It's a desert, which is very large, and full of sand. The Australians are always good at choosing descriptive place names (cf Great Barrier Reef). More descriptively, the Great Sandy Desert is the name given to the northern reaches of the vast Western Australian Desert. It comprises over 175,000 square miles of land composed mostly of scrub, sand dunes and salt marsh and is so inhospitable that even most Australian aborigine tribes tried to avoid the place. At its western extreme the desert extends as far as the Indian Ocean, a region where in 1999 a shipwrecked man with no survival training somehow managed to stay alive for nearly a fortnight before being rescued.