In the desert, the Milky Way seems so close that you can almost reach out and touch it. Gaze in awe as the night sky comes alive with millions of stars, a truly incredible experience.
The Simpson Desert is the world’s largest parallel sand dune desert, with dunes stretching as far as the eye can see. Venture into this awe-inspiring landscape and admire the stunning views at sunset.
Take a dip in the hot springs of this beautiful oasis, surrounded by lush vegetation and an abundance of wildlife. Part of the Great Artesian Basin, it sits on the edge of the Simpson Desert.
The spectacular Chamber’s Pillar rises majestically from the desert plain and stands nearly 200 feet tall. Camp nearby and enjoy stunning sunset views from its viewing platform.
Upon your arrival in Alice Springs today you’ll be met at the airport by your friendly and professional safari crew. Check in to the Mercure Alice Springs Resort and join your fellow adventurers for a trip briefing. The rest of the afternoon can be spent at your leisure before a welcome dinner at the hotel restaurant. (D)
Today the adventure begins as we depart Alice Springs and follow the Old Ghan Railway south. Stop to view the Ewaninga Rock Carvings, a highly-concentrated series of petroglyphs which provide a valuable link to the activities of early Arrernte Aboriginal people. Sandstone outcrops form natural galleries which contain a great variety of symbols and motifs. Later this morning we continue heading south to Titjikala and visit the Tapatjatjaka Art and Craft Centre. Browse through the gallery and chat to local artists before heading west to Chambers Pillar Historical Reserve. Here, we’ll set up camp and your crew will help you get familiarised with the equipment. Late this afternoon, enjoy a walk to Chambers Pillar for a magnificent desert sunset. (B,L,D)
Following the Old Ghan Railway towards Finke, your knowledgeable guides will tell you all about this fascinating era in Australian history. This afternoon we pass through Charlotte Waters, the site of an old Telegraph Repeater station built in 1872, before crossing the NT/SA border. From here we head into the vast Witjira National Park and on to Mt. Dare Hotel, the last we’ll see of civilisation before heading into the desert. Here we’ll make camp for the night and enjoy dinner at the hotel. (B,L,D)
Among the sand dunes and floodplains of the Simpson Desert’s western edge lies a series of thermal springs surrounded by lush vegetation and an abundance of wildlife. Inscribed onto the Australian National Heritage List in 2009, Dalhousie Springs is the largest surface expression of the Great Artesian Basin and was used as a source of food and medicine by Aboriginal people for thousands of years. The springs are home to unique species of fish such as the Lake Eyre Hardyhead, and other rare aquatic life found nowhere else in the world. They’re also a haven for arid-land birdlife. This morning we arrive at Dalhousie Springs for morning tea and a swim in this beautiful oasis. We then begin our crossing of the Simpson Desert, the largest parallel sand dune desert in the world. In total, over 1100 dunes run parallel to one another from the Witjira National Park to Birdsville. Travelling east we cross the vast floodplains of Spring Creek Delta before arriving at the first of the dunes, which start out small and then gradually increase in size. Continue to Purni Bore, an uncapped bore from the 1960’s which has created an artificial wetland in the desert. This afternoon, trek further into the Simpson before making camp along the French Line. (B,L,D)
Over the next three days we continue trekking east along the French Line but also follow other tracks including the WAA and K1 Lines. On occasions we’ll divert down other seismic survey tracks to points of interest, such as the Approdinna Attora Knolls. Standing out amongst the red sand, these two flat topped hills of white gypseous rock were once dunes formed of flour gypsum that later hardened to their present form. Today they offer some of the best views in the Simpson. Our camp sites for each evening will be between the Simpson’s red dunes. Clumps of shady gidgee trees can be found in some of the dune corridors, which make for ideal campsites. A climb to the top of the nearest dune at sunset is well worth the effort; the breathtaking view and change in colours a true feast for the eyes. In the evening, enjoy sitting around the campfire as your crew prepare dinner and explain the fascinating landscape. On clear nights, star gazing is truly an incredible experience in the Simpson. (B,L,D - Daily)
Please see Day 5.
We travel south along the K1 line from Poeppel Corner to the Warburton Creek before meeting up with the Birdsville Track. From here we head north and arrive in Birdsville late afternoon for our two-night stay at the Birdsville Pub. Enjoy a few nights in relative luxury and prepare for the next leg of the journey! (B,L,D)
Today is a day of rest for passengers and crew alike. Catch up on some washing, visit some of the sights around town or wander down to the edge of the Diamantina River. Our meals for the day will be at the hotel. (B,L,D)
Time to saddle up again and head back in to the mighty Simpson. Our first challenge for the day is Nappanerica (Big Red) which affords sensational panoramic views over the desert plains once the top is reached. From here we take the QAA line to the Eyre Creek, where we’ll start trekking north along the Madigan Line through Adria Downs Station (Adria Downs is private property. Outback Spirit has special permission to traverse through the station). Learn about the history of Annandale Station, the first QLD station purchased by Sir Sidney Kidman in 1896. This afternoon we make camp along the Eyre Creek. (B,L,D)
In the winter of 1939, explorer Cecil Madigan from Renmark undertook a crossing of the Simpson Desert with a party of nine, including a biologist, botanist, photographer and a radio operator. With nineteen camels, the expedition team made the exhausting crossing from Andado Station in the Northern Territory to Birdsville in twenty-five days. The expedition is regarded as one of the last classic Australian exploration adventures. It also pioneered the use of mobile radio communication, with national broadcasts being made through the ABC from desert camps along the journey. This morning we pass by Madigan Camps 21 and 20 before entering the Munga-Thirri (Simpson Desert) National Park. Heading west, we start climbing the dunes again before arriving at the intersection of the Hay River Track and Madigan’s Camp 16, where there is a Eucalypt with a faint blaze from Madigan’s 1939 expedition. From here we head north, travelling within the dune corridors alongside the Hay River. Despite the river being mainly dry, there are some towering River Red Gums in sections. This afternoon we make camp in a picturesque spot beside the river. (B,L,D)
Our journey today continues alongside the Hay River and up to Lake Caroline, a vast claypan that on occasions contains water. After lunch, continue heading north to the Tropic of Capricorn, where we’ll set up camp nearby. (B,L,D)
This morning we pass by Vantage Point, with views to Mt Winnecke. We then follow the Hay River to Batton Hill Camp, a serviced camp site managed by Traditional Owners in the far north of the Simpson. After setting up camp, we head off on a guided tour to Goyder’s Pillar. We’ll be accompanied by local Indigenous guides who’ll also share their knowledge about the local country including the various bush tucker found in the area. We then return to camp and soak up the majesty of the Simpson for the last time. (B,L,D)
Returning to civilisation, we pack up camp for the final time and trek west to join up with the Plenty Highway. From here we’ll travel alongside Harts Range before passing through Gemtree and joining up to the Stuart Highway. From here it’s just a short run south to where it all began – Alice Springs. Arriving mid-afternoon, we check in to the Mercure Alice Springs Resort for the final night of our adventure. Enjoy a celebratory dinner together and relive the expedition with your fellow travellers. (B,L,D)
After breakfast this morning you’ll be transferred to the airport or to your accommodation if staying on in ‘the Alice’. (B)
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