Simpson Desert, Northern Territory

The Simpson Desert is host to some of the best 4WD driving in this country. The boundless horizons, rolling sand dunes and challenging desert 4WD tracks all provide the ultimate frontier experience. Travel through this desert region and explore territory that very few people have seen, some of the world's most spectacular examples of parallel dunal desert.

Most of the Simpson Desert's attractions are within a day-trip's range of Alice Springs, but their rugged beauty will keep you in the region as long as your itinerary allows. Chambers Pillar rises as a solitary beacon out of the vast red plains and captivates your imagination as you wonder how the early pioneers used this as a navigational landmark. When you walk up the hill to this 50-metre sandstone pillar's base, be inspired by the markings made by 19th-century explorers who carved their names into the sandstone.

Find the Simpson Desert Conservation Park and Regional Reserve at the centre of the desert. In the regional reserve, visitors will find spinifex grasslands, acacia woodlands and outstanding examples of desert wildlife that thrive among the myriad playa lakes and dune systems.

An easy stop off on the way to Chambers Pillar is the Ewaninga Rock Carvings Conservation Reserve. These rock carvings, or petroglyphs, provide a fascinating record of many important beliefs preserved by the local Arrernte people. Also in this region and not far off the Stuart Highway south of Alice Springs is Rainbow Valley, a spectacular sandstone bluff with rainbow-like bands, best seen by the late afternoon sun.

For the truly adventurous, driving the width of the Simpson Desert (covering 1,100 desert dunes) is said to be a mind-altering, life changing experience if you have the courage. It's not a feat to be attempted at the last minute, poor planning could result in real danger or at the very least, a hefty bill. Remember that this is strictly 4WD territory and while the trip will take around 4 days, you should be carrying food and water for at least 7 days (that's 7 litres per person, per day).

Camel Ride in the Simpson Desert