Birdsville is a small little town that lies on the edge of the Simpson Desert. A sign in town states “population of 115 (+/- 7000)”. For most of the year this is a sleepy little town, quite often even completely isolated due to floods. But once the winter tourist season starts people start visiting before or after their desert crossing and come Big Red Bash or Birdsville Races time, the town just explodes with people!
The iconic Birdsville Hotel
Of course, one of the places everyone wants to visit is The Birdsville Hotel ….. Everyone wants to say they’ve had a beer at the Birdsville Hotel ….. and finally we can say we have! We didn’t make it into the pub on our last visit so it was nice to be able to actually step foot inside this time!
The iconic Birdsville Hotel is one of those true authentic outback pubs. The hotel was first built in 1884 and is still a hugely popular place for all visitors to the area.
The area is of course rich in history, including that of Burke & Wills. The traditional owners of the land are the Wangkangurru-Yarluyandi people. For thousands of years, Wirrarri (Birdsville) was one of the places people gathered to trade grinding stones, ochre, weapons and other goods. The area was later used for cattle droving and pastoral duties, as it still is to this day.
The Simpson Desert itself covers an area of hundreds of kilometers, spreads across 3 states and has been said to be one of the most desolate deserts in the world. There are no ‘roads’ through the desert, just tracks across the dunes and you need to be well prepared for remote travel if you intend on tackling one of the desert crossings.
Situated approximately 35km west of Birdsville you will find Big Red (original name Nappanerica). Now the whole of the Simpson Desert is made up of over 1,000 parallel sand dunes, most of which are 10-15 meters in height. Big Red on the other hand stands at well over 30 meters tall, so you can see how it got it’s name!
This is the first sand dune you will reach after leaving Birdsville and saying you’ve driven Big Red is on most 4wders bucket lists. We did do this last time in our old Prado, but unfortunately we couldn’t attempt it this time as they close Big Red to vehicles throughout the Big Red Bash period.
The video above was taken at this years Big Red Bash, the photo below was taken on our last visit to Big Red – notice the huge lake surrounding the sand dune in the middle of the desert!
We are George & Shelly, a married couple from Sydney, Australia, who love 4WDing, camping and travelling this great country of ours. We love sharing our adventures and hope to inspire others to travel as well. Join us on our journeys around Australia!
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