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Simpson Desert

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Simpson Desert ? ParksWeb, SA

Located in the dry heart of Australia is the Simpson Desert region, that includes the Simpson Desert Conservation Park (South Australia), the Simpson Desert Regional Reserve (South Australia), Simpson Desert National Park (Queensland) and the Simpson Desert located in the south-east part of the Northern Territory.

For additional information you can visit or contact the appropriate authority:
Information Centre QLD Parks & Wildlife Service - Simpson Desert NP

SA Simpson Desert Conservation Park

Desert Parks Pass Order Form

Flora and Fauna - Simpson Desert

Gidgee Trees found in eastern part of the desert ? ParksWeb, SADespite the arid and often harsh and unforgiving landscape, the region is full of plants and wildlife that have adapted to the environment. Besides the variety of small marsupials, animals such as Dunnart and Mulgara (a small carnivorous marssupial with a distinctive crest of short black hairs on the tail), Dingoes and kangaroos are also found.

There are reptiles including the Military Dragon (a common lizard in the area), Perentie (Australia's largest lizard), Goannas, Western Brown Snakes, Woma Pythons, Banded skinks (also known as the sand swimmers because of their fluid mobility in sand).

Of the more than 150 species of birds that inhabit the desert, there is the Eyrean Grasswren (rare), Australian Bustard (rare), Wedge-tailed Eagles, Brown Falcons, Budgerigars and Zebra Finches. Black Kites, Crested Pigeons and Galahs are also common in the floodplain areas, and waterbirds can be found on the playa lakes when there is water about. Other birds sighted in the region include Banded Lapwing, Crimson Chat, and Red Backed Kingfisher.

There are of course the feral animals including rabbits, foxes, camels and donkeys. When camels became redundant in the 1920's, they were released into the wild. Now it is estimated that there are over 500,000 camels roaming the outback of Australia, being the largest free ranging herd of camels in the world.

Much of the plant life rely on the seasonal conditions, and have evolved short life cycles of growth, flower, and seed within a couple months of rain. Following any period of rain, it is a spectacular sight to see flowers blooming in such a harsh arid environment.

On the mobile sand areas, including the crests of dunes, Sandhill Cane Grass and other grasses and herbs can be seen growing. On the more stable sands you can find Lobed Spinifex Triodia basedowii, grasses and shrubs, including wattles.

In the swales between the dunes, elevated Spinifex hummocks form as the sandy soil erodes around them. It is in these areas that many grasses can be found, as well small trees, primarily Mulga Acacia aneura. Around Poeppel Corner are found isolated swales of low open woodlands of Gidgee Acacia cambagei, giving the illusion of being thickly forested. Georgina gidgee Acacia georginae occur in the Queensland region of the park, occuring throughout the Georgina Basin. The tree contains sodium fluroacetate, the active constituent in the poison 1080, widely used for feral animal control.

Even in the salt playa lakes and around the fringes, sparse Samphire (Sclerostegia and Halosarcia species) can be found growing on mounds.

Source: ParksWeb - Department for Environment & Heritage

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Geology - Simpson Desert

Hundred of thousands of years ago this vast basin was alternately covered by freshwater lakes and the sea. During the final period of fresh water, a layer of organic material was to settle and consolidate as a result of the decomposition of the vegetation. This accounts for the hydrocarbons in the form of oil and gas that is today being tapped in the Gidgealpa and Moomba fields.

Then about 40,000 years ago, as the centre of this continent became more arid, the surface sand became mobile and was blown into the Lake Eyre Basin. It is the continuation of the arid climate that allowed the winds of the time to form the pattern of longitudinal dunes we see today. Formed from very fine sand, these parallel dunes that formed averaged 20 m in height, with the largest today at 90 m ('Big Red'), and stretching up to over 300 kms long in places. Sand hills near watercourses are usually yellowish white from the alluvial soil, while the red sand hills are tinted by a coating of ferric (iron) oxide on the sand grains.

Found between the dunes are clay and saltpans, sand drifts and plains, and towards the east, gibber-ironstone flats.

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