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Desert is a
remote, 4wd challenging, region, that is located in the northern areas
South Australia, southern sections of the Northern Territory and up
South West of Queensland.
The area is considered
remote and extensive planning is required if you intend to journey into
well prepared vehicle is essential and it is recommended that you
convoy with at least one other vehicle. The towing of a trailer is not
is allowed within 100
metres either side of the public access tracks, however there is little
nothing in the way of facilities most of the way.
in the central region of the desert that provide shade and some shelter
Recently introduced regulations see the Simpson Desert closed to
travellers from about the last week of November until the end of
February each year.
The desert covers an area of
approximately 170,000 square kilometers with an average annual rainfall
than 150mm. Beneath the desert’s surface is The Great
Artesian Basin, a natural
water storage area. The water rises in places to feed natural springs,
known being Dalhousie Springs.
the years bores have
been drilled along the stock routes to water the stock as well as
around the oil exploration tracks and areas.
first European explorer
to visit the area was Charles Sturt in 1845 when he came across the
to the east, but it was not until 1936 that it was first crossed
Mount Dare Homestead.
On the eastern perimeter of
the park he is known to have sighted the remains of the 800 km long
fence put up some 50 years previously by the Vermin Control Board to
spread of rabbits, in which it was unsuccessful. The fence was
until the early 1930’s when it was abandoned.
first motor vehicle
crossing of the desert was undertaken by Reg Sprigg in 1962. Little did
what a precedent he was setting for the modern four wheel drivers of
explorers traversed various parts of the desert subsequently it
the late 1950’s that the Simpson
notoriety by becoming a major search area for oil and gas.
search resulted in many
new tracks being established, several off which are still in use today.
main major routes through the desert today being ‘The WAA
Line’, ‘The French
Line’ and ‘The Rig Road’
most sort after trek
across the Simpson these days is between Oodnadatta, in South
Australia, and Birdsville
covering approximately 650
kilometers, depending on your route, and is best undertaken between
October, The summer months are considered too hot with temperatures
50 degrees C.
Convoy on The French Line
The French Line close up gives a
better idea of the track surface
You must obtain a Desert Parks
and the trip can be
done in, on average, around 5 days. You can spend a lot more time here
depending on how long you decide to linger at the various attractions.
to you! There is a lot to see and do if you want to. Whatever you do
deviate from the existing tracks. To do so will be to place your
pass pack can be
purchased by ordering from The Department for The Environment and
Office at Port Augusta (Phone 08 8648 5300 or Freecall 1800 816 078.
purchase it at the Pink Roadhouse or the Oodnadatta Hotel or
| The Simpson Desert has
some of the
world’s longest sand dunes, which mainly run in a northerly
direction and gaining in height as you travel eastwards.
are known to be
up to 200 km long and they are often spaced about a kilometer apart.
between the dunes are often claypans and saltpans with gibber-ironstone
towards the eastern areas of the desert.
of dunes are
constantly moving which can cause steep drops and extreme caution needs
taken at all times when crossing them. A flag should always be attached
top of your aerial to alert drivers coming in the opposite direction.
Rain can be
anytime of the year but seldom lasts long and doesn’t form
catchments on the
Simpson Desert vegetation, although sparse, is quite varied and is home
a variety of wildlife. It is estimated that over 180 species of bird
can be found here as well as a variety of other fauna.
direction is west to east as the dune approaches are not as steep in
From west to
east start at
Oodnadatta, a town founded in 1890, due to the construction, and
arrival, of a railway line, and flourished for the next 40 years or so.
here camel trains, driven by the Afghans, carried supplies north to
Alice Springs and other inland
In the late
railway line was extended from here to Alice
and was known as The Ghan. In the 1980’s a new line was
constructed west of
Oodnadatta and, had it not been for the popularity of the town to
town would have disappeared into obscurity.
will find the
turnoff to Mt Sarah Homestead on the right, and later Hamilton
now you will be a little over 100 km north of Oodnadatta.
| There are many historical
landmarks and museums in the area including the Pink Roadhouse, where
food and local information can be readily obtained.
start your trip head
north out of town and veer right at the road split about 18km ahead.
to Marla, heading about 190 km west.
you will come to the Alberga River
crossing which should normally be
dry. Further on you will reach Fogarty’s Claypan, which
should also be dry.
