The Great Victoria Desert and Nullarbor

Introducing The Great Victoria Desert and Nullarbor

Great Victoria Desert

small map of great victoria desert

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$7200 seat in our vehicle per ,
$3800 self drive in your vehicle per
3rd-18th September 2023
Departs Coober Pedy, ends Adelaide

Main Info

Explore the hidden gem of Australia, the Great Victoria Desert, a unique eco-region boasting the largest sand dune and sand plain desert in the country. Stretching across the states of South and Western Australia, this vast wilderness sits between the Nullarbor Plain in the south and the Musgrave Ranges to the north with the WA goldfields to the west and Mabel Creek Station and Coober Pedy to the east.
Named after Queen Victoria in 1875 by explorer Ernest Giles, the Great Victoria Desert features east-west trending dunes, with the exception of the Serpentine Lakes paleo-drainage basin, the only significant watercourse in the desert. Remarkably untouched by human presence, this pristine landscape is crisscrossed by only a few vehicle tracks. Notably, the Mumungari Conservation Park on the South Australian side gained international recognition in 1977 when UNESCO declared it a Biosphere Reserve—one of just fourteen worldwide and among the largest arid zone biospheres globally.
Dominating the terrain are expansive sandplains and dunefields, These longitudinal dunes, ranging from 5 to 20 meters in height and extending up to 100 kilometres, characterise the Great Victoria Desert. Salt lakes, such as the Serpentine Lakes, and other systems like Nurrari and Wyola Lakes, Lakes Maurice and Bring, and Plumridge Lakes and Yeo Lakes in Western Australia, add to the desert's unique features. Embark on an unforgettable journey traversing the desert from east to west along the Anne Beadell Highway, covering 1,325 kilometres of wheel tracks winding through the mesmerising sandhills.
To the south, the expansive and almost treeless limestone Nullarbor Plain awaits exploration—a geological wonder and the largest single exposure of limestone bedrock on the planet. Experience the little-traveled tracks, largely established in the twentieth century during the boom of the rabbit skin and meat industry, as you cross the vast and seldom travelled landscapes of the northern Nullarbor.

hakea francisiana

A Vertiable Botanical Garden

Dispel the misconception that Australian deserts lack vitality as you discover the vibrant ecosystem of the Great Victoria Desert. Contrary to common belief, this desert thrives with abundant vegetation, showcasing diverse communities of acacia, casuarina, and eucalyptus. Among the standout trees is the majestic marble gum, eucalyptus gongylocarpa These trees coexist with flowering mallee and a picturesque array of shrubs and trees, including the distinctive mulga woodland and the elegant Black Oak. Desert poplars, native pines, grevillea, and the striking red-flowered hakea francisiana further enhance the enchanting tapestry of flora in this remarkable desert environment. After rainfall the wildflowers are astonishing.

daisy bates memorial
Aboriginal History

Explore the intricate Aboriginal habitation history of the Great Victoria Desert, as successive anthropologists have endeavoured to unravel its complexities. Dating back approximately 20-24,000 years, the Aboriginal presence in this region is rooted in the rich heritage of the 'Western Desert Culture Bloc.' Habitation patterns were characterised by small family groups embracing an exceptionally mobile hunter-gatherer lifestyle. These groups travelled along dreaming trails across the desert, connecting waterholes and foods with an intricate series of songs and verses called the Law - or Tjukurpa. In 1919, Daisy Bates, a figure surrounded by controversy, arrived at Ooldea, immersing herself in the culture of the desert Aboriginals. Over time, various missions were established to provide support to Aboriginal communities in the expansive Great Victoria Desert. Key locations such as Warburton, Cundeelee, Mount Margaret, and Warburton became pivotal hubs in this endeavour, leaving an indelible mark on the cultural tapestry of the region.

len beadell
Len Beadell

Len Beadell bestowed the name Anne Beadell Highway upon his creation, a tribute to his wife. His extensive network of roads, built for projects such as Woomera, Emu, and Maralinga, weave through the vast expanse of the Australian outback. The construction of the Anne Beadell Highway began in 1951 when Beadell rediscovered Tallaringa Well. During the same year, he skillfully surveyed the centre line of fire for the rockets of the Woomera project. In 1953, Beadell extended a road from Coober Pedy, facilitating access for the development traffic headed to the Emu Atomic Test Site. The following year, he conducted a survey for the Maralinga test site. Continuing his remarkable work, Beadell pushed the road further to Vokes Hill Corner in 1961, ultimately completing the Anne Beadell Highway in 1962. This historic route stands as a testament to Beadell's ingenuity and dedication, offering travelers a unique passage through the captivating landscapes shaped by his vision.

