Malcolm Flynn | Jul 24, 2012

Nissan has marked the 50th anniversary of the first crossing of the Simpson Desert, re-enacting the journey in a first-generation Nissan Patrol.

Identical to the Patrol used by geologist Reg Sprigg and his family in 1962, the vintage 4WD was greeted by a crowd of well-wishers as it crested ‘Big Red’, the dune marking the end of the crossing near Birdsville, SA.

Suitably, the G60 Datsun Patrol was driven by Doug and Marget Sprigg, Reg's son and daughter, who had made the journey 50 years prior - as kids on the back seat.

The Sprigg siblings drove the full 437km across 1000 red-sand dunes between Dalhousie Springs and Birdsville, over nearly five days.

“I was amazed how comfortable and capable it was. It was virtually unstoppable and didn’t miss a beat”, Doug Sprigg said after reaching Birdsville.

This 2012 journey was made far easier than the trailblazing original however, by using the ‘French Line’ track established by the French oil company just a few years after the initial crossing.

Journeys across the Simpson Desert are these days commonplace, and considered by many as a rite of passage for Australian 4WD tourers.

The event was marked with a celebratory concert held at Birdsville racecourse, with performers James Reyne and Darryl Braithwaite on hand to entertain the crowd.

Funds raised from the re-enactment will benefit charity Frontier Services, who provide support to a variety of people across remote Australia.

Nissan's all-new 2013 P61G Patrol will make its Australian debut this Summer, and the carmaker's Australian arm has confirmed it will continue to sell the rugged Y61 alongside the newer, larger and more 'civilised' model.

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