Archive for the 'Travel' Category

Beltana to Hawker

July 23, 2009
Hi Everyone,
Travelling through the Flinders Ranges is amazing. The scenery is stunning to say the least and the people have been warm and very friendly.
Some amazing things have happened. A young couple we met along the way were so impressed with what we had told them about the Children’s First Foundation they are going to organise a party with their friends and raise funds for the CFF through party games and drink sales. What a great idea and well done to them.
The weather has been reasonably kind to us and now we are along the highway it is hard and quite stressful. Our next stop is at Peterborough where we will then make our way east to gain some lost time, which is a small deviation from our original plan.
That way our entry point into Victoria will be from Wentworth into Mildura.
Take care everyone and keep posted as to what the Children First Foundation are doing. They are doing some amazing work with the kids.
All our love
Russell and Ros

The Darwin To Melbourne Thank You Camel Expedition 2008-2009
is acting on behalf of the Children First Foundation
and is
Proudly Supported / Sponsored By:
      logo_sc_tv                   Image11                gr_societybadge1                 nt logo
logo1logo2logo3             topRowBBLogo          Untitled1
Special Thanks:
  tvic_logo_02         oc7_9_3_4c__1          img_logo       Katherine & District Show Society Inc       


Alice Springs to Oodnadatta

May 25, 2009
           Hi everyone. Well we have finally made it to Oodnadatta with the expedition.
Travelling along the Old Ghan Railway line was incredible with so many stories and of course some incredible country travelled through.
The amount of work to create a railway line in such harsh conditions was a thing that was continuously on our minds. Most of it done created with the help of hundreds of camels and their expert handlers.
Along the way we have met some remarkable Australians……Jane at Maryvale, who works at the Art Centre There. What a beautiful person and her welcoming nature was awsome.
Wayne Williams at Hamilton station offered us some meat and a couple of beers. We sat around and chatted for ages. What a true gentleman with the old traditional bush spirit oozing from his natural personality.
Jane and Pete at Finke fed us with a home cooked meal and a terrific night meeting the locals. Terrific help and warm welcoming.
Thanks to you all.
     It is the small things that mean so much when doing something like this type of travelling.
     The word is clearly getting out regarding this expedition and with all of your help to pass this website address onto your contacts list is assisting enourmously. Please, if you haven’t already done so, please do and spread the news of the expedition and of the fantastic work Moira Kelly and the Children First Foundation are doing in changing and saving children’s lives.
       For those of you who don’t know, we have never met or even spoken to Moira Kelly but knowing of her life of incredible service to help children and the total dedication she has demonstrated, she deserves all of our support and genuine show of THANKS as a remarkable and exceptional human.
     Our next stop is William Creek where most of the camels were caught and trained. They are going home for a brief stopover. It should be interesting to see their reaction as we yard them at William Creek. They were very excited here in Oodnadatta, bouncing around like Yo-Yo’s in the yards that they clearly remembered. They are really enjoying their day off, eating, drinking and resting up in the sun.
    So far, we are on target for our Melbourne date of the 22nd November 2009 from Government House 10.00am in Melbourne, down Swanston Street to the Royal Children’s Hospital in Royal Park. The only thing that stops camel trekking completely in it’s tracks is rain so we are hoping to have clear trekking weather. We will stop at the monument to Bourke and Wills and to our knowledge, we are the first expedition to be at that location since Bourke and Wills set off on their faiteful expedition, so there is quite a historical aspect to this expedition as well. We are planning to lay a wreath at the monument to the early explorers to pay our respects to them. Now we have only some understanding of some of the issues they went through, we know they were truely very gutsy people. Certainly hope you all can make it and walk with us through the city as a show of thanks to Moira Kelly and the Children First Foundation.
     The fundraising is going well with the help of the Bendigo Bank. Donations to the Children First Foundation can be made at any Bendigo Bank Branch throughout Australia into the charity account they set up under the name…..Children First Camel Trek.
      The target is $100,000 which will save and change children’s lives. Please Give Generously. There is nothing more precious in the world than a child to be happy and healthy.
        Take care everyone.
         Feel free to write comments, add to the guest book of this web page.
         All the very best
Russell Osborne and Ros Consoli

