprigg family of four made the first vehicular crossing, the degree of difficulty would have rated close to 10.

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of that expedition, the Sprigg siblings, Marg and Doug, are currently reliving their childhood adventure.

Their wheels are much the same - a Nissan G60 Patrol of early 60s vintage.

It's a two-door soft-top, legendary for its toughness but a far cry from today's salubrious 4WDs.

Indeed, the cabin of next year's all-new Patrol model will provide a relative saloon passage for outback adventurers.

The Sprigg kids were 10 and seven respectively when they travelled with their parents, geologist Reg and Griselda. While not the done thing these days, the children "drove" some of the remote South Australian desert, steering the short-wheelbase Patrol while sitting on their father's lap.

Marg and her mother were also the first female Europeans to traverse the desert with its estimated run of 1000 parallel sand dunes.

The first non-indigenous crossing had been made in 1936 by Captain Ted Colson, accompanied by an Aboriginal, Peter Ains, and five camels.

The Spriggs are journeying west to east, having started at Mt Dare Homestead - 10km south of the Northern Territory border - and are due to finish at Birdsville on Saturday.

There they will be met by hundreds of Nissan Patrol owners, will strike a commemorative cairn honouring the achievement of their parents and enjoy an outback concert at the racecourse.

On this trek there's comparatively little need to worry about the Spriggs' welfare.

Nissan has supplied a support team in current-model Patrols.

The West Australian

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