SIMPSON DESERT EXPEDITION – EAST
Muna thiri: Simpson Desert
The Simpson Desert Expedition (East) is a 14 day tag along crossing one of the largest and most outstanding parallel sand dune deserts in the world. This 4WD desert tag along tour is a challenging and unique way to traverse the Simpson (Muna thiri). It is a 800km crossing; exploring the best of the desert environments including 7 of the 11 major geological dune systems. As well as crossing from east to west it segues through the south and north. So join Waypoint Expeditions for exciting 4WD off-road challenges and desert camping beneath the Milky Way in full bloom. Explore, discover and find new friendships born from a camaraderie inherent in Outback Australia.
2019 Expedition | April 26 – May 08
2020 Expedition | Jun 8 – Jun21
2021 Expedition | Jun 9 – Jun 22
Track Class Difficult
Group Size Medium5
“The Simpson Desert is many things to many people – formiddable and implacable, intolerant to the ill-advised and underprepared, a place to be respected and admired. It is a land for all Australians to enjoy.”
– Mark Shepard
The Simpson Desert: Natural History and Human Endeavour
It is a place of beauty, resilience, contrasting moods and colour. Its windswept landscape comprises more than 1,100 dunes, shaped into long red waves by westerly winds, exhibiting a diversity of landforms and providing habitats for a range of flora and fauna. It’s steeped in Aboriginal and European history and is of great ecological and cultural importance as well as its status as one of Australia’s great wilderness areas.
Sand dunes unfold over 100s of kms in an seemingly endless procession of towering crests and swales (interdune). It is the biggest and best example of a parallel sand dune desert. Located in Australia’s arid heart it receives marginally more rain the Sahara Desert (approx 130mm) and while the landscape might seem consistent and familiar the biological and geological change is quite significant.
The desert is home to a surprising variety of vegetation surviving off marginal rainfalls. It is also home to over 190 bird species, reptiles and mammals, many of them unique to this environment.
There were originally 7 Aboriginal communities living out here moving in and out of the desert region as the seasons allowed and the first European exploration was in 1845 with Charles Sturt and finishing with CT Madigan’s scientific expedition of 1939. In 1962 Reg Sprigg made the first motorised crossing opening a small period of mineral exploration which established the main crossings. By the late 60s, Munga-Thirri and Simpson Desert Conservation Parks had been established and Witjira followed in 1985 and by the late 80s and early 90s tourism had developed and continues to flourish today.
The importance of preparation when travelling the Simpson cannot be stressed enough. The basic requirements for a safe and successful crossing, the dependence on food, water, fuel and maps in the absence of any supplies en route make this crossing an true expeditionary adventure.
This is not the conventional traverse of the desert. We only journey 160kms of the busy traditional route (545km). Waypoint Expedition’s crossing of the Simpson is approx. twice as long (900km) as the traditional route and takes it the very best of the desert and its environments. We are challenged by a great variety of driving conditions, with peaceful opportunities to witness flora and fauna unique to the desert, and explore a fascinating history of exploration and habitation.
Waypoint Expeditions supplies a support vehicle fully equipped with recovery equipment, satellite phone, GPS tracking equipment, emergency locator beacon and remote area first aid equipment.
Each Waypoint Expedition is a carefully thought out, planned, and researched route to provide you with a unique experience where you not just “tag along” but participate in culture of place. We hope, by the time you have finished your journey with us, you will have a new appreciation of the cultural and historical significance of the Simpson Desert as well as its importance as one of Australia’s great wilderness areas.
Travel with Waypoint – experts in outback adventuring for over 20 years.
ALTERNATE BOOKING OPTIONS:
If you don’t want to use the online booking system there is an offline form below and a downloadable PDF form in the FAQ section.
