The 1939 Simpson Desert ExpeditionPrint Page Print this page


Photographs supplied by Diane Watson

The cairn commemorates the 1939 crossing of the Simpson Desert by Cecil Madigan and his party. 

The Simpson is a sand-ridge desert extending 322 kilometres west to east, the ridges running parallel from north to south at roughly 0.4 kilometre 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.


Address:Adelaide & Burt Streets, Opposite Birdsville Hotel , Birdsville, 4482
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -25.899221
Long: 139.351296
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Monument
Monument Theme:Landscape
Approx. Event Start Date:1939
Approx. Event End Date:1939


Approx. Monument Dedication Date:June-1962
Front Inscription

Plaque :

The Simpson Desert Expedition

Dr C. T. Madigan with 8 men and 17 camels arrived here on the 6th July 1939 having left Andado No 1 Bore 31 days earlier

Erected by the Royal Geographical Society of Australasia South Australian Branch 


Plaque :

On July 6th 1939 the Simpson Desert Expedition 1939 led by Cecil T. Madigan M.A., D.Sc., B.E., F.G.S. arrived at Birdsville after successfully crossing the Simpson Desert by camel from Charlotte Waters via Andado H.S. .

The Hale. The Hay and the Mulligan.

The party comprised of :- 
Cecil T Madigan Geologist University Of Adelaide 
Robert L. Crocker  Botanist.    Albert Hubbard  Cook
Harold O.Fletcher  Palaeontologist.   Jack Beejah  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 fellow members of a party completing a routine geological and geophysical survey and crossing of the Central Simpson Desert from Andado H.S. 

June 1962

Geosurveys of Australia Limited and Beach Petroleum N.L. 



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