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About Munga-Thirri

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Getting there and getting around

Warning! Only self-sufficient visitors experienced in desert and remote area travel should explore Munga-Thirri and the Simpson Desert. You must be well-equipped to cope with the harsh environment in Australia's driest place. It is vitally important you read and follow the advice in things to know before you go and staying safe.

A four-wheel-drive is required to reach and drive through Munga-Thirri National Park. From Birdsville, take the old Birdsville track and turn west 1 km south of the police station. The first 35 km to the Big Red dune is a graded shire road and passes through private property. Stay on the marked route.

Although there are no roads across the desert, there are tracks such as the QAA Line and Rig Road that were made by surveyors searching for gas and oil during the 1960s and 1970s.

Once inside the park, you must keep to the QAA line—the remaining 130 km to Poeppel Corner traverses loose sand dunes. The one-way trip takes five to six hours so allow for an overnight stay.

The track through Munga-Thirri National Park is impassable when wet. Even small amounts of rain can make outback roads impassable so always be prepared and have at least a week's worth of extra supplies in case of stranding. Check with local authorities or the Desert Parks Pass Bulletin on (08) 8648 5328 for current road conditions before your trip.

If you intend continuing beyond Queensland and into the South Australian part of the Simpson Desert, you will need to purchase a Desert Parks Pass. See the tourism information links for more information.

To help you plan your visit to this remote area, go to the Parks of Central West Queensland web page.

Wheelchair accessibility

There are no wheelchair-accessible facilities in Munga-Thirri National Park.

Park features

At one million hectares, Munga-Thirri National Park is Queensland's largest protected area. At Poeppel Corner it meets South Australia's Simpson Desert Conservation Park and the Northern Territory's Simpson Desert Regional Reserve. The entire Simpson Desert covers more than 17 million hectares of Central Australia.

Across the Simpson, parallel dunes rising to 90 m run south-east to north-west, the dominant wind direction when they formed during the Pleistocene epoch about 80,000 years ago. Spaced about 1 km apart, dunes can extend 200 km.

Bare windswept crests stand atop slopes secured by spinifex and cane grass. Flat plains between dunes can be wind-polished gibber pebbles or mineral encrusted claypans, but many surprisingly support open shrub lands of acacias, hakeas and grevilleas.

Read more about the nature, culture and history of Central West Queensland parks.

Camping and accommodation

Camping

Camping is permitted within 500 m of the QAA line only. There are no facilities or designated campgrounds.

Camping permits are required and fees apply.

Other accommodation

A range of accommodation is available in and around Birdsville. See tourism information links for further information.

Things to do

Vehicle track over rolling sand dunes in Munga-Thirri National Park. Photo courtesy of John Augusteyn.

Vehicle track over rolling sand dunes in Munga-Thirri National Park. Photo courtesy of John Augusteyn.

Walking

There are no tracks in the park and walking any distance is not recommended. Stay with your vehicle.

Driving

Please read and follow safe desert driving advice.

Please practise low impact driving in Munga-Thirri National Park.

Enjoy the rich colours of this big sky country with its red sand dunes and ironstone pebbles, grey-green spinifex grass and clear blue skies. Find out the park's special stories on a self-guided drive along the QAA Line, with 10 sites signposted between the eastern park boundary and Poeppel Corner. Contact us to obtain a visitor guide with more information

Viewing wildlife

Species lists are available from the Wildlife Online web page.

Far from deserted, the Simpson Desert is home to hardy mammals, many reptiles and over 180 bird species. Discover the plants and animals which have adapted to this harsh place. Sandhill cane grass shelters small birds. Lizards hide from predators in spiky, rounded clumps of lobed spinifex. Look for tracks of desert animals in the sand and keep an eye out for white-winged fairy-wrens.

Mulgaras, small carnivorous marsupials, burrow into dunes to escape the heat. Look for the distinctive crest of short black hairs on the tail of this vulnerable species. Georgina gidgee, a rounded wattle tree, occurs extensively in dune swales and emits a pungent odour after rain.

Things to know before you go

Because the Simpson Desert is vast and remote, you must be experienced in remote area travel, completely self-sufficient and prepared for emergencies. Travel in two-vehicle parties, stay on the track, and leave a copy of your travel plans with family or someone responsible before you leave home.

Essentials to bring

  • Adequate water, food and emergency supplies. Carry at least seven litres of water per person per day and enough emergency food and water for at least seven days in case of stranding.
  • Fuel stove. No fires are permitted in Munga-Thirri National Park.
  • Complete first-aid kit. Include sun and insect protection in your kit.
  • UHF, satellite phone and/or an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB). Mobile phone coverage is not available in Munga-Thirri National Park.
  • Extra fuel and vehicle repairs. Frequent low gear and four-wheel-drive travel will use fuel more quickly. You should also bring vehicle repair tools, spare tyres, oil and engine coolant.

