New Year | Fresh Start 2023
Welcome to an end of year update from Camel Treks Australia ITS A BIG ONE
It's been a long while since we maintained a blog, but given our long gaps out of signal range we have thought to re-establish the blog to keep those of you who interested up to date.
The New Year is just days away, however a Fresh Start for the cameleers, camels and planning for trekking guests in 2023 commenced much earlier. Why the Fresh Start? Why so few social media posts? I have an email waiting for a response! When will I know the trekking dates for 2023? School Camps? This update, aims to share the latest Camel Treks Australia news, and answer some of the above questions which are being received via email and social media. Camel Treks Australia is a family owned and operated South Australian tourism business. It is the only camel trekking business in Australia which offers guests the option to ride camels on extended journeys. In order to facilitate these journeys Camel Treks Australia seeks partnerships and agreements with Station owners, National Parks and Wildlife, Park Rangers, and local Aboriginal Elders to trek with permission on country. There is a very specific criteria required for trekking, which revolves primarily around safety and the guest experience being optimal. In late July 2022 the Camel Treks Australia team were facilitating an extended secondary school group trek. Whilst students and several cameleers led the camels between dunes, another cameleer deliberately walked along the top of a 20 metre sand dune ridge in order to receive phone signal. An email arrived from the Director of Beltana Station, advising that the Station planned to return livestock to full capacity, and the camels would therefore need to be relocated by Nov 30th. The station had been de-stocked for some years, but with excellent rainfall and subsequent growth, it was time for the owners to now restock. During this period of being de-stocked Paul and Karen Ellis, the Directors of Camel Treks Australia were also acting as Beltana Station's residential caretakers, so additionally this role was no longer required. The news came with mix of emotions. There was genuine relief as Paul and Karen were unable to visit their families in Adelaide or leave Beltana Station whilst being caretakers. They were also certain it would be time to move once Beltana Station was fully stocked. However the timing was stressful, given their timetable, and there wasn't a moment to spare. It has been a great privilege to live and trek on Beltana Station, the birth place of camel history in Australia established in the 1860's. Camel Treks Australia facilitated their first trek on Beltana Station in 2017, and began residing there during the trekking season in 2018, commencing caretaking duties in 2020. The last few years wandering the dunes, largely void of anything other than native flora and fauna has been an unforgettable experience. Paul and Karen Ellis greatly thank Beltana Station owner Andrew Doman and Station Director Tom Doman for allowing camels and cameleers the opportunity to welcome trekking guests and school students from all over Australia and the world on Beltana Station. Returning to our on-line absence, whilst November 30th was 20 weeks away back in late July, cameleers were living with limited technology. They were also attending to delivering back to back treks ensuring all 2020 - 2021 guests and school groups who missed out during the period of restricted travel, had an opportunity offered to them in 2022 . Camel Treks Australia was also struggling post covid. The trekking calendar was tightly scheduled and cameleers were off the grid from April - October. Pre-planning any move was going to be challenging, however it was quickly decided securing suitable land for the camels needed to be prioritised. Weather wasn't on our side with severe September sand storms, and October heavy rainfalls and flooding. There was a lengthy period cameleers waited for flooded tracks to dry and stormy weather continued into early November. Accessing a stable internet connection was not possible, with extended periods of no power or running water. In mid November confirmation arrived that land was secured for the camels, but required extensive fencing. Karen wishes to thank Barry for his amazing ability to respond to emails at lightening speed as well as conveyancer Tanya for her swift, professional assistance. Paul is currently assisted by Jo, and Erik who are fencing in hot temperatures in their holidays, and we cannot thank them both enough. The camels are currently in a temporary position in the Central Flinders Ranges under the excellent care of Andrew, Peter and Cheryl McInnis whilst fencing is undertaken. It's a location familiar to many of our camels, and we are most grateful to the McInnis family. Camel Treks Australia is one of the lucky tourism businesses. However surviving the covid crisis required some sacrifices which included selling the Camel Treks Australia camel paddock block and an office, home base. Hence the move sees remaining staff now living as true cameleer nomads, with no fixed dwelling. All trek and personal effects are now stored in a multitude of 40ft shipping containers (thank you Lindsay from S.A Containers for your prompt action). Challenges aside, it is expected the camels will be delighted with their new home, which is eventually planed to be opened for day experiences.
