The Simpson Desert is a very dry part of Australia. It is mainly in the Northern Territory, but also in the north of South Australia and western Queensland. It covers about 176,500 square km, about 2.3% of Australia. The Simpson Desert gets less than 150 ml of rain each year. It is made up of big red sand dunes up to 40 m (44 yd) high, 190 km (118 mi) long and about 1 km (1 mi) apart. At most times there is no surface water, but after rain there can be rivers which flow into normally dry lakes. Temperatures in summer can be more than 50 C, and in winter can be below 0 C.
Early explorers into the Simpson Desert were Charles Sturt 1845, J.McKinlay, W.O. Hodgkinson, C.Winneke 1883, A.Poeppel 1879. The desert was named after A.A.Simpson, President of the Royal Geographical Society of Australasia in 1929. The first European to cross the desert was Ted Colson in 1936.
No proper roads cross the desert. There are many tracks that were made during the search for gas and oil during the 1960s and 1970s. These tracks include the French Line, the Rig Road, and the QAA Line. Such tracks can be driven on by well-equipped four-wheel drive vehicles which must carry extra fuel and water.
Towns close to the edge of the Simpson Desert include Oodnadatta to the southwest, and Birdsville in the east. On the western side is the Mount Dare hotel and shop. Before 1980, part of the Commonwealth Railways Central Australian line passed along the western side of the Simpson Desert. Within the Simpson people go to see the ruins at Dalhousie Springs, Purnie Bore wetlands, Approdinna Attora Knoll and Poeppel Corner (where Queensland, South Australia and Northern Territory meet).
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