Munga-Thirri National Park

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Munga-Thirri National Park
IUCN category II (national park)
Munga-Thirri National Park is located in Queensland
Munga-Thirri National Park
Munga-Thirri National Park
Nearest town or cityBirdsville
Coordinates25°08′33″S 138°14′25″E / 25.14250°S 138.24028°E / -25.14250; 138.24028Coordinates: 25°08′33″S 138°14′25″E / 25.14250°S 138.24028°E / -25.14250; 138.24028
Area10,120 km2 (3,907.4 sq mi)
Managing authoritiesQueensland Parks and Wildlife Service
WebsiteMunga-Thirri National Park
See alsoProtected areas of Queensland
'Big Red' is the largest sand dune in the national park, 2007.

Munga-Thirri National Park, formerly known as the Simpson Desert National Park, is the largest national park in Queensland, Australia, 1,495 km west of Brisbane.[1] The park covers an area of more than 10,000 km2 in the Simpson Desert surrounding Poeppel Corner west of Birdsville and Bedourie in the Central West region of the state.


The main features of the park are large sand dunes which can be 50 m high and around 1 km apart.[1] Most dunes are between 10 and 35 m in height;[2] the longest sand ridge is 200 km in length.[2][3] One of the most prominent dunes is called 'Big Red' and is located 35 km west of Birdsville;[2] the dunes started to form 30,000 years ago.[2] Also found in the park are salt lakes and claypans.[4]

Flora and fauna[edit]

The landscape supports up to 180 bird species;[1] the park includes part of the Simpson Desert Important Bird Area, identified as such by BirdLife International because it contains habitat suitable for Eyrean grasswrens.[5] Other animals which may be seen include the dingo, geckos and the feral camel. With the falling of any significant rains comes a transformation of dormant wildflowers.


Visitors are encouraged to visit from April to October to avoid extreme daytime temperatures and to travel within a two-vehicle party with long distance communications equipment.[1] A 4WD vehicle is needed to travel through the park.[3] There are no roads in the park; the main track is called the QAA Line. Winter mornings can be freezing, while summer temperatures can be as hot as 50°.[2] Camping is permitted within 500 m of the QAA Line. Vehicles are not permitted to leave the main track.

Park rangers who are based at Birdsville occasionally close the park when flooded rivers pose a risk to tourists.[6] Increasing tourist numbers have been depleting wood supplies to the point that native fauna could be affected; this has led to authorities encouraging the use of gas camp stoves.[7]


Aboriginals have lived in the region for generations, they survived in the dry conditions by digging soaks in the depressions between dunes, some of which were 7m deep.

David Lindsay was the first non-Aboriginal person to cross the central and southern areas of the Simpson Desert in 1886,[2] it wasn't until 1936 that Ted Colson crossed the full length of the desert.[2]

A national park in the desert was first suggested in 1965 by the National Parks Association;[4] the park was extended northwards in 1991. The expansion included arid lands with a more diverse range of vegetation.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Explore Queensland's National Parks. Prahran, Victoria: Explore Australia Publishing. 2008. p. 50. ISBN 978-1-74117-245-4.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Shilton, Peter (2005). Natural areas of Queensland. Mount Gravatt, Queensland: Goldpress. pp. 303–306. ISBN 0-9758275-0-2.
  3. ^ a b "About Simpson Desert". Department of National Parks, Recreation, Sport and Racing. 30 January 2013. Retrieved 7 September 2014.
  4. ^ a b c Environmental Protection Agency (Queensland) (2002). Heritage Trails of the Queensland Outback. State of Queensland. p. 133. ISBN 0-7345-1040-3.
  5. ^ BirdLife International. (2011). Important Bird Areas factsheet: Simpson Desert. Downloaded from on 2011-10-09.
  6. ^ Chrissy Arthur (16 March 2009). "Flooding keeps outback national park closed". ABC News Online. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 18 July 2010.
  7. ^ "Ranger issues warning about Simpson Desert wood supplies". ABC Queensland. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 21 July 2005. Retrieved 18 July 2010.