Adventurer emerges from Simpson Desert to complete the first east-to-west foot crossing


July 25, 2008

Michael Giacometti. Copyright 2008 Michael Giacometti. All Rights Reserved.On July 16 at 1:35pm, Michael Giacometti walked into Old Andado homestead to complete a 24-day, 450 kilometre expedition across the Simpson Desert. In doing so, he became the first person to walk across the desert from east to west — reputedly the hardest way — and he did it solo and unsupported.

He towed an aluminium cart weighing up to 165kg up the steepest slope of over 1300 parallel sandridges.

"When the weight was heaviest I couldn’t haul the cart over all the sandridges," Mr Giacometti said.

"For a few days I had to unload two water drums (containing up to 40 litres of water), carry the water drums to the ridge crest, then haul the 120kg cart up. That seemed manageable, sometimes barely, but it was slow, gruelling work that left me physically exhausted at the end of every day."

But the torture wasn’t only physical.

"The mental demands were just as great. For many days I wasn’t moving fast or far enough. It wasn’t until day 18 that I was sure that I could make it across, and even then I still had to walk from sunrise to sunset to cover the 140km remaining."

Adventurer emerges from Simpson Desert to complete the first east-to-west foot crossing. Copyright 2008 Michael Giacometti. All Rights Reserved.

Several other groups reportedly failed in their attempts to cross the Simpson Desert this winter, but Mr Giacometti believes that living in Alice Springs advantaged him.

"Local knowledge and experience of the weather and terrain is so important. A 25 degrees Celsius day here is so unlike the same temperature in Sydney or Melbourne due to the dryness and lack of shade and cloud."

One objective of the expedition was to raise awareness of water conservation issues, especially in Central Australia.

Mr Giacometti consumed only 5 litres of water each day—less than a full-flush of the toilet.

"I drank everything," he said, "every drop, even the wash-up water. It was like soup."

He finished the walk with just 3 litres of water remaining.