Outback Camel Company
The Outback Camel Company has been exploring all the Australian deserts since 1976 and they believe that packcamels are still the best way to explore Australia's great deserts with the smallest environmental padprint possible. Their trips begin where the roads stop - in fact if ever contemporary walking treks were described as 'off the beaten track' these would be it - there are no tracks or roads where they go and in most cases they are blazing a new path across the red dunes, alongside inland river systems, and across vast gibber flats and claypans.
Joining an Outback Camel Company's camel team trek will enable you to explore and experience the Outback in a way that you may never have thought possible - reconnecting you to the landscape as you walk through the Simpson Desert¨›- the continents driest area and the world's largest parallel sand ridge desert.
Trekking with their amiable, charismatic camels offers an intimacy with the soul of the country that is completely absent when travelling by vehicle, and allows a continuum of discovery, which is important to understanding the heart of the land. Their trips are definitely not camel riding safaris and the experience is not about conquering the desert - their treks and expeditions encompass a wide range of experiences from extreme desert adventure, discovery of indigenous habitation sites, remote desert bushwalking, observation of the minute and complex arid ecology and the simple and heartening thrill of just being out there, unshackled from the restrictions of modern society.
The Outback Camel Company does not see itself as operating camel riding safaris - all their treks & expeditions are walking experiences in remote areas assisted by our team of packcamels. You could describe their treks & expeditions as the ultimate desert walking experience, as they are able to access areas that no one else visits.
Your active participation is essential and you will be asked to contribute to the operation of your trek or expedition, assisting our cameleers with the daily tasks. The comprehensive pre-departure information will help to ensure that you are well prepared for the enriching experience of working with the camels. Duties would include shepherding them in the mornings and evenings whilst they feed and, under the supervision of the cameleers, helping to saddle the camels and load the equipment. The cameleers cook all the meals on the campfire but help from aspiring chefs is always welcome!
The spirit of the day is determined by the pace of travel of the camels, geographical features & obstacles. So it is important to be prepared to meet the desert on its own terms and adjust to 'desert time'.
Don't be concerned if you have never trekked with camels before. They have many first timers on their trips who know next to nothing about camels when their trek or expedition departs, but by the end of the trip are totally enamoured by the experience of working with, and walking alongside, these incredible animals.
The Outback Camel Company's heritage stretches back to 1860/61 when camels were brought to Australia for the Burke & Wills Expedition. Prior to 1860 horses were used for major inland explorations and as the explorers encountered the great deserts it was very quickly realised that camels would be the only way to effectively explore the continent as they would be best suited to the dry conditions.
Even though camels had first been brought to the country beforehand in 1840, it was not until the Royal Society of Victoria instructed that camels be brought from the sub continent for the Victorian Exploring Expedition (later officially renamed the Burke & Wills Expedition).
The primary purpose of the Burke & Wills Expedition was to find a way north to the Gulf and thus become the first exploring party to succeed in crossing Australia, which would open up 'new country' for settlement and cementing the colony of Victoria as the pre-eminent outpost on the continent.
Although Burke & Wills succeeded in crossing the continent, the expedition ultimately ended in disaster as a combination of ill-timing and incompetence resulted in the deaths of several of the party including both Burke & Wills themselves at Cooper Creek in South Australia in April 1861.
Nevertheless, the value of camel based exploring was guaranteed and exploration of Australia by the 1890's was of a completely different nature from that of the preceding decades. The last unknown areas were now being closed in and the overall approach was changing to scientific research.
On his various commercial camel expeditions in the early 2000s, Outback Camel Company owner Andrew Harper¨›realised the obvious need for dedicated research expeditions in modern times to explore and document those areas of the map that are never visited by conventional means - and in most cases, areas that may never have been surveyed at all. With four colleagues, he founded Australian Desert Expeditions¨›in 2007 and after completing a 3 year pilot program, Australian Desert Expeditions Limited was listed on the Commonwealth Register of Environmental Organisations.
So 154 years after the first camel-borne scientific desert expedition, Australia now has a 'full time' scientific and ecological research organisation - Australian Desert Expeditions - that can help to discover and document the diversity of the continents arid wilderness.