Experience something completely different – a challenge that will make a difference to you and the environment – walk with a purpose and discover the mood of our country…

Australian Desert Expeditions is a not-for-profit, registered environmental organisation that partners with leading universities, state and national government land management authorities, national conservation organisations and private research institutions to conduct scientific and ecological survey expeditions into remote regions of the Central deserts.

There are two components to their research surveys – the ecological and scientific documentation and the desert trekking experience with the camel team. Walking alongside traditionally outfitted pack camels, delivering the smallest environmental footprint possible, is ideal for traversing the arid zone and learning about the desert flora and fauna.

The surveys are a direct living link to the historical spirit and cultural heritage of scientific desert exploration of the 19th and 20th centuries.

Walking the desert is timeless. Every single step reveals the story of this ancient landscape.

Beginning in June 2014, Australian Desert Expeditions commenced the first stage of The Central Australia Transect (CAT) in the Simpson Desert, a major and dedicated survey of the remote sections of the world’s largest parallel sand-ridge desert and Australia’s driest area.

You can join in select research surveys as a volunteer and assist the ecologists with their important fieldwork, which may include collecting and documenting botanical specimens, assisting with marsupial trapping surveys or anthropological, archaeological & palaeontological documentation and recovery, all whilst travelling in the grand tradition of the early explorers and pioneering Afghan cameleers.

Trek dates 2018

Please check the Australian Desert Expeditions website for updates or to become a member.

2018 treks
T2 Western Simpson Survey One 10 – 18 May
T3 Western Simpson Survey Two 17 – 25 May
T4 OCC Private Trek 24 – 30 May
T5 Red Centre Discovery 29 May – 2 Jun
T6 Red Centre Survey 1 – 9 June
T7 Central Simpson Desert Expedition 6 Jun – 2 Jul
T9 138 Mikiri Survey 9  – 20 July
T10 Central White Lakes Expedition 20 Jul – 3 Aug
T11 Eastern White Dunes Expedition 2 – 21 Aug
T12 Munga-Thirri Survey 20 – 28 Aug
T13 Southern White Dunes Expedition 27 Aug – 11Sep


About Andrew

Desert walker — explorer — conservationist — photographer …  Andrew Harper has been walking and exploring the Australian deserts since 1995 and has journeyed over 15000 kilometres across all of Australia’s nine major deserts either as a solo explorer or as leader of commercial camel expeditions with the Outback Camel Company.

In 1999 he brought to fruition a 17-year dream of walking across Australia along The Tropic of Capricorn – a 229 day, 4637 kilometre journey raising funds for the Royal Flying Doctor Service. Stage 2 of Capricorn Expedition across South America began in September 2017.

In 2007, he founded Australian Desert Expeditions, a not-for-profit registered environmental organisation that partners with leading universities and national research institutions to conduct scientific and ecological surveys in the far reaches of the inland deserts. Andrew believes that Australia’s long cameleering exploration heritage can successfully partner with modern science to further our ecological knowledge of Australia’s great arid wilderness.

A Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, he has crossed the Simpson Desert – the worlds largest parallel sand ridge desert – 12 times in various directions; the latest solo journey being  reconnxpedition, a 35 day, 700 kilometre crossing in 2012.

On Australia Day 2015, he was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM), for his service to environmental science, research and adventure tourism.

When not walking deserts, he takes to the water and kayaks the inland rivers and has been actively campaigning for the introduction of a container recycling scheme in NSW.

“The desert deserves to be approached gently, so its mood is revealed. The way people have always approached the desert was on foot, as we have done today. That reveals the country – the continuum of country.”


The camels

Australian Desert Expeditions’ camels are descendants of Australia’s first imported camels of 1840 and travel in a ‘string’ or caravan, with each camel tied to the one in front. When working with the camels you will be under the supervision of our experienced cameleers, so don’t be concerned if you have had no previous camel (or large animal) handling experience.

With their distinctive character, travelling with these patient and hard-working gentle giants is an unforgettable experience and you will quickly discover why these majestic animals are perfectly suited to desert trekking.

