Andrew Harper

desert walker : explorer : conservationist : photographer

I’ve been walking and exploring the Australian deserts since 1995 and so far, have journeyed over 20000 kilometres across all of Australia's nine major deserts either as a solo explorer or as leader of commercial camel expeditions with my trekking business, the Outback Camel Company.

In 1999 I brought to fruition a 17 year dream of walking across Australia along The Tropic of Capricorn, a 229 day, 4637 kilometre journey raising funds for the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

Stage 2 of Capricorn Expedition, a two-stage walk across South America began in October 2017, and I will continue the walk in October to December 2019. More information here -

In 2007 I founded Australian Desert Expeditions, a Not-For-Profit Registered Environmental Organisation that partners with leading universities and national research institutions to conduct scientific & ecological surveys in the far reaches of the inland deserts.

I believe that Australia's long cameleering exploration heritage can successfully partner with modern science to further our ecological knowledge of Australia's great arid wilderness.

Since 1995 I’ve walked across the Simpson Desert - the worlds largest parallel sand ridge desert - 12 times in various directions, the latest solo journey being reconnxpedition, a 35 day, 700 kilometre crossing in 2012.

On Australia Day 2015, I was honoured to be awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM), for service to environmental science, research and adventure tourism.

"The desert deserves to be approached gently, so its mood is revealed. The way people have always approached the desert was on foot, as we have done today. That reveals the country - the continuum of country."

Welcome to [homogenised] Australia.

It probably started with Radio Australia. 

When formally named in 1941, Radio Australia was at the cutting edge of naming originality, the zenith of contemporary nomenclature as no one had ever placed Australia at the end of an organisational or business name before. 
So fresh. So modern. And for many decades it remained thus.

But by 2016 the fixation for standardising the naming of Australian companies, organisations and NGO’s has spread like a homogenized grammatical sludge across the vernacular, gathering pace and now overwhelming the last traces of distinctive Australian named company and business names. As a society we seem oblivious to this ‘downunder dialect disease’, seldom mentioning its hideous presence or even noticing its spread across our wide brown land that is girt by sea. 

Some of it makes sense – yes, we should Clean Up Australia but should we also Cement Australia? And do we ever Leave No Trace Australia? And in the end, do we really Mind Australia?

So on this Australia Day 2016 I took a road trip around big Australia.

I donned my Ethical Clothing Australia, loaded up with some Energy Australia from Transmissions Operations Australia, and armed with Tourism Research Australia about Green Travel Australia and Tourism Accommodation Australia from Tourism Australia and Wildlife Tourism Australia, hit the road with maps procured from Geoscience Australia and headed through Outback Australia, past Geosurveys Australia in Central Australia and into Remote Australia.

I dared not venture out of cocooned regimented Australia during my travels. How else would I possibly cope? Consulting a ‘non-Australia’ would be like diverting off the Hume Freeway and visiting a quaint local milk-bar in the main street of a country town instead of pulling into a homogenised service centre staffed primarily by women who call me ‘luv’.
It is forbidden to stray off the beaten track of Australia even with Dash Cam Owners Australia. I wanted to see Hub Australia in Cool Australia and, who knows, along the way I might even see some Animals Australia in Virgin Australia if they could only just Emerge Australia.

Beginning my journey with a rail trip on Freight Australia (who were busy with Cartage Australia calling into Ports Australia with Marine Produce Australia to see how Commercialisation Australia was going with Manufacturing Australia) I learnt that Engineers Australia and Precision Components Australia were combining forces to supply Complete Equipment Sales Australia with bits of Australia taken by Freight Air Supplies Australia and Air Australia all around my Australia.

To keep it simple I wondered if I should just take a ride down to Bicycle Industries Australia or the Association For Unmanned Vehicle Systems Australia (surely soon to be Drones Australia) but slipping across the border the relentless spread continued: I enjoyed sunshine in Parks Victoria in Environment Victoria but wasn’t Game Victoria to visit Zoos Victoria. A spot of Bowls Victoria in Racing Victoria then led me to calling Ambulance Victoria to treat my Arthritis Victoria after my Barrel Racing Victoria and I am so grateful that the Mexicans have an overflow of Civil Compliance Victoria. 

I reflected that a child born in modern Australia is soon schooled by Early Learning Association Australia then well sheltered by Early Childhood Australia and Kidsafe Australia who work with Education Services Australia to obtain Life Education Australia and Financial Literacy Australia, all of which culminates in Social Leadership Australia who seem to show up at Business Events Australia after obtaining proficiency at being a Public Speaker Australia.

That child would also learn about Bush Lore Australia, most likely join Scouts Australia, Outward Bound Australia or Girl Guides Australia or Womens Network Australia then advance to Open Universities Australia where they would perhaps learn about Astronomy Australia leading to Self Publish Australia.