Departure Preparations From Alice Springs to Melbourne

March 7, 2009
Departure Preparations are well on the way for the second half of the Darwin to Melbourne Thank You Camel Expedition 2008-2009.
Over the summer months, we have been in contact with the shire councils and the response has been outstanding in support of the expedition. Also the service clubs en-route have offered assistance and encouragement for fundraising and awareness of the work Moira Kelly and the Children First Foundation do.
It has been a summer of much anxiety with the fires in Victoria, and our hearts are extended to all those who were affected by this disaster. I know that every Australian felt pain for those so badly affected. Australians ought to be proud of themselves for the speed and willingness to offer assistance and financial support in the manner we did. It is something Australians are good at….helping a mate in need.
We received a donation for the Children First Foundation via the online donation page at: the other day from Streaky Bay Real Estate which I just have to tell you about.
Peter, the owner of the Streaky Bay Real Estate, added a link on his business website to this expedition website (as well as gave the Children First Foundation a donation via the website donation page). His business of course is selling real estate. You really need to check this out:
Click on the for sale button and have a good giggle.
He is a beaute bloke and we thank him and his wife for their support.
If you own a business or are a member of a club etc and would like to do something similar to what Peter has done, please do so and add this site as a link to your website, give a donation if you can and help us to raise the $100.000 target for the kids and assist us to spread the news of the expedition. The more people who know of the expedition, it’s aims and objectives, the more successful it will be.
Not forgetting that donations can be made at any Bendigo Bank Branch in Australia into the Children First Foundation Camel Trek account. This is a closed account in that no-one (except the bank) has access to this account and the Bendigo Bank will present a cheque to the Children First Foundation at the end of the expedition with the donations collected. Let’s ensure it’s a big surprise by adding to this account.
Our aim is to do the kilometers during the first half of this years trekking and slow down as we approach Melbourne to ensure we are on target for the walk through Melbourne on the 22/11/09. As you can imagine, with camel trekking, some days are diamonds and some are stone. We will be in a position to inform you of our progress as we travel along with anticipated dates and times of when we will be in towns en-route. Please keep an eye on this website to know when we will be in your town en-route. Hope you can join us by walking through your town en-route as a show of thanks to Moira Kelly and those attached to the Children First Foundation.
22/11/09 10.00am Walk down Swanston Street to the Royal Children’s Hospital
Put this date in your diary and make a committment to join us from Government House at 10.00am, travelling down Swanston Street through Melbourne to the RCH as a show of thanks to Moira and her teams. Let’s show Moira and her teams how much Australians appreciate their work and efforts helping change and save children’s lives.
23/11/09 Day at the Royal Children’s Hospital
24/11/09 Walk out of Melbourne to Woodstock
25/11/09 Walk towards Kilmore
26/11/09 Walk to the Children First Foundation Farm at Kilmore.
Leaving Alice Springs is shaping up to being quite an event, thanks to the Alice Springs Council and many other organisations.
We will leave from the council lawns at 12.00 noon and travel down the Todd River. Our aim is to create a world first of number of people walking through the Gap at the same time with the camel train to show our thanks to Moira and the CFF.
The Heavy Tree Gap Resort on the south side of the Gap are putting on a function of which case the profits will go to the CFF. Everyone welcome.
We’ll be in contact with regular updates of the expedition as we travel throughout the year.
Take care
Russ and Ros

Darwin to Melbourne Thank You Camel Expedition 2008-2009

Darwin to Melbourne
Thank You
Camel Expedition

Saying Thank You To Moira Kelly and the
Children First Foundation


Sunday 29/3/09

Come with the camel train through the  Gap, attempting a record number of people walking the Gap, at the same time.


The Darwin To Melbourne Thank You Camel Expedition 2008-2009
is acting on behalf of the Children First Foundation
and is
Proudly Supported / Sponsored By:
      logo_sc_tv                   Image11                gr_societybadge1                 nt logo
logo1logo2logo3             topRowBBLogo          
Special Thanks:
  tvic_logo_02         oc7_9_3_4c__1          img_logo       Katherine & District Show Society Inc       




Departing Papunya today

October 29, 2008
The crew arrived safely at Papunya (NT) on Oct 27 and will depart today on Oct 29. All well but very hot!

