Munga-Thirri National Park Outback Queensland

Photo credit: © Tourism and Events Queensland

Visiting Munga-Thirri safely

    Getting there and getting around

    Warning! Only self-sufficient visitors experienced in desert and remote area travel should explore Munga-Thirri and the Simpson Desert. You must be well-equipped to cope with the harsh environment in Australia's driest place. It is vitally important you read and follow the advice in before you visit and staying safe.

    From Birdsville take the graded road shire road 35km west to Big Red sand dune at the edge of the Simpson Desert. From here on you must have a high-clearance 4WD vehicle. Follow the signs at Big Red to the QAA line.

    Although there are no roads across the desert, there are tracks such as the QAA Line and Rig Road that were made by surveyors searching for gas and oil during the 1960s and 1970s.

    Once inside the park, you must keep to the QAA line—the remaining 130km to Poeppel Corner traverses loose sand dunes. The one-way trip takes five to six hours so allow for an overnight stay.

    The track through Munga-Thirri National Park is impassable when wet. Even small amounts of rain can make outback roads impassable, always be prepared and have at least a week's worth of extra supplies in case of stranding. Check with local authorities or the Desert Parks Bulletin (PDF, 961.4KB) for current road conditions before your trip.

    If you intend continuing beyond Queensland and into the South Australian part of the Simpson Desert, you will need to purchase a Desert Parks Pass. See the tourism information links for more information.

    To help you plan your visit to this remote area, simply download the Central West Queensland National Parks visitor guide (PDF, 961.4KB) .

    Wheelchair accessibility

    There are no wheelchair-accessible facilities in Munga-Thirri National Park.

    Staying safe

    Munga-Thirri National Park is very remote and help can be days away. It is critical that you are self-sufficient and prepared for emergencies.

    It is vitally important that you read the staying safe in Parks of Central West Queensland.

    Safe desert driving

    • Vehicle tracks are high clearance 4WD only. Tracks are not graded.
    • Cross dunes carefully. Shifting sand creates steep drops, depressions and humps.
    • Approach dune crests with caution. Always assume there is an oncoming vehicle (monitor Channel 10 UHF while driving but keep chatter to a minimum). Attach a flag to the highest point of your vehicle, such as your radio aerial, to make it more visible.
    • Call points are marked with road markers at 5km intervals from Big Red to the Northern Territory border. Use these markers to alert other travellers of your position and direction of travel on Channel 10.
    • Take care when altering tyre pressure. If you choose to reduce tyre pressure to improve traction in soft sand, check manufacturer's recommendations, consider weight and load, reduce speed, avoid sudden turns and drive to suit conditions. Reinflate tyres immediately to manufacturer’s recommendations once conditions improve.
    • Cross dunes when the sand is cool. Early morning and late afternoon is best for easier access.
    • Stop driving if visibility is poor. Gusty winds create dust storms with little warning. Wait in your vehicle until conditions improve.
    • Keep to the marked track to avoid hazards. Saltpans may look solid but beneath their thin, loamy crust is soft, black, sticky mud.

    For more information about safe sand driving, please read the driving on sand (PDF, 2.3MB) guidelines.

    In an emergency

    In an emergency, phone Triple Zero (000). You could also try to make contact with other people on UHF radio (try channel 10 for other local radio traffic).

    Mobile phone coverage is not available in the national park. Carry a satellite phone or UHF radio, a personal locator beacon (PLB) is also advisable.

    We highly recommend you visit the Triple Zero website before visiting a national park or forest. Download the Triple Zero emergency app to help identify your location. Important: if there is no mobile coverage on any network, you will not be able to reach the Emergency Call Service via a mobile phone.

    Before you visit

    Because the Simpson Desert is vast and remote, you must be experienced in remote area travel, completely self-sufficient and prepared for emergencies. Travel in two-vehicle parties, stay on the track, and leave a copy of your travel plans with family or someone responsible before you leave home.

    Essentials to bring

    • Adequate water, food and emergency supplies. Carry at least 7 litres of water per person per day and enough emergency food and water for at least a week in case of stranding.
    • Fuel stoves are recommended.
    • Complete first-aid kit. Include sun and insect protection in your kit.
    • UHF, satellite phone and/or a personal locator beacon (PLB). Mobile phone coverage is not available in Munga-Thirri National Park.
    • Extra fuel and vehicle repairs. Frequent low gear and four-wheel-drive travel will use fuel more quickly. You should also bring additional spare tyres, oil and engine coolant and vehicle recovery gear.

    Opening hours

    Munga-Thirri National Park is closed from 1 December to 15 March due to extreme summer temperatures that can exceed 50°C. The park is open the rest of the year however wet weather may cause temporary closures. Check park alerts for information on park conditions, access and closures.

    Permits and fees

    Camping permits are required and fees apply.

    Various activities in national parks require a permit. Activities include commercial tours, social events, organised group visits, school excursions, scientific research, professional photography and the sale of photographs or vision of the park. Contact us for further information.

    If you intend continuing beyond Queensland and into the South Australian part of the Simpson Desert, you will need to purchase a Desert Parks Pass. See the tourism information links for more information.


    Domestic animals are not permitted in Munga-Thirri National Park.

    Climate and weather

    Visiting is recommended from May to September as summer temperatures reach over 50°C and summer rains often cause flooding. You must be well equipped to cope with scorching days and freezing nights which can occur at any time—winter mornings can fall below freezing point.

    Average annual rainfall is less than 150mm, and typically occurs in short downpours from December to March, although rain can occur at any time of year causing temporary flooding and road closures. No permanent surface water occurs in the park, due to a parching evaporation rate. Dust storms are common in dry times.

    Weather forecasts are available from the Bureau of Meteorology.

    Fuel and supplies

    The nearest fuel and supplies in Queensland are in Birdsville, 79km from the park entrance. If you are travelling interstate use maps to plan refuelling points and calculate how much extra fuel you must carry to reach them. Don’t forget frequent low gear and four-wheel-driving uses much more fuel.