Somewhere driving through Regional Development Australia I decided to look for work at Executive Recruitment Australia, Gambling Research Australia then Chartered Secretaries Australia but didn’t really like the Fair Work Australia as I wanted to work at the Australian Museum but only if they changed their name to Museum Australia. That would be in line with the chaps at Museum Victoria. I listened to a Victorian politician saying that he “would speak to Museum about the new policy…blah, blah, blah.” Speak to Museum? Is that grammatically accurate? 

Anyway, should I really Carers Australia?

As long as it was all under Sustainable Risk Management Australia then it would be ok. According to Job Services Australia I wasn’t eligible for Indigenous Business Australia, so perhaps a career in the Not-for-Profit sector with Volunteering Australia, Water Aid Australia, Action Aid Australia or Bush Heritage Australia that was all currently in Vogue Australia. Then again, Opportunity International Australia and Plan International Australia may do a Probono Australia for me. Failing that I could always approach some National Seniors Australia to give me some Philanthropy Australia.

My trip was getting bogged down in Securency Australia and I needed to get out of the Housing Choices Australia and Master Builders Australia and into Defence Housing Australia.  I needed a strategy from Plan Australia and Planning Institute Australia to increase my Fitness Australia, and so following advice from Sports Dieticians Australia, I joined Sports Australia for some Swimming Australia near Stadium Australia but later considered that Field & Game Australia should be paired with Gun Control Australia to produce Boxing Australia. Maybe this would improve my Relationships Australia that would later lead to a meeting with Celebrants Australia?

Foregoing a simple Art Workshops Australia, and vigorous Dirt Works Australia I decided that I needed some Football Federation Australia but then opted for a hit of Golf Australia, a crack at Basketball Australia before finally just watching Surfing Australia TV where I noted during an ad that Disability Sports Australia and Disability Care Australia were helping Muscular Dystrophy Australia.  

It was time for a break from this  overwhelming Showbiz Australia as I needed some Cuddle Therapy Australia from the Cuddle Party Australia. Nibbling on an Apple and Pear Australia (mixed with some Chestnuts Australia) I thought a visit to the local Clubs Australia or Festivals Australia would be a good idea. Inevitably however I tuned to World News Australia and later watched the ridiculously titled Recruits Paramedics Australia before deciding that Undercover Boss Australia should sack The Bachelor Australia. Perhaps Live Performance Victoria could team with Opera Australia to provide me with some Music Victoria?

Ultimately I thought that my road trip around Audible Australia should be a Documentary Australia to source some footage for Screen Australia. 

It’s a big Australia and I needed Food Australia from Meat and Livestock Australia. Whether it was Tasting Australia, Fine Food Australia, Dried Food Australia, Street Food Australia, or Slow Food Australia all these Food Services Australia would surely be Nourishing Australia.

Seated in my Restaurant Australia, Foodwatch Australia and Hospitality Training Australia would ensure that Wine Grape Growers Australia, Meat Standards Australia, Agriskills Australia, Ag Stewardship Australia, Grain Producers Australia, Cereal Partners Australia, Ricegrowers Australia, Wheat Quality Australia, the National Centre For Dairy Education Australia and Dairy Australia would feed me well. And if I were at all concerned about Sugar Research Australia or Hemp Foods Australia then Hereford Australia would presumably speak to me about the benefits of a good cow.

I made a mental note to write to the Mango Industry Association and recommend they immediately homogenise to Mangos Australia. 

As I drove through even more of this Genetics Australia, I began to feel not very Inspiring Australia.

Lacking Rural Health Australia and some Nutrition Australia, I was increasingly concerned that my Mind Australia was not Sane Australia and required Medicines Australia to provide Support Health Australia, Health Change Australia and Mens Health Australia. 
Maybe I needed Hair Health Australia and Kidney Health Australia and even Heart Support Australia but doubted that I yet required Knee Institute Australia. 
At least I wasn’t going Deaf Australia. But if so, Deaf Sports Australia and Deaf Basketball Australia would look after me. And I could still hear the horns of Alexander Australia.

Having trouble with my Retina Australia I visited the Centre for Eye Research Australia, was referred to Glaucoma Australia, then Seeing Eye Dogs Australia (who should merge with Guide Dogs Australia) getting advice from Delta Society Australia, and all the while hoping not to end up with the good folks at Blind Citizens Australia. At least I didn’t have to call on Diabetes Australia and Arthritis Australia. 

I drove past Sexual Health Australia and briefly considered Sperm Donors Australia or depending on the results Surrogacy Australia.

I wanted to prevent from ever having to remember to visit Alzheimers Australia and wished to avoid Brain Injury Australia, Brain Tumor Alliance Australia and Neuroscience Research Australia with Neurofibromatosis Australia. But I marvelled at the good work by Polio Australia, Bowel Australia, Bowel Screen Australia, Coeliac Australia, Barnardos Australia, Parkinsons Australia, Melanoma Institute Australia and Breast Cancer Network Australia.

