The French Line

Back in 1998 I produced a documentary about the French Line, a seismic survey conducted by French Petroleum across the Simpson Desert from Dalhousie in the west to the Eyre Creek in the east, then on to Birdsville. They were searching for oil under the Great Artesian Basin aquifer.

The occasion was the 35th anniversary of the original survey, and the Land Rover Club of Victoria had invited several of the men of the original survey to make the crossing with them.

Last year TOTAL E&P, who own the original French Petroleum wanted to mark the 50th anniversary of the event so I went back through our archives to produce this short piece to be shown at their function in Perth.

It was great to speak to some of the veterans of the trip again, especially Dean Drayton who was the Australian chief geophysicist in 1963.

Summing up the ’63 expedition Dean commented: “We were gloriously able to tell them where oil wasn’t.”