Simpson Desert Rig Road

StartClick to Reverse the Dynamic Map and Driving NotesBirdsville Tk & Yelpawaralinna-Warburton Tk
FinishDalhousie Springs
DifficultyDifficulty 4/5
Suitable for4WD Bike 
Distance486.33 km
Minimum Days3
Average Speed44.43 km/hr
Driving Time10 hrs 56 mins
Page Updated: 13 Nov 2013

Description

The Rig Road crosses the southern part of the Simpson Desert and was once capped by clay to make access easier for heavy drilling and earth moving equipment that was transported along this road between oil wells during the early 1960's.

It has never been maintained since that time and with regular 4WD traffic each season and some heavy rainfalls in recent years, this track is beginning to show signs of significant disrepair from erosion.
Experiencing the Rig Road is the way to see another part of the Simpson Desert as it is quite different to what you see in the north.

Along the lowest sections near the Warbuton Crossing there are numerous salt lakes and long dunes of stark white changing to yellow and gradually they become red as you move further north.

To pick up the start of the Rig Road from the east side of the desert, you can drive either the Inside Track down from Birdsville or the main Birdsville Track to a point 11km south of the Clifton Hills Station. If you drive the Inside Track then continue on for 14km after rejoining the Birdsville Track. The turnoff you're looking for is actually called the Yelpawaralina Track (YLP) and it is on the right (west).

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.

If you'd like to save this information there are a couple of ways to go about it, depending on what you're actually after:-
  • Ideal solution - download the ExplorOz Traveller App from Google Play or the App Store. The app enables you to carry the ExplorOz Places, Treks, & Maps data offline in your mobile device ready for your adventures. It is a complete mapping, navigation and tracking app. For more details, read our ExplorOz Traveller page.
  • You can print a paper copy of the text using the print icon button shown above, near the social media buttons. For the best output it is advised to open each tab/section to load all images and artwork. You will still need to click open each Place page (listed in Where to Stay, What to See) to print off all available information.
  • If you have a Hema Navigator or use Mapping Software such as OziExplorer, or TrackRanger AND you are an ExplorOz Member, then you can click the Download Trek button at the top of this page to obtain the raw data files (eg. GPX) for this Trek.
  • If you're not a Member, or you'd like to batch download the entire Treks database you can obtain this by buying a product called EOTreks Route Files from our online shop.

Environment

The Simpson Desert is the driest region of Australia and it is a dunal desert - a sea of parallel red sand ridges around 300-500 kilometres long covering a total area of 170,000 square kilometres. The South Australian section of the Simpson Desert is divided into 3 protected areas, Simpson Desert Conservation Park, Simpson Desert Regional Reserve and Witjira National Park managed by the South Australian Desert Parks department of the SA Department of Environment and Heritage. A permit (the SA Desert Parks Pass) is required for all travel and camping. Rains normally occur in the heat of summer (late December through to early early March), although floods have been known to remain as late as July. Each season is different and you must plan your trip by keeping an eye on weather conditions and road reports .

There are numerous salt pans and lakes throughout the Simpson Desert and these can flood after rains and close the desert to vehicle traffic. Camping around the salt lake areas near the Erabena Track Junction/French Line is most rewarding because the gidgee woodlands provide shade, shelter and soft ground for camping. There are increased wildlife viewing possibilities and you'll see great colours over the lakes at sunset.

Flora

The majority of the plant life you'll see is spinifex and upside down trees! Desert vegetation depends on seasonal conditions. In particular after rain the Simpson puts on an incredible show of desert wildflowers including billy buttons, poached egg daises, cunningham bird flower. Most are short lived, and during the peak travel season most people have missed their chance of seeing the desert in bloom.

Fauna

Of all the wildlife you'll encounter in the Simpson Desert, you'll become the most acquainted with the bush fly - annoying but thankfully gone after sundown. " Eagles" are the most commonly seen of the birds in the desert area although there are some 150 different species of birdlife including the Bustard, Wedge-tailed Eagle, Brown Falcon, budgerigar and Zebra Finch. Around the floodplains you could see Black Kites, Crested Pigeons and Galahs. Many creatures are nocturnal, so they are not easily seen or photographed. These include small marsupials but there are also some feral animals such as rabbits, foxes, camels and donkeys. Dingoes and camels are very common throughout the Simpson with the highest population of camels being in the southern parts so the Rig Road is the best place to spot them. If you get out of your vehicle during the day you might see some reptiles such the Perentie (goanna), Western Brown Snake, Woma Python and the Banded Skink.

Preparation

Logistically, some people struggle with fact that towing trailers across the Simpson Desert is strongly discouraged. However with advanced planning, this is quite manageable. If you are doing your Simpson Desert trip as part of a longer journey, you are advised to drop off your trailer at either Mt Dare (west end) or Birdsville (east end) and conduct a loop trip (via Maree & Oodnadatta) or a double-crossing to retrieve your trailer.

UHF Channel 10 is the official channel for communications the Simpson Desert, however this is designed for checking oncoming traffic and is not to be used for general chit chat. For chatting you should respectfully select an unallocated channel. Also note there is a repeater on Ch 7 Duplex for contacting Pink Roadhouse, and Ch 6 (2 or 4) Duplex for contacting Mt Dare Hotel. Anywhere in the Diamantina Shire (comprising the towns of Birdsville, Betoota and Bedourie) you must not use 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.

