Simpson Desert Alert – The Rules have Changed

Planning a trip across the Simpson? Has all your pre-planning included checking out the latest restrictions?

Be aware that since the opening of the desert in 2014 there have been two significant rule changes.

1. Every vehicle must have a sand flag


  • Minimum 300mm wide and 290mm high
  • Fluorescent red/orange or lime/yellow
  • If mounted on bullbar or front of vehicle must be 3.5m from ground level
  • If mounted on roof rack must be 2m from roof level

For further information see National Parks South Australia.

Sand flags are a must on 4WD's in the Simpson Desert

Safety flags give drivers a greater chance of seeing approaching vehicles and minimise the risk of accidents.

2. Far more restrictive campfire rules

In Witjira National Park – including Dalhousie Springs east to Purnie Bore.

  • No wood fires at any time
  • Solid fuel fires allowed only in portable receptacles (including a bbq, brazier, fire box). From my reading, the definition of “solid fuel” includes things such as heat beads, briquettes, charcoal, compressed paper/sawdust artificial logs, but NOT WOOD.

In Simpson Desert Conservation Park and Regional Reserve – in South Australian section of the Simpson

  • Wood fires are allowed, but you must bring your own wood.

In Munga-Thirri National Park (formerly Simpson Desert National Park) – in Queensland

  • No fires of any kind are allowed.

Why it’s important to be aware of any restrictions

It pays to be aware of these restrictions and ensure you are compliant. On one trip across the desert, we were greeted by 2 Police Landcruisers sitting on top of Big Red. The officers informed us that they were just completing a joint Queensland/ South Australia operation across the desert, mainly focusing on speed. I bet this is one of the last places you would expect to encounter a radar!

The debate over trailers being used across the desert continues to rage. Don’t be surprised if this is the next restriction on the list.

For more advice and information, check out our 3 Part series on preparing and undertaking a Simpson Desert crossing.