Dalhousie Springs

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Dalhousie Springs pool

Dalhousie Springs, also known as Witjira-Dalhousie Springs,[1] is a group of over 60 natural artesian springs located in Witjira National Park on the western fringe of the Simpson Desert, 180 kilometres northeast of Oodnadatta in northern South Australia. They are about 250 kilometres (160 mi) southeast of Alice Springs.[1]


The springs form part of Aboriginal tradition and life in northern South Australia, being a place associated with many Dreamtime stories and songs. Evidence of large camp sites are found at the Springs, some of which are thousands of square metres in size, and there are many stone artefacts found scattered around the area.[1]

The springs were given their English name by surveyor Richard Randall Knuckey around 1870, when he was working on the Overland Telegraph Line.[2]

In 1915, the total flow rate of the Dalhousie Springs complex was over 23,000 litres (5,100 imp gal)/second, but drilling had reduced this to 17,360 litres (3,820 imp gal)/second by 2000.[3][4]

Witjira-Dalhousie Springs was added to the Australian National Heritage List in August 2009.[5] In 1980, It was listed on the now-defunct Register of the National Estate.[6]

On 26 November 2021, the government changed the conditions of the park, to forever exclude mining in the Dalhousie Springs National Heritage Area.[7]


Its water comes from part of the Great Artesian Basin aquifer. The Springs complex appears to be recharged by water thousands of years old, percolated down through the beds of Finke and nearby arid zone rivers, which overlie parts of the Great Artesian Basin. As a geological feature, it is unique in Australia.[1]

The water temperatures in the springs range from 38 to 43 degrees Celsius. The water is highly mineralised but just drinkable. There are a number of unique species of fish that live in the waters around Dalhousie Springs, such as the Dalhousie catfish (Neosilurus gloveri), the Dalhousie hardyhead (Craterocephalus dalhousiensis) and the Dalhousie goby (Chlamydogobius gloveri).[citation needed]

Dalhousie Springs is a popular starting point for crossing the Simpson Desert eastwards to Birdsville in Queensland (around 600 kilometres (370 mi)).[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b c d "National Heritage Places: Witjira-Dalhousie Springs". Australian Government. Dept of the Environment and Energy. Retrieved 20 July 2019.
  2. ^ "Death of Mr. R. R. Knuckey". The Advertiser. Vol. LVI, no. 17, 368. South Australia. 16 June 1914. p. 9. Retrieved 20 July 2019 – via National Library of Australia.
  3. ^ "Desert Springs of Great Australian Arterial Basin, W. F. Ponder, Conference Proceedings. Spring-fed Wetlands: Important Scientific and Cultural Resources of the Intermountain Region, 2002" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 November 2006. Retrieved 2 November 2006.
  4. ^ Threats to Australian desert springs
  5. ^ "Witjira-Dalhousie Springs". Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts. Retrieved 18 June 2010.
  6. ^ "Dalhousie Springs Area, French Tk, Dalhousie ruin via Oodnadatta, SA, Australia – listing on the now defunct Register of the National Estate (Place ID 14710)". Australian Heritage Database. Australian Government. 21 October 1980. Retrieved 13 May 2018.
  7. ^ Speirs, David (26 November 2021). "SA now home to Australia's biggest national park". Premier of South Australia. Retrieved 22 December 2021. CC BY icon.svg Text may have been copied from this source, which is available under a Attribution 3.0 Australia (CC BY 3.0 AU) licence.

External links[edit]

Media related to Dalhousie Springs at Wikimedia Commons

Coordinates: 26°27′20″S 135°28′57″E / 26.4555°S 135.482481°E / -26.4555; 135.482481