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About

Witjira National Park features more than 120 mound springs. The park includes the National Heritage-listed Dalhousie Springs, used by Aboriginal people for thousands of years as a source of food, shelter and medicine. You can swim in the main spring’s warm waters. The area is home to unique species of fish such as the Dalhousie hardyhead and other rare aquatic life found nowhere else in the world.

The attraction of the springs, combined with some delightful camping spots and quality visitor facilities, make Witjira one of the most popular parks in the outback.

If you're lucky enough to be visiting the park a few weeks after a soaking rain, you'll be rewarded with the ephemeral wildflowers bursting into bloom.

Opening hours

Open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Listen to the local area radio station for the latest updates and information on fire safety. 

Contact details

Desert Parks Information

Phone: (+61 8) 8648 5328
Email: DesertParks@sa.gov.au

After Hours Regional Duty Officer: 0408 378 284

Outback Road Report

1300 361 033 (24-hour automated service)
Northern and Western South Australian Outback Roads Temporary Closures, Restrictions and Warnings Report

When to visit

The best time of year to visit is between April and September. If you're lucky enough to visit the park a few weeks after a soaking rain, you'll be rewarded with the ephemeral wildflowers bursting into bloom in the sand dune country.

Getting there

Witjira National Park is located 887km north-west of Port Augusta. Access is via Stuart Highway, Oodnadatta.

From Adelaide: Either travel via Port Augusta, Marla (or turn off at Coober Pedy), Oodnadatta, Hamilton Station then via the Pedirka track to Dalhousie or travel to Eringa then to Dalhousie Springs.

From Birdsville: Travel via the QAA Line and French Line track to Purni Bore and Dalhousie Springs.

From the Northern Territory: Enter via Kulgera, Finke, New Crown and Charlotte Waters.

Please refer to the latest Desert Parks Bulletin for current access and road condition information.

Facilities

Toilets and cold shower facilities are available at the Dalhousie Springs campground. Hot showers, toilets and shade shelter is available and Purni Bore campground. Drinking water is available from the bore at 3 O'clock Creek campground, which is the last place to fill up on drinking water before you cross the desert.

Mount Dare Hotel (privately operated) has campgrounds, accommodation, food and drink, hot showers, fuel, water and mechanical assistance available.

Assistance dogs

Assistance dogs are permitted in most public places and are therefore welcome in South Australia’s parks and reserves. Assistance dogs must be appropriately restrained on a lead and remain under your effective control at all times while in a park or reserve.

As per the dogs in parks and reserves policy, if the dog is not an accredited assistance dog, they must be trained to assist a person with a disability to alleviate that disability and meet standards of hygiene and behaviour appropriate for a dog in a public place. However, refusal may be given if the person with the disability is unable to produce evidence the dog is an assistance dog with the appropriate training.

Before taking your assistance dog into a park that does not normally allow dogs, it is highly recommended that you contact us so we can provide you with the latest information on any potential hazards within specific parks that may affect your dog. Please contact the park via the contact details provided under the contact tab or call the information line on (+61 8) 8204 1910.

Dogs not allowed

Dogs are not permitted in this park.

Discover which parks you can walk your dog in on our find a park tool or read 12 dog-friendly walks in Adelaide Parks by Good Living for inspiration.

Useful information

  • There is no mobile phone coverage in the park.

Outback Road Report

1300 361 033 (24-hour automated service)
Northern and Western South Australian Outback Roads Temporary Closures, Restrictions and Warnings Report

  • Important: Collection of firewood within National Parks is prohibited.

Traditional owners

Witjira National Park is part of the traditional country of the Lower Southern Arrernte and Wangkangurru people and is of special cultural significance to members of these groups. The ancient springs have a strong mythological significance for Aboriginal people and are featured in many tribal stories and songs, and there are many Aboriginal cultural and heritage sites within the park. A Co-management Board manages the park. It comprises members of the two groups and members of the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources.

Word from the Witjira National Park Co-management Board

We have been co-operatively managing Witjira for decades, responsible for jointly managing the park since 1995 and later becoming a Co-management Board in 2007. We have strong links to this land, reflected through Altyerre/Tjukurpa and the many Dreaming stories that weave throughout the park.

One of our biggest achievements is working together. We respect each other’s expertise and strengths, as well as having respect and trust in a working relationship for the benefit of all.

We work with partners to achieve conservation and cultural objectives including controlling date palms that invade wetland habitats, reducing feral animal populations that damage our land (such as camels and donkeys), and improving visitor facilities.

