Big Red Sand Dune near Birdsville

Big RedBig Red is the tallest dune in the Simpson Desert, which is the largest sand dune desert in the world according to the Guiness Book of Records. Drivers see Big Red as a challenge. Many need several attempts to get to the top, particularly the crazy dudes who try to conquer Big Red in a two-wheel-drive car. Actually, I think we may have attempted that ourselves – in a Nissan Bluebird, which had the road clearance of an earthworm. I don’t think we got anywhere near the top.

I probably have better photos of Big Red but this one shows my beloved kelpie Minyma, who died over 10 years ago now.

The photo was taken after flood. The whole of the plain had been under water. The floodwaters were followed by grasses and wildflowers. A rare and wonderful sight. But even without the wildflowers, Big Red gives you a fantastic view across the parallel sand dunes of the Simpson Desert. And at full moon, you can see the sun setting and the moon rising at the same time. So take a bottle of wine and settle down to watch the sunset!

As the name says, the sand is red. The desert is showing its age. The redness comes from iron which oxidises on exposure to air. Further south, the Simpson desert sand is still white and this shows that the sand is moving northwards over time. There’s more about the formation of the desert in the Lake Eyre Basin audio of the Birdsville Track Audio Tour.

Only 35km west of Birdsville, Big Red is a must-see. Go dip your toes into the silky, warm sand of the Simpson!