IN THE DESERT
Cashbook and Claypan
Birdsville or Bust
East From Oodna
Alive in the Dead Heart
B-line for Birdsville
The Construction of the French Line
Simpson Desert Oil Search
The Fresh-Cut French Line
A thorough geophysical survey of the southern Simpson was ordered. Preparatory work began in the Pedirka district along the Hamilton River before the attention of the French oilmen turned to the main game - South Australia's formidable Simpson Desert.
CGG named their traverse following convention, as Line B. Today their handiwork is known universally as the French Line. CGG hired the Adelaide earthmoving contractors Roche Bros to carve a path across the dunes to Eyre Creek. A Brisbane firm Oilfield Caterers, secured the concession for accommodation and catering. South Australian Air Taxis (SAATAS) contracted to provide aerial 'lifeline' support with their Cessnas.
Simpson Shaken by Massive Blasts
Forty-five men toiled three months in the desert from July 1st 1963, working either side of Line B as the bulldozing team advanced into the heart of the Simpson.
The Living Quarters Relocate With Difficulty
Reg was also instrumental in the formation of the Australian prospector SANTOS and introduced his protege to the Texan wildcatter Delhi - the partnership that led to the farmout to French Petroleum.
In his attack on the Simpson's dunes, Reg started out from the Northern Territory Mt Daer (11km north of the border) and headed due east, sticking to a route first paralleling the NT/SA and then the QLD/SA borders all the way to Birdsville. But for a brief incursion down to the Knolls in South Australia where he and his family met up with their travelling companions from Geosurveys who had also converged by arrangement from the north, his was a unique path and one not often replicated since.
The Milling Throng at Big Red
Without discounting Reg Sprigg's 1962 feat, it is clear that the first motor crossing of the desert along the popular route from Dalhousie to Birdsville was performed by the oilworkers of CGG Party S6507 with their LandRovers, supply trucks and Blitzwagon semi-trailers some ten months after Reg. This later effort with heavy, articulated vehicles was quite a comeuppance to Madigan's challenge that 'no motorised vehicle will ever penetrate this desert'.
Mining Bureaucrats Good at Storing Data
A significant legacy was the French Line itself. It has proven to be a boost for the town of Birdsville, opening up the Channel Country to tourism like nothing else has done. The BMR holds the data gleaned from all similar seismic exercises over the years.
Birdsville's Three Explorer Cairns
Standing opposite the Birdsville Pub, sandwiched between the cairns of Madigan and Colson, the tiny monument was dedicated by the Rev Dr Dean Drayton, the original geophysicist on the French Line. Have a look for yourself when you get to Birdsville. It is the little cairn in the middle when you face west across from the pub.
French Line - Sealed One Day?
||Try the "with Malice a'Forecourt?" link and read what they did|
|Alive in the
||Thommo's Desert Report||The BeeGees Page|
|Coles Express Picks On a Pensioner||The Kid From Towra Point|
|Bulldozing a Desert||Trans National Causeway|
|Signwriter for the Simpson||The Long Haul|
|Simpson Desert Birdlife||French Line Circa 1979|
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