Welcome to the Great Walk...


























 The Journey

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. You might be thinking "well, that's relatively normal" but in 1999 that technology was in it's infancy. To give you an example; it would take me 10 minutes to upload the 1 (yes one!) weekly photograph to the West Australian newspaper. And that photo was taken on a floppy disk (if you are over the age of 30 you will know what I am talking about, if you are under 30, then have a look on wikipedia) by a rudimentary digital camera. All the photos you see on this site were taken with a Nikon SLR film camera using Kodachrome slide film, (under 30's refer to wikipedia again) then scanned for the web. Hence the scratches & grainy images!


In March 2004 the old site was archived and replaced with version 2 and that has now been replaced by this site.


In the transfer from v1 to v3, 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of school kids across Australia and indeed from around the world) and also the expedition guestbook, which has now been archived.

  • Coast to coast distance along the Tropic of Capricorn - 3780 kilometres
  • Total distance actually walked - 4637 kilometres
  • Total days - 229
  • Actual walking days -187 with an average distance per day of 24.7 kilometres
  • Greatest distance in one day - 49 kilometres (on three occasions)
  • Total number of days without seeing anyone - 84
  • Weight loss - 19 kilograms

 Expedition Summary

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


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, silent, spacious desert.


Strangely enough, no one had ever crossed Australia along the Tropic Of Capricorn before, so I guess this journey did enter the record books...go 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.


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!" However today I have a different view which is part of the foundation for the 2017 Expedition.


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 to five 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 my 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. Indeed, I was instantly offered a publishing deal. Well 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. Perhaps...

 History Of This Website