Nissan party in Birdsville for 50th Anniversary of Simpson Crossing

Patrol 50 Anniversary desert incline
Nissan 4WD owners from around Australia are being invited to a unique Outback Party in Birdsville in late July this year – the 50th Anniversary Celebrations of the first crossing of the forbidding Simpson Desert by a motor vehicle.

But like any well-organised party, the number of participants is limited.

More than 200 Nissan vehicles, dating from the 1960s to the soon-to-be released V8-engined next-generation Patrol and around 600 Nissan enthusiasts, will converge on the iconic Central Australian township over the weekend of July 21-22 for the party, which will be the highlight of a week-long re-enactment of the pioneering event of half a century ago.

Geogologist Reg Sprigg, his wife Griselda and their two young children Marg (then 10) and Doug (aged seven) made their historic Simpson crossing in their short-wheelbase Nissan Patrol G60 in 1962 as part of Spriggs’ search for oil.

His successful crossing of the remote desert that contains the world’s longest parallel sand dunes took place just 26 years after Captain Ted Colson with a team of camels became the first non-indigenous person to cross the wilderness.

The success of the trip and Sprigg’s later north to south crossing opened up the Simpson to legions of Outback adventurers.

The 50th Anniversary Simpson Desert Crossing in July this year will see Marg and Doug Sprigg retrace their childhood wheeltracks from west to east driving a similar first-generation Nissan Patrol G60 in company with other current Patrol models.

Well-known Outback adventurer Pat Callinan is making a film of the historic event, while a next-generation V8-engined Nissan Patrol Y62 model will be amongst the vehicles in the welcoming party in Birdsville.

For the Nissan enthusiasts present, the arrival of the Spriggs will be the culmination of a weeklong party.

Convoys of Nissan owners will depart from numerous locations around Australia in the week leading up to the culmination of the crossing, arriving and camping in Birdsville by Saturday July 21.

The arrival in Birdsville of the Spriggs and their small vehicle entourage on the Saturday evening will be the trigger for the main celebrations, with nationally-famous entertainers performing a memorable Outback concert staged at the Birdsville Racecourse.

The 50th Anniversary Simpson Desert Crossing is a not-for-profit event that is being heavily subsidised by Nissan, with net proceeds donated to Frontier Services, an organisation established by Royal Flying Doctor Service founder John Flynn 100 years ago to support people living in remote areas of Australia.

Because of limited resources in Birdsville, the Simpson Anniversary event is being limited to the first 200 Nissan vehicles. Those interested in being part of this once-in-a-lifetime celebration should pre-register their interest at ahead of the formal opening of registrations in April.