Aboriginal peoples have occupied, enjoyed and managed the lands and waters of this State for thousands of generations. For Aboriginal first nations, creation ancestors laid down the laws of the Country and bestowed a range of customary rights and obligations to the many Aboriginal Nations across our state. 

There are many places across the State that have great spiritual significance to Aboriginal first nations.  At some of these places Aboriginal cultural protocols, such as restricted access, are promoted and visitors are asked to respect the wishes of Traditional Owners.

In places where protocols are not promoted visitors are asked to show respect by not touching or removing anything, and make sure you take all your rubbish with you when you leave.

Aboriginal peoples continue to play an active role in caring for their Country, including in parks across South Australia. 

Plants and animals

Flora and fauna species lists

To download flora (plants) and fauna (animals) species lists for this park, use the 'Create Simple Species List' tab under 'Flora Tools' or 'Fauna Tools'  in NatureMaps

European history

The Dalhousie mound springs have been part of Aboriginal life for thousands of years.  They were first sighted by Europeans on 10 December 1870 when a small party of surveyors working on the Overland Telegraph Line in search of water located the springs.

Ned Bagot took up the first lease of Dalhousie Station on New Years Day in 1873.  Other stations of Bloods Creek, Mount Dare and Federal were also taken up and later amalgamated under the umbrella of the Dalhousie Pastoral Company.

Sheep, angora goats, horses, camels and cattle were bred on this station.  In the 1950s, agriculture was attempted with lucerne planted near the Dalhousie main spring.

After a century of pastoralism, the mound springs with national biological, geological and cultural significance had become degraded. On 21 November 1985, the 77769 square kilometre station was purchased and dedicated as Witjira National Park.

See and do

Rangers recommend

We have picked the brains of our park rangers to find out what they would recommend you see and do whilst visiting this park.

  • Relaxing in the warm waters at Dalhousie Springs.
  • Exploring the historical, heritage-listed Dalhousie Ruins.
  • Admiring the red mulga, gidgee, coolibah and whitewood trees along the many creeks.
  • Watching out for the unusual Dalhousie goby fish, and rare bird species, such as the Australian bustard, the flock bronzewing, and the plains wanderer.
  • Observing dingoes, the central bearded dragon, Gould’s sand goanna and, if you’re lucky, red kangaroos in their natural habitat.
  • Bird watching around the main spring and Kingfisher Springs at Dalhousie, and the Purni Bore wetlands

Stay in the park

Camping

Wash off the red dust from your outback adventure in the region’s warm thermal springs - Australia’s largest artesian springs - then make your way back to your camp site to enjoy the remote outback landscape.

Campsites for Dalhousie Springs and 3 O'clock Creek campgrounds need to be booked prior to arrival.

Book online to reserve your campsite up to 12 months in advance.

To stay at Purni Bore campground and to access the park to the east of Dalhousie, you must have a Desert Parks Pass.

Dalhousie Springs Campground

Suitable for:  tents and camper trailers

Facilities: toilets and cold showers

This well-established campground has 20 camp sites. Generators are allowed but must be turned off between 10pm and 7am.

3 O'Clock Creek Campground

Suitable for:  tents, camper trailers and caravans

Facilities: water and picnic facility

The bush camping area at 3 O'Clock Creek offers shady camping spots and water. This bore water is the last place to fill up on drinking water before you cross the desert. Always carry adequate supplies of drinking water.

Purni Bore Campground

Suitable for:  tents

Facilities: toilets, hot showers, shade shelter and picnic facility

Purni Bore is a pleasant camping spot with abundant birdlife, however visitors need to take their own drinking water and supplies. .Generators are allowed but must be turned off between 10pm and 7am. A Desert Parks Pass is required to camp at Purni Bore and gain access east of Dalhousie. You do not need to book this campsite online as long as you have a Desert Park Pass. 

Privately run camping and accommodation 

Mount Dare Hotel

Mount Dare Hotel has campgrounds, accommodation, food and drink, hot showers, fuel, water and mechanical assistance available.

Bushwalking

There are two easy walks at Dalhousie springs - one around the main springs and the other out to Kingfisher Springs. You can also stroll around the Purni Bore wetland.

Moderate hikes

  • Balcanoona Creek Hike (2 hrs 30 mins one way, 6km)

    This hike meanders through the Balcanoona Range to the Weetootla Gorge and its network of hikes. The hike passes by Grindells Hut.

  • McTaggart Track Hike (3 hrs one way, 7.6km)

    A longer hike along the McTaggart Track, can be done in conjunction with one of the hikes above.

