Did you roll out of bed one morning and think, “I think I’ll cross the Simpson Desert today”? 
After my first adventure across the West MacDonnell National Park, I was at a hostel talking to Swiss backpackers who’d driven across the Simpson Desert. They told me it was a beautiful landscape and I asked if there were any walks. They said it would be an insane idea to walk there. I started to look on the web for people who had walked it, the harshest desert of Oz. I found an article about the first man, Lucas Trihey, walking the width of the desert – west to east. The most strategic advice he gave was to wear mesh lightweight trail running shoes instead of heavy goretex boots. It kept the sweat off and I only had tiny blisters at the end of the trip.

What sort of physical preparation did you do for your expedition? 
I ran barefoot in Brussels and pulled the cart with sand on it on the beach in Belgium. People didn’t get what I was doing so I just told them I was moving sand from one place to another. They laughed.

Any encounters with wild animals? 
I was expecting snakes, lizards and dingoes. I only saw one dingo at distance, but I saw heaps of wild camels. As I walked in very remote places most of it never been seen by white men, I was chased by camels and I have no idea why. No one knew about this behaviour. For the second “attack”, 14 ran down a steep red dune stopping a few meters from me, then slowly moving towards me. I backed off as I was scared. After a few minutes they left. But, no one knows what could have happened. I had no gun, just a knife and a homemade blowgun. Nothing to scare them away.

On the blog you said you might have to drink your own urine… 
I would have been ready to drink it for survival, no doubt about it. When you’re surviving you’ll do anything that seems crazy in a normal day life. Remember the story about the guys who ate their friends when their plane crashed in the Andes? We all have a survival mind. But getting to know survival skills and reading about what and what not to do in extreme situation is a must. It’s part of my preparation. In fact, the whole preparation isn’t very much physical, it’s mental! Only your mind will get you to the end.

Ever think about giving up? 
Sure, after a few days, when I entered the real thing – the dunes with spinifex. It was so hard and warm I only covered 3km flying distance, compared to roughly 20 I wanted to cover. It puts a lot of pressure on your mind. Spirits were very low. I only wanted to get out towards a road south and finish.

You loved your “Camwheel” cart and its “sexy yellow tires”…
Well, it took me hundreds of hours to think of the best solution to carry all my gear. The main issue is the wheels; the tyres. With Spinifex and lots of prickles and sharp branches, how would an air tyre resist that? I had to find indestructible tyres. These tyres are heavier so I took no spares at all. It’s an extremely high risk, but it paid off. Without a cart it’s impossible to cross this desert walking. You need to carry your water as there isn’t any along the way. Aboriginal people had wells, but now they’re all sacred, often not shown on maps and buried after they left the desert for good. I choose the yellow colour to reflect the sun, which hopefully made the tyres less prone to wear. Maybe the yellow sexy colour made me appealing for the wild camels!

What was the highlight of the trek? 
The very close encounter with camels is one. And putting an Aboriginal flag on the pole at the geo-centre of the Simpson Desert was something I felt proud of. I had to thank them for letting me walk onto their land. They’re heroes – they’ve been surviving in there for centuries!

And lastly, what are you up to next? 
I wanna write a book, make a doco about my adventure and I’m preparing a crazy expedition on Everest in 2009 to pay tribute to the sherpas. Stay tuned on my website for the news.

For more about the Louis-Philippe Loncke and his expeditions visit www.Louis-PhilippeLoncke.com and simpson-desert-trek.blogspot.com