Witjira National Park: Where Great Adventure Meets Serenity

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Witji­ra Nation­al Park has more than 120 mound springs. It includes the fascinating Nation­al Her­itage-list­ed Dal­housie Springs.

Aboriginal people have used it for thousands of years as a source of shelter, food, and medicine. It is possible to swim in the warm waters of the main spring.

Witjira National Park
kevleyski, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

The area is home to unique fish, such as the Dalhousie hardyhead. It also has other rare aquatic life found nowhere else in the world.

The springs and camping spots attract visitors, without any doubt. Witjira has top visitor facilities. It makes the park one of the most popular in the outback.

More Information About Witjira National Park

Visit this fantastic park a few weeks after a soaking rain. You can witness the ephemeral wildflowers bursting into bloom.

This area is part of the tra­di­tion­al coun­try of the Low­er South­ern Arrernte and Wangkan­gur­ru peo­ple. It has spe­cial cul­tur­al sig­nif­i­cance to mem­bers of these groups.

The ancient springs of this area have a strong mytho­log­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance for Abo­rig­i­nal peo­ple. They are fea­tured in many trib­al sto­ries and songs.

There are many Abo­rig­i­nal cul­tur­al and her­itage sites within the park. A Co-management Board manages the park. It comprises members of the two groups.

It also includes members of the Department of Environment and Water. Toilets and cold shower facilities are available at the Dalhousie Springs campground.

At Purni Bore Campground, you can find hot showers, toilets, and a shade shelter. The last spot to fill up on drinking water before you cross the desert is a Creek Campground.

It is possible to get emergency water from the bore there. There are many Abo­rig­i­nal cul­tur­al and her­itage sites with­in the park.

The Co-management Board has members from both groups. It also has members from the Department of Environment and Water. It manages the park.

The Dal­housie mound springs have been part of Abo­rig­i­nal life for thou­sands of years. They were first sight­ed by Euro­peans on 10 Decem­ber 1870.

A small par­ty of sur­vey­ors work­ing on the Over­land Tele­graph Line in search of water locat­ed the springs. Ned Bagot took up the first lease of Dal­housie Sta­tion on New Year’s Day in 1873.

Later, other stations, including Bloods Creek, Mount Dare, and Federal, were also leased. The Dalhousie Pastoral Company later combined them.

In the 1950s, people bred sheep, ango­ra goats, hors­es, camels, and cat­tle on this sta­tion. They also attempted agri­cul­ture, planting lucerne near the Dal­housie main spring.

After a century of pastoralism, the mound springs had become degraded. It has national, biological, geological, and cultural significance.

The local people purchased the 77769 square kilometer station on 21 November 1985. They dedicated it to this magnificent National Park, then.

Dal­housie Springs

If you plan to cross the Simpson Desert, Dalhousie is on your way in or out. Every Simpson Desert tourist seems to stop and camp overnight at Dalhousie.

Dal­housie Springs is part of a chain of mound springs extend­ing along the out­er rim of the Great Arte­sian Basin. It is one of the mentionable attractions of Witjira Park.

Dal­housie Springs
Tandrew22CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The arte­sian water ris­es up from a con­sid­er­able depth through cracks and fis­sures in the sub­ter­ranean stra­ta. At the point of exit, the water is mil­lions of years old.

It orig­i­nal­ly entered the sys­tem in the Finke Riv­er area in the North­ern Ter­ri­to­ry. The water in the Dal­housie Main Spring is around 37 degrees, mak­ing it per­fect for a relax­ing soak.

Bloods Creek

The Bloods Creek wind­mill stands as a soli­tary reminder of what was once a thriv­ing cat­tle sta­tion. Bloods Creek oper­at­ed for some years as a pas­toral lease in its own right.

Then, Edin Lowe amal­ga­mat­ed it with Fed­er­al, Mt Dare, and Dal­housie Springs to form the Dal­housie Pas­toral Company.

Chance of exploring Purni Bore

The French Petroleum Company created the Purni Bore in 1963. They were exploring the rock strata beneath the Great Artesian Basin.

They drilled the bore to a depth of 1880 meters, capped it, and sealed it. The waterhole is now permanent, without any doubt.

It attracts many bird species that seek respite from the desert heat. The flowing water bore head is boiling at 85 degrees Celsius.

The Old Ghan Railway

Some of the best sidings of the Old Ghan Railway are inside or close to Witjira National Park. You can make a round trip from Dalhousie Springs.

You can go via Dalhousie Homestead Ruins. You can also go through the tiny Pedirka Desert. Then, You will eventually come to Pedirka Siding.

Continue north once you get to Hamilton Station. Follow the signs to Mt Dare, and you will pass by the gorgeous, shady Eringa Waterhole.

It is also the site of Sir Sidney Kidman’s first homestead. Keep heading north, and you will find yourself at Abminga Siding.

Return to Dalhousie Springs via the track. Yes, it is a tiny station track. It leads to Bloods Creek, the site of another historic but now abandoned homestead.

This round trip is 220km. You can comfortably do it in a day, with plenty of time to swim at Eringa Waterhole and Dalhousie Springs.

Dal­housie Ruins

The ruins of Dalhousie Homestead are a 12km drive from Dalhousie Springs. The drive takes only fifteen minutes and goes through a dramatic desert landscape.

The public can visit the ruins nestled among date palms and small mound springs. It is hard to imagine living here when you stand and gaze at the stark desert landscape.

Dalhousie Ruins
Tandrew22CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Dal­housie Pas­toral lease was first tak­en up by Ned Bagot in 1873. The home­stead and sev­er­al oth­er build­ings remain. These include a black­smiths shop and stockyards.

Conclusion

Witjira National Park is a surprising mix of adventure. It has bubbling artesian springs and history. This fascinating place is on the edge of the Simpson Desert.

Witjira is a great place to visit if you are new to off-road travel. You can practice your driving and bush camping there.

You will get a taste of what it is like to visit the remote outback. You can have a big desert adventure without experience or equipment.

The location of this spot is in an ideal area. You can drive in from the Stuart Highway. You can even drive up from Oodnadatta Track in less than a day.

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