In the end Aged Care Australia, Aged Care Association Australia (supervised by Care Training Australia) would look after me before I finally ended up at Palliative Care Australia. 

Ultimately, I was satisfied that my life from childhood to death was entirely covered by all Australia. 

Feeling insecure with so much Australia I consulted Biosecurity Australia and put my name on the Islamophobia Register Australia but feeling increasingly despondent and not Able Australia, overwhelmed about this Circus Australia, Catholic Social Services Australia advised me to check into Suicide Prevention Australia so that I wouldn’t get over excited and Rise Up Australia. Thank the Lord for Compassion Australia.

Perhaps I should get out into Environment Australia with Conservation Volunteers Australia to assess the state of Environmental Justice Australia with Plant Health Australia and do some Gardening Australia? 

With some Desert Knowledge Australia and some Research Data Australia surely the Doctors For The Environment Australia could provide some Wetland Care Australia? I ultimately realised that Croplife Australia and Lucerne Australia would result in Horticulture Innovation Australia and even a Greening Australia. Perhaps to obtain Healthy Soils Australia in Horticultural Australia all this would lead to a Sustainable Population Australia? 
Who knows, Australia. 

Out there I found Birdlife Australia mixing it with Equestrian Australia, and paddocks containing some Film Livestock Australia where I could Camp Australia and mix with appropriately blue-shirted chaps from Woolproducers Australia who were not entirely sure about Apology Alliance Australia and Reconcilliation Australia.

Needing refreshment, I stopped for some Camel Milk Australia whilst being slightly envious of all those chaps called Angus who have their very own club called Angus Australia. 

Of course what I really needed was the beach of Cool Australia! 
Watched by Ocean Watch Australia and the vigilant Surf Life Saving Australia, Shark Defence Australia and Ghostnets Australia I felt for the first time on my road trip that I could survive in Safe Work Australia. 

So who is responsible for the relentless spread of Straya-lisation?

Back in 1975 when Australia Post was formed from the old Post Master General’s department, the new name was considered exceptionally cutting edge, smart & trendy. How perplexing that 40 years later the Board of Australia Post discover that their company name is actually so dated that it is in fact, backwards. Surprisingly, on their 40th Anniversary last year they did not take the opportunity to rebrand themselves as Post Australia.

And what of all those companies and organisations looking for a ‘fresh contemporary new look?’ For example, The Australian Pig Breeders Association? Quite simple really. Advertising companies charged with developing such a look, make the decision easily, charge out $80,000, then present the board with… Pigbreeders Australia. Good heavens, shock, horror, how original! 
I pondered on the awkward situation for Australian Pork, the producer owned corporation supporting the Australian Pork Industry. When will they join the club? Surely a re-badge where we could all Pork Australia must be imminent? 

Advertising Australia is laughing all the way to the big four banks Australia.

And as we observe our national day with a hit of Cricket Australia I reflected on those poor old chaps from the visiting Indian cricket team. Various player combinations have been tried, tactics discussed, game strategies enacted, but to no avail - they still get clobbered. Why is this so Australia?
It’s all in the name of course: The magnificently and archaically titled Board of Control For Cricket In India never stand a sporting chance against the silky smooth smug chaps from Cricket Australia. BCCI - so 19th Century! 
On their next tour downunder Cricket India will no doubt emerge and compete with Cricket Australia on a level playing field.
But let us hope that the BCCI holds firm and resists the temptation to change! I implore the BCCI to stay firmly entrenched in the 19th Century. 

The ultimate standardising objective, the coup de grace of the department for renaming Australia is set firmly on the Government of Australia.
Somewhere in Canberra there must be an entire department of pen-pushing boffins and keyboard pounding desk jockeys who are totally bewildered at administering for Cancer Australia whilst at the same time working for the Australian Government. 

A recent productivity workshop with the working title of “Surely there has been some sort of mistake here?” noted the note that Note Printing Australia, which is wholly owned by the Reserve Bank of Australia, still retains the “of”. How the “of” survives is a terminological mystery. 
And the writing is on the wall for the archaically named Australian Bureau of Statistics, soon to be renamed (yes surprise, surprise) Statistics Australia and the Bureau of Meteorology who will become Weather Australia.

So be alert (and alarmed) – Government Australia is on its way. Or perhaps the government should be called Run Australia just to keep it simple? Come on Australia, let’s have some Creativity Australia! Is this insidious creeping our Vision Australia? Is this all we can Achieve Australia? Let us build a Monument Australia!

And so as we celebrate Australia Day 2016, let us be thankful that Anonymous Australia is quite possibly the most liveable place on the planet. 
And so the Mission Australia? 

To have a happy Day Australia.


Note: Yes, they really do all exist...