- 14 days of intermediate to advanced 4WDing
- Invaluable tips and tricks to combat Australia’s desert regions
- Local expert and touring guide
- Knowledge about indigenous and European history of the area
- Knowledge about flora and fauna native to the area
- 13 nights of million star camping
- Desert Parks Pass
- Munga-Thirri National Park Fees
- Munga-Thirri camping fees
- Chambers Pillar access and camping fees
- Hay River Track access fees
- Desert Parks Pass
- Private land owner fees
- Welcome (Birdsville) and farewell (Alice Springs) dinners with complimentary drink.
- Satellite comms & tracking
- Remote Area Qualilfied and Outback 1st Aid Kit
- 4WD Recovery costs
- Alcoholic beverages
- UHF Radios (can be hired)
- Camping equipment
1530 – 1630 Meet in the BBQ area at the Birdsville Caravan Park for a quick meet and greet.
1630-1700 Sam from the Birdsville Roadhouse shares his tips and tricks for tackling the Simpson Desert.
1800 Welcome Dinner at the Birdsville Hotel.
Due the nature of this expedition and the route that crosses the Simpson Desert there is no day by day itinerary available until after you book and confirm your participation on this special east-west crossing.
The conventional crossing is approx 545km crossing of the desert whereas Expedition Simpson is a 900km crossing taking in the best of the desert environments not only through the east-west traverse but also the south and north of the desert as well.
There are 11 major dune systems that comprise the Simpson Desert and this expedition takes in 7 of those systems.
Central East (A)
Central East (A) is characterised by high longitudinal dunes over a clay-based plain which is predominantly covered with a pavement of gibbers. It can be seen approaching Nappenerica and Big Red and continues through the Eyre Creek system.
Central East (B)
This section of the Central East in characterised by medium to high longitudinal dunes laid over the current and active floodplain of Eyre Creek. This creek along with the Mulligan River and Diamantina River once formed part of a huge ancient drainage system for Lake Eyre. These watercourses and floodplains are critical in supporting the rich flora and fauna communities of the central desert.
Central East (C)
The central east Simpson Desert is punctuated by long (50-70km) relatively high longitudinal dunes laid down over an ancient floodplain of Eyre Creek which is exposed between many of the interdunal swales. This area is occupied by much of Munga Thirri National Park.
Until recently the desert environment has been relatively unknown in a biological sense, but in the last 40 years we have come to understand the Simpson Desert is highly dynamic in nature, both in the short and long term. It is dramatically influenced by rainfall, fire, pestilence and yes, tourism.
Central south is a large area of longitudinal dunes overlaying an old alluvial clay plain with numerous claypans and salinas. Further southwards the salinas are connected to active drainage systems associated with Kallakoopah Creek and Warburton River. Much of the Simpson Desert Conservation Park is in this area.
Amongst the dunes systems are other signficant land systems including floodplains, sandplains, gibber plains, low hills and tablelands also known as breakaways. Each supports a diversity of habitats.
Central North to South West
The Central South to South West is a very large area of longitudinal dunes subject to internal variation in length, height, crest height and degree of cross-connect. The dune system is laid atop a clay alluvial plain which is often exposed in the swales.
For many years the Wangkangurru people made a home here. The native wells or mikiri provided access to water making survival out here possible. Each mikiri has unique character and significance differing in its status as a habitation site.
The Central West is characterised by short, low and crowded longitudinal and reticulate dunes with sandy corridors. This is where oil and natural gas first came into play before extending out into Central South with SANTOS, Dehli International and the French Petroleum Company active through the early and mid 60s.
This resulted in the establishment of the main crossing tracks of the French Line, WAA Line and the Rig Rd.
The North West is characterised by by medium to high relatively short longitudinal dunes laid over a clay plain which is often exposed in the interdunal corridors.
Simpson Desert dunes are composed of siliceous, aeolian (wind-derived) sands and are generally asymmetric in cross section with gentle western slopes and steep eastern slopes. Swales are generally flat and composed of clay, clay sand or deposits from old alluvial or gibber plains.
Despite its inherent harshness the Simpson Desert is a living, fertile and resilient environment. It is a land to be enjoyed for its wilderness, cultural and natural history, its colours and its contrasts.
