Desert tourism update

May 22, 2020

After developing the Regional Indigenous tourism strategy last year, the 10 Deserts Project (10DP) is moving on implementing the strategy and supporting Indigenous land management organisations with their tourism initiatives.

Tourism website

The 10DP team are progressing with developing a dedicated desert tourism website.  We have been developing content, working on the design and branding, and designing an ‘itinerary builder’ function that will enable a traveller to mark out a journey across the deserts and gain access to the permits they will require for their journey.  As the deserts are so large, we will be developing the website in stages, starting in the central and north-west deserts of WA.

The central north-west region of WA was identified because of the multiple permit systems and permit models that have been developed within this area by groups. It also provides a good context to develop, test and get the site functionality, content and useability right before we roll out to all groups.

The website will provide a centralised access point for people wanting to visit the desert and provide a ‘one-stop-shop’ for visitors to gain access to Indigenous groups’ permit systems. It will have lots of photos, films and stories by traditional owners in order to communicate to visitors the rich Indigenous cultures and history of the deserts and promote visitor respect for Indigenous cultural values in the deserts.

4WD market research

The 10DP is talking to groups who manage permits systems about conducting a research project into the 4WD market. The project is to gain a better understanding of the 4WD market so that groups can make informed decisions on how to manage and develop tourism on their lands. The 4WD market is the main group that visits the desert, but there is very little information on this group and what kind of things they are looking for in a tourism experience. The research will use existing information collected by permit systems as well as conducting a survey of people that have visited the deserts (and held a permit) over the last two years.

The research will be conducted by an Indigenous researcher at the University of Queensland, Dr Damien Jacobsen, who is a national expert in Indigenous tourism. Damien worked in Alice Springs for a long-time at Ninti One in the Centre for Remote Economic Participation, specialising in tourism research.

Tourism working group

The tourism project working group recently met and progressed work on the website and the permit research.  A number of groups who attended the meeting found if useful to hear about what other groups were doing and working on in the tourism space. As a result of this, the 10DP will put together a ‘what’s happening’ and contact list of people/groups leading tourism initiatives across the deserts. This will be distributed through the 10DP network.  It will be something we can build upon in time to keep track of what’s happening and to enable groups to learn from each other.


If Indigenous groups are interested in working with us on the tourism initiatives email hello@10deserts.org

Warning: Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples should be aware that this website may contain images, voices and names of people who have passed away which may cause sadness or distress.