Introducing Simpson Desert National Park
The waterless Simpson Desert occupies a massive 200,000 sq km of central Australia and stretches across the Queensland, NT and SA borders. The Queensland section, in the state’s far southwestern corner, is protected as the 10,000-sq-km Simpson Desert National Park, and is a remote, arid landscape of high red sand dunes, spinifex and cane grass.
While conventional vehicles can just about tackle the Birdsville Track in dry conditions, the Simpson crossing requires a 4WD and far more preparation. Crossings should only be undertaken by parties of at least two 4WD vehicles equipped with suitable communications (such as an EPIRB) to call for help if necessary. Alternatively, you can hire a satellite phone from Birdsville police and return it to Maree police in SA.
Permits are required to camp anywhere in the park and can be obtained online (through www.qld.gov.au/camping) or at the QPWS in Birdsville or Longreach, and Birdsville’s service stations. You also need a separate permit to travel into the SA parks, and these are available through the South Australian National Parks & Wildlife Service.