  • Monarch Mine Hike (2 hrs 30 mins one way, 6.8km)

    This hike takes you past an abandoned copper mine and over shale and magnesite hills.

Sites of interest

Dalhousie Springs

Dalhousie Springs are part of a chain of mound springs extending along the outer rim of the Great Artesian Basin. The artesian water rises up from a considerable depth through cracks and fissures in the subterranean strata. At the point of exit, the water, which originally entered the complex system in the Finke River area in the Northern Territory, is millions of years old. The water in the Dalhousie Main Spring is around 37 degrees, making it perfect for a relaxing soak.

Purni Bore

The Purni Bore was created in 1963 when the French Petroleum Company came to explore the rock strata beneath the Great Artesian Basin. The bore was drilled to a depth of 1880 metres, then capped and sealed. Over time the wellhead corroded and water flowed out of the bore at a rate of up to 18 litres per second, creating an artificial wetland. The water flow has been restricted back to about 4 litres per second and the now permanent waterhole attracts many bird species looking for a respite from the desert heat. The water that flows out of the bore head is a near boiling at 85 degrees Celsius.

Bloods Creek

The Bloods Creek windmill stands as a solitary reminder of what was once a thriving cattle station. Bloods Creek operated for some years as a pastoral lease in its own right, before being amalgamated by Edin Lowe, along with Federal, Mt Dare and Dalhousie Springs to form the Dalhousie Pastoral Company.

Dalhousie Ruins

The Dalhousie Pastoral lease was first taken up by Ned Bagot in 1873. The homestead and several other buildings still remain, including a blacksmiths shop and stockyards.

Volunteering

Want to help?

To find out how you can help in this park or nearby, please visit Natural Resources Adelaide South Australian Arid Lands – Volunteering.

Want to join others and become a Park Friend?

To find out more about Friends of Parks groups please visit Friends of Parks South Australia.

You could join others to help look after a park. You can take part in working bees, training and other events.

Become a Campground Host

Combine your love of camping with doing a good deed by becoming a volunteer campground host in this park.

A campground host is a volunteer who stays at the park either for a specific peak period, like the Easter break or a long weekend, or an extended period of time (up to a few months) to support park rangers. 

If you are passionate about the environment, a keen camper, like to meet people from all around the world, and are a happy to help, then hosting could be right up your alley. 

Safety

Bushwalking

The international Trail Users Code of Conduct is to show respect and courtesy towards other trail users at all times.

Ensure that you:

  • when hiking, wear sturdy shoes, a hat and sunscreen
  • be aware of weather conditions and avoid walking during the hottest part of the day
  • make sure you have appropriate weather proof clothing
  • carry enough water to be self-sufficient
  • please be respectful of other users at all times
  • stay on the designated trails and connector tracks for your own safety, and prevent the spread of declared weeds to other areas in the park
  • ensure someone knows your approximate location and expected time of return
  • take appropriate maps.
  • Walk, hike or trek - what's the difference?

Camping

When camping in a National Park, it's important to remember the following:

  • Always let someone responsible know your travel plans, especially when travelling in remote areas. It's a good idea to let them know when you expect to return.
  • Check the weather forecast before you leave, including overnight temperatures on the Bureau of Meteorology. Even during very mild weather, the nights can get very cold. 
  • The quality and quantity of water cannot be guaranteed within parks. Please bring plenty of water and food to be self-sufficient.
  • Always camp in designated sites (where applicable) - do not camp beneath trees with overhanging branches, as they can drop without warning. It's also a good idea to check that there no insect nests nearby.
  • Check to make sure you're not camping in a natural waterway, flash floods can happen anytime.
  • If camp fires are permitted, you must bring your own firewood, as the collection of firewood within National Parks is prohibited. Extinguish your camp fire with water (not sand or dirt) until the hissing sound stops.
  • Ensure that you are familiar with the fire restrictions for this park.

Fire

Listen to the local area radio station for the latest updates and information on fire safety. 

Fire restrictions

Wood fires

Prohibited throughout the year.

Mt Dare Campground
Wood fires and solid fuel fires are prohibited from 1 November 2017 to 31 March 2018 inclusive.

Alternative solid fuel fires

Prohibited from 1 Nov 2017 to 15 April 2018.
Outside of these dates alternative solid fuel fires are permitted in portable firepits, braziers or similar receptacles only.

Gas and liquid fires

Permitted other than on days of total fire ban

Please note:

  • You must bring your own firewood, as the collection of firewood within National Parks is prohibited.
  • Ensure you are familiar with the fire restrictions for this park.

