The Simpson Desert is a sandy desert in central Australia
. It lies about 250 km (about 150 miles) southeast of Alice Springs
. Covering 143,000 sq km (55,200 sq miles), it is one of the world's best examples of a sand ridge desert
, a type of desert where sand dunes
are arranged along generally north-south lines, aligned with the prevailing winds
The dunes are low and closely spaced in the west and high and widely spaced in the east. Rainfall averages only 130 mm (5 inches) per year, and for most of the year there is no surface water. Parts of the desert are protected by reserves. British explorer Charles Sturt was the first European to enter the desert, in 1845.