Up until a few years ago, this part of the Northern Simpson was not open to the general public. Lindsay Bookie, the Aboriginal Custodian, now welcomes visitors (permit required) to his lands and will show you even more great scenery when you go on his Bush Tucker Tour.
All travellers to this area, both now and in the future, owe their thanks to the persistence of Jol Fleming from Alice Springs
to have this area opened up for outback travel. Jol, like many other people, had read the book, “Crossing the Dead Heart” by Cecil Madigan, with a view of one day seeing first hand the country that Madigan had described, during his 1939 scientific expedition of the Simpson Desert
During the mid 1990’s, Jol met Lindsay Bookie on one of his four wheel drive training courses. Lindsay told Jol he was from out that way, but Jol thought no more of it until 1998 when he was approached by the Ford Motor Company to do a Sales Incentive trip from Alice Springs
. Jol contacted the Central Land Council regarding getting a permit to travel the Hay River
Area, who in turn put Jol in contact with Lindsay Bookie. Lindsay was not keen at first to let anyone travel through his lands, but with further discussions, Jol was given the OK. In May 1998 Jol and Lindsay went to scout for a track down the Hay River
. The going was so tough, that they only managed to get as far south as the Lake Caroline
turn off. They then back tracked and an alternative road was found for the Ford venture.
In 1999, Jol and Lindsay headed off again with a waypoint for Madigan’s camp 15. They were able to retrace their tracks from the previous year to as far as the Lake Caroline
turn off, then continued on to Madigan’s Camp 15 and 16 and then out through Beachcomber Oil Well. After the trip, Lindsay approached Jol about using Batton Hill
as a base to do Bush Tucker Tours of the surrounding area, which were advertised and the first Bush Tucker Trip was carried out in August 2000.
Seeing the potential of the area as a tourist draw card, the Rural Enterprise of the Central Lands Council put a business plan together for Lindsay for funding to equip
and to erect shower/toilet blocks at Batton Hill
. The grants were approved in early 2003 and in time for the 2003 tourist season, 2 Shower/Toilet Blocks with donkey boilers, a bush kitchen and 2 bow sheds were erected by April 2003. Water for the site was from a solar powered bore
that pumped water to and overhead tank and a reserve tank of 10,000 litres.
This area is now open to visitors by prior arrangement only. The permit system enables Lindsay Bookie and Jol to ensure that visitor numbers remain sustainable for such an isolated place. Visitor activity will be highly scrutinized so it is imperative that all who come view their access as a priveledge and show great respect for the tracks and facilities. We cannot stress, how improper it would be for anyone to use these trek notes without first arranging a permit from Jol. In fact, certain details have been ommited from this trek but this information will be provided with your permit.
Interactive Route Map
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Hay River From:
This trek supports moving map, to take a virtual tour click on the Play button.
Central Land council Transit Permit (Atnetye Aboriginal Land) - contact Jol Flemming: 08 8952 3359
For access into the SA section of the Desert you will also need the (Witjara National Park). If you do not intend to enter the SA section of the Desert and wish to camp in the QLD section then you will need a Qld NPWS camping permit (Simpson Desert National Park
Things to See & Do
This trip is best done as a group or on a tour. You must not travel alone and your group should be prepared for anything! Permits may take many weeks to formalise so these should be arranged well in advance. All fuel consumption, food and water needs to be carried for the majority of this trek. There is no fuel or supplies available between Birdsville
Station. Experienced remote desert travellers should already have all the necessary communications equipment that are necessary for a trip of this nature. The minimum requirements would be to carry good communications and navigation equipment (along with being proficient with it's usage).
We advise that you refer to the latest information and advice about outback communications
in the Communications Topic. All drivers should set their UHF radios to scan all stations, but take note that Channel 10 is the offical channel for the Simspon Desert. Anywhere in the Diamantina Shire (comprising the towns of Birdsville
and Bedourie) you must not used UHF Ch 8 and 38 as these are to be reserved for emergency calls only - these channels are monitored by the Clinics, Police and station operators and must remain clear.
Your vehicle will need to be extensively prepared for remote area travel, with all fuel, water, food and vehicle repair equipment and spare parts. All travellers should read the 4WDriving Topic for related articles and checklists for vehicle setup and driver awareness.
For any dune driving you should fly a dune flag from the front of your vehicle to avoid head on collisions on dune tops. Additionally, the lead vehicle in any direction should periodically make calls on Channel 10 from the top of large dunes on the UHF radio
to advise oncoming traffic of your position.
Fuel Supplies & Usage
||Diesel||4cyl 163 litres *
||ULP||4cyl 150 litres
||LPG||4cyl 186 litres|
|6cyl 163 litres *||6cyl 251 litres *||6cyl 163 litres|
|8cyl 142 litres||8cyl 182 litres *|
There may also be fuel at Jervois
Station (cash only).
Camp Sites & Accommodation
The Hay River
area could be called an "environmental paradise" because it has been almost untouched by white man. You will be hard pushed to find a feral animal (eg. camel), and the land has been subject to only light grazing. Weather
patterns and seasons will change the environment dramatically but currently, you'll see the effects of a series of good seasons producing abundant shrubs and plants and the stands of river gums in the Hay River
are simply breathtaking.
The Hay River
area of the Northern Territory
has been the home for the Eastern Arrernte Aboriginal perople for many thousands of years before white man arrived in Australia
The first white person to successfully travel through this area was the South Australian Surveyor, Charles Winnecke in mid 1883. Whilst on this trip Winnecke named many land forms including Hay River
after Mr Adam Hay, Esq of Palparara Station, Qld; Mt Tietkens after Mr W.H. Tietkens, a well known Western Australian explorer and Goyder's Pillars, after G.W. Goyder, Exq, the Surveyor-General of South Australia
Unlike other areas of the Simpson Desert
, there was no oil exploration seismic work carried out in this area, so this area has not been touched in anyway by white man and is still a true remote wilderness area.