Scientific & Ecological Surveys
"...walking with purpose..."
SONGLINES & SHARED JOURNEYS Knowledge Mapping the Simpson Desert



Our 2019-2021 Surveys are Stage Two of the Central Australia Transect and the thirteen 2019 Surveys encompass three StoryLines:


  • Ancient Stories

         The modern ecological interpretation of the Simpson Desert songlines Read more here

  • Explorer Stories

         Interpreting, crossing, and in some cases revisiting, the routes of the 19th & 20th Century explorers and surveyors

  • New Stories

         Creating our own (and yours, if you choose to join us) story, as we walk and live in the world's largest parallel sand-ridge desert


All of our 2019 Surveys will have elements of the three StoryLines, though there may be a stronger focus on one particular StoryLine, depending on the geographical location of each survey.


And excepting for our Signature Expeditions, you can join these surveys and therefore create your own story, as you assist the ecology team with their fieldwork. Each of the surveys has the following common characteristics where you will be:









































































What type of research do we conduct?


Throughout 2019 we will partner with numerous universities and national research institutions, in addition to ecologists from state land management organisations. We also have our own team of scientists, ecologists and desert interpreters.


The type of research depends on which part of the desert your survey is operating in, as different ecosystems within the Simpson Desert present their own particular focus studies and interests. If we are concentrating on Ancient Stories, then a survey such as the Watti Watti / Central Mikiri Survey will contain a greater indigenous element, as we traverse the corridors between the mikiri.


However it is important to realise that as all our surveys are "explorations", any of them can discover new elements that we weren't expecting!

That is the beauty and strength of walking the desert!


Firstly, every survey we conduct is automatically an ornithological survey. Are you a keen birdo? Read about our 2009 ornithological survey!

From there we explore and document all of the desert life that we encounter as the geography dictates, including the following:


Science & Solitude


There's so much more to our surveys than just science. Be prepared to embrace the wild and reconnect.


Listen to ADE Founder Andrew Harper talk about the freedom and purity of walking in wilderness.


Interview on ABC Radio National's Off Track

November 3 2018


All our trips are participation based surveys - the ecology team and cameleers will appreciate your help!

Walking peacefully through the landscape, superbly assisted by our magnificent team of 18-20 packcamels

Assisting ecologists and scientists with the in-field research including digging pitfall traps on sand dune crests

Helping the cameleers to load & unload the camels

• Aboriginal occupation including mikiri (native wells)

• Botany

• Mammals & Marsupials

• Palaeontology

• Reptiles

• Myrmecology

• Entomology

• Soil carbon analysis

• European explorer heritage


    We operate two types of surveys that you are able to join - Survey Treks and Survey Expeditions.


    What is the difference between the two?

    Basically, duration (excluding vehicle/flight transfers).

All our Survey Treks and Survey Expeditions are graded in level of difficulty and you can read more about this here.


    Each year we also operate one or two Signature Scientific Expeditions which are not open to the public.

These are conducted by a specialist crew of cameleers and ecologists and sometimes run parallel to the scheduled itinerary.

March 24th Flood Update


Due to the extensive flooding in the eastern Simpson Desert fringe, we have had to change the location of some of our surveys departing in April and May. The floods have not impacted the desert where our surveys were planned, but they have cut off our resupply access roads, which will remain impassable for many months. This means that we will not be able to get to the camel team with supplies of people, food and water.


* The Watti Watti / Great Central Lakes Expedition has now, unavoidably, been cancelled.


*  The Watti Watti / Great White Dunes survey has been reconfigured

and is now a "Transit Trek" operated by the Outback Camel Company.

This trek will not have any ecological/scientific focus, but is purely a trek across the dunes to enable us to get the camel team further west into the desert to allow for the following surveys to begin in the correct area.

The Outback Camel Company is offering places on this Transit Trek at a reduced rate.

Places on this trek are limited and are for new bookings only,

not for transferred bookings from existing ADE surveys.


See here for full details

2019 SURVEY TREKS - ranging from 9 to 13 days

2019 SURVEY EXPEDITIONS - ranging from 15 to 19 days



Click on each survey name for more information - places available on all trips unless otherwise stated


April 29 - May 10

May 9 - May 17

May 16 - May 28

July 29 - Aug 6, Aug 5 - 13, Aug 12 - 20

August 19 - August 30

August 29 - September 10

June 10 - June 17

June 17 - June 28

May 27 - June 10

June 28 - July 16

July 15 - July 30

Reconfigured to a TRANSIT TREK

Cancelled due to flooding

Fully Booked

Limited Places Available

Fully Booked

Limited Places Available

Limited Places Available





Munga-Thirri Explorer Expeditions


(not open to the general public)

June 28 - July 30

Stay up-to-date with our 2019-21 survey program and subscribe to our newsletter

Australian Desert Expeditions is an Australian registered charity with tax-deductable status.

A donation to the Australian Desert Expeditions Public Fund goes directly to the scientific & ecological research of Australia's Deserts