Our camels are supplied by the Outback Camel Company, a camel trekking business that was established in 1976 with the Simpson Desert Expedition (SDE). In the ensuing 44 years, the Outback Camel Company conducted dozens more SDEs in addition to major expeditions across nearly all of Australia's major deserts - the Great Victoria, Nullarbor, Great Sandy, Gibson and Little Sandy Deserts.
Those expeditions were not "science based". Rather, they were "commercial" expeditions designed for the serious cross-country desert walker to explore the vast inland. And it was therefore appropriate that in 1999 National Geographic Adventure Magazine described the Simpson Desert Expedition as one of the 25 Greatest Adventures In The World.
The Outback Camel Company ceased operating the SDE in 2017, and the mantle has now been taken over by Australian Desert Expeditions with a full scientific & ecologically based expedition across the dunes. Our first such journey was in 2018, and we are delighted to be able to operate this major expedition in 2021.
The SDE is truly a remarkable journey, but it wasn't 'invented' for tourism, eco-tourism, or even adventure tourism. The first science based Simpson Desert Expedition (which was also the first fully equipped camel expedition across the desert) was Cecil Madigan's 1939 journey, and ADE now proudly continues that legacy.
The 2021 Expedition will be on a new transect from the western desert fringe near the Finke River floodplain, across the great dune field and into the Northern Territory, then south towards the central desert in South Australia. Crossing the dunes every day is certainly challenging for the human element of the team, and equally demanding for the camels, who after all, are doing all the hard work.
The minimum distance walked will be well over 240kms, with most of the journey spent in the dune field. In the 'middle third' of the expedition we will cross some more open country near where three native wells (mikiri) are located, and we intend to visit one of these sites before heading southeast. And of course as our first nation peoples lived and traversed right across the desert, we would expect to find evidence of their habitation throughout the expedition.
What research will we carry out on the journey?
This does depend on the season and if there has been rainfall over the desert in summer/early autumn. However, we will be conducting studies into the bird, mammal and reptile life, including setting pitfall traps every evening.
Once we reach the extensive Acacia georginae (Gidgee) forests closer to the Queensland border, we will also be collecting morphometric data associated with these woodlands as part of a joint research project with the University of Queensland.
A full summary of our intended scientific & ecological objectives will be distributed to all trekkers prior to joining the expedition.
So if you are ready for a physical and mental challenge, in addition to learning and discovering more about the world's largest parallel sand-ridge desert, then the Simpson Desert Expedition is for you.
The expedition will be co-led by ADE founder Andrew Harper and ADE Chief Scientist Dr Max Tischler, who between them have 35 years experience of living and walking in this incredible wilderness.