THE SIMPSON DESERT
A trip to The Simpson Desert is an experience everyone should do at least once in their lifetime. The desert plains, mountain ranges, the colours, wildlife and the sheer size and scale is unbelievable. Keep scrolling and discover the icons of Australia, from Uluru, Kings Canyon, Alice Springs and much more.
You should really purchase a permit if you’re planning to travel along the Red Centre Way as it passes through Aboriginal Land. You can obtain your permit in person from:
- the Central Land Council
- Hermannsburg Store
- Kings Canyon Resort
- Alice Springs Visitor Information Centre
Entry to Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is $25 per person and is valid for 3 days and can be extended if need be. For more information visit parkaustralia.gov and get your pass here. A Park Pass isn’t needed for Mt Dare Hotel, but if you plan to visit Dalhousie Springs or the Simpson Desert you’ll need one. They can be bought from the Mt Dare Pub or online.
Entry to Watarrka/Kings Canyon National Park is FREE.
Tattersalls Hotel, WINTON
This is one of the oldest standing hotels in Winton. Tatts Hotel offers good old fashion service and value for families. They’re open 7 days a week serving plenty of cold beer and good hearty meals that’ll keep everyone in the tribe happy. Find out more information here.
Established in 1876, the Middleton Hotel is one of Queensland’s most isolated hotels. The small town that grew around the hotel has since disappeared. 142 years later it still stands proud, you can still drop in for a cold drink and enjoy a spectacular scenic drive there.
The mysterious min min lights
The town is famous for its connections with the mysterious Min Min lights phenomenon. Nobody has been able to explain the lights since they first appeared near the site of the old Min Min Hotel which was burnt down in 1918. A stockman was followed by a hovering light on his way to Boulia. The light often appears after dark and is said to be similar to car headlights, except it manifests as a small ball and follows travellers for kilometres. Visit Boulia and you might encounter the mysterious Min Min Lights.
THE PLENTY HIGHWAY
The Plenty Highway leads through the heart of the Red Centre and is everything you’d expect from a outback dirt road; plenty of bulldust, rock and potholes. The track contains large portions of unsealed road so its important that you take note of road conditions before heading on the highway.
350 km from Alice Springs on the Plenty Highway sits Jervois Station which provides facilities/amenities to travellers; an airstrip, fuel, snacks, toilets, showers, water and a public phone.
Alice Springs – The Red Centre
Known by its locals as simply “Alice”, this town is the beating heart of Australia’s Red Centre. Alice Springs makes a great base for exploring the natural wonders that surround it, including Uluru, Kings Canyon and Devils Marbles just to name a few. For more information go to northernterritory.com.
Alice Springs Tourist Park
This oasis in the red centre has become a favourite amongst travellers to Alice Springs. Whether you’re towing a caravan, bringing a tent or looking for a comfy cabin to stay the night, this park caters all. Sounds good? book a room here.
Lace-up your boots and enjoy one of the many walks within Watarrka National Park, the 6km Rim Walk will take you about 3-4 hours to complete. The view down the sandstone canyon floor is definitely worthwhile. Explore the weathered rock formations of ‘The Lost City’ and the ‘Garden of Eden’ which have been carved out over years by water and wind erosion. If you don’t feel like walking, you can always appreciate Kings Canyon from above by helicopter. For more info visit northernterritory.com.
Located just 100km east of Ayers Rock, Curtin Springs is the perfect base to visit Ayers Rock and Kings Canyon. Curtin Springs provides essential services for travellers, hearty meals, accommodation, guided walks and even aviaries filled with a wide range of native birds. For more information visit the Curtin Springs website.
Uluru, one of the great natural wonders of the world is more than just a photo opportunity. This spectacular natural formation is a deeply spiritual place, the powerful aura of Uluru is felt the moment you lay eyes on it. Find out more information about Uluru here.
“Seeing Uluru for the first time moves you. It’s more than just a lump of rock. It’s something everyone should do at least once in their lives.” – Dean Miller
SOUNDS OF SILENCE
As the darkness falls you’ll join your fellow travellers for an unforgettable dining experience overlooking the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. This dinner is so good it’s entered the Australian Tourism Hall of Fame. The Sounds of Silence Dinner gives you a once in a lifetime opportunity to experience the magical Field of Light art installation. The Field of Light installation is 50,000 soft firefly lights covering desert floor behind you.
Kulgera Road House
Kulgera Road House is the closest hotel and pub to the Geographical Centre of Australia. The hotel remains family owned and run. The friendly staff are always happy to help if you run into car or trailer problems. You can also stay the night here at Kulgera Road House, check out the website for more information.
