SIMPSON DESERT SERIES 1990

“I observed a subtle variation in each dune valley, a sense of spirituality that pervaded its quietness and the debris of vanished settlers and travellers. There were bleached bones that spoke of the character of the land, prehistoric time and the primordial cycle of life and death.” 

 

The Simpson Desert is the largest parallel sand ridge desert in the world, and travelling approximately 700 kilometres across the desert there were 1100 dunes to cross. My visit to this desert left a unique series of impressions.

 

I observed a subtle variation in each dune valley, a sense of spirituality that pervaded its quietness and the debris of vanished settlers and travellers. There were bleached bones that spoke of the character of the land, prehistoric time and the primordial cycle of life and death.

 

I was aware of the history of exploration from 1845 until 1964 and that the explorer Madigan named it the Simpson Desert after AA Simpson of the Royal Geographical Society of Australasia, who financed the 1939 scientific expedition across the desert.

 

Many people forget that the European explorers were not the first to cross the desert. For generations the Simpson Desert was home to groups of Aboriginal people. The southern Simpson Desert was the territory of the Wongkanguru. Their only reliable water sources were called ‘mikiri’. These were small water soaks that are mentioned in ancestral song cycles. Each one had a particular name.

 

These aspects were all considerations as I eagerly approached my work, aiming to respond to my experiences and my growing knowledge of the area.