In Australia’s harsh and expansive Outback, finding an oasis is both rare and rewarding for weary travellers. Here’s our list of some real Australian oases that you can seek out on your next journey into Australia’s arid centre.
Dalhousie Springs, South Australia
Situated on the western edge of the Simpson Desert is Dalhousie Springs, a series of artesian springs that breathe life into the beautifully sparse landscapes of northern South Australia. The springs themselves range from a temperature of 38 to 43 degrees Celsius and are lined by trees, which is a far cry from the red dunes and dry deserts that encircle them. The fact that Dalhousie Springs is most often accessed by those coming from the Oodnadatta Track or across the world’s largest dune desert gives their presence an almost magical quality, and one that has an irresistible magnetism for travellers looking to wash off the dust from many kilometres in the Australian Outback.
Coongie Lakes, South Australia
In South Australia’s northwest corner is Malkumba-Coongie Lakes National Park, a wetland within the Strzelecki Desert that is distinct for both its ecology and its counterintuitive location. A lush series of lakes, swamplands, billabongs and other bodies of water, Coongie Lakes is recognised as an internationally important wetland, and is home to a wide range of bird, mammalian and marine life: herons, cormorants and even spoonbills congregrate in great numbers (especially after heavy rains), while dingoes and red kangaroos are also drawn to this vibrant ecosystem – in addition to off-road travellers seeking paradise in the desert (quite often coming from the Strzelecki Track).
Image credit: Tony McKay
Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill) National Park
Shining emerald waters and deep gorges have proved to be the perfect foundation for Boodjamulla National Park’s status as one of Australia’s most idyllic oases. Situated high on the Queensland side of the border with the Northern Territory, Boodjamulla (which means Rainbow Serpent Country by the Waanyi people) is crowned by Lawn Hill Gorge, a bountiful water course that was carved over many years by the ever-flowing Lawn Hill Creek. The gorge feeds a diverse range of palm trees and other tropical vegetation, while also attracting a massive array of animal life, which travellers can enjoy by canoe or by staying in the campsites within or nearby the park.
Palm Valley, Northern Territory
In the heart of the Red Centre is Palm Valley, a lush paradise that is fed by the oldest river in the world (the Finke River). The valley’s status as a true oasis is enhanced by its distinctive Cabbage Palms, which are the only trees of its kind found within an 850km radius. Palm Valley gives protection to a range of vegetation that flourishes within it – even during drier seasons – offering travellers a peek into a world apart from the arid expanses that surround it.
Coward Springs, South Australia
A vibrant beacon of life in the middle of the iconic Oodnadatta Track, Coward Springs is a campground that's quite out-of-step with the arid plains around it. Based around a spring-fed bore that supports a range of plant and subsequent animal life (including date palms), Coward Springs is the perfect place for travellers to soak in a thermal pool and take in some of the related history of the Oodnadatta Track, the Old Ghan Line and the Australian Outback at large.