Scientific & Ecological Surveys
SONGLINES & SHARED JOURNEYS Knowledge Mapping the Simpson Desert

2020 Survey Itinerary

Our Songlines & Shared Journeys program is Stage Two of the Central Australia Transect and our 2020 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 2020 Surveys will have elements of the three StoryLines, though depending on the geographical location of each particular survey, there may be a stronger focus on one particular StoryLine.


You can join these surveys and therefore create your own story, as you assist the ecology team with their fieldwork.


Each survey has the following common characteristics where you will be:

Walking peacefully and quietly 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


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

What type of research do we conduct?


Throughout 2020 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.


The Kallakoopah Creek Expedition will primarily focus on palaeontology but also study the significant aboriginal occupation of the area and include a general botany and ornithological survey.


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:

• Aboriginal occupation including mikiri (native wells)

• Botany

• Mammals & Marsupials

• Palaeontology

• Reptiles

• Myrmecology

• Entomology

• Soil carbon analysis

• European explorer heritage

2020 Survey Itinerary


    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 scientists/ecologists/cameleers and sometimes run parallel to the scheduled itinerary.

   Short Surveys ranging from 5 to 15 Days

   Western Simpson Desert - Northern Territory - Departing from Alice Springs

Red Centre Explorer

May 2 > May 7 2020

4 days of trekking, 6 days in total.


A perfect introduction to desert ecology, camel trekking and the towering red dunes of the Simpson Desert.

From $5,500

Red Centre Survey

May 6 > May 15 2020

8 days of trekking, 10 days in total.


Join our ecologists & scientists as we document the life in the dune fields of the western Simpson Desert.

From $6,650

Red Centre Discovery

May 14 > May 18 2020

3 days of trekking, 5 days in total.


 This trek gives you all the benefits of desert trekking in your 'week-away getaway' to the Red Centre.

From $4,660

Western Simpson

May 17 > May 28 2020

10 days of trekking, 12 days in total.


Our ever popular classic Simpson Desert trek. Plenty of time to unwind and learn about desert life.

From $7,200

Western Red Survey

May 30 > June 13 2020

12 days of trekking, 15 days in total.


A longer trek spent in the dune fields near the Finke River floodplain, taking the opportunity to survey life on the edge of the dune field. Perfect for first time desert trekkers who wish to immerse themselves into 'desert time'. From $7,950

   Short Surveys ranging from 8 to 15 Days

   Southern Simpson Desert - South Australia - Departing from Adelaide

Watti Watti/

Central Mikiri

July 6 > July 13 2020

6 days of trekking, 8 days in total.

We continue our extensive documentation of the mikiri (native wells) of the Simpson. From $6,850

Watti Watti/

Southern White Lakes

July 13 > July 24 2020

9 days of trekking, 12 days in total.

This will be a new transect along the extensive salt lakes in South Australia. From $7,900

Watti Watti/

White Lakes Mikiri

July 24 > August 7 2020

Another new area for us to explore and document around the known mikiri in the central Simpson.

From $8,400

Watti Watti/

Southern Mikiri

August 28 > September 7 2020

We discovered an 'unknown' mikiri in 2018 and this survey will fully explore and document the site

From $7,100

Watti Watti/Mudhla Mudhla

September 7 > September 14 2020

6 days of trekking, 8 days in total.


Our final survey for the year will see us walk south from the dune field to where the white dunes meet the Warburton River floodplain -  From $6,850




All the above surveys operating from Adelaide include return flights from Adelaide.


Flight One is from Adelaide to Olympic Dam.


Flight Two is from Olympic Dam  to the desert, which includes flying over western

Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre.

   Expeditions ranging from 22 to 27 Days

  Central and Southern Simpson Desert

Kallakoopah Creek Palaeontology Expedition

August 7 > August 28 2020

18 days of trekking, 22 days in total.

Departing and concluding in Adelaide


This is a follow-up expedition to our highly successful 2014 journey where we extracted the fossilsed jaws of a diprotodontid called Nototherium inerme.


The extensive flooding along the creek in 2019 may have exposed more bones at the site (and possibly other yet to be discovered sites), so another expedition is certainly needed!

The expedition is limited to 8 trekkers and the price includes a return flight from Adelaide to the desert, which includes flying over the southern desert salt lakes and Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre


Simpson Desert Expedition

June 10 > July 6 2020

24 days of trekking, 27 days in total.

Departing Alice Springs/concluding in Adelaide


Our flagship survey is one of the world's great desert journeys. With a heritage that stretches back to the first scientific expedition of the Simpson Desert in 1939, we continue the ethos of exploration in the world's largest parallel

 sand-ridge desert. This challenging expedition can certainly be life changing.


Our scientific team will be conducting a full study of desert life as we cross the dunes from west to east, terminating near Poeppel Corner.

The expedition is limited to 8 trekkers and the price includes flights from the desert, over the salt lakes and Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre to Adelaide.


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