Simpson Desert and remote tracks closed over summer

News article |

The Simpson Desert and four Public Access Routes (PARs) in the state’s outback will be closed over the hottest months of the year to ensure the safety of visitors and emergency personnel.

Posted 23 November 2015.

The closures will apply from Tuesday 1 December 2015 to Tuesday 15 March 2016 and affect the Simpson Desert Conservation Park and Regional Reserve, Pedirka (PAR No. 8), Halligan Bay (PAR No. 13), K1 Warburton Crossing (PAR No. 15) and Walkers Crossing (PAR No.16).

Natural Resources SA Arid Lands Manager Public Lands and Co-management Tony Magor said it was necessary to close the areas during summer to prevent potential life-threatening situations from arising.

“We can’t assume that everyone is fully aware of the possible dangers that they put themselves in when travelling in remote outback areas and along isolated tracks,” he said.

“Daytime temperatures routinely range between 40 and 50 degrees Celsius during the summer and some international visitors particularly do not have the level of experience required to make these crossings in extreme conditions.

“High temperatures can also lead to an increased chance of vehicle failure and a vehicle that is under-prepared with little or no communications and recovery gear is a recipe for disaster.”

Mr Magor said the risk extended to emergency personnel called in to help stranded visitors during this period.

Information signs have been strategically placed around the park to inform visitors of the Simpson Desert closure, and the four PARs will have their access gates signed and closed. All regional communities and visitor information centres are aware of the closure as they have been occurring for a number of years.

“This closure won’t have a significant impact on local businesses, as in the past, fewer than 35 vehicles would traverse the Simpson Desert during summer,” Mr Magor said.

While the Simpson Desert Conservation Park and Regional Reserve has routinely closed over summer for the past seven years, this is the fourth year the Pastoral Board has closed the selected PARs.

Pastoral Board Presiding Member Geoff Mills said it was a logical decision to support visitor safety in the region.

“We want visitors to explore and enjoy our magnificent outback in safety and closing these routes to reduce visitor risk during what can be extremely hot weather, sends a clear message about how potentially dangerous these places can be,” Mr Mills said.

The 43 km Pedirka route (PAR No. 8) starts at the terminus of the existing public road at Hamilton Station and is often used as a route to access Dalhousie Springs and Purni Bore in Witjira National Park.

The Halligan Bay route (PAR No. 13) is approximately 7 km south-west of William Creek on the Oodnadatta Track, and offers access to Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre National Park.

The 80 km K1 Warburton Crossing (PAR No. 15) provides access through Clifton Hills station on the Birdsville Track to the Simpson Desert Regional Reserve.

The Walkers Crossing route (PAR No. 16) is a remote 4WD track accessed via Innamincka or the Birdsville Track and is 226 km long.

Witjira National Park and the campground at Dalhousie Springs to the west of the Simpson Desert will not be impacted by the closures (except for the access from the Pedirka route, PAR No.8).

Malkumba-Coongie Lakes National Park or Innamincka Regional Reserve will also not be affected by the closures.

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