Bush Safari


Rex Ellis’s safaris are not only humorous, danger and excitement can also be part of them.  In 1971 he took the first tourist party across the Simpson Desert.

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This book was first published in 1982 and the following is some of the text.

At the moment it was taking us at least four hours from when I kicked the fire together to when we moved from the camp, the worst part being the loading of the 140-kilogram water canteens. I made a mental note to do without these on future trips.
That night I spoke to the Lowes on the radio, and Rex said he would fly out with some water for the camels in a couple of days, as there was an old air strip about 50 kilometres ahead of us. We probably wouldn’t need the water but it was an opportunity too good to miss. In fact Rex had suggested that if we were in the vicinity of this particular strip on the day of the ‘fly-in’, he would come out and fly us all in. We were tempted, but I wasn’t too keen on leaving the camels hobbled out there for twenty-four hours on their own, as there might be a distinct lack of transport when we returned.
I had heard the camels leave the yard about midnight, and Barry went after them and tied them up to some acacia bushes.
When I arose at 5 a.m., I saw a dingo walking slowly alongside the rope yard, licking the dew off the rope. It completely ignored me, and I actually approached to within 4 metres of it before it walked nonchalantly away. Don was awake and observed this also. It was as close as I’ve ever been to a dog in the wild, and I thought it was a good way to start the day.
We were away by 9 a.m., which was our best start yet, and after a short time came to one of the ‘waterholes’ we had seen from the air; as we approached it a mangy fox ran away from the other end. We soon saw that the waterhole consisted only of wet mud and curled up dried clay, which, from the air or at a distance, can give the appearance of water.
We were into some really large red sandhills now, up to 36 metres high. Two Wedge-tailed Eagles were seen, and rabbits were still numerous, though not as common as back in the lush rain belt on the edge of the desert.
Frank was making good use of his movie camera, intending to make a film of this expedition. He normally travelled the world filming birds, so this was a slightly different experience. Just after lunch we saw two wild camels standing on a sandhill observing us with interest. There was one bull and a cow, but the bull apparently wasn’t in season, and he condescended to let us pass.
We covered 25 kilometres today, and I heard a Rufous Night Heron that night, so I reckoned there must have been water not too far away. Either that, or it was lost.

This book was first published in 1982.

The description on the back of the book is as follows.
How do you answer the calls of nature when a mixed party is forced to spend the night in small boats on Cooper Creek? Or say to a couple of tourists heading towards a tank that the Prime Minister of Australia is having a bath there?
Rex Ellis’s safaris are not only humorous, danger and excitement can also be part of them.
In 1971 he took the first tourist party across the Simpson Desert. His desert boat safaris are legend, including the first and only crossing of Lake Eyre in 1974. He pioneered long haul camel trekking in 1976, with expeditions of up to 45 days crisscrossing the Australian deserts. Wildlife (birds in particular) is a major ingredient in all his safaris by 4WD, camels, and boats.
Rex describes some hair-raising incidents, including a wild boar charging through the camp, a snake in a sleeper’s swag, and pursuit of his camel string by a wild bull camel capable of killing a man.
Rex Ellis was born in 1942, and grew up at McLaren Vale in South Australia. After boarding school, he spent six years jackerooing, contract fencing, and as an overseer on stations, before getting into the outback safari business, aged 26 years. Rex is married to Patti, and has two daughters, Georgina and Katherine. Since 1992, he and Patti have lived on the Murray River camel farm near Morgan on cliffs covered with old growth mallee trees.

Additional information

Weight 0.4 kg
Dimensions 25 × 15 × 2.5 cm


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