Outback MagazineOutback Magazine


A Desert Odyssey : The Simpson

Of Australia's major deserts, the Simpson is probably the best known - and the most feared. But from its northern and southern entry points the Simpson is quickly becoming a tourist destination in its own right, providing an outback experience like no other.

Simpson Desert

Story Steve Brooks
Photos John Hay and Steve Brooks

When two bouts of cyclonic rain teemed across the coast of north-west Australia earlier tghis year, the effects quickly spread far beyong snapped limbs and battered buildings in Broome and Derby.

Simpson DesertSpinning off their swirling hosts like spray off the tip of a fiercely cracked whip, massive bands of heavy cloud flowed thousands of kilometres inland, dumping an immense quanity of water on land normally so dry that even the softest drop will earn a mark on a homestead calendar.

Across the Red centre and its encircling deserts the transformation was almost immediate.

Bursts of spectacular growth topped by stunning hues of wildflowers in full flourish marked a year of extraordinarily rich conditions, that in generations long gone occasionally tempted and tricked travellers into believing they had found nirvana in the never-never.

By mid August, ASlice Springs had received 635 mm (25 inches) of rain for the year, making a moickery of annual averages that rarely reach beyong 250 mm, and smearing the Red Centre in an uncommon emerald sheen.

To the south-east, where the Simpson Desert starts to scrawl its fiery fingers into the earth, the falls were feeble in comparison, but not so little as to lessen the brilliance of a landscape benefitting from several good seasons in succession. Story end

Full story: Issue 14, December 2000/ January 2001

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