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Capricorn by Camel
Deniliquin, NSW jackaroo Andrew Harper has just completed an epic seven-months crossing of Australia along the Tropic of Capricorn.