Simpson Desert – Surface Surveys



Simpson Desert – Australia

Protected in 1972 an Australian Conservation Park

With an area of 68,000 square miles and located in the “red center” of Australia, the Simpson Desert is the world’s largest sand desert that also contains the longest parallel sand dunes in the world. The main characteristic of the Simpson Desert is its lines of long, straight, and parallel dunes that vary in color from vibrant red to white. Individual dunes extend continuously for over 150km.

The creation of the desert began 270 million years ago after glaciers in the area melted. Sediment of sand, mud, and small stones carried by water and glaciers, landed in the depressions of the earth and formed a layer with freshwater lakes above it. About 1.8 million years ago, changes in climate dried up all the lakes and rivers creating the desert environment it is today.

Aboriginal peoples have occupied and managed the desert lands and waters for thousands of generations. No maintained roads cross the desert, however, ancient song lines that reflect the creation of desert landforms and provide geographical references, enabling Wangkangurru Yarluyandi people to navigate their way across the desert.

Simpson Desert is one of six individual studies in a series of protected desert physiographies titled Surface Surveys.  Each survey embodies the planet’s natural, essential expression, and underscores the ethereal nature of wild lands in our current, anthropocentric age.