For any dune driving you should fly a dune flag (sandflag) from the front of your vehicle to avoid head on collisions on dune tops. Why not get an ExplorOz Sandflag? These are sold in our online shop as flag only, or as a complete kit with rugged offroad pole and bracket. For safe travel, 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. Head on collisions do happen unfortunately, so take every precaution possible. Conditions of the desert tracks vary greatly from season to season, month to month and day to day. As a 4WDriver you have the capability to handle these conditions by using commonsense and good driving skills (if this is your first trip, check our 4WD Driving Skills & Rules article, (or do a 4WD Driver Training course). Driving in the desert requires that you use low tyre pressures and engage 4WD for the entire duration of your journey. Always stay on the main track and never venture off wheel tracks that traverse salt lakes. Official track reports are reviewed weekly and you'll always find the latest report in the ExplorOz Road Conditions section.

Permits

You will need a Desert Parks Pass which is a permit that covers all access and camping. It is advisable to arrange this permit well in advance as it contains specific and comprehensive travel planning information, including a set of maps and booklets. Desert Park Passes can NOT be forward dated. This means, they have to be dated with the date they are purchased. A Desert Park Pass can be purchased online directly from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources SA here: http://www.environment.sa.gov.au/parks/Park_Entry_Fees/Parks_Passes

Fuel Supplies & Usage

Fuel Symbol Birdsville, Maree, Mt Dare, Oodnadatta
DieselULPLPG
4cyl 59 litres *4cyl 79 litres4cyl 97 litres
6cyl 77 litres *6cyl 89 litres *6cyl 86 litres
8cyl 75 litres8cyl 109 litres *
Usage is averaged from recorded data (* specific to this trek) and calculated based on trek distance.

Best Time To Visit

The Simpson Desert is CLOSED from 1 December 2012 to 15 March to ensure safety of visitors and emergency personnel. The closure affects the Simpson Desert Conservation Park, and Regional Reserve in South Australia.

Closest Climatic Station

Oodnadatta Airport
Distance from Trek Mid Point 190.28km SW
 JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Mean Max. °C37.936.633.728.523.219.919.622.126.630.333.736.3
Mean Min. °C23.022.319.214.49.76.55.87.411.415.118.621.2
Mean Rain mm22.932.214.310.912.711.710.08.19.913.913.017.1
    Best time to travel      Ok time to travel      Travel NOT recommended

Services & Supplies

Birdsville, Maree, Mt Dare (limited), Oodnadatta (limited)

Map

Loading Resources...

Embed Map
Embed this trek map directly into your website or page. It is easy and free, click the button to retreive the embed code and copy and paste it to your website or page.

What to See

Download Trek
Save time and download all digital map data for this trek (all places are included in the trek download).
This is just a selection. We recommend also browsing the map for other Places nearby.
Camels, Salt Lakes, Yellow-White Dunes, Clay-topped roads, abandoned oil exploration sites, the Lone Gum Tree, Mokari Airstrip and Pecanek's Grave, wild camels and remote desert country

Showing 6 Places

Where to Stay

Download Trek
Save time and download all digital map data for this trek (all places are included in the trek download).
This is just a selection. We recommend also browsing the map for other Places nearby.

Showing 2 Places

Directions

LocationsDistanceDirection Time
Birdsville Tk & Yelpawaralinna-Warburton Tk to Simpson Desert Regional Reserve, Eastern Boundary60.97 kmW278° 1 hr
Simpson Desert Regional Reserve, Eastern Boundary to Kuncherinna Junction42.18 kmN341° 51 min
Kuncherinna Junction to Rig Road & Simpson Desert CP Access38.61 kmNW303° 40 min
Rig Road & Simpson Desert CP Access to Poolowanna No. 1 Oil Well (Abandoned)61.83 kmW292° 1 hr 15 min
Poolowanna No. 1 Oil Well (Abandoned) to Rig Road & Knolls Tk4.54 kmN342° 5 min
Rig Road & Knolls Tk to Rig Road & Erabena Tk33.25 kmW261° 51 min
Rig Road & Erabena Tk to Lone Gum Tree7.25 kmS168° 11 min
Lone Gum Tree to Walkandi Junction10.33 kmS161° 14 min
Walkandi Junction to Macumba Oil Well (Abandoned)67.11 kmW285° 1 hr 45 min
Macumba Oil Well (Abandoned) to Georges Corner, WAA Line & Rig Road13.6 kmNW335° 12 min
Georges Corner, WAA Line & Rig Road to WAA Line & Rig Road0.24 kmE70° 3 min
WAA Line & Rig Road to WAA Line & Glen Joyce Oil Well Access27.22 kmW271° 43 min
WAA Line & Glen Joyce Oil Well Access to Mokari Oil Well & Airstrip8.15 kmW270° 12 min
Mokari Oil Well & Airstrip to French Line & Rig Road12.3 kmNW329° 13 min
French Line & Rig Road to Purnie Bore27.68 kmW258° 35 min
Purnie Bore to French Line & Alka Seltzer Bore Access9.36 kmW258° 14 min
French Line & Alka Seltzer Bore Access to Freeth Junction8.26 kmSW238° 10 min
Freeth Junction to Spring Creek Delta Bypass46.96 kmW258° 58 min
Spring Creek Delta Bypass to Dalhousie Springs6.49 kmW255° 9 min
Birdsville Tk & Yelpawaralinna-Warburton Tk to Dalhousie Springs486.33 km  10 hr 56 min
Distance is GPS recorded driving distance (not straight line), Direction is straight line from start to end, Time is calculated from actual GPS driving data.

Related

Nearby ExplorOz Treks

Travel Journals

The following are links to Members' Blogs that contain the words Simpson Desert Rig Road. Creating Blogs is restricted to Members only. Not a Member? Join here.

Showing 1 blogs.

Feedback(7) Rating 4/5

Post a Comment
You must be registered and logged in to post here.



Registration is free and takes only seconds to complete!
Loading...

Popular Content

Related Products (24)