Australia: The Land Where Time Began

A biography of the Australian continent 

Simpson Desert National Park

What's special?

In the dry heart of Australia, Simpson Desert National Park contains part of the world’s largest and youngest parallel sand dune desert. This is Queensland’s largest national park.

The parallel, wind-blown sand dunes up to 90m high are about 1km apart, extend up to 200km and run north-west to south-south-east. Between the dunes are gibber-ironstone flats, claypans, saltpans and sand plains.

Simpson Desert is home to the small carnivorous mulgara, which is vulnerable to extinction, and more than 180 bird species including the Eyrean grasswren which lives among the canegrass.

Exploring Simpson Desert

Enjoy the rich colours of this big sky country with its red sand dunes and ironstone pebbles, grey-green spinifex grass and clear blue skies. Camp under the stars. You can bush camp within 500m of the QAA line.

Find out the park’s special stories on a self-guiding drive. Ten sites are signposted along the track between the eastern park boundary and Poeppel’s Corner.

Discover the plants and animals which have adapted to this harsh place. Smell the pungent Georgina gidgee, a wattle growing in the dune swales. Look for tracks of desert animals in the sand. Look for white-winged fairy-wrens in clumps of sandhill canegrass.

Only experienced, self-sufficient visitors should explore Simpson Desert. Visitors must be well-equipped to cope with the harsh environment in the driest place in Australia. Leave a copy of your travel plans with your family or someone responsible. Travel in two-vehicle parties and stay on the track. Take a two-way radio and plenty of food, water, fuel and spare parts for your vehicle. Be prepared for temperature extremes with hot days and freezing nights. Visit only between April and October.


There are no tracks in the park and walking any distance is not recommended. Stay with your vehicle. Always wear a hat and sunscreen and drink plenty of water.

Getting there

Head west from Birdsville. For 70km, you pass through private property. The first 35km is a formed road but the remaining 130km is four-wheel-drive only and can take 5–6 hours to cross. Visitors must stay on the QAA line inside the park. The roads become impassable when wet. You need a Desert Pass to visit the South Australian part of the desert. The closest food and fuel are at Birdsville.

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Desert Walker

Author: M. H. Monroe
Last updated 30/09/2011 

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