The 1939 Simpson Desert ExpeditionPrint Page Print this page

29-May-2021 (Henry Moulds)
29-May-2021 (Henry Moulds)

Photographs supplied by Chris McLaughlin / Henry Moulds

The monument commemorates the 1939 expedition of Cecil T. Madigan whose party crossed a region north of the town in 1939.  There is an additional cairn located near the tennis courts. 

The Simpson is a sand-ridge desert extending approximately 322 kilometres west to east, the ridges running parallel from north to south at approximately half a kilomtre intervals, some reaching as high as 30 metres.

Madigan planned a ground crossing in the winter of 1939. A party of nine, including a biologist, a botanist, a photographer and a radio operator, with nineteen camels, made the exhausting crossing from Andado station in the Northern Territory to Birdsville in twenty-five days. It verified Madigan`s previous conclusions that the area was a wasteland. This last classic Australian exploration adventure pioneered the use of mobile radio communication; national broadcasts were made through the Australian Broadcasting Commission from desert camps. The scientific results were published and also a popular account, Crossing the Dead Heart (Melbourne, 1946).


Address:Birdsville Track & Oodnadatta Track (Railway Terrace N), Marree, 5733
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -29.651218
Long: 138.07162
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
View Google Map


Monument Type:Monument
Monument Theme:Landscape
Actual Event Start Date:08-August-1939
Actual Event End Date:08-August-1939


Approx. Monument Dedication Date:June-1962
Front Inscription

              On August 8th 1939
Led By Cecil T. Madigan M.A.D.Sc. B.E., F.G.S
Arrived At Marree After Successfully Completing Crossing
The Simpson Desert By Camel And Continuing Down
  The Eastern Shore Of Lake Eyre.

       The Party Comprised Of :- 

Cecil T. Madigan       Geologist University Of Adelaide
Robert Crocker         Botanist
Albert Hubbard         Cook
Harold G. Fletcher    Palaeontologist
Jack Bejah                Camel Driver
Robert Simpson       Wireless Operator
Noorie Moosha        Camel Driver
David Marshall         Photographer
Andy                         Black Tracker

This Later Cairn Was Erected By R. C. Sprigg And L. W. Parkin,
Past Students Of Doctor Madigan In Warm Memory Of Their Past
Association And Admiration For This And Other Feats
Accomplished By The Earlier Pioneers.

June 1962
Geosurveys (Australia) Ltd
Beach Petroleum N.L. and
The Geological Survey of South Aust.

Source: MA,ADB
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au