Dingo safety

To remain safe and to keep dingoes wild, please:

  • ensure you store rubbish, food, shoes and leather items securely
  • do not feed the dingoes – they are naturally lean animals
  • always stay close to your children
  • do not encourage, excite, or run away from dingoes
  • if you are attacked, aggressively defend yourself.

4WD

Most roads in this park are 4WD accessible only. Check the weather forecast and road conditions before you leave.

Desert Parks Information

Phone: (+61 8) 8648 5328
Email: DesertParks@sa.gov.au

Outback Road Report

1300 361 033 (24-hour automated service)
Northern and Western South Australian Outback Roads Temporary Closures, Restrictions and Warnings Report

You are responsible for your own safety. Before travelling through remote outback areas of Australia, ensure you notify a responsible person of your itinerary and expected date and time of return.

Outback safety

  • Before you leave home ensure that your vehicle is roadworthy and that you are carrying appropriate spare parts for most contingencies – including a strong jack, and if possible, two spare wheels.
  • Carry adequate supplies of fuel, food and water in case you get stranded.
  • Use only public access routes and designated camping areas.
  • Carry a satellite phone or an HF radio. Normal mobile phones do not work in most outback areas. It is also a good idea to carry an EPIRB.
  • Do not leave your vehicle in the event of a breakdown.
  • Check the conditions of outback roads before leaving the nearest major town.
  • Take note of where fuel stations are en route and their hours of operation.
  • Take frequent rest breaks and change drivers regularly.
  • Obey road closure signs and remain on main roads. Substantial fines apply for travelling off track. Deviating from the roads can create tyre marks that last for decades.

Know before you go

Every national park is different, each has its own unique environment, it is important to be responsible while enjoying all the park has to offer.

Please ensure that you:

  • download the Oodnadatta visitor brochure
  • leave your pets at home
  • do not feed birds or other animals, it promotes aggressive behaviour and an unbalanced ecology
  • do not bring generators (except where permitted), chainsaws or firearms into the park
  • leave the park as you found it - place rubbish in the bins provided or take it with you
  • abide by the road rules (maintain the speed limit)
  • respect geological and heritage sites
  • do not remove native plants
  • are considerate of other park users
  • important: Collection of firewood within National Parks is prohibited

Maps

Park maps

Campground maps

Maps on your mobile

If you have a smartphone or tablet you can download the free Avenza PDF Map app and have interactive national park maps on hand when you need them.

The app uses your device's built-in GPS to plot your real-time location within the park onto a map. The app can be used without a network connection and without roaming charges. You can also measure area and distance, plot photos and drop placemark pins. 

How to get it working on your device:

1. Download the Avenza PDF maps app from the app store whilst you are still in range (its free!).
2. Open up the app and click the shopping cart icon.
3. Click ‘Find’ and type the name of the national park or reserve you are looking for.
4. Click on the map you are after and install it (all our maps are free).
5. You will now find a list of your installed maps on the home page of the Avenza app.
6. Use our maps through the Avenza PDF map app while in the park and never take a wrong turn again.

Fees

Entry fees

Please book and pay online for vehicle entry and camping prior to arrival as self-registration stations are no longer available in this park.

Where can I book and pay in person?

If you are unable to book and pay online you can do so, in person, at these booking agents across the state.

For online bookings enquiries please email:

DEW.SAALOnlineBookings@sa.gov.au  

Camping and accommodation

Dalhousie Springs and 3 O'Clock Creek 

Campsites need to be booked prior to arrival.

Click through to the online booking page for more details about individual campgrounds and fees.

Book online

Book online to reserve your campsite up to 12 months in advance.

FAQs about booking online

Purni Bore

You must purchase a Desert Parks Pass if you wish to camp at Purni Bore. You do not need to book this campsite online as long as you have a Desert Park Pass.

Mount Dare

The Mount Dare campground is privately operated and separate fee is payable at Mt Dare Hotel.

Book and pay in person

If you are unable to book and pay online you can do so, in person, at these booking agents across the state.

For online bookings enquiries please email:

DEW.SAALOnlineBookings@sa.gov.au 

 

Park pass

Heading to the outback? Purchase a Desert Parks Pass which entitles you to 12 months vehicle entry into seven selected desert parks. 

The pass also allows you to camp for periods of up to 21 nights at a time in the desert parks (excluding Wabma Kadarbu Mound Springs Conservation Park, where camping is not permitted).

Please note, it is mandatory to purchase a Desert Parks Pass if you wish to camp at Purni Bore or are travelling east of Dalhousie Springs.

Other fees and permits

There are no other fees or permits associated with this park. 

PDF Park Brochure