Lambert Centre of Australia
The Lambert Centre of Australia is 200km south-east of Alice Springs and is, as the name suggests, smack-bang in the centre of this vast and beautiful country. The Geographical Centre of Australia was calculated way back in 1988 using 24 55 high-water marks along the coastline of Australia. Lambert Centre was then commemorated with a monument, which is a scaled-down replica of the flag pole found on top of the Parliament House in Canberra.
FINKE DESERT RACE
Finke, also known as Aputula, is a small town that offers the essentials; food, water, fuel, camping facilities and mechanical services. Finke is also home to the world-famous Tatts Finke Desert Race, an iconic annual offroad motorsport event for cars, buggies, bikes and quads. Held each year on the Queen’s Birthday long weekend, this offroad race has earned the reputation of being one of the most difficult races of its kind and is held in one of the most remote places in the world. Check out the website for more information.
Mt Dare Hotel
This is the last outpost before heading into the ‘Never Never’ on the Western edge of the Simpson Desert. If you wish to tackle the Simpson Desert make sure you have moderate 4WD experience and a high clearance vehicle is essential. Make sure to gear-up before tackling the Simpson at your local ARB. A Park Pass isn’t needed for Mt Dare Hotel, but if you plan to visit Dalhousie Springs or the Simpson Desert you’ll definitely need one. They can be bought from the Mt Dare pub or online.
Over 60 natural springs make up the Dalhousie Springs cluster located in Witjira National Park, about 70km away from Mt Dare. Because the spring water bubbles up from deep underground, this creates spots in the spring where the temperatures vary. The water temp varies from 38 to 43 degrees, so if you find yourself getting too hot in one place a cooler spot is just a short swim away.
Purnie Bore isn’t your typical watering hole, it’s actually man-made. A nearby borehead here allows water from the artesian basin to be released and over many years this formed a large lake that sustains a variety of wildlife. A bird hide has been created to observe wildlife that make this place home and it’s also become a popular camping site with great facilities.
The French Line & Colson Track
For the most direct route across the Simpson, you’ll need to tackle The French Line. This track crosses dunes close to right angles and there’s roughly about 1200 of them. The Colson Track forks off from the French Line and is another remote dirt track that runs between the Simpson Desert in SA and Numery Station in the NT. Both these tracks are populated with thousands of dunes so its essential to carry solid vehicle recovery gear with you. The tracks are a single lane that runs in both directions, it’s important to fly a dune flag from the front of your fourby and make use of your UHF radio.
This track was forged by one of the last great Australian Explorers, Cecil Madigan. Back in 1939 Cecil, 9 men and 19 camels made the journey here in the name of scientific exploration. Travelling along the Madigan Line it’s likely you’ll be greeted by the so-called ‘sheep of the desert’, the camel. The conditions along the Madigan are much better than the French and Colson since this track is far more remote and less used than most.
Madigan Line, Camp 9 – 11
There are dozens of quality flat area campsites that sit atop sand dunes along the Madigan Line. These campsites are where Australian explorer Cecil and his crew traversed and camped at back in 1939. Judging by the distance between the campsites these outback explorers averaged around 20-28km a day by foot and camelback. Camp 9 marks the halfway point between the town of Birdsville in the east.
Visitors Book at Camp 11
Here at Camp 11 there’s the opportunity to leave your personal mark on the Madigan Line. You won’t want to pass camp 11 before you’ve signed the visitor’s book found inside a metal box on the campsite marker.
On the road to Birdsville via the Simpson Desert, there’s one last landmark that’s a must-see for many travellers. Poeppel Corner, this place marks the intersection of Queensland, South Australia and the Northern Territory. This spot is heritage listed land and is proudly marked with a vintage sign mounted right where the three borders meet. Along the way to Poeppel Corner, you’ll pass huge salt lakes that sit between parallel dunes of the Simpson Desert. These salt lakes can only be fully appreciated from the air.
Deep in the heart of this isolated country is Birdsville, one of Outback Australia’s most recognised towns. This place was once a town for cattle drovers, Birdsville is now a thriving town where you can watch the sunset over Big Red, have a cold drink at the iconic Birdsville Hotel or taste the world famous curried camel pie. For more information about the region head to the Diamantina Shire Council website.
The Birdsville Roadhouse offers all the essentials for all types of travellers. Service station, general store and a fully equipped workshop. It’s absolutely your one-stop shop for everything you need and their friendly staff will happily help you. Visit their site for more information.