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The Great Central Rd Guide


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Legalities when Crossing the Simpson

What are the rules and restrictions about crossing the simpson? 

There are some rules and guidelines that must be adhered to if you are crossing the Simpson Desert. Some of these are particularly important to follow for your own safety. So what are they?


Long before you leave home, you need to ensure you have attained the correct permits to travel through the areas you have planned. Depending on where you plan to travel you may need one permit or several.

You must have a Desert Parks Pass to enter the Simpson Desert Conservation Park and Regional Reserve or Witjira National Park, whether travelling along the Spring Creek Delta Track, French Line, WAA Line, Rig Road, Erabena Track, Knolls Track, K1 Line or Warburton Track. If you plan to head north along the Hay River Track or Colson Track, the permit process is a little different but can be obtained from Jol Fleming at Direct 4WD in conjunction with The Central Land Council (CLC). I have heard Colson Track permits can be extremely difficult to get due to disrespectful use from past users and damage to many sacred indigenous sites. Travel along more serious tracks in the Simpson such as the Madigan Line also requires a permit acquired through Jol in conjunction with CLC. Along all routes you are required to carry your permit on you.

  • The Desert Parks Pass can be is issued by National Parks South Australia and can be obtained online from or at Parks Pass Outlets (stated on the webpage). Cost of the pass starts at $150 per vehicle (as at time of writing this in 2015) and is valid for one year.  The pass also covers numerous other Reserves and National Park in South Australia and will allow you to camp for periods of 21 nights at a time in most of them.This Pass usually takes a maximum of 3 business days to process (after acceptance of order) if purchased online with an estimated postal delivery time of 10 – 15 business days. Applications can be put in between 60 days and 15 days before your entry into the park.
  • Obtaining permits through Jol Fleming at Direct 4WD is as easy as giving him a call on either 0889523359 or 0408485641 or an email at Just let Jol know you are after permission to travel a certain track and he will get the appropriate permit application pack to you. You may ask why Jol Fleming is involved in the process… there is very good reason! Jol has worked with the local traditional owners for many years on making this routes through the land and getting them open for everyone to see.  One of the major traditional owners Jol worked with was Lindsay Bookie (who passed in 2014). Lindsay was a great advocate for opening the area for tourism and is in particular the traditional owner of the area around Lake Caroline and Batton Hill Camp on the Hay River Track. Some of these permits can take a considerable amount of time. Permits for the Hay River Track need to be sent in at least one month before your travel (remember to think about if you will be able to receive your permit once you leave your home or not). So be organized and get them in and sorted! Cost for travel through these lands varies. The cost for the Hay River Track (at time of writing in 2015) is $200 per vehicle with payment due one month before you plan to camp at Batton Hill Camp. A technicality is that you must camp at Batton Hill Camp and fees for this is $20 per person paid in cash at the camp.

Fire Restrictions

Wood fires are prohibited within Witjira National Park. Firewood collection is also prohibited within the park. Although Mt. Dare technically lies within the national park… fires are allowed at the Mt Dare Campground but the wood must be sourced outside of the national park.

Gas fires are prohibited on days of total fire ban.

Sand Flags

Sand flags are required to traverse across the Simpson Desert.

  • Flags must be at least 300mm wide by 290mm high made of fluorescent materials (red-orange or lime-yellow).
  • If vehicle has a front bulbar the flag pole must be attached to the bulbar and reach at least 3.5m high.
  • If vehicle does not have bulbar, the flag pole is to be attached to the front of the vehicle via a bracket and reach at least 3.5m high. Otherwise flag pole can be attached to the front of the roof rack with the top of the flag pole at least 2m from the roof of the vehicle.
  • Motorbikes are not required to travel with a flag pole (at time of writing in 2015) however must travel with headlights on at all times.

Other Vehicle Requirements

  • Emergency communication devices are required for your own safety (such as satellite phones, HF Radios, SPOT Messenger).
  • A UHF radio is highly recommended and it is suggested you frequently broadcast your location and heading direction over UHF channel 10 to help avoid head-on collisions over dune crests.
  • It is also vitally essential that you carry adequate spares and also recovery equipment.
  • Remember to have spare food and water packed sufficient for a few days in case you get stuck and need to wait for assistance.

Road Conditions

Travel in the Simpson Desert is like life in the desert... slow and rough and tough! The conditions are harsh and the roads are not maintained. If you are travelling the French Line, it is suggested to plan a minimum of 4 days travel to traverse the 507km between Mt Dare and Birdsville (via the QAA Line and French Line). In this distance you will cross approximately 1100 sand dunes! Another route between Birsdaville and Mt Dare is the Warburton Track and Rig Road route which is 774km but is said to have less dunes and a firmer track.  Likewise the Hay River Track, they say, is another four day journey and comes in at 620km (from Birdsville to Jervois) and as opposed to crossing the dunes it travels north/south parallel to them. As you can see from the distances and days suggested for travel you will not likely be getting into fourth or fifth gear.

Check out Mt Dare's Road Conditions page for amazing insightful information on the roads in the area! IT IS A MUST IF YOU ARE TRAVELLING THROUGH!!

Witjira National Park

The park covers an area beginning just west of Mt Dare and extends to east of Purni Bore and north to the SA/NT border. Witjira National Park features more than more than 120 mound springs, creating Dalhousie Main Spring, allowing you to swim in beautiful warm spring waters. The park is open all year round.  Spring Creek Delta Track traverses through the national park. As it is a National Park remember pets are prohibited and for this one, access is via 4WD. Campgrounds are located at Dalhousie Springs and Purni Bore with basic toilets and showers. Three O’Clock Creek is another campground with water but no other facilities. A Desert Parks Pass is required for entry.

For more information visit

Simpson Desert Conservation Park and Regional Reserve

The reserve runs along the SA side of the SA/NT border and extends from just east of Purni Bore to east of Poeppel’s Corner and south nearly to Lake Eyre. The park and reserve consist of hundreds of parallel sand dunes that can be 200km long, running north/south and is the largest of its kind in the world. The French Line, WAA Line, Knolls Track, Rig Road, K1 Line and Warburton Track all traverse through either the park or the reserve. The park and reserve are closed from 1 December to 15 March each year due to extreme weather and temperatures. Outside of the closure period, the park and reserve are open 24/7. Wood and solid fuel fires are prohibited from 1 November until 31 March and gas fires are accepted except for on days with a total fire ban.  Camp is allowed within 50m of the public access tracks. Pets are not allowed within the park or reserve and 4WD is needed (motorbikes excepted) for access. Vehicles must also be fitted with a high visibility safety flag as per requirements (see ‘Safety Flags’ below). A Desert Parks Pass is required for entry.

For more information visit

Munga-Thirri National Park

Munga-Thirri National Park lies in QLD along the QLD/NT/SA border. The park is QLD largest national park and extends north approximately 200km along the NT/QLD border and east from Poeppel’s Corner along the QLD/SA border until about 36km west of Nappanerica (aka the Big Red sand dune). The QAA line travels through this national park. Camping is permitted in the park but must be within 500m of the QAA Line and campers must be self-sufficient as there are no facilities at all. Again no pets allowed and 4WD is required for entry (motorbikes exempt). Bookings and nominal fees are also required for camping in the area and can be done over the phone, counter or online (see the link below).

For more information visit

Being aware of and and sticking to these measures may be the difference between the holiday of your nightmares and the holiday of your dreams.

Jessica Toll