Photo: Witjira National Park, Dalhousie Springs. Photographer: Jon Armstrong Tourism Australia
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In the arid regions of the western part of the Great Simpson Desert in the Outback of central Australia, you will find Witjira National Park, a vast area protecting rare native animals and rare flora. A network of natural springs, called the Dalhousie Springs make this place very special, harbouring desert life including unique fish species, found nowhere else on the planet.
The artesian springs here make this a remarkable and popular place to visit in this vast desert region. While the mineralised waters are quite warm, 38º to 43º Celsius, they breathe life into this otherwise very arid region.
The 120 mound springs of the the Dalhousie Springs enable lush vegetation, birdlife and other animals to thrive. Sand dunes, dry stone covered tablelands and flood plains make up the rest of this place.
Swimming is possible at the Dalhousie Main Spring.
The seasonal rains add to the wonder of Witjira NP, when fields of desert flowers spring to life to bloom in stunning colours.
Aside from the popular Dalhousie Springs, there is the Bloods Creek Windmill, built to supply artesian water to the now defunct cattle station that was here many years ago. Another of the places to visit is the Dalhouse Ruins, started as a pastoral lease in 1873 by Ned Bagot. They include the homestead, the blacksmith shop and old stockyards.
The Purni Bore is another attraction here, created by the French Petroleum Company looking for gas and oil. The test bore was drilled down to 1880 metres, then capped. It has now rusted through, allowing the deep and hot waters (85º Celsius) of the Great Artesian Basin to flow upwards and outwards. The resultant wetland now harbours a wide variety of birdlife and flora.
Aboriginals have long enjoyed the region now covered by the park. They, the Lower Southern Arrernte and Wangkangurru people, the traditional owners of the land now co-manage the park with the South Australia Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources.
There is camping available here, though you will need to bring your own firewood and there are strict fire regulations in place. You will also need a permit, call the Desert Parks Hotline - 1800 816 078 for more information.
Located some 887 kilometres north west of the city of Port Augusta, you can get there via the Stuart Highway at Oodnadatta.
On the coast of South Australia: Kangaroo Island SA.
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Main Photo: Witjira National Park, Dalhousie Springs. Photographer: Jon Armstrong Tourism Australia
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