The Far West is where the Simpson Desert starts. This is frontier country, dominated by the colour red. Iron red soil and sand dunes (more than 1000 of them) roll for miles.
The largest of the dunes is called (you guessed it) Big Red and at 40 metres high offers the rare spectacle of sunset toward a blood-coloured horizon. The counterpoint to the red dunes is the scenery of Eyre Creek (which spills into the Lake Eyre basin) with its braided channels, looking like an Amazonian estuary when in flood.
The closest town to this wild country is Birdsville, home to the iconic Birdsville Hotel, Birdsville Airstrip and Birdsville Races. For a town of 120 people, Birdsville is the hub for a host of personalities as big as the landscape.
Every year, during the race carnival the airstrip becomes a ‘highway’ allowing people from all over the country to converge on the tiny township, swelling its population by 600 per cent to around 6,000! People camp under aircraft wings, or just roll their swags out under the stars. The horses gallop down the track, the dust flies and the party goes for days.