Deserts

Products

Maps [More]

Data/Applications [More]

Publications [More]

Multimedia [More]

Subscribe

Extensive expanses of desert make up a large proportion of Australia's landscape. © Geoscience Australia

Extensive expanses of desert
make up a large proportion
of Australia's landscape.
© Geoscience Australia

Apart from Antarctica, Australia is the driest continent in the world. About 35 per cent of the continent receives so little rain, it is effectively desert. In total, 70 per cent of the mainland receives less than 500 millimetres of rain annually, which classes it as arid, or semi-arid.

Australia's deserts, listed below, are distributed throughout the western plateau and interior lowlands. The total desert area equates to 18 per cent of the total mainland area of Australia.

Areas of Australian deserts

STATE/TERRITORY NAME SIZE (km2) AUSTRALIA ( % )
WA, SA Great Victoria 348 750 4.5
WA Great Sandy 267 250 3.5
WA, NT Tanami 184 500 2.4
NT, QLD, SA Simpson 176 500 2.3
WA Gibson 156 000 2.0
WA Little Sandy 111 500 1.5
SA, QLD, NSW Strzelecki 80 250 1.0
SA, QLD, NSW Sturt Stony 29 750 0.3
SA Tirari 15 250 0.2
SA Pedirka 1 250 less than 0.1
- Total 1 371 000 18
Source: Geoscience Australia Deserts database, 1994.

Topic contact: education@ga.gov.au Last updated: June 5, 2012