Failing which you are able to take a bypass track to the west that will
around the claypan.
The Pink Roadhouse at Oodnadatta
north of Hamilton
Homestead you will cross Hamilton Creek there is a signposted track
east which leads to Pedirka Siding on the old Ghan Line.
If you have
complacent to the ‘road’ conditions up to now the
track approach to Pedirka Siding
deteriorates, but not to the extent that you will experience before
There is a
well laid out
camping area to the north of the homestead and just south of the
has toilet and laundry facilities.
| About 45 km north of Pedirka
and into the Witjara National Park,
come across the ruins of the Dalhousie Station homestead, developed by
Bagot. There are many date palms around here the history of which is
almost certainly planted by Ned or by the camel drivers of the time.
the Dalhousie Springs
there are many natural water outlets stretching through the area, known
‘mound springs’ Their flow from the Artesian Basin
has brought with it
earth deposits forming the mounds.
ruins are quite
substantial and the original homestead was used by an explorer, David
on his trips into the vicinity.
Dalhousie Springs you
could detour north towards Mount Dare, a distance of around 120 km and
from the French Line junction, where you are able to get supplies of
provision, some travelers, though, will head towards the east and The
Line track if they are able to carry sufficient fuel.
though, there are
no fuel or provision suppliers between here and Birdsville. As your
could see you traveling in excess of 700 km at the worst and about 600
best, depending on your route, you must ensure that you have adequate
water, supplies and communication equipment for the journey.
About 50 km
out from Dalhousie
Springs you will come to Freeth Junction. Whilst your journey continues
straight on a right turn here would ultimately see you back at
across the desert.
| A little under 20km on from
Freeth Junction and you will arrive at Purni Bore. There is a camp site
with toilets and showers, and you may decide to stay a while to view
variety of birdlife that flourishes in the wetlands produced by the
the bore as well as enjoy swimming in the warm water pools.
Purnie Bore, heading
east, and out of the Witjira National Park
the Simpson Desert Regional Reserve for about 30 km you will come
across the junction
of The French Line the WAA Line or about 40 km further along The French
the junction with The Rig Road.
on your time
available you have choices of the route you will
One way is
to turn onto the
WAA Line and continue to the The Rig Road which then heads south before
east until you reach either Knolls Track heading north towards Lake
the French Line or heading further on to the K1 Line where you start
noth to join the QAA Line at Poeppel Corner and then east again to
choice is instead
of turning right onto Rig Road continue along The WAA line which is
easier than the French Line but harder going than Rig Road. However it
offer more places of interest to visit and more diverse scenery.
south of this
intersection, on the Rig Road,is the Mokari Airstrip that was used
during the oil exploration days of
1960’s. Whilst he is buried somewhere else in the desert
there is a monument
here to Jaroslav Pecanek who supplied provisions to the isolated
crews in the region.
The Lone Gum
the Rig Road, in the Simpson Desert Conservation Park, you will come
across the Lone Gum, which is a box eucalypt. This species are normally
in clayey soils near waterways, how this lone tree has survived here
considerable length of time remains a mystery.
fenced off in 1966 to
stop vehicle coming too close and causing damage to its root system.
new seedlings have been seen to sprout around the tree.
had continued along
the French Line to the junction of Rig Road you would have seen the
Coulson Track off to
the left, and north, at the junction. This track ultimately ends up at
Convoy setting up Desert Camp
"Under the shade of a coolibah
Simpson Desert Sunset
50 km further along
the French Line are the Approdinna Attora Knolls which are located in
the Simpson Desert Conservation Park.
The first European discovery of the Knolls was by David Lindsay in
are rare gypsum outcrops and are fragile by nature as well as being
of great scientific significance. They also provide the highest vantage
in the area.
