- Trip Outline
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 these research surveys – the ecological and scientific documentation, and the desert trekking experience with the camel team. The best way to traverse this arid zone and learn about the desert flora and fauna is by walking alongside traditionally outfitted pack camels. It has the smallest environmental footprint possible.
The surveys are a direct 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 survey dedicated to 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.
Desert walker — explorer — conservationist — photographer. Andrew Harper has been walking and exploring the Australian deserts since 1995. He has journeyed over 15,000 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 the 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 arid wilderness.
A Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, he has crossed the Simpson Desert – the worlds largest parallel sandridge 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 kayaks the inland rivers and actively campaigns for 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.”
About 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. 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. 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. You can reflect 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”.
Each camels trek offers something unique and different. View all itineraries on the Australian Desert Expeditions website.