The Australian deserts are not, in general, the sand-duney, completely bare Sahara style of desert.
They get too much tropical rain for that. But they do have very high temperatures. During January and February, those temperatures can reach into the high 50C’s. The highest I’ve experienced is 58C ( 136F).
This dries out any moisture in the soil very quickly. The grass has had to develop a wax which hold in the moisture. This wax was very useful to the nomads who roamed the land. It is “thermoplastic” which means it softens with heat, making it ideal for use as a glue to hold stone spear-heads onto wooden spears.
The problem is that it makes spinifex, the species of Australian grass which survives on a month’s moisture in a year, very very flammable.
When it catches fire it burns very fast and very hot.
When the ambient temperature is already over 50C, that makes things VERY hot!
And dangerous if there is a wind shift.
Just behind me, as the photo was taken was a settlement. The fire was about 400 metres away.
Luckily the wind did not shift.
After the fire has passed, it becomes apparent why this desert is called the Great Sandy Desert. This was after a different fire, on a different dune, same desert and the result was the same.
Spinifex was also a major source of edible seeds for the nomads.
As a part of its survival strategy, spinifex, a grass, has very hard leaves. Hard AND needle-sharp. Very similar to an inside out pin-cushion! Newcomers to the Outback often touch the plant and draw blood.
I know someone (no, not me) who tripped and sat on a plant! Accidentally. And hard! He was picking bits of spinifex out of his backside for a week!