They have attracted a nice cute young bull to their string who follows them everywhere. Apparantly he is to be left behind at the first gate but we’ll see. Either they’ll spend a day fixing a trashed fence as the bull scrambles through it to stay with them, or they go soft and add him to the string. This is a common occurrence for trekkers out in the desert, and hard to resist  🙂

Papunya is a small community about 240km north west of Alice and contains approximately 300 residents, many of whom are Lutheran. Pintupi and Luritja people were forced off their traditional country in the 1930s and moved into Hermannsburg and Haast’s Bluff where there were government ration depots. There were often tragic [and brutal] confrontations between these people, with their nomadic hunter-gathering lifestyle, and the cattlemen who were moving into the country and over-using the limited water supplies of the region for their cattle.

The Australian government built a water bore and some basic housing at Papunya in the 1950s to provide room for the increasing populations of people in the already-established Aboriginal communities and reserves. The community grew to over a thousand people in the early 1970s and was plagued by poor living conditions, health problems, and tensions between various tribal and linguistic groups. These festering problems led many people, especially the Pintupi, to move further west closer to their traditional country. After settling in a series of outstations, with little or no support from the government, the new community of Kintore was established about 250 km west of Papunya in the early 1980s.

It was during the 1970s that a striking and unique blend of ancient and modern art styles began to emerge in Papunya and by the 1980s had begun to attract national and then international attention, now commanding a proud place on world art markets (ref: Wikipedia 29 Oct 2008).

Now past Mt Liebig – the hot days have arrived

October 25, 2008
24 October
Russ and Ros and the happy camels arrived at Mt Liebig on October 20 and rested there for four days with terrific support and interest from the local community, and headed east again on the 24th. Once again they found themselves as guests in a small homeland about 3km south of the main settlement. A huge thank you to Paul and Noelene from the community, the legendary Les from Bush-Bus, and Russell and Christie for the terrific and welcome support and hospitality.
Mt Liebig is a small remote settlement with about 180-200 residents (apologies if this is incorrect but this is a best guestimate by our savy travellers).
Their guest quarters is a smorgasboard for the camels who are apparantly very happy with the luscious feed all around. Only trekkers can understand the huge relief it is on rest days when the camels are happy and not trying to walk off in their hobbles, whether to nick off or wander off in the hunt for sweet feed they can scent on the breeze.

Into the NT – closing in on Alice Springs (and a beer)

October 18, 2008
11 October
Russ and Ros departed Walungurru (also known as Kintore, NT) today enroute to Watiyawanu (Mt Liebig, NT) which is about 325km north west of Alice Springs. The crew will arrive at Watiyawanu on about October 20.
Reporting back from Walungurru, Ros couldn’t speak highly enough of the welcome and assistance offered to them and their camels by the local police and friends stationed there. When contacted they were "camping" (in the loosest sense of the word!) in one of the policeman’s houses as short term caretakers and had access to TV, airconditioning, hot showers, out-of-the-wind, kettles, water on tap, a phone (perhaps even a computer and internet), a toaster ……………… disgraceful. Spirits were extremely high and the camels were all healthy and contained, apparantly in a compound of some sort. They would like to extend their warmest thanks and appreciation to Murray, Pete and Lee, and Andrew in particular, and to the entire community for their friendship.
In terms of other news, we have to sadly report that their companion Esther Nunn lost her camel ("Sammy") to the poison bush Gyrostemon ramulosus south of Well 33 just after they parted ways. We knew Esther had a camel down with this cursed poison bush but we have only just learnt that he died. "Sammy" was a tremendous animal and highly respected by all that knew him. Only a cameleer can know just how utterly gut wrenching and devastating this sort of tragedy can be. Add to that the fact that Esther was alone with her three camels which had accompanied her on a previous trek (re-enacting Robin Davidson’s famous 1977 trek), in the middle of the desert, when the incident happened. It is difficult to imagine a greater sense of loneliness and sadness and anyone reading this cannot even begin to understand what Esther has  been through. We’re all so so sorry Esther!!!!
Esther wanted readers (particularly camel trekkers) to know just how dangerous this plant can be. Wild camels live in the area and many trekkers have passed through without their camels showing an interest in the tree. Obviously it is not something consistent. Camels may have a taste for the plant one day and apparently not the next. One camel’s preference isn’t necessarily anothers.
It is difficult to move away from this terrible news.
The days into Walungurru were very hot and Russ and Ros and camels are doing it very very tough at the moment with the heat of summer upon them and the searing and depressing October winds relentless and scalding. They manage to cover a good 15km before the heat begins at about 10am and then another 10-15km before they call it a day.
As they crossed the border the evidence of camel impacts to the environment are sadly prominent and very much in-your-face. It is so important that we do something about this problem which will soon become critical for some species of shrubs and trees that are impacted heavily by their unmanaged grazing. Camels are beautiful animals but they must be managed and if we don’t use commonsense and vision to resolve the issue the Government will be forced, with community support, to cull and lay-to-waste tens of thousands of these wild animals. So many issues to step-through to address this problem, but how many Australians know that camel meat tastes better than beef? How many Australians know that camels are softer on the country than traditional stock when managed properly? An opportunity exists to move feral camels from the unmanaged desert interiors and to place them into managed domestic herds. Huge markets exist for camel meat and here enlies a wonderful opportunity for enterprise for so many remote and languishing communities. It is not that simple of course but nothing ever is. Certainly, the cull and lay-to-waste option is difficult to justify in this age of global food shortage and climate instability. The South Australian government is making great strides to help turn the camel problem into an industry for remote communities and to resolve the environmental issues at the same time.
Back to Russ and Ros – Ros has lost 22kg (!!!!!) and that Rus is nearly invisible! 🙂    so don’t expect to recognise either of them when they appear back in town. Rus reckons he looks like Cliff Young did when he reached Melbourne in 1983. For those of you who don’t know who Cliff Young is – do a Google search, he was a legend in every Australian houshold for a while back in the mid-80s.
Next stop – Watiyawanu.

