Great Victoria Desert landscape

Great Victoria Desert landscape

The South Australian section of the Great Victoria Desert (GVD) is one of nine distinct sub-landscapes in the Alinytjara Wiluṟara region. It is the largest desert in Australia, spanning over 700 kilometres from west to east. Its pristine, arid wilderness includes red sand dunes, stony plains and dry salt lakes. There is no permanent surface water, with scarce rockholes, claypans and soaks holding water only during wet periods. Within this landscape there are Aṉangu communities at Oak Valley, Watarru and Walalkara. The South Australian section of the GVD is co-managed by the Department for Environment and Water (DEW) and the Traditional Owners of these lands, with work on Country supported by the National Parks and Wildlife Service and the AW Landscape Board.

Key characteristics

  • The largest desert in Australia, featuring red sand dunes, stony plains and dry salt lakes
  • An area of significant conservation importance that is a Declared UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve
  • A remarkably weed-free landscape compared to other parts of the state, with only eight species of weeds reported

Native plants and animals

  • Many species of conservation significance, reflecting an area rich in flora and fauna
  • 15 bird species with a conservation rating including the princess parrot, malleefowl and scarlet chested parrot
  • 95 reptile species, of which 18 have conservation significance


This landscape attracts four-wheel drive tourists wanting to experience the beauty and challenges of travelling through this remote area. Access to this region requires a pass or permit. There is no access for the general public to the APY Lands, and no transit permits are allowed. Visitors should also be aware that there are safety issues specific to the region.