Australia is the driest inhabited content on the earth, and besides our endless stretches of beaches, rainforests, snow-capped mountains and forests, there’s plenty of barren land hanging around that’s definitely worth visiting.
A whopping 70 percent of our mainland gets less than 500mm of rain every year, we’re sure you know about the troubles of drought and lack of rainfall has on our farmers and our grasslands, but the lack of rain is a part of what makes our outback and deserts such jaw-dropping places to visit.
Our beautiful country is so large (to us at least), we have just about every type of climate there is to choose from and visit. The great Australian outback is what draws lots of people to see our country, but the deserts of Australia are also some of the least visited places that Aussies go — they shouldn’t be though.
We’re betting that people aren’t sure of the beauty and amazement that awaits them, or they don’t know what they need to travel in one of Australia’s most breathtaking landscapes. It’s not just one big slab of outback in the middle of the country, no, the deserts in Australia offers a lot more than that.
With sand dunes that envy those in Dubai, culture older than any European country and animals much more exotic than those in a zoo, the Australian deserts are something every Aussie should see at least once in their life. Despite what you might think, there’s something to see, do and experience at every corner.
Of course, the best way to get around is with your Mars camper trailer. In a lot of places, you’ll find a lack of facilities, just big’ ol’ stretches of land. So, the more you can have with you and ready to go at a moment’s notice, the better.
Let’s have a look at some of the best locations you should visit, as well as some pro tips for your adventure.
Great Victoria Desert
Our biggest desert is the Great Victoria Desert which coincidently, doesn’t run through chilly Victoria, but South Australia and Western Australia. At an impressive 424,400 km2, it’s the third largest desert in the world. Pretty impressive.
The days in summer are hot, between 30 and 40 degrees, but the dry heat isn’t to unbearable compared to other humid parts of the country. In winter, you’ll experience much more pleasant temperatures during the day between 20 and 25, however the nights
get cold, and we mean cold– frost is not uncommon so make sure you have packed enough clothes in your camper trailer to suit both climates.
Many people hear the word desert and expect endless sand dunes, or barren stony plains without vegetation. The Great Victoria Desert looks nothing like that. It’s called a desert because there is little rain, not because it is dead or boring.
The amount of vegetation may surprise you. Australia has always been a dry continent, and the plants are well adapted to living with very little water. Marble gums, mulga and spinifex grass are just some of the interesting vegetation that thrive there. You will find a huge variety of shrubs and smaller plants.
When it does rain, the transformation is unreal. The desert bursts into bloom seemingly overnight. Fields of wildflowers, with flowering grevilleas and acacias, yellows, whites and mauves against the red sands … crossing the Great Victoria Desert after a big rain is something you’ll never forget.
But even without any rain the Great Victoria Desert is a sight to behold. Rocks and ranges, caves and gorges, bluffs and breakaways … and wildlife, wildlife, wildlife.
This is a remote area, so you NEED to be well prepared. Have your car checked over before you leave, make sure you have enough petrol (spare, too) and water, spare parts, tyres and even satellite equipment in case something goes wrong.
Make sure you’ve planned where you’re heading, and you’ve got an actual map to get you there and back. We hate to break it to you, but your iPhone won’t work in the middle of the desert.
Before you’re scared off, crossing the Great Victorian Desert isn’t difficult if you stick to the main roads. Being prepared and having some common sense is all you really need
to make your trip across this desert a successful one, it can even be done in a two-wheel drive if you’re careful.
Great Sandy Desert
The second largest desert in Australia is still a massive one. It covers about 284,993 km2 and is located just below the ever so popular Kimberly region.
You guessed it, the climate is pretty dry … but for a desert, the Great Sandy Desert receives a surprising amount of rain. Especially, the northern parts that are affected by the monsoon and see a good amount of thunderstorms during the wet season during November to April.
Summer days are very hot. You will be looking at 38 to 42 degrees or more, not really viable for a good time. The further south you go, the hotter the days will be. If you get some cloud cover, the days will be cooler, but at the same time the humidity will be higher and make things more uncomfortable. Winter days are a pleasant 25 to 30 degrees. Nights can get very cold, even freezing, so pack your thick doona.
The Great Sandy Desert is pretty flat, which is made even more noticeable by the rocky ranges and hills that surround it. But this desert is where you’ll have the most fun, and you can find what lots of people expect from a desert– sand dunes. Think tall red sand dunes in parallel rows that cover miles and miles of this desert.
You’ll also find low hills, and even chains of salt lakes. Also expect open grasslands with occasional trees or shrubs: bloodwood, acacias, grevilleas, and further south desert oaks.
The Great Sandy Desert has a ton of Australian animals for you to experience in their natural habitat, but they’re also threatened by introduced species. Cat and fox populations are high, camels are everywhere, and of course, there’s those pesky rabbits.
When You Visit, Remember This
The famous Kata Tjuta Uluru National Park lies in the Great Sandy Desert, and it’s a great place to stop. The rock formations here are something you shouldn’t miss. To access the national park, you’ll need a pass, but you can grab one easily online. Beyond the busy tourist areas, there’s plenty to see and do but again, make sure you’re prepared and ready for anything.
A great way to experience the desert is to follow the Canning Stock Route. This 2000 km trek crosses the Gibson, the Little Sandy, and the Great Sandy Desert, that’s a lot of desert! You can navigate this yourself, or if you’d rather do a tour there are a heap of options. several options, ranging from four-wheel drive bus tours, tagalong tours (follow a guide in your own vehicle) to self-drive packages. By the way, this trip requires several weeks, it’s not one you can do over a long weekend.
If you want to go on your own, or travel in other parts of the deserts away from the main roads, please be aware that it requires thorough preparation, experience and knowledge.
You’ll need a very reliable vehicle and detailed maps, enough fuel, necessary spare parts, and plenty of water. You can never take too much water. Did we mention water?
While lots of the information online tells you that the Tanami Desert is one of the most isolated places in Australia, it’s quite possible for anyone to travel there, if you have taken the right precautions.
It’s a smaller desert compared to the ones we’ve previously mentioned, sitting at 184,500 km2 (yeah, that’s still pretty massive), the Tanami Desert is much farther north than the rest of the deserts in Australia. You know what that means, a more tropical climate.
This is important, because it can rain so much that the tracks flood and you can’t actually make it through.
During summer, the average maximum day time temperatures hover around 36 – 38 degrees, dropping at night to 20 – 22, much more bearable than the deserts down south.
Winters are much cooler, but you’ll experience some humidity. At the coldest time of the year day time temperatures are only about 25°C and the night time temperatures drop below 10°C.
We hope you’re now feeling inspired to trek the deserts of Australia and experience some of our awesome country in your Mars Camper Trailer. Take a look at our range and choose one that best suits you, we have something for everyone.