The attraction of the Dalhousie mound springs, combined with some delightful ruins of old stations and railway sidings make this a must-do trek if travelling in this vicinity.
This trek note paves a typical route for travellers either commencing or ending a trip across the Simpson Desert
but also enables those of us that are less adventurous to soak up the outback ambiance without venturing too far into the red desert.
This trek involves numerous small creek crossings and terrain varies from stoney to sandy in patches but does not involve the crossing of any major sand dunes.
How to Use this Trek Note
Click the "Map" tab below to see the route we've provided. Icons on the map are the POIs you'll need for navigation purposes. Be sure to check the list of Nearby Places
on each POI page.
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Dalhousie Springs form the largest complex of artesian springs in Australia
and the rehabilitation and protection of this internationally significant area was one of the main reasons for the establishment of the Witjara National Park, named with the aboriginal word for the paperbark trees "Melaleuca glomerata" fringing the springs.
The origin of the date palms in the area surrounding the Dalhousie Ruins is still being debated. Romantics believe the trees were planted by Afghan cameleers, but there is firm evidence that dates were planted by the Lewis family who took over the lease of Dalhousie in 1896.
For thousands of years before Europeans discovered them, Dalhousie Springs provided water, shelter, food and medicines for the desert Aborigines. The ancient springs had a mythological significance too for the Aborigines and are featured in many tribal myths and songs. The Park also has an extensive European history. Dalhousie Springs served as a refuge and base camp for Simpson Desert
crossings by early explorers
, as well as today's many adventurous 4WD travellers.
The first pastoral lease in the area, which later became part of the Mount Dare property, was taken up by Ned Bagot in 1872 with the Dalhousie Homestead, stockyards and outbuildings constructed in the following decade. Sheep were the initial mainstay of pastoralism, but the focus shifted to cattle by the turn of the century. Although many bores were sunk on Mount Dare station, Dalhousie Springs remained vital for the survival of stock.
The land was marginal pastoral country and, during the brief history of the industry, various leases were abandoned, particularly from the start of the century until just prior to the First World War. Evidence of white habitation remain at the Dalhousie ruins and in the form of old stockyards and agricultural equipment in the area.
More than a century of grazing by sheep and cattle ceased in 1985 with the declaration of Witjira National Park. Mount Dare Homestead now operates as a private enterprise and provides fuel, meals, supplies and accommodation for visitors.