The Atomic Age

In 1952, an announcement sent shockwaves through Australia: Britain was set to detonate a nuclear bomb on Australian soil. The first test unfolded at the Montebello Islands, northwest of Dampier. Subsequent tests occurred at Emu Field in 1953, followed by two more at the Montebello Islands in 1956. Nuclear weapons testing began at Maralinga in 1956, with a total of 12 nuclear explosions conducted across Emu, Maralinga, and the Montebello Islands between 1952 and 1957. The repercussions of these tests lingered for decades. In 1984, the McClelland Royal Commission convened, presenting damning evidence of the environmental impact. As a result, the commission determined that Britain should shoulder the responsibility and costs of future cleanups at the atomic test sites, marking a pivotal moment in addressing the aftermath of these historic events. Explore the historical landscapes shaped by this chapter of Australia's past and witness the ongoing efforts to heal and preserve these significant sites.


  • 1

    The Dingo Fence

    Embark on our journey from various Coober Pedy hotels in the late morning, ensuring convenience for all travelers. Additionally, we coordinate pickups with the incoming REX flight from Adelaide. Our route takes us westward onto the Aboriginal-owned Mabel Creek Station, tracing the station tracks through the vast landscape. As we venture along the station tracks, we leave behind the sheep-grazing country at the Dingo Fence—an extraordinary feat of human engineering. This iconic structure holds the title of the world's longest man-made barrier, stretching an impressive 5,614 kilometers from Jimbour on the Darling Downs to the dramatic cliffs of the Nullarbor. We have commenced an immersive journey through a remarkable terrain, where every turn reveals the rich tapestry of history and nature.

    dog fence
  • 2

    The Anne Beadell Highway

    Our first morning in the Outback, awake to birdsong, a blazing campfire, fresh brewed coffee or billy tea, and a hearty breakfast. We break camp and head west towards Emu.

    anne beadell highway
  • 3-7

    Cessna Wreck

    We enter the magical Great Victoria Desert. Over the next five days we travel westward, largely along internal corridors thick with an astonishing array of vegetation. The road we take is the Anne Beadell Highway, which is really a track not a highway.

    cessna wreck in the great victoria desert
  • 8

    Gormley at Lake Ballard

    We visit Lake Ballard, the site chosen by British sculptor, Sir Antony Gormley, to display his world-famous ‘Inside Australia’ art installation of 51 sculptures known as the Antony Gormley Sculptures.

    gormley statue lake ballard
  • 9

    Plumridge Lakes

    We trek eastward to Pinjin, a ghost town where little remains of a brief gold rush in the early 20th century. We gradually enter more and more remote country.

    plumridge lakes
  • 10

    The Nullarbor

    A day of great variation of scenery as we push eastward through the Great Victoria Desert. Gradually the heavily vegetated country gives way to stunning bluebush plains interspersed with stately western myall.

    the nullarbor
  • 11

    Forrest Railway Station

    We wind our way southward through the remains of old rabbiters camps across vast endless plains until we arrive at the tiny hamlet of Forrest on the Trans Pacific Railway.

    forrest on the nullarbor
  • 12

    Freight train at Cook

    We follow the railway line east. It is a surreal experience as the rail line is dead straight for hundreds of kilometres. Occasionally a freight train will pass, there are siding ruins, old tips and beacons that once provided lights for airplanes traversing the continent.

    cook on the nullarbor
  • 13

    Memorial Daisy Bates at Ooldea

    A full day tour of the Maralinga village, bomb sites and testing ground. We will camp south near Ooldea siding which for many years was the home of Daisy Bates.

    daisy bates
  • 14

    Extraordinary Wynbring

    Ater exploring Ooldea and the surrounding area we travel east through sandhills to Wynbring, and extraordinary granitic outcrop. There are some wonderful short walks to be enjoyed in the area.

  • 15

    Roadhouse Kingoonya

    Ater exploring Wynbring we follow alongside the vermin proof fence past Lyons to Malbooma and on to Tarcoola, the junction of the Sydney-Perth and Adelaide Darwin railway lines. Tarcoola reputedly has a population of two since the Pub, one of only two iron- clad hotels in South Australia closed.

  • 16

    Gawler Ranges

    Leaving the Gawler Ranges we arrive in wheat country. Gradually the country becomes more civilised as we pass Iron Knob and Kimba to make our way to Port Augusta. From Port Augusta we trek south to Adelaide arriving early evening at city hotels and the end of an extraordinary adventure.

    gawler ranges