Arriving at Bashville

It was a four day journey to get here, but to say we were excited by this point was an understatement! We arrived on Monday afternoon, set up camp on the town common, unhooked the camper and drove into town. The line to pick up our Big Red Bash passes and vehicle stickers wasn’t too long so we decided to get these organised and then headed over to the pub for a beer while we waited for Stewy and the kids to arrive.

Whilst standing in the beer garden of the Birdsville Hotel we ran into one of Shelly’s old high school friends! It’s amazing who you run into when travelling! Whilst they were also waiting for family to arrive, we all spent an hour or so catching up before we headed off back to camp to wait for Stewy.

Tuesday morning was officially ‘Bash day’! This was the day we’d been waiting for. We all packed up and headed back into Birdsville, George & Stewy lined up to get fuel (only a 10 min wait this time!) while Shelly took the kids to get their bash tickets and vehicle pass. We then made our way out to the bash site, about 35km out of Birdsville.

Bashville, as it’s known, is located on private property, an organic cattle station named Adria Downs. Due to the organic nature of the property, you need to be well prepared as no greywater (dish-washing, showering etc) can be emptied onto the ground, all water must be collected and taken out with you (or disposed of at the grey water disposal tanks provided at the toilet blocks). Any blackwater (toilet cassettes etc) had to be taken out of the site with you. Same with rubbish, whilst there were rubbish bins in the concert and plaza area, it was your responsibility to take all camping rubbish out with you and dispose of at the tip in Birdsville. There was also no running water on site so all water for drinking, cleaning, cooking, showers and toilets needed to be brought with you.

Our campsite

Now the way this event is run is amazing, all the volunteers have a job to do and they get it done! There are staggered event roll in and roll out times, early entry passes and early exit passes, separate areas for people camping with dogs and areas for people with big rigs. As we entered, we were guided to an area for us to set up our camp for the next few days. We ended up being in the back row of the camping, which was great as we had more room and weren’t as closed in with other campers, but it also meant a long walk to the stage and plaza area ….. particularly when carrying chairs, clothes, food and beer!

Relaxing on the first night back at camp ….. listening to the music from the concert area, cooking pizza over an open fire, under a million stars ….. this really is the life!

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Birdsville

Birdsville is a small little town that lies on the edge of the Simpson Desert. A sign in town states “population of 115 (+/- 7000)”. For most of the year this is a sleepy little town, quite often even completely isolated due to floods. But once the winter tourist season starts people start visiting before or after their desert crossing and come Big Red Bash or Birdsville Races time, the town just explodes with people!

The iconic Birdsville Hotel

Of course, one of the places everyone wants to visit is The Birdsville Hotel ….. Everyone wants to say they’ve had a beer at the Birdsville Hotel ….. and finally we can say we have! We didn’t make it into the pub on our last visit so it was nice to be able to actually step foot inside this time!

The iconic Birdsville Hotel is one of those true authentic outback pubs. The hotel was first built in 1884 and is still a hugely popular place for all visitors to the area.

The area is of course rich in history, including that of Burke & Wills. The traditional owners of the land are the Wangkangurru-Yarluyandi people. For thousands of years, Wirrarri (Birdsville) was one of the places people gathered to trade grinding stones, ochre, weapons and other goods. The area was later used for cattle droving and pastoral duties, as it still is to this day.

The Simpson Desert itself covers an area of hundreds of kilometers, spreads across 3 states and has been said to be one of the most desolate deserts in the world. There are no ‘roads’ through the desert, just tracks across the dunes and you need to be well prepared for remote travel if you intend on tackling one of the desert crossings.

Situated approximately 35km west of Birdsville you will find Big Red (original name Nappanerica). Now the whole of the Simpson Desert is made up of over 1,000 parallel sand dunes, most of which are 10-15 meters in height. Big Red on the other hand stands at well over 30 meters tall, so you can see how it got it’s name!

This is the first sand dune you will reach after leaving Birdsville and saying you’ve driven Big Red is on most 4wders bucket lists. We did do this last time in our old Prado, but unfortunately we couldn’t attempt it this time as they close Big Red to vehicles throughout the Big Red Bash period.

The video above was taken at this years Big Red Bash, the photo below was taken on our last visit to Big Red – notice the huge lake surrounding the sand dune in the middle of the desert!