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

2021 Survey Itinerary

Our Songlines & Shared Journeys program is Stage Two of the Central Australia Transect and our 2021 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 2021 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 cameleers and ecology team will appreciate your help!

What type of research do we conduct?


Throughout 2021 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 Palaeontology 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

2021 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 6 to 15 Days

   Western Simpson Desert - Northern Territory - Departing from Alice Springs

Red Centre Explorer 1

April 24 > April 29 2021

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.


+ Frame by Frame

with landscape photographer

Carolyn Larcombe

Red Centre

May 2 > May 11 2021

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.


Red Centre Explorer 2 April 28 > May 3 2021

4 days of trekking, 6 days in total.


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


Western Simpson 2

May 19 > May 30 2021

10 days of trekking, 12 days in total.


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


Western Simpson 1

May 10 > May 17 2021

6 days of trekking, 8 days in total.


A shorter version of our Western Simpson Desert Survey, this trek has been reserved for a private group booking.


Western Red-

Finke River Floodplain

May 29 > June 12 2021

12 days of trekking, 15 days in total.


A trek along the Finke River floodplain, taking the opportunity to survey desert

life on the edge of the dune field.

   Short Surveys ranging from 8 to 12 Days

   Southern Simpson Desert - South Australia - Departing from Adelaide

Watti Watti/

Central Mikiri

July 5 > July 12 2021

6 days of trekking, 8 days in total.

We continue our extensive documentation of the Simpson Desert mikiri.

Reserved for a private group booking

Watti Watti/

Poolowanna White Lakes

July 12 > July 23 2021

10 days of trekking, 12 days in total.


This will be a new transect along the extensive salt lakes and 'white dune' country in South Australia.

Watti Watti/


July 23 > July 30 2021

6 days of trekking, 8 days in total.


Exploring a new area as we walk

towards the Kallakoopah Creek.

Reserved for a private group booking




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.

Watti Watti/

Koomarinna Paleo

August 30 > September 9 2021

8 days of trekking, 11 days in total.


Revisiting the numerous paleo deposits we discovered in 2014 along the

salt lakes north of the Kallakoopah Creek.


Kallakoopah Ck Paleo

July 30 > August 9 2021

9 days of trekking, 11 days in total.


Searching for megafauna fossils along

a section of the creek and the

surrounding small salt lakes.


Watti Watti/Mudhla Mudhla

Southern Mikiri

September 9 > September 16 2021

6 days of trekking, 8 days in total.


Documentation of an 'unknown mikiri' which we discovered in 2018, as us walk south towards the Warburton River floodplain.

   Expeditions ranging from 22 to 27 Days

  Central and Southern Simpson Desert

Kallakoopah Creek Palaeontology Expedition

August 9 > August 30 2021

19 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 9 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 9 > July 5 2021

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 in the central/southern desert.

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.



You can also get a desert & camel fix by following the regular updates on our Instagram and Facebook pages.


Though we can't be in the desert in 2020 we are taking this opportunity to categorize our image & video library, currently at about 130,000 images.


We are posting regularly to our Instagram and Facebook pages, and introducing for the first time - CamelCam!

Want to know more about life on and ADE Survey?

This 6 minute video explains all!

"Life on an ADE Survey" - YouTube

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