Munga-Thirri National Park

National Park in Channel Country

The waterless Simpson Desert occupies a massive 200,000 sq km of central Australia and stretches across the Queensland, Northern Territory and South Australia (SA) borders. The Queensland section, in the state’s far southwestern corner, is protected as the 10,000-sq-km Munga-Thirri National Park, and is a remote, arid landscape of high, red sand dunes, spinifex and cane grass. For park information, stop by the park office in Birdsville.

While some conventional vehicles can tackle the Birdsville Track in dry conditions, the Simpson crossing through the park requires a high-clearance 4WD and far more preparation. Crossings should only be undertaken by parties of at least two well-prepared 4WD vehicles equipped with suitable communications (such as an EPIRB – Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon, and a satellite phone) to send a distress signal if necessary. Better still, hire a satellite phone from Birdsville police and return it to Marree police in SA (or vice versa). Bring all your own food and plenty of water.

Permits ($6.55/26.20 per person/family) are required to camp anywhere in the park and must be obtained in advance online through NPSR or at Birdsville’s hotel. You also need a separate permit to travel into the SA parks; these are available through National Parks South Australia.