Management and conservation
measures have been undertaken in the area to minimize damage caused by
and local animals. There is also a designated camping area here.
kilometers east of
the Knolls, and just past Lake Tamblyn, you will come to
the junction with the K1 Line and on to Poeppel Corner.
which is at the intersection of 26 degrees south and 138 degrees east
you can just
about stand at the point that marks the meeting point of Queensland,
South Australia and the Northern
There is a post there
marking the point surveyed by Augustus Poeppel in 1876 whilst surveying
South Australian border. The original peg is now located in the South
Australian Art Gallery.
By now you
are a little over
90 km from the Simpson Desert National Park exit, about 175 km from
and you will have traveled around 300 km from Dalhousie Springs,
which route you took.
Corner you will
travel on the QAA Line for the rest of your journey to Birdsville.
Poeppel Corner you cross Poeppel Lake,
which is a distance
of 2km. If it looks at all wet take the detour to the north as this is
good place to get bogged. By the time you are at the other side of the
lake you will have had a brief spell in the Northern Territory and then
will have entered Queensland and heading almost due east, on the home
Once out of
the park the QAA
Line runs through privately owned pastoral lands and, unless you have
from the land owners to do otherwise, you must stay on the track.
allowed with 500 meters either side of the track unless otherwise
The Salt Flat
About 15 km
from exiting the
park, and a little over 100 km from Poeppel Corner, you will cross the
Creek having crossed a series of floodplains between the sand dunes. If
creek is in flood your safest route is to the north where there is a
crossing, although there is another crossing to the south if the creek
experiencing minor flooding.
area is popular
for campers and, after any rainfall, plentiful in a variety of birdlife.
About 20 km
from Eyre Creek
is the Big Red dune, thought to be the largest dune in the desert and
drivers find it hard to cross. There are a couple of alternative
the north and south of Big Red, with the one to the north appearing the
If you are
east to west, or Birdsville to Oodnadatta, then this dune is even
from the top of the dune and it is worth allowing some time to take in
Your trip is
nearing its end
now but not before you cross Lake Nappanerica.
you are about 30km from Birdsville and on a much improved road. As you
town the Birdsville Pub is on the left, with lots of cold beer on tap,
camping area a little further on the right.
had its first
settlers in 1867 and, whilst it was called Diamantina Crossing for a
named after the first shop keeper in the area, E A Burt
was the starting
point for drovers taking cattle from Queensland to South
town was severely
damaged by a cyclone in 1905 and, with the closing of the customs post
following the abolition of border duties that were levied on the cattle
through, the town almost disappeared.
its is a thriving
tourist destination with the highlight of the year, The Birdsville
taking place in September.
|Some more pictures from along the
|Only leave your tracks in
please take all of your rubbish out with you
Pea is native to many of Australia's arid regions.
It is found in all mainland states except Victoria and was named after
Charles Sturt who reported having seen vaste stretches of them during
his trip into Central Australia
of many desert animals - particularly during drought - This one ?
Probably a camel
conditions can vary widely between loose sand to ironstone rock
the way to Lake Eyre
Corner which is the
furthermost north west point of New South Wales where the borders of
New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia join
dingo fence can
be seen at Cameron Corner which stretches from Jimbour in Queensland
down to the Great Australian Bight. It is maintained by crews that are
located at intervals along the 2 metre high fence
information provided on this web page is for use
as a guide only.
If you are planning to undertake this trip you must seek out other
authorative advice and information. Desert travel can be very hazardous
and should only be undertaken after lengthy and careful planning. The
owners of this website shall not be held responsible for any damage or
injury that you may experience during any four wheel drive trip, desert
or otherwise. Distances between places mentioned on this page are as a
guide only. You must verify these details yourself using professional
maps and/or mapping equipment before you set out on a Desert
Do not attempt to access the Simson Desert in an ill-prepared vehicle
and without adequate communications equipment. Do not under estimate
the limited supply of fuel, water and provisions in the
Desert area as well as the possibility of encountering extremely harsh
elements and conditions. If you do so you will place yourself into an
'extreme risk' situation.
Looking forward to seeing you back here soon,
Mobile 0408 245 892