A message from Outback Camel Company owner Andrew Harper


Since 1976 (long before I became involved with camels) the Outback Camel Company has been offering people the opportunity to join 'commercial treks & expeditions' and explore our great deserts.


In 2007 I founded Australian Desert Expeditions (ADE), that conducts scientific and ecological surveys across the remote sections of our great deserts. Apart from the tremendous scientific value of documenting these remote areas, I could also see that trekkers were looking for a more enriched educational experience as they walked alongside our camels.


As we made the transition from the purely commercial OCC treks to the scientific based ADE surveys, I continued to offer the occasional OCC trek in the yearly itinerary until 2014 when we concluded our trekking season with the Munga-Thirri Expedition in the south-eastern Simpson Desert.


Since 2015, we (my camels, cameleers, and myself) have been working exclusively for ADE on their scientific & ecological surveys however every now and again OCC runs a dedicated trek or two during the winter, including sometimes offering a couple of places on our Warm-Up Trek at the start of the trekking season. You can join the ADE surveys as trekkers, assisting the scientists with their field work and still experience the same timeless camel trekking experience that we have been offering since 1976.


In 2018 we introduced Bare Sole - Walking with Mindfulness, but we won't be offering this in 2021 - simply because there isn't enough time in the winter schedule next year to fit it in!


Bare Sole was designed to facilitate mindful walking, intending to inspire a deepening contemplation of who you are and your place in the world around you. To open your senses, awareness of yourself, your environment and your fellow travelling companions - both two & four legged!


In many ways, those attributes can be found in any of the ADE treks, as I firmly believe that it's simply a matter of people getting outside and getting active. Pretty simple really.


So apart from our Western Warmup Walkabout, for the remainder of 2021 our camels will be walking & working for ADE and there are 14 ADE surveys that you can join.


 Western Warmup Walkabout - April 2021











Every year when we arrive on the desert fringe to prepare for the upcoming survey season with Australian Desert Expeditions,

we have to get the camels ready for the 25 weeks of trekking that is ahead. You can join us! Details here.

   Australian Desert Expeditions Surveys - April > September





April, May, June, July, August and September 2021. A choice of 14 surveys ranging from 6 to 27 days


Please visit the Australian Desert Expeditions website

to view the 2021 Simpson Desert Ecological Survey program



Please remember that ADE does not operate camel riding safaris - all the surveys are walking experiences in remote areas assisted by our team of OCC packcamels. You could describe these surveys as the ultimate desert walking experience, as we are able to access areas that no one else visits.


On a survey your active participation is essential and you will be asked to contribute to the operation of your trek or expedition, assisting our cameleers with the daily tasks. The comprehensive pre-departure information will help to ensure that you are well prepared for the enriching experience of working with the camels. Duties would include shepherding them in the mornings & evenings whilst they feed and, under the supervision of the cameleers, helping to saddle the camels and load the equipment. Your cameleers cook all the meals on the campfire but help from aspiring chefs is always welcome!


The spirit of the day is determined by the pace of travel of the camels, geographical features & obstacles. So it is important to be prepared to meet the desert on its own terms and adjust to 'desert time'.


Don't be concerned if you have never trekked with camels before. We have many first timers on our trips who know next to nothing about camels when their trek or expedition departs, but by the end of the trip are totally enamoured by the experience of working with, and walking alongside, these incredible animals.

SONGLINES & SHARED JOURNEYS Knowledge Mapping the Simpson Desert



There is a saying from the people of the western desert that goes more or less like this:


“When you sleep out in the desert under the full moon, the moon attaches a silver thread to your heart – that’s what keeps pulling you back”


Since 1995, I have been fortunate to walk through many of Australia’s great deserts, always accompanied by my camels. Basically it has been 23 years of one endless camel trek, broken up into yearly segments with different deserts and travelling companions. A couple of solo walks ranging from 35 to 230 days, and close to 160 trips of various duration with fellow desert trekkers on Outback Camel Company trips. Always changing form, but essentially part of the one continuous trek...


And every year I go back to the desert (though doing this in 2020 is proving difficult!) and next year (2021) back to the Simpson Desert. I have been asked how I could possibly find the Simpson Desert interesting after over 20 years of walking amongst its dunes, saltlakes, gibber flats, swales, river systems and ephemeral watercourses, rocky outcrops, claypans, small creeks…and that’s the whole point – variety. That’s what makes me ascend a dune and want to walk over the next. Australia’s deserts cover about 40% of the continent, the Simpson a substantial 176,000 sq kms - that’s well over twice the size of Tasmania - so there is a lot to explore.


These days you can walk across the Simpson on various charity walks, you can ride a bike across in an organised race, and you can run across the desert fringe dunes near Birdsville to test your endurance in a mini marathon. These various events are well organised and have their place in the 'Simpson Desert experience', but in my opinion they are not true desert experiences.


It is only by travelling cross-country with no vehicle support or back-up, and not following the 4WD track that you can get a real appreciation of this wilderness. Notwithstanding the personal challenge, walking along a 4WD track with a support vehicle following behind and a helicopter clattering overhead is, in my opinion, not desert exploration.


When I bought the Outback Camel Company in 2000, the economics dictated that it would be far easier and cheaper to operate our treks and expeditions on the desert fringe near to Alice Springs and be content with offering the bulk tourism market a soft desert experience.


Well, (unfortunately for my accountant) my horizons belong in the desert. What we do is specialist, the logistics are organised with military precision and our cameleers work incredibly hard to bring you a true desert experience. We don’t aim to be everything to everybody - we just endeavour to continue to offer the best desert trekking experience possible (with our work for Australian Desert Expeditions) in our existing geographic areas, during our relatively narrow window of winter operations.


We operate in extremely remote areas and excepting for the first and last treks of the season when we need to get the camels into and out of the desert, we do not operate on the desert fringe.


As detailed at the top of the page, we now work exclusively for Australian Desert Expeditions (ADE) on their scientific surveys.

The logistics of getting you to these surveys is extensive, and the survey pricing also reflects the substantial cost of operating a business in remote areas of the continent. Many of the 'transfers' (the 4WD/aircraft transfers at the beginning & end of each survey) could be marketed as separate 'tours' in their own right, but these logistics and highlights are included in the pricing, as we and ADE strive to show you the wondrous landscapes of this ancient continent in one complete package. Those trips that have an air charter service as part of the transfer are particularly enticing, as seeing the desert from above puts this massive wilderness into perspective.


During our winter program with ADE, there will be five full moons, so maybe one of them will attach a silver thread to you?


Thank you for visiting our website. See more at www.desertexpeditions.org


Andrew Harper OAM FRGS

Expedition Leader

Owner, Outback Camel Company

June 2020





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