Expedition Simpson East
Expedition Simpson East is available upon request
Expedition Simpson (East) traverses through the Simpson Desert and is very remote. It is a bush camping expeditionary experience – and takes in a wonderful cross section of the Simpson Desert environment.
- Big Red
- Eyre Creek System
- Annandale Ruins & Waterhole
- Mulligan River Creek System
- Madigan Blaze Tree & (Camps 16-22)
- Munga-Thirri NP
- Simpson Desert Regional Reserve
- Simpson Desert Conservation Park
- Witjira NP
- Chambers Pillar
- Land systems in the desert
- Plant Life
- Bird Life
- Mammals, past and present
- Reptilian Life
- Aboriginal occupation
- European exploration
- Recreation boom
- Conservation and the future…
Please make best efforts to minimise impact on the desert environment
- Keep to well-defined access routes across the desert to avoid damaging the vegetation and fragile landscape
- Rubbish comes out – place in strong plastic bags (do not bury, it will be dug up)
- Keep the camp clean and tidy
- Burn or bury toilet paper
- Keep dirty/soapy water away from natural water supplies
- Conserve firewood
- Use of firearms and chainsaws is not permitted
- Abide by fireban regulations
- Do not feed animals
- Every animal, plant and rock is protected
- Aboriginal and European artefacts/sites are protected
Expedition Simpson is 1350km
Birdsville [900km] Mt Dare
Mt Dare [231km] Maryvale
Maryvale [119km] Alice Springs
Yes – the longest distance between fuel stops is 870km through mostly 4WD terrain. Recommend 3 x 20lt jerries of additional fuel for most vehicles.
I run a 4.2 Diesel naturally aspirated 6 cyl with 180lt between 2 tanks. It covers the 900km easily running between 15-20 litres per 100km depending on conditions and terrain.
This question is about preference and capacity but recommended you carry at least 50lt of drinking water and 50lt of general usage water. There may opportunity to refill general usage but the longest time between drinking water refills is 9 days.
No. Unfortunately due the difficult nature of some of the tracks, the fragility of the environment and other considerations, camper trailers and caravans are not allowed. Please see the Trip Info page for transport options to move your towed assets.
4WDs that have medium to high clearance and a high/low transfer case, with a quality set of springs and shock absorbers as well as All Terrain / Mud Terrain tyres with at least 70% tread. UHF Radio either hand held or fitted is a must as well. These expeditions are not suitable for AWDs.
WayPoint will assist and guide you in the basic skills of 4WD driving and sustainable 4WD driving to suit the terrain in which we will travel however consider doing a 4WD course prior to the trip as some advanced off road techniques will be required.
No more than 200km per day. Most days are between 50-80km. We discuss the following day’s events around the campfire at night, or at our morning briefing sessions before departure. We are normally on the road at 9.30am each morning and stop for lunch between 12pm-1pm. We stop at all points of interest throughout the day and try to set up camp around 3.30-4pm each day.
We will do our best to get you going again but if we can’t, we will discuss the options of getting your vehicle recovered and to where it can be repaired. We strongly recommend you have cover with a nationwide motoring association and also take out travel insurance.
Absolutely! You will get plenty of time to explore, bushwalk, fish, photograph, stargaze and take in the beauty and grandeur of the places we visit.
EXPEDITION SIMPSON (EAST) is available once a season. There is the reverse option – EXPEDITION SIMPSON (WEST) also available once a season. Bookings can be made online via the payment gateway or an offline booking form.
The most important thing to pack is a sense of adventure. Don’t worry if you have misplaced yours as you will soon find it on the tour! Once your place has been confirmed a briefing kit with all the information you will need will be sent to you. It will contain list of suggestions, spare parts, maps, camping requirements, etc.
If you become sick on the trip all efforts will be made to maintain your comfort and enjoyment. Our Expedition Leaders are first aid trained (Remote Area First Aid) and experienced in emergency management. In the event of an emergency the tour leader carries a Spot Tracker emergency beacon for emergency assistance and a Sat phone. Vehicles are also fitted with UHF radios for local radio contact and satellite tracking.