A message from Outback Camel Company owner Andrew Harper
Slow Travel in the time of a pandemic and recovering from it
(You'd think it would be easy)
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.
I purchased the business from pioneering outback legend Rex Ellis in 2000, and since then have explored all of this country’s great deserts – the Gibson, Great Victoria, Little Sandy, Great Sandy, Simpson. We have concentrated on walking in the larger more remote deserts, and hence no longer walk in the Sturt Stoney or Strzelecki Deserts.
In 2007 I founded Australian Desert Expeditions (ADE), a Registered Environmental Organisation that conducts scientific and ecological surveys across sections of these great landscapes. 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, and many hundreds of people joined the ADE surveys as trekkers, assisting the scientists with their field work, whilst still experiencing the same timeless camel trekking experience that we have been offering since 1976.
Covid 19 (not the actual virus itself but the brutal border closures between Australian states) has hit our business extremely hard. We were not able to operate at all in 2020, and in 2021 we were part way through our season working on the Australian Desert Expeditions surveys, when all the borders closed once again. Consequently, only 8 of the scheduled 15 ADE trips were completed.
Make no mistake, it was a logistical and financial disaster of grand proportions...
We also had the tragic loss of 4 of our best camels in late 2021, which has impacted our camel numbers.
Trekking Season 2022 was a case of treading carefully and rebuilding the business whilst ADE took a break from their scientific surveys.
So what’s on offer for 2023?
Now that ADE has resumed operations, our camels will once again be working on the ADE surveys in 2023.
However we will be operating three short treks at the beginning of the season in late April/early May. One of these is the very popular Bare Sole - a yoga + meditation experience that next year will be under a full moon.
I tend to think that after all the Humbug that many of us have been through since early 2020, some quality desert time is overdue.
Andrew Harper OAM FRGS
Join us on a Great Desert Walk in 2023
More information about Australian Desert Expeditions Scientific & Ecological Surveys can be found here