Great Victoria Desert

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The Great Victoria Desert is a barren and sparsely populated desert area of southern Australia.


Location and description

The Great Victoria is the biggest desert in Australia [1] and consists of many small sandhills, grassland plains, areas with a closely packed surface of pebbles (called desert pavement or gibber plains) and salt lakes. It is over 700 kilometres (430 mi) wide (from west to east) and covers an area of 424,400 square kilometres (163,900 sq mi) from the Eastern Goldfields region of Western Australia to the Gawler Ranges in South Australia. The Western Australia Mallee shrub ecoregion lies to the west, the Little Sandy Desert to the northwest, the Gibson Desert and the Central Ranges xeric shrublands to the north, the Tirari and Sturt Stony deserts to the east, while the Nullarbor Plain to the south separates it from the Southern Ocean. Average annual rainfall is low and irregular, ranging from 200 to 250 mm (7.9 to 9.8 in) per year. Thunderstorms are relatively common in the Great Victoria Desert, with an average of 15 – 20 thunderstorms per annum. Summer daytime temperatures range from 32 to 40 °C (90 to 104 °F) while in winter, this falls to 18 to 23 °C (64 to 73 °F).

Almost no farming activity is carried out in this arid desert which is mostly unpopulated. Human activity has included some mining and nuclear weapons testing while today the desert is inhabited by different groups of Indigenous Australians including the Kogara, the Mirning, Dumbo's and the Pitjantjatjara. Despite its isolated location the Great Victoria is bisected by very rough tracks including the Connie Sue Highway and the Anne Beadell Highway.


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