A desert is a large area covered with sand or rocks. It is an area where there is very little rain and where plants are minimal. When people hear the word desert, they usually think of the Sahara Desert. In comparison, the Sahara Desert is one of the most famous deserts in the world. Australia also has some of the best deserts globally that tourists and even locals love to visit.
There are 10 deserts in Australia and most are protected due to the animals that live there. The deserts of Australia are the Pedirka Desert, Tirari Desert, Sturt Stony Desert, Little Sandy Desert, Great Sandy Desert, Gibson Desert, Simpson Desert, Tanami Desert and the Great Victorian Desert.
Being one of the driest places in the world, Australia is known for its deserts. This continent doesn’t get much rain, so a massive portion of this continent is desert. Although Great Victoria and Simpson are the famous deserts on the continent, they are still other deserts for which they are known. Most of Australia’s deserts can be found in the western part of the continent, while the others can be found in the interior lowlands.
1. Great Victoria Desert
The Great Victoria Desert is known for being the largest desert in Australia. It is so big that the whole landscape stretches from Western Australia to South Australia. That’s how big this desert is. It is known for its salt lakes, grassy plains, and sandy areas.
The Great Victoria Desert is famous for its vegetation. Yes, it is the most vegetated desert in the continent of Australia. If you think that visiting a desert is boring, you better think again. The Great Victoria Desert is also known for some outdoor and adventurous activities like sand sliding, hiking, hang gliding, horseback riding, riding ATVs, and a lot more.
2. The Gibson Desert
Known for being the fifth largest desert in Australia, The Gibson Desert has been well preserved. As compared to the Great Victoria Desert, the Gibson Desert is less sandy. The Gibson Desert is named after Alfred Gibson, who got lost while looking for water.
Driving a 4×4 for this trip to the Gibson desert will all be worth it that takes a lot of preparation as this desert is in a remote area. The Gibson Desert is known for its large dune fields and sandstones. A few creeks can also be found here, where you can set a camp. Red kangaroo can be found here too. These kangaroos are the largest marsupial in the world.
3. Tanami Desert
The Tanami Desert is one of the isolated areas on Earth. The beginning of the Tanami Track can be found 643 kilometres northwest of Alice Springs. You can have your first stop at the Tilmouth Well Roadhouse, where they offer campsites and motel rooms with a pool and BBQ area.
At Tilmouth Well Roadhouse they allow you to experience what working on a cattle station is like. The Tanami Desert offers tours, recreation, and other activities in an outback setting. The Old Granite Gold Mine which features buildings from the 1930s can also be found here.
4. The Simpson Desert
The Simpson Desert is the fourth biggest desert in Australia. The longest dunes in the world can be found in the Simpson Desert. You can see rare pine trees and wildflowers here, you may even spot wild camels. There are nature reserves and parks that can be found here.
One of them is the Napwerte/Ewaninga Rock Carvings Conservation Reserve. This place will let you get a new perspective on ancient culture. The entrance fee to this reserve is absolutely free of charge.
Another nature reserve that you can visit for free is the Mac Clark Conservation Reserve. This is a reserve where the main goal is to protect the Acacia Peuce. Aside from having an accessible entrance, they are also open for 24 hours, and having a picnic is allowed here.
5. Sturt Stony Desert
Sturt Stony Desert is found in the northeast of South Australia. This desert is part of the Tirari-Sturt ecoregion. The Stony Sturt Desert is located upon the Gason dome which are two dune fields located between South Australia and Queensland. The Sturt stony desert is made up mostly of gibber plains.
A carnivorous marsupial called Kowari can be found here. Its main prey is the Long-Haired rat, which can produce large numbers so big that when they come out during the night they create a humming-like noise giving them the nickname “Singing Rat.”
Other species of animals that you may find here besides the two listed above are the Letter-winged Kite, Dingoes, and Inland Taipan. But do be wary of the dingoes and Taipan snakes as they can be a danger to humans and it is best not to venture during the night in the area.
The desert was named after a man by the name of Charles Sturt as he was on a trek to find what he believed to be a great saltwater lake “an inland sea” in the middle of Australia.
Sturt’s expedition started in August of 1844 with 200 men, sheep and a boat, but unfortunately on his second attempt to find this sea he developed scurvy and had to pass over the mission to his surgeon on the expedition John Harris Browne.
6. Strzelecki Desert
The Strzelecki Desert is located on the southeastern side of the Sturt Stony Desert and is located in the Far North Region of 3 states, NSW, QLD and South Australia. On the outskirts of the desert are the Flinders Ranges and Lake Eyre Basin. Two very popular spots for tourism.
The Strzelecki Desert is the 7th largest desert in the whole of Australia covering 80,250 km2. This is a desert that is almost entirely preserved under the protection of the Sturt National Park, this is mostly due to its home to the Dusky Hopping Mouse that inhabits the desert.
7. Pedirka Desert
Among the desert on the list, Pedirka Desert is one of the smallest deserts measuring only 1,250 km2. It has sand dunes that usually come and go. When sand dunes are not visible, a stony place can be seen. It is too tiny that if you’re not familiar with the place, you’ll never even know that you have crossed a desert destination. Driving along the Pedrika Desert is a sight to behold despite its size.
The Mulga sands are coloured a deep red and are very densely vegetated by Mulga woodlands. It is under the Finke bioregion and spreads between the Northern Territory and South Australia.
8. Little Sandy Desert
The Little sandy desert can be found in Western Australia. It is named the Little Sandy Desert as it is close to and similar to the Great Sandy Desert. The Little Sandy Desert, however, is much smaller than the Great Sandy Desert and is home to the Mandilara people.
Like the Great Sandy Desert, a great way to visit the Little Sandy desert is to follow the Canning Stock Route. Some creeks can be found in the northern part of the desert. On the other hand, lakes can be found in the southern region.
9. Great Sandy Desert
The Great Sandy Desert is the hottest desert in Australia and the hottest summertime temperature with a record high of 48.1 °C. It is the second-largest desert within Australia and has what is called ergs longitudinal dunes.
It expands over 284,993 square kilometres, it is home to mostly mines and the Aboriginal tribes Martu and Pintupi. In the 20th century, the aboriginal people were removed but they have recently started taking back their land.
This desert does not get many rainfalls but it does still get a yearly Monsoon or Cyclone that helps to replenish some of the lands, on average they get about 300 ml of water per year. Making it a very dry desert, due to these low amounts of rainfall, it is not likely you will see frost here.
There are two main metals that are mined in the area Gold and Copper, although to the south near Telfer there is uranium mining. The area is also vastly known for its aboriginal art which is very cultural to the area and tells many stories of the people’s past.
10. Tirari Desert
The Tirari Desert is known for its stunning landscapes, sand dunes and Lake Eyre in the Tirari Desert is a very popular location. Although you can’t swim in Lake Eyre due to the high amounts of salt, it still has breathtaking colours of aqua blues. It also sits below sea level. Within the desert is the Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre National Park which is 697 kilometres north of Adelaide.
This desert has a title claimed by the aboriginal tribe of the Dieri People. This desert is unique as it has a creek that runs straight through the centre called Cooper Creek. Tirari Desert is also home to a fossil area called Lake Ngapakaldi to Lake Palankarinna Fossil Area.
Australia is best known for its tropical season. As mentioned above, they are one of the driest places in the world. The continent is famous for its deserts that visitors and even locals frequently visit. Some deserts offer campsites and free entrance to natural parks and reserves.
If you’re into a more tough adventure, seeing at least one or two of Australia’s best-known deserts should be on your bucket list. If not, better add them to it.
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