How Many Deserts Does Australia Have?

Australia has a very interesting environment and climate, as the country belongs to the second-driest continent in the world, with the driest being Antarctica. Because the environment in Australia is very dry, the people and the animals in the country only experience less than 500 millimeters of rain each year.

Due to the dryness of Australia, it is already expected that the continent would have its collection of deserts, similar to North Africa and the Middle East. However, the deserts in Australia aren’t particularly as dry as the deserts in the said regions, as Australia would sometimes have uneven rainfall distribution. But, they are still considered deserts because of their appearance and climate.

As to the number of deserts Australia has, there are ten that are classified as deserts and are located in various areas in the country. To learn more about these deserts, here are some details and pieces of information that we have provided for them.

Great Victoria Desert

The Great Victoria Desert is the biggest desert in Australia, as it occupies about 348,750 square kilometers of land. This desert isn’t like the ones you would usually see in Africa and the Middle East, as the Great Victoria Desert consists of grassland plains, small sandhills, salt lakes, and gibber plains. 

The large desert is located between Western Australia and South Australia. In terms of fauna, only a few animals or species were able to adapt to the harsh weather conditions of the Great Victoria Desert, and these include the Central Ranges taipan, crest-tailed mulgara, water-holding frog, and the great desert skink.

Great Sandy Desert

Great Sandy Desert

The Great Sandy Desert is the second-largest desert in Australia, and it is located in the northwest portion of Western Australia. This desert occupies around 284,993 square kilometers of land and is connected to the Tanami Desert in the east and the Gibson Desert in the south. 

The Great Sandy Desert consists mostly of large ergs, which are flat areas that are covered with wind-swept sand. In regards to the animals or creatures found in the Great Sandy Desert, you would usually find feral camels roaming the area, as well goannas, dingoes, red kangaroos, thorny devils, and bearded dragons.

Tanami Desert

The Tanami Desert is found between Western Australia and the Northern Territory, which is composed of the central northern and the central regions of the country. What’s interesting about the Tanami Desert was that it was not fully explored until the beginning of the 20th century, thus serving as the Northern Territory’s final frontier. 

The name of the desert comes from the Warlpiri (the language spoken by the Warlpiri people of Northern Australia) word “Chanamee,” which means “never die.” The Tanami Desert is arguably one of the most important biological areas in the country, as it is home to numerous endangered and rare species, which includes the long-tailed planigale, the grey falcon, and the Australian painted-snipe.

Simpson Desert

The Simpson Desert is located between three regions, which are Queensland, South Australia, and the Northern Territory. In addition to being found near the center of the country, the Simpson Desert is also underlain by the Great Artesian Basin, the largest and deepest artesian basin in the world. Because it is found within a basin, the Simpson Desert becomes home to various natural springs, with the most popular being the Dalhousie Springs.

In addition to the natural springs, the Simpson Desert also has the world’s longest parallel sand dunes. Included in the Simpson Desert’s fauna are the Kowari, the grey grasswren, Eyrean grasswren, silver gull, and the freckled duck.

Gibson Desert

The Gibson Desert is the fifth-largest desert in the country, and it is located to the east of Western Australia. This desert is specifically located between Lake Macdonald and Lake Disappointment and is situated to the south of the Great Sandy Desert, to the north of the Great Victoria Desert, and to the east of the Little Sandy Desert.

The desert largely consists of gravel-covered terrains that have thin desert grasses scattered throughout the land. In addition, the Gibson Desert has red sand plains and dune fields that you would normally find in most deserts in Australia.

Little Sandy Desert

The Little Sandy Desert is found in the middle of Western Australia, specifically to the west of the Gibson Desert and the south of the Great Sandy Desert. The reason why it is called “Little Sandy Desert” is that it pretty much looks the same as the Great Sandy Desert, although it is much smaller in size. 

As mentioned before, its appearance is the same as the Great Sandy Desert in terms of flora and fauna. Moreover, both of the said deserts are crossed by the Canning Stock Route, a track that runs from Wiluna in the mid-west area of Western Australia to Halls Creek of the same region.

Strzelecki Desert

The Strzelecki Desert is located in South Australia’s Far North Region, which is near New South Wales and South West Queensland. It is situated in the northeastern area of the Lake Eyre Basin, which is also the basin where the Simpson Desert and the Tirari Desert are positioned. The Strzelecki Desert is particularly known for being the home to three wilderness areas while also having extensive dune fields across most parts of the land.

Sturt Stony Desert

The Sturt Stony Desert is a relatively small area that occupies the northeast portion of South Australia, specifically in the border area of the western part of New South Wales and the southwestern part of Queensland. The majority of the Sturt Stony Desert is covered by gibber, a desert pavement that is filled with closely packed rock fragments.

This particular desert serves as the home for the Kowari, a vulnerable species of carnivorous marsupial that hunts at night around the gibber plains of the area. The prey of the Kowari is the long-haired rat, a relatively common rat that often has population eruptions or explosions in different areas of Australia.

Tirari Desert


The Tirari Desert is the second-smallest desert in Australia and is located in the eastern portion of South Australia’s Far North region. The Tirari Desert is mainly composed of running sand dunes as well as salt lakes that are also near Lake Eyre. 

This area is known for having extremely harsh conditions wherein inhabitants experience high temperatures with little to no rain. The Lake Ngapakaldi to Lake Palankarinna Fossil Area is found within the Tirari Desert.

Pedirka Desert

The smallest desert in Australia is the Pedirka Desert, which is found to the north of South Australia. The area that it occupies is significantly smaller compared to the Tirari Desert, as the former occupies only 1,250 square kilometers of land while the latter has 15,250 square kilometers of land occupied.

The Pedirka Desert consists of deep-red sands that have dense mulga woodlands situated within those sands. Although the Pedirka Desert is not as popular as the other Australian desert for pastoralism, it is currently being developed to have a productive extensive livestock system.

So, those are the details that you should know about the ten different deserts in Australia. If ever you wish to visit Australia and stay there for at least a week, you should go on a desert tour so that you can visit all ten Australian deserts and see for yourself what makes them different from each other.