NOVEMBER Heavy Rainfall | Moving | Birthing Camels | Unexpected friendships | Missing camels
Cameleers have now moved countless truck loads of trekking equipment and camels since early November, with each delivery being over a 300km round trip. They took a break for Christmas Day and returned to fencing. The camels will be moved to their permanent farm base once fencing is completed, and this will again involve over a 300km round trip, of multiple truckloads. Big Shout out to Alan and his team from Genesis Tour & Charter who are also removalist professionals for their care of loading and trucking personal belongings. Additional thanks to Alan and his drivers for another year of safely transporting our trekking guests and school groups to Beltana Station. Whilst moving, the cameleers accompanied by friend Colin, came across a couple who had been in a serious accident on the main highway. Cameleers called the Royal Flying Doctor Service and got the go ahead to transport them to hospital care ( thank you Leigh Creek nursing staff and the R.F.D.S ), then collected, and loaded all of their belongings from the wrecked vehicle, and stored them whilst they were flown to Adelaide City with injuries. Weeks later and given the go ahead to proceed as normal, Tom and Indi insisted on returning and helping to thank us in anyway possible. Any debt they felt they owed us was well and truly repaid, and we don't know how we would have achieved as much so quickly without them. Thank you Tom and Indi, we wish you safe travels. In early November cameleers Paul, Sophie and Karen relocated some of our heavily pregnant females so they could give birth without stress, and to allow their newborns to develop strength before their first truck ride. Massive shout out to experienced Camelman Ron for your behind the scenes love helping Bella deliver Ulysses, (thank you also for naming Ulysses) and for looking after Millie and her baby boy Tucker, as well as our hens, while we trucked other trekking camels. During the September sand storms and October heavy rainfalls accompanied by flooding, cameleers lost contact with several camels and could not visit the camels at all as the clay heavy tracks leading out to their location were impassable. Those of you not familiar with Beltana Station might be interested to learn it is slightly bigger than 1500 square kilometres in size. Fences between two other bordering stations at this time have collapsed sections due to flooding, which gives access to similarly sized neighbouring parcels of land. There has never been a more apt idiom than 'A needle in a haystack' in reference to finding the three females and their babies. Ultimately huge thanks to Jack who spotted Tashkent and Zinnia with their calves from the plane and alerted us to their approximate location. Paul and Karen spent two days on their dirt bikes looking for them guided by Jack's earlier aerial feedback. They were eventually slowly mustered back into the yards, loaded on the truck and re-connected with the other mother and baby camels. Despite the days Paul and Karen have spent on dirt bikes, looking for camel pad tracks, checking water points for signs of activity or camel poo, and covering huge areas, one camel and calf remains on Beltana Station, and she is a favourite with cameleers and many guests. Bindu is somewhere in a vast area, and it will require a plane to search for her. There is ample feed and water on Beltana Station, so there is no risk to her health, and Beltana Station Director Tom Doman has very kindly allowed us continued access in order to find her. Jack will fly again and is keep his eyes open from the air. Bindu will have wandered off to have her baby, hence the separation from the other camels. Bindu is also a very self sufficient natured Queen, comfortable being independent. Karen and Chris had previously planned weekend flights which had to be cancelled due to high winds not suited for flying. They will try again in early January and we hugely thank Chris for his friendship and willingness to be available to find Bindu.
