The Hay River, Simpson Desert, Australia

For the 4wd adventure traveler the Hay River is a remote wilderness area to explore in the Northern Territory Australia and relatively unknown.

Lindsay Booke the traditional owner opened up the lands not many years ago for us to discover.
We were one of the first groups through and had to find our way at times as no track had been formed for much of the trip, but on our second trip into the area an established track started to be formed and made it easier to make our way.

The trip would see us travel many days to Batton Hill, the home base of Lindsay Booke where he and his family live. The ghost gums of this region are striking.

Along with others we rendezvoused at the agreed time at Mungeranine on the Birdsville track, and from there made our way to Poppel Corner where the 3 states of NSW, Queensland and Northern Territory meet.

Camping out under the stars, the desert night sky has a crispness and clarity that is awesome. The picture below is the view from out tent at dusk. The band of colour on the horizon is rich in tone, as it often is in many outback areas at dusk, but in the desert it was even better. This is a salt pan/clay pan hence the white surface.

The Simpson Desert has been explored and surveyed for many years, however the Hay River region has been untouched and unkown. This is a pristine wilderness in Australia. Prepared adventures can apply for a permit to Lindasy Booke to access the area.
It is a privilege to experience part of our country that has had virtually no impact from human endeavors.

Recent rains in the North Simpson Desert had brought forth a carpet of green in some areas as we made our way to the Hay River.
Within 3 weeks this green growth becomes a carpet of colorful wild flowers across the red sands.

Sand hills of around 25 meters high are about half a kiometer apart in the Simpson Desert with a spinifex valley in between.The sandhills are 80 km to 300km in length, so you don’t drive around them.

The image below is the smooth rich red sands of the Hay River located in the wilderness area of the North Simpson Desert.
Seasonal rains create flash floods, brining life to the desert… a ribbon of green trees, birds and other wild life flourish in the heart of this desert. This ribbon of life runs from the Northern Territory near Jervios through the heart of the Simpson, on toward Poepell Corner, where three states meet. This is an inland water way with a difference and a very rare scene experienced by few travelers

We diverted from the Hay River and made our way cross country to Lake Caroline.
Seeing a Lake in the middle of dry desert seemed very strange. We latter learnt from Lindsay Booke that Lake Caroline had been dry with no water in it for the last ten years, so our arrival during heavy rains was a treat.
We camped on the edge of the lake and the sunrise the next morning provided a unique band of colour and reflection on the lake. Our next stop was Batton Hill

Fiery red sunrises have often been a feature and a great experience of camping at Batton Hill.The black silhouetted trees and mesa formed a strong contrast against this fiery red sky.

Part of the Batton Hill experience is to be taken on an all day “bush tucker tour” with Lindsay Booke, who showed us what to look for, with us collecting as we went.
The tour included lunch out in the desert provided by the Booke family.
Kangaroo tail soup, roast emu leg and damper featured and the damper was the best I have ever tasted.
The day ended with Lindsay taking us to Goyder’s Pillar for a sunset spectacular that last less than 30 seconds.

Other features near Batton Hill are Mt Teitkins and Mt Winnecke.

Batton Hill Camp can be accessed easily by reasonable road from Jervois Station from the north end instead of coming in the hard way from the south as we have done here…but where’s the fun in that.
If you come in from the north end the adventure is still a great way to spend 3 days relaxing and taking in the natural features.

The Hay River, Simpson Desert, Australia

Joe Mortelliti

Geelong, Australia

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