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Great White Lakes Expedition


Great White Lakes Expedition

incorporating the 140th Anniversary of Charles Winnecke's 1883 Expedition

21 Day Survey - June 27 > July 17, 1 day flight/19 days trekking/1 day flight

Survey price: $11300 - Limited places available

This survey departs from and concludes in Adelaide. The survey price includes return flights Adelaide > Simpson Desert.


Survey Grade:

Charles Winnecke
Winnecke map

Charles Winnecke (1856-1902) entered the South Australian survey department in 1873, and is best remembered as leader of the Horn scientific expedition of 1894. His journey commenced in late July 1883, a privately funded expedition equipped with camels seeking viable pasture around the Queensland border. The expedition, which started at the Sandringham homestead and finished at Palparara, crossed vast waterless tracts of the eastern and northeastern Simpson Desert, at one time travelling more than 440 kilometres over high sandhills without finding water. The expedition achieved little, save only to confirm that no viable pastoral land existed in the region. As a result of this expedition and similar forays in following years, Winnecke was awarded membership of the Royal Geographical Society.

Travelling in the same south to north direction, our 2023 Expedition is not a re-enactment, but will revisit several of the exact places where the 1883 Expedition camped. However unlike the 1883 journey we won't be visiting Poeppel Corner, as this is now heavily frequented by 4WD tourists, which is not exactly 'camel friendly' and would compromise the ambience of the entire journey.

The expedition will be accompanied by 2 scientists who will be referring to Winnecke's notes about the plants he collected, as well as comparing his descriptions of the country as we travel through 140 years later. We will also be conducting our usual studies in ornithology as well as setting pitfall traps.


Winnecke Journal

The expedition will begin near the K1 Line just north of the Warburton River floodplain and from travel southwest towards the small salt lakes and Pooliadinna Waterhole where Winnecke camped on Friday 17th August 1883. Once there we will turn on a northwesterly transect and continue this until we get very close to the SA/NT border where the expedition will conclude. This journey won't be a 'straight line' trip, and we should have ample time to investigate the country as we traverse between the extensive salt lakes.

The camels will carry all our provisions however there will be a resupply dump of water as we cross the Rig Road at about the half way point.

This is a very real and very unique Australian desert experience. There are very few places in the country where you can literally follow in the footsteps of an explorer over a century later and with exactly the same mode of transport.

And there is no doubt that we will be the first camel team to visit his camps since 1883.

We will not be following roads or tracks, and there is no vehicle back-up. And as we are Australia's only scientific organisation that also specialises in remote desert travel, we won't 'bump into' any other groups of trekkers.

along the salt lake
Looking ahead

What's included

Domestic flight from Adelaide to Olympic Dam, charter flight from Olympic Dam to the desert, and return

All camping equipment - swags, stools, tents. You bring your own sleeping bag and eating utensils

All meals, though we do not provide snacks

LOTS of space...

Survey RFDS Medical Chest, First Aid and emergency communications equipment

Crew of 4 to 5 cameleers and 2 to 3 scientists

Desert Silence!

Trekking with an environmentally aware responsible business 

(A detailed Survey Information Guide is sent to you when you book)

What's not included

Pre and post airfares and accommodation. We can organise this for you

What else is required?

Travel Insurance. We can advise on which policy is suitable

Where are we trekking?

In the shaded area of the map in the Simpson Desert, Queensland and South Australia. The Simpson is the world's largest parallel sand ridge desert

desert map
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