Travelling to the Simpson Desert Ultra is one of the best parts, and while we may be remote we still like to think we are the centre of everywhere! Getting to Birdsville is no easy feat and in an attempt to make it as easy as possible, the team at SDU are working closely with travel providers to bring you some efficient options.
There is one commercial flight that operates to Birdsville from Brisbane twice a week. The flight is operated by Regional Express (Rex) and departs Brisbane at 8am, stopping 4 times on its way to Birdsville where it arrives at 2:30pm. These flights range from $700-$1300 return when booked online. To make the trip using this method SDU recommend you book to fly Brisbane to Birdsville on a Thursday, returning on Tuesday. If you are choosing this option and do not live in SEQ, then we strongly recommend that you arrive in Brisbane on Wednesday and book your return flight out of Brisbane for Wednesday.
There is also a Regional Express flight that flies from Mount Isa to Birdsville. The flight departs on Friday morning at approximately 8am and arrives into Birdsville at 10:30am. The return flight departs Birdsville on Monday afternoon at 2:30pm and arrives into Mt Isa at approximately 5pm. If you are choosing this option we encourage you to stay overnight in Mount Isa on Monday the 6th, unless you’re feeling particularly risqué and are willing to run the gauntlet that your flight will be on time to make your connection. Flights depart Mount Isa for Brisbane every night.
You can find more information and book via Rex’s website.
We recognise that for many the cost of these flights will seem excessive and we absolutely agree that if international travel was an option that you could fly overseas for the same amount, they are however the reality of flying remotely in Australia.
A road trip is always a good idea and certainly an entertaining way to make your way to SDU. Birdsville is around 1200km north of Adelaide, 1600km west of Brisbane and 700km south of Mount Isa. It lies close to the corner of Northern Territory, South Australia and Queensland. No matter which direction you are coming from you will need to negotiate dirt roads, with approximately 250km of it from the east (Brisbane), 500km from the south (Adelaide) and 15km from the north (Mount Isa). With good weather the most important thing you need with your vehicle is good ground clearance. The dirt roads can get quite corrugated with deep wheel ruts in places, so while you’re unlikely to engage 4wd in your vehicle unless the heavens opens and you get caught in rain, it is important to make sure you’re not in a car that is likely to scrape on the road surface.
The team at SDU want you to arrive safely so you can enjoy all the fun and suggest that you take it easy on the roads and aim to leave after sunrise and be wherever you’re going by sunset. Kangaroos and cattle pose a real hazard on outback roads, as does driving into the sun in the early morning and evening, so it’s best to avoid times when animals are out grazing on the roadside and difficult to see.
We ask that you remain patient on the roads as much of the bitumen is single lane meaning it can take time to find a safe place to overtake, and in fact often you’ll find that people will slow down or pull over to let you pass. The dirt roads also pose the added risk of dust that can make visibility very poor. Never travel in the dust of a vehicle in front of you and never overtake when you do not have clear visibility ahead. SDU guarantees that at some point the road will bend favourably and the wind will blow the dust out of your field of vision long enough to allow for a clear view ahead. Just wait until you see that before making your move – did we mention don’t rush?
It’s also important to take into account accommodation options on the way and we strongly urge you to book ahead unless you are planning to camp. Rooms can be hard to come by in the small towns during the cooler months so it’s best to be prepared.
The last fuel options on the way to Birdsville are Windorah, around 400km to the east, Marree and Mungerannie, 500km & 340km respectively to the south, and Bedourie which is 200km to the north. Don’t get caught short so top up whenever you can in the outback.
There are no commercial bus services available to Birdsville and SDU does not have any plans to engage a road charter option.
There are no train services to Birdsville.
Ok so there once was a boat in 2022, but we hope to never have to repeat this.
SDU strongly recommends that potential participants follow Facebook and Instagram to stay up to date with the latest news. Creating an event in the remote Outback takes an extraordinary amount of planning and we will do everything we can to bring you the latest information as it comes to hand. SDU also strongly recommends that participants take out travel insurance.