Now past Kiwirrkurra – toward the NT border

October 4, 2008
Russ and Ros arrived at Kiwirrkurra on Sept 26 after a long waterless section from Kunawarritji. All is well and the camels have all recovered after their respective bouts with poisoning from Gyrostemon ramulosus. The latest to succumb was "Coco" but he made a full recovery after a relatively minor bout lasting two days.
Russ and Ros departed Kiwirrkurra on about Sept 29 and are now well on their way toward Walungurru or Kintore as it is sometimes known.
The Kiwirrkurra Community was exceptionally welcoming and Russ and Ros were given the luxury of a house at the community where they were spoiled with a cooking stove, a hot water shower and a roof over their head. Presumably there was an airconditioner too!! Possibly we are lucky they chose to continue.
A very warm thankyou is extended to Mary Anne for such generous hospitality, Tom (the community nurse) for cooking delicious dinners and to the storekeepers, Tim and Karen for their friendship and assistance. The community itself has been extremely welcoming and our travellers are extremely grateful for the kindness shown.
The next section consists of 205km without water and this will indeed test the camels if the weather turns hot. The last waterless section from Kunawarritji was difficult but the number of hot days was limited. This next section could be quite troublesome if the weather turns hot as is forecast.
The Darwin To Melbourne Thank You Camel Expedition 2008-2009
is acting on behalf of the Children First Foundation
and is
Proudly Supported / Sponsored By:
      logo_sc_tv                   Image11                gr_societybadge1                 nt logo
logo1logo2logo3             topRowBBLogo          
Special Thanks:
  tvic_logo_02         oc7_9_3_4c__1          img_logo          Katherine & District Show Society Inc

“Coco” succumbs to Poison Bush

September 24, 2008
Russ and Ros are now approximately 2.5 days out of Kiwirrkurra, an extremely remote settlement 680km west of Alice Springs.
They and the camels are all travelling well but "Coco" has suddenly taken ill (not seriously) with another suspected bout of Gyrostemon ramulosus poisoning. Both "Jack" and "Euco" have made a complete recovery.
The days are long and fortunately have not been particularly hot as yet, but they will pay for this in the not too distant future with an unwelcome run of scorchers. They are out of trouble now with frequent watering points dotting the remainder of their journey, all the way to Alice Springs.
Russ and Ros would like to send a big thank you to Ivan, Blake and Kim from MBL Contracting who treated them to a feast of meat, sausages and beer, and great company, out in the middle of nowhere, at a time when they really needed some friendly company. Thanks guys!!!! (and gal) 🙂
Also, a big thank you to Ken and Nellie who have sent all of Russ and Ros’s pictures to the home office after meeting them along the Canning, saving all the pics onto their own computer, and making the effort to transfer onto a disc and sending on. Thanks heaps Ken and Nellie!!
All is well and spirits are high, but we cannot tell you if Esther or her camel is OK south of Well 33 after one of her own camels fell to the Poison Bush ?? Can anyone advise??

