12 Day Simpson Desert Tours, East – West Crossing
Cunnamulla – Alice Springs
Our adventure begins as we gather in the south west Queensland town of Cunnamulla, which is situated on the banks of the Warrego River. Our camping accommodation is booked at the Cunnamulla Tourist Park and its there that we will all meet for the first time. Our Welcome Dinner, which is provided for us in the evening, is an outdoor cook up over an open fire. It provides a great opportunity for everyone to talk about the exciting adventures ahead.
Our briefing session in the morning sets the scene for the day’s travel. We head west to Eulo, where we visit the Artesian Mud Baths. Then it’s on to Thargomindah, the first town in Australia to have its own hydro electric power in the late 1800s. Our destination today is the Wilson River Waterhole, where we will make our camp for the night. It’s not far from the historic sandstone Noccundra Hotel, where we stop in for a drink. A meal can be purchased at the pub if required.
The sunrise over the Wilson River Waterhole is often greeted by spectacular squadrons of pelicans as well as hundreds of other birds that have made this remote place their home. Today we continue our journey westward heading for Innamincka. We visit the famous Burke & Wills Dig Tree on Cooper Creek, and the site of Robert O’Hara Burke’s grave and that of William John Wills. We arrive in Innamincka in the afternoon, and set up camp on the Town Common, which is on the banks of Cooper Creek. Tonight, we will enjoy our evening dinner together, which is provided for us at the remote Innamincka Hotel.
We leave town after breaking camp and head in a northerly direction through the Innamincka Regional Reserve towards Cordillo Downs Station. This property was at one time, the largest sheep station in Australia, with 85,000 sheep covering nearly 8000 square kilometers. We stop and visit the magnificent old stone shearing shed which has been recently restored. It once had stands for 120 shearers and was built in 1885 from materials transported in by camel train. It is now a heritage listed building. Further on, we also explore the ruins of the old Cadelga Homestead before setting up a bush camp here for the night.
Today we arrive in the remote western Queensland town of Birdsville and set up our camp at the Birdsville Caravan Park. This town of about 150 residents is renowned for the horse racing carnival and the Big Red Bash concert which are held each year, both attracting thousands of visitors from all around Australia. Our afternoon is a relaxing one, allowing time for some shopping or washing clothes. We round off the day with our evening meal provided for us at Australia’s most famous pub, the Birdsville Hotel.
This is a free day in Birdsville where you can treat yourself to a hearty breakfast at the Birdsville Hotel. A visit to the Wirrarri Information Centre is also a must do. There are scenic flights available for interested travellers who want to book them in advance. Also, the Birdsville Cemetery is worth a visit, where you can explore the many old gravesites of our early pioneers. It‘s a testament to the hardships they had to endure in this remote desert country. We refuel our vehicles here as it’s the last fuel stop until Mt Dare.
We set off this morning, west along the QAA Line into the Simpson Desert. Soon we are tackling the first and best known of the sand dunes, standing imposingly at around 40 metres high, the awesome Big Red. We continue westward, crossing Eyre Creek and on to Poeppel Corner, where Queensland, South Australia and the Northern Territory all meet. We cross dry lake beds, saltpans and gibber-ironstone flats, keeping an eye out for the local wildlife such as camels and dingoes. It’s out here that we also get to see Australia’s wonderful native wildflowers. Our campsite tonight is another bush camp under a magnificent star filled sky.
Our journey today is along a track called the French Line, which got its name in 1963 after a construction party from the Compagnie Generale de Geophysique created it to allow easier access when searching for oil in the desert. There are many suitable sites along the way to stop and camp and we spend another pleasant evening around a crackling camp fire. It’s out here that we get to soak up the fascinating natural beauty of the Simpson Desert.
Today we continue our journey west and stop at Purnie Bore, which was originally sunk by the oil research teams. It now sustains large numbers of wildlife in the area. We soon visit the fascinating old ruins of Dalhousie Homestead with its 100 year old date palms gently rustling in the breeze. Our destination tonight is Dalhousie Springs. It’s a delightful oasis in the middle of nowhere, with its warm relaxing waters from the Great Artesian Basin ready to soothe away the aches and pains of weary travellers. We set up our camp here and enjoy the natural surrounds of this unique and beautiful place.
After our morning soak we drag ourselves away from Mother Nature’s spa pool and continue our journey. We visit the site of Federal and discover the history of this remote settlement. We stop at the fascinating but tragic old ruins at Bloods Creek with the giant windmill nearby. We soon arrive at South Australia’s most remote hotel, Mount Dare. Here we can have a refreshing drink and buy more fuel if required before crossing into the Northern Territory. Our camp tonight will be under the stars at Old Andado Station. It is probably the only remaining homestead of its kind left in Australia and was the home for over 50 years of that well known outback pioneer, Molly Clark.
Today we head back west, and we arrive at the town of Finke, where the Finke Desert Race is held each year in June. We take a short detour to Lambert Centre, which is the geographic centre of Australia, and then head for Maryvale Homestead on the way to the amazing Chambers Pillar. In April 1860, the explorer John MacDouall Stuart was the first white person to see this spectacular pillar of sandstone which towers 50 metres above the surrounding plain. He named it after his South Australian sponsor and friend, James Chambers. This is our last night camping out together in the desert.
Today we follow the Old Ghan railway line northwards through the ever changing scenery of red dirt, sand, spinifex, mulga, and desert oaks. It’s here that we see many old relics of The Ghan, left behind at disused railway sidings and we also visit the Ewaninga Rock Carvings Conservation Reserve. Our final destination is the Wintersun Cabin & Caravan Park in Alice Springs. After a welcome hot shower, we all join together for our Farewell Dinner which is provided for us at the Gillen Club Restaurant. It’s here that we celebrate our shared adventures from our crossing of the Simpson Desert and the many friendships that we have made along the way.
PLEASE NOTE :
• All 4WD vehicles on this tour will need to carry extra fuel & water.
• This tour is not suitable for camper trailers.