This survey is part of the Watti Watti Songline.
This survey will be a follow up to a 2018 survey that explored the extensive salt lake system that straddled the centre of the Project 138 survey corridor. Combined with the preceding Great White Dunes Expedition, the expedition will document this important land system of the world's largest sand-ridge desert.
One fascinating aspect of the journey is that you will start the trip in 'white dune country' and finish it where the dunes are turning red to crimson.
With the longest salt lake stretching nearly 80 kilometres, and many dozens more over 40 kilometres long, our survey traverse will be alongside or near to these shimmering dry expanses for each of the 12 days of trekking. The lakes seldom fill with water (and only from local heavy rain) but the surface is usually soft and so we won't be taking our camels across the lakes, unless they are firm underfoot as a fully loaded packcamel can weigh nearly 1 tonne, and can easily become bogged. We only ever walk across lakes if there is a pad to follow and these 'salt highways' are made by feral camels.
Our ecology team will be setting pitfall traps every night as well as recording all bird sightings.
The white sand ridges at the beginning of the trip hold many unique attributes compared to the broader red dune field in the north of the Simpson. Made up of sediments deposited by ancient river channels and paleo drainage lines the area now sits atop the remnants of these long gone land systems.
There are many unique plants and animals that had/have evolved to live in this part of the desert. The flora can be a mix of floodplain and desert species, creating a varied and interesting suite of plant communities. Birds can readily move across and between land systems, whilst some mammals like the Dingo and Long-haired Rat (Rattus villosissimus) take advantage of the varied landscape to move in and out of the desert when conditions suit. It is presumed many of the now extinct medium sized mammals (e.g. bandicoots, hare wallabies and rat-kangaroos) would have exploited these areas in similar ways.
It creates a fascinating land system that can offer many discoveries and insights into the general ecology of desert fauna and flora.