Travelling with the camel string allows a closer connection with the desert and the opportunity to reconnect to the simplicities of life, reflecting on a bygone era of travel when the importance was perhaps the journey itself and not just arrival at the destination.

…”as the days passed, our relationship with the animals grew stronger. They had great personalities and we delighted in observing their antics… they were all individuals and we loved them”.



Please enjoy these comments from adventurers who have travelled with Australian Desert Expeditions:

I had such a great time, and enjoyed very much the company of the group on this trek.  Thank you for the opportunity to experience the desert under the guidance of great cameleers and ecologists. Jean.

The whole experience was absolutely wonderful. We were blessed with great weather… and the cameleers Greg, Andrea, Lindsay and Danni, and Sophie the extra hands were fun, informative and very helpful. The scientists Charlie and Boyd were very generous with their knowledge and expertise, I had a lot of fun helping set up the traps and then checking them each morning. I want to especially thank both Andrea and Charlie for their guidance and extreme patience while teaching me when working with the camels. As a final item, I also have to thank you all at Back Track. In all of my dealings with you all I have found nothing but excellent and friendly service, and I will certainly be back for more travel adventures. Karen

Thank you for the opportunity to experience the desert and camels. It has left a memorable impression. Loved it! All the crew were wonderful and congratulations to the cooks who prepared delicious fare. I think I might have gained weight despite the walking-probably the second pieces of fruitcake for afternoon tea! Gabriella

I was very impressed with the organisation, staff and leadership of our expedition. The crew were competent and cheerful in all they did, and set a tone of good humour and willing cooperation at all times. They were patient with cobs as we learnt the ropes, as were the scientific experts Charlie and Boyd.  The cooking was always excellent. Max is an excellent, competent, friendly and hard-working leader who sets a great example to his crew in attitude and dedication. Clearly the crew were well selected. A great trip, and a privilege to be with them all for 10 days – plus we were lucky with the weather, since it’s now raining here in Alice! Peter

 The trek was a truly amazing experience and I feel very privileged to have been out there.  Everything was very well organised from beginning to end and felt ’sound and safe’. I loved the camels, enjoyed working with them and getting a taste of what cameleering life would have been like. I learned a lot and relished the experience! Britta

I had a wonderful trip with ADE. Really hard to express but it was ‘above expectations’ with every aspect simply exceptional… Andrew has to be commended for running such a tight, efficient , highly skilled team – from cameleering, to cooking and company… so enjoyed  working with the camels and packing gear as well as trapping and birding and of course ‘the whole desert experience’ sand dunes silence starry nights etc . Thanks Andrew  – don’t know how you do it…. but keep on…..! Valda

I had an amazing time, an experience that is still with me. It enters my dreams and at certain times of the day I see the camels and the day-to-day routine and of course, the desert in all its open, vast and changeable beauty. I never expected to engage with the camels on such an emotional and physical level either. We also had an incredible full moon in the first week then the stars and cosmos in the second. In so many ways, I am still there and cannot wait to return. I would like to extend my deep felt thanks to Andrew and the team for making such an wonderful experience possible. Vesna

What can I say,  I have been fortunate to experience many adventures, but I knew when I saw Back Track was involved in the preparations I felt very reassured of a good Trek. My Nepal Trek was with you also. The Trek was a blast, from Boyd and Charlie sharing their passion with us, the cameelers allowing us to interact with the daily camel tasks, all this made for a great experience. The meals, plus a welcome tipple of port pre-dinner set the tone for fun evenings around the camp fire. The swags (once one had the knack of rolling into a decent size) were comfortable. Setting the traps, and discovering the critters next morning was fun, and of VALUE to the on going survey for the future of the desert. Yes it was challenging and very full on, the kilometers walked before the trek paid off, but this was offset by a relaxed but organised program. So all in all I have learnt to extend my self and have the confidence to keep on adventuring. Many thanks to all the crew and Andrew. Jan