"The Great Walkabout"

Camels, shadows and mac

...a 229 day, 4637km journey across Australia's desert heart...

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Welcome to the Great Walkabout!

My name is Andrew Harper and you are visiting the archived site of Capricorn Expedition 1999 - a 229 day journey across Australia raising money for the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

Some history about this website.

During the expedition, there was an active website - www.camel.aust.net.au - which was online from March to December 1999. I updated that site weekly using a satellite phone and laptop computer. In March 2004 I thought that it was time to upgrade & generally clean things up, so the old site has been archived and is replaced with this cleaner site which is (hopefully!) much easier to navigate and contains over 190 new photographs. In the transfer from old to new, there are several references & active links that have now become obsolete. Two of the biggest and most important were links to the Victorian Education Department in Australia (as the expedition was followed by many thousands of schoolkids across Australia and indeed from around the world) and also the expedition guestbook. In 1999 during the resupply points of the expedition I was able to log onto the guestbook and read the hundreds of new messages. (Unfortunately, many people thought that I could reply to their greetings, however this just wasn't possible due to the limitations of battery power when I was emailing).This extremely popular original facility has now been archived and is no longer able to be viewed however there is a new guestbook if you wish to leave a message. Please remember that as I spend 6 months in the desert every year, if you do leave a message it may take me a while to reply!

This site is also now linked to other websites that I may either have a business connection with, or that you may find interesting - whether your interest be in camels, deserts or people undertaking unusual exploits.

The Journey.

The Tropic Of  Capricorn almost evenly dissects Australia. Travelling west to east, the Capricorn Expedition route took me through the heart of the Little Sandy and Gibson Deserts' in Western Australia and across the northern fringe of the Simpson Desert in the Northern Territory as well as vast areas of pastoral country. Almost 1,400 kilometres (stages 2, 3 & 5) were through isolated, uninhabited desert. go to map                                                                   
Strangely enough, no one had ever crossed Australia along the Tropic Of Capricorn before, so this journey did enter the record books...click here to see how this idea came about.

During the expedition I kept a journal and you can read the 14,000+ words at the journals

Another day at the office

From spinifex plains in the Gibson Desert...

Perfect single file. (There are actually three camels behind me)

...to east coast forest near Rockhampton.

The morning after reaching the Pacific Ocean, a journalist asked how such a journey had changed me and my outlook on life, the inference being that I must instantly be a different bloke since I had left the Indian Ocean. My answer back then was that the journey is ongoing and any changes would show themselves over time and that you simply just don't finish a trip of such magnitude and the next day say "Hey look at me, I've changed....now I think this instead of that!"

Inevitably in the years since CapX, transformations have been creeping up on me and I sometimes think that my nomadic mental wanderings have actually become slightly more bizarre! I suppose CapX was an achievement of sorts - certainly in organisational skills, but it doesn't hold the 'once in a lifetime event' status that perhaps it should. There are after all, so many other things to do in life. And because every year I spend at least four months out in the desert continuing to work with camels, away from most of the consumer driven trappings of the 21st century, CapX has almost become 'just another camel expedition' - albeit a rather long one. It is now also becoming history, as the world that existed in 1999 has moved on of course.

I have also been asked many times why I have not written a book about this expedition. It was never my intention to write a book and I think that the 14,000 words that you can read here give a pretty good idea of what went on. Yes indeed, there are the other 35,000 words from my private journal and although this is exactly the sort of thing that a publisher would perhaps wish to see, those words will remain in the mould that they were written - private. Anyone who knows me, would understand, but some of my friends predict that this private journal would probably make for a ripping yarn of epic proportions. Who knows.

Expedition summary:

Click here to meet the team

capricorn logo

Peak Oil and the coming energy crisis

story of stuff

Site updated January 18th 2011

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