Opening hours

Munga-Thirri National Park is closed from 1 December to 15 March due to extreme summer temperatures that can exceed 50 °C. The park is open the rest of the year however wet weather may cause temporary closures. Check park alerts or contact us for information on park conditions and closures.

Permits and fees

Camping permits are required and fees apply.

Commercial photography permits may be required if you intend to sell any photographs taken of Queensland’s parks and forests. Organised event permits may be required for organised group activities that may interfere with general public use. Contact us further information.

If you intend continuing beyond Queensland and into the South Australian part of the Simpson Desert, you will need to purchase a Desert Parks Pass. See the tourism information links for more information.

Pets

Domestic animals are not permitted in Munga-Thirri National Park.

Climate and weather

Visiting is recommended from May to September as summer temperatures reach over 50 °C and summer rains often cause flooding. You must be well equipped to cope with scorching days and freezing nights which can occur at any time—winter mornings can fall below freezing point.

Average annual rainfall is less than 150 mm, and typically occurs in short downpours from December to March, although rain can occur at any time of year causing temporary flooding and road closures. No permanent surface water occurs in the park, due to a parching evaporation rate. Dust storms are common in dry times.

Weather forecasts are available from the Bureau of Meteorology.

Fuel and supplies

The nearest fuel and supplies in Queensland are in Birdsville, 79 km from the park entrance. If you are travelling interstate use maps to plan refuelling points and calculate how much extra fuel you must carry to reach them. Don’t forget frequent low gear and four-wheel-driving uses much more fuel.

Staying safe

Munga-Thirri National Park is very remote and help can be days away. It is critical that you are self-sufficient and prepared for emergencies.

It is vitally important that you read the staying safe in Parks of Central West Queensland.

Safe desert driving

  • Vehicle tracks are four-wheel-drive only. Tracks are not graded.
  • Cross dunes carefully. Shifting sand creates steep drops, depressions and humps.
  • Approach dune crests with caution. Always assume there is an oncoming vehicle (monitor Channel 10 UHF while driving but keep chatter to a minimum). Attach a flag to the highest point of your vehicle, such as your radio aerial, to make it more visible.
  • Take care when altering tyre pressure. If you choose to reduce tyre pressure to improve traction in soft sand, check manufacturer's recommendations, consider weight and load, reduce speed, avoid sudden turns and drive to suit conditions. Reinflate tyres immediately to manufacturer’s recommendations once conditions improve.
  • Cross dunes when the sand is cool. Early morning and late afternoon is best for easier access.
  • Stop driving if visibility is poor. Gusty winds create dust storms with little warning. Wait in your vehicle until conditions improve.
  • Keep to the marked track to avoid hazards. Saltpans may look solid but beneath their thin, loamy crust is soft, black, sticky mud.

For more information about safe sand driving, please read the driving on sand (PDF, 217K) guidelines.

In an emergency

In an emergency, phone Triple Zero (000) and if this fails try 112. You could also contact the Birdsville Police Station on (07) 4656 5677, or try to make contact with people on UHF radio (try channel 10 and scan for other local radio traffic).

Looking after the park

Everything in Munga-Thirri National Park is protected, including plants, animals and heritage sites and artefacts. Please appreciate, respect and help care for Munga-Thirri's outstanding natural and cultural values by leaving things as you find them, and encouraging others to do the same.

Please read looking after parks in Central West Queensland.

Park management

The Department of National Parks, Sport and Racing (NPSR) is responsible for managing the Munga-Thirri National Park, which has unique attributes. It is managed to conserve the park's natural condition and protect its cultural resources and values. A park management plan will be developed in the future.

Tourism information links

Wirrarri Visitor Information Centre
www.diamantina.qld.gov.au 
Billabong Boulevard, Birdsville
ph (07) 4656 3300 or 1300 794 257
fax (07) 4656 3302
email info@diamantina.qld.gov.au

Diamantina Shire Council
www.diamantina.qld.gov.au 
506 Herbert Street, Bedourie
ph (07) 4746 1202
fax (07) 4746 1272
email admin@diamantina.qld.gov.au

For Desert Parks Passes contact:

South Australian Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources

www.environment.sa.gov.au

PO Box 78, Port Augusta SA 5700

ph (08) 8648 5328

fax (08) 8648 5301

email desertparks@sa.gov.au

For a complete list of Desert Parks Pass agents, visit the website above.

Desert Parks Passes are also available in Birdsville from:

Birdsville Fuel Service (Mobil™ station)

9 Adelaide Street, Birdsville

ph (07) 4656 3236

fax (07) 4656 3263

Wirrarri Visitor Information Centre (details above)

For information on road conditions contact:

Queensland Transport

www.131940.qld.gov.au
Phone 13 19 40 for 24-hour road reports.

For tourism information for all regions in Queensland see Queensland Holidays.

Further information

Contact us

Last updated
21 May 2015