Witjira National Park, on the western
edge of the Simpson Desert, is in one of the driest regions in Australia. Yet
this region of South Australia has something
very special, that attract travellers, like the early explorers
to the region. In a seemingly arid desert landscape, amidst endless sand dunes
and gibber plains, are countless thermal springs, often
surrounded by lush greenery that beckons like desert oasis remembered in old
movies. You may even get to see the odd camel or two, alien creatures
transplanted into this strange land.
Witjira National Park is part of the traditional country of the Lower Southern
Arrernte and Wangkangurru people, rich in evidence of past occupation dating
many thousands of years. It is a place that holds special cultural significance,
Indigenous heritage and tradition, and humming with
song lines and dream time stories such as the Two Boys songline -
European explorers and pastoralist stamp their mark across the land, evident by
the decaying buildings of the
Dalhousie Homestead ruins. The only things that have survived from their
attempts to tame this land are the stands of date palms and the feral animals.
Today, a new breed of explorers have come, travellers from around the world to
see the spectacular country of gibber plains, stony tablelands, flat-topped mesa
hills, salt pans, sand dunes and flood plain country. But most of all, they come
to experience the beauty of the mound springs, and a dip in the warming waters
Dalhousie Springs, a refreshing moment after the long dusty drive.
With the steam gently rising from the pools, some claim the waters have health
benefits. Indeed the indigenous name for Dalhousie Springs is 'Irrwanyere', translated as 'healing
waters'. The water percolates to the surface from deep within the Great Artesian
Basin, water that date back many millions of years. In the cool of the early
morning, mist rises off the springs, enticing the traveller for another swim or
soak in the invigorating water, whilst the native fish nibble your dead skin.
For those planning the trip, 4 wheel drive only is recommended, the turnoff to
the park is just north of
Oodnadatta for those coming from either
William Creek. At a mere 887 km from
Port Augusta, you should always check for weather and road conditions and a
Desert Parks pass is required for those staying.
More information about
Witjira National Park,
Witjira National Park Fauna and Flora
Ruins of the Dalhousie Homestead,