Get desert and outback wise

A journey to the South Australian desert can be the trip of a lifetime with so much awe-inspiring landscape to explore. It’s also one of the harshest and least hospitable areas to cross. Make sure you’re well prepared for your trip and stay safe with these tips:

  • Note the annual Simpson Desert closure - due to extreme heat, the Simpson Desert is closed annually from 1 December - 15 March. Temperatures hit between 40 and 50 degrees celsius.
  • Let people know before you go - tell someone your travel plans and keep in regular contact. It’s a good idea to travel with other vehicles to reduce the need for expensive outside help if you have an accident or breakdown. Get prior permission from landholders before crossing private or Aboriginal Lands.
  • Check road conditions and closures - weather conditions vary seasonally in the outback. Check forecasts and conditions with the transport department online or by phoning 1300 361 033.
  • Be an outback-wise driver - the safest way to cross the desert is in a well equipped 4WD vehicle with high ground clearance. Ensure your vehicle is well maintained, serviced and roadworthy and inspect it every morning before you hit the track. 
  • Take the right gear - for recommended items to bring, refer to our safety information - desert and outback fact sheet (50kb pdf).
  • Take care at creek crossings - water levels can rise unexpectedly with heavy rains falling upstream.
  • Watch out for wildlife - enjoy observing native animals but don’t try to interact with them or feed them as this can affect their natural behaviour. This is particularly important for dingoes in the outback. 
  • Be a safe and savvy camper - avoid camping in creek beds or watercourses in case of flash flooding and avoid setting up camp under trees that may drop limbs.
  • If your vehicle breaks down or is immovable - do not leave your vehicle - follow the guidelines in our safety information - desert and outback fact sheet (50kb pdf).

More information:

Before embarking on your outback adventure you may be required to purchase a Desert Parks Pass. For further safety information refer to the Remote Area Travel brochure.