A message from Outback Camel Company owner Andrew Harper
Slow Travel in the time of a pandemic
(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 sad loss of 4 of our best camels in late 2021, which has impacted our camel numbers.
So Trekking Season 2022 is a case of treading carefully and rebuilding the business.
The ADE directors have decided not to conduct any surveys in 2022. This is the correct decision, as a yearly schedule of ADE surveys is a complex beast involving many crew and support staff working across the Northern Territory, Queensland and South Australia. ADE will return in 2023.
So Outback Camel Company will use 2022 to rebuild the camel herd, and Get Back Out There! 2022 is offering the very rare opportunity to conduct some good old fashioned fair dinkum camel treks.
So what’s on offer for 2022?
We have a range of treks departing between early May and late August, all in the Simpson Desert in the Northern Territory, and all departing from Alice Springs.
I tend to think that after all the Humbug that many of us have been through in the last 20 months, some quality desert time is overdue.
Andrew Harper OAM FRGS
Join us on a Great Desert Walk in 2022