Tourism Awards | Camel Treks Australia Charity
The South Australian Tourism Awards application process was overseen by Karen and hugely supported by Tania and Angela both experienced with awards submissions. Camel Treks Australia were Finalists in the Adventure Tourism and Eco-Tourism Award categories and were awarded Bronze in the Eco-Tourism Awards. Thanks go to Tania, Angela, and the cameleers who were patient enough to teach Camel Treks Australia's Directors Paul and Karen Ellis. Notably Lionel Keegan, and the late greats Jim Lowe and Noel Fullerton. Thank you to our younger, now Senior Cameleers Sophie and Edward for completing a third season with Camel Treks Australia. Thank you Sophie for your massive contribution throughout the entire relocation. The knowledge of our next generation cameleers is looking good. Thank you to all of our contributing junior cameleers, volunteers, suppliers of hay, fresh produce, insurance policy provider, transport services, and fuel outlets in 2022. These awards recognise a team effort. Camel Treks Australia recently received the below email from Eco Tourism Australia ~ Congratulations on ecotourism excellence! Dear Karen and Cameleers, Congratulations from all the team at Ecotourism Australia on your recent award win; it is wonderful to see your efforts recognised at the South Australian Tourism Awards 2022. Ecotourism Australia is proud of all of our certified operators for meeting global best practice standards that provide such high-quality products and establish closer connections with local community and industry organisations. It is fantastic to see the positive impact of your work and your commitment to eco and sustainable practices. Your achievement plays a significant role in both educating and inspiring other operators to follow your leadership and start their own journey to sustainability. Congratulations again on your accomplishment on behalf of Ecotourism Australia. In 2022 many guests donated to Camel Treks Australia International Charity, and the cameleers give thanks. Divesh, Vandana and Koshal Negi, three orphaned siblings have been receiving support since 2016. They are now in varying stages of completing secondary and University studies. Guests making donations at the time of booking a trek assist Camel Treks Australia to provide for all of their living expenses, and education.
2023 Treks Location | Landscapes | Dates
Camel Treks Australia aims to continue providing inspiring 'journey themed' adventures in landscapes known for their natural beauty and isolation. Cameleers have a deep knowledge and respect for the camels wellbeing, and walking with awareness on country. There is a strong sense of excitement to be exploring unknown terrain in 2023 and guests will reap the benefits of a real life exploratory experience. Cameleers spend untold hours reviewing site location maps, and considering routes which offer variety. Other areas contemplated include guest transportation services, local station accomodation options in the event of bad weather, access to delivery and collection of supplies, risk assessment reflection such as proximity to an airstrip, and the list goes on. Cameleers are currently reviewing several locations and have enjoyed great conversations with respective persons on site. The plan is to commence site visits in early January. Some proposed locations are within National Parks requiring commercial operator permits and collaboration with local Aboriginal Elders. Camel Treks Australia has previously held permits to work within a World Heritage listed National Park, Forestry S.A and more recently Conservation Reserves. We have enjoyed close friendships with Ngarrindjeri Aboriginal people who assisted on treks in the Coorong, and whilst in the Flinders Ranges similarly with Adnyamathanha Aboriginal people. We wish to thank all the many Adnyamathanha Elders who have welcomed us to walk and live on country, and be a part of their lives. Camels, Afghan cameleers and Aboriginal people have a connected history, but that story will have to wait for another future e-newsletter. Cameleers are taking every action possible so a decision regarding a new trekking location will be achieved soon. However to avoid further waiting we will first release the 2023 trekking calendar. Unfortunately we are unable to put a final price on the treks until we are clear on external pricing related to the location. Once we confirm the exact trek location, transport and accommodation information, we will do a second release of information. Trek dates for 2023 will be offered to booked and reserved guests waiting as a priority, then next all persons who have directly contacted us expressing to trek in 2023. Bookings via the website will not be possible until we have attended to all persons waiting, and listed already within our system ... you are our next priority. Finally cameleers continue to work flat out, and the Directors of Camel Treks Australia, Paul and Karen Ellis thank you for your patience. They look forward to welcoming new guest trekkers in 2023 as well as many past trekkers who will be returning as volunteer cameleers and camp site co-ordinators. The volume of emails waiting for a response is currently overwhelming and we are doing our best to respond. We hope you had a Happy Christmas and extend our best wishes for your New Year ahead.
We would like to conclude this blog by acknowledging the below named, repeat guest trekkers.
Ian and Lesley Patterson
Collectively they have completed countless treks. They each have their own favourite camel and an appreciation for treks which has developed over many years. In 2023 they will each be presented with a logo embroidered shirt.