Why are we doing this?
Floods in the desert are always a good thing, and as a result of Cyclone Oma in February this year there has been extensive flooding along the Diamantina and Warburton Rivers in the eastern desert fringe. This now "ribbon of green" has brought life to a parched landscape, and migratory birds are expected to follow the replenished flood plains towards Lake Eyre.
But for us it creates a logistical challenge...
Apart from our Bare Sole Trek in September, for the remainder of the winter our camels are working on the Australian Desert Expeditions scientific and ecological surveys. The floodwaters have not actually impacted where those surveys were planned to operate, rather they have flooded the access roads that we need to resupply the camel team at the end of each survey. And in some cases it will take many months for those roads to dry out.
So what is a transit trek?
Consequently, two of the ADE surveys have been relocated to other parts of the desert, one has unavoidably and unfortunately been cancelled, and the fourth has been "handed back to us" to become a TRANSIT TREK.
This basically means that we will be spending the 9 days trekking across the dunes, getting the camels from A to B, in preparation for the following ADE Surveys.
Is this trek different from the Bare Sole trek?
Yes. Apart from being longer by 4 days, this trek will have no formal facilitation in meditation nor wellness appreciation. However remember that you will be out in a big landscape away from all the humbug of daily life! So these 9 days will be mentally restorative in their own way.
Is it different from the ADE Survey it replaces, and the other ADE Surveys?
Yes. There will be no scientific or ecological work carried out on this trek and there will be no scientists nor ecologists on the trek. Consequently, the trek will be covering more country each day. It definitely won't be a forced march, as the routine of the camels dictates the daily travel, but we won't be stopping as much as we do on the ADE Surveys.
Why is it priced so differently?
I'm a strong believer in giving people an opportunity to see our great country, so I've decided to release this trek 'at cost' to first time trekkers. As we are taking the camels from A to B anyway, we may as well invite people along for the walk.
Remembering that this trek includes return flights from Brisbane to Birdsville and accommodation in Birdsville, and all 4WD transfers (all valued at $1650), the trek price of $4950 is exceptional value.
Will you do this next year?
Not unless it floods again, and that would be unlikely.
When was the last time you had a Transit Trek?
In 2010, when the last big flood occurred.
Is it suitable for first time trekkers?
Definitely. You do not need to have walked with camels before to come on this trek.
How fit do I need to be?
This is desert bushwalking on firm sand, it's not an endurance challenge. So if you are doing any type of regular exercise, then you can handle this.
Am I expected to help the cameleers with daily tasks?
Yes, this trek is participation based, which means that the cameleers will ask for your help loading & unloading the camels, as well as other tasks like collecting firewood etc.
Can I bring young children?
Unfortunately not, sorry. Minimum age is 16.
Will I be riding the camels?
Definitely not - we do not have riding camels. All of our trips (and all the ADE Surveys) are walking treks. No one rides the camels. This is true desert bushwalking. And remember - the camels will be carrying all your gear.
Is there vehicle back-up?
Definitely not! Because of the camels, we are totally self sufficient. We don't follow roads or tracks and we don't need vehicles. This trek is as close a connection to the landscape as you could possibly get.
Will I see evidence of the floods in the desert fringe?
The flight from Brisbane to Birdsville will be over the recently flooded Channel Country, and the 4WD transfer from Birdsville to the camel camp is across part of the floodplain.
Andrew Harper OAM FRGS
Outback Camel Company