Now heading east !

September 10, 2008
Russ and Ros (and Esther) arrived at Kunawarritji community (4km from Well 33) on August 21 and departed east on September 9 after a long struggle with the effect of camel poison Gyrostemon ramulosus on two of their camels, "Jack" and "Euco".
This plant is thick about Kunawarritji. It contains a cyanagen poison which when eaten releases cyanide which can quickly kill. Symptoms include bottom lip quivering, vomiting, body tremors and inability to stand and frequently results in a quick death. Camels that are not immediately killed by this plant usually survive but the recovery period is quite long.
Russ and Ros were aware of G. ramulosus but it seems both camels had eaten a small amounts without them knowing.
Camels love this plant and this period was an extremely dangerous time for the camels, and the expedition. The camels could not be hobbled, and could only be tied to trees, so their hunger grew. At any opportunity they would snatch at anything within reach, particularly while being led about, and if they escaped from their tethers they would almost certainly have been found dead within hours.
The Kunawarritji community consists of about x60 residents and includes an office, a small shop, a health clinic and a small school. Service personnel include a nurse, x2 teachers and a community coordinator.
Russ and Ros would like to thank Horace and Paul for their fantastic efforts to keep the tethered camels fed and their interest in keeping the Expedition going. They actually left the community on August 28 and walked the 4.5km out to Well 33 proper ("Euco" only just made it!) where they had better feed choices for the camels and access to water.
The price of fuel at Kunawarritji community is $3.20/litre !!
Esther Nunn has headed south alone but news comng back to Russ and Ros informs them that she too has one of her three camels affected by the poison plant and is awaiting its recovery before moving on!
It is now mid-September and the days are hot, very hot, and Rus and Ros will now have to contend with this additional hardship. Their next stretch out to Jupiter Well is about 220km of waterless terrain and if the days remain as hot they will struggle to make this distance without some hardship. The many delays will now burden them with additional problems related to the rapid onset of summer.

Canning Stock Route 100 Years Of Operation

August 26, 2008
Hi Everyone and thanks for all of the kind thoughts everyone has been sending us.
We are now half way down the Canning Stock Route and about to make our way to Alice Springs. The journey so far has been one of highs and lows. We’ve had quite a lot of bull camel trouble as well as camels eating poisonous plants which nearly killed Jack and Euco.
The weather appears as though is has changed and is getting hotter. Our next leg is 220Km’s inbetween water, which will test all of us but we are confident we will be in Alice Springs well before Christmas.
The people we have met along the way have been quite extraordinary in their generosity and kindness and to them we would like to extend our warmest thanks.
I only wish we were in a position to add some photos to this blog but unable to do so. Later on when in Alice Springs we will be able to add photos for everyone to enjoy.
Right at the moment we are waiting for Euco to get better from eating poisonous plants. Within the next two days he should have all of the poison out of his system, able to walk again and we’ll be on our way.
Already we are looking forward to the second year of the expedition and hoping for all of the townsfolk of the cities and towns that we will be passing through get fully and actively involved with supporting the camel expedition and it’s aims of reaching the target of $100,000 to save children’s lives through Moira Kelly’s Children First Foundation in Kilmore, Victoria and to create awareness of the foundation and the work they do.
Must get going unfortunately, I have so much to tell you all of the incredible things we have experienced and seen, all of the adrenalin rushes and sad moments we have endured but it will have to wait till another time.
Love you all
Russell Osborne and Ros Consoli.
P.S. the country we have seen has been truely remarkable and at times has had us all with tears in our eyes admiring the intense beauty.
Also, it is 100 years since the Canning Stock Route started operations. It was amazing to have the camel train going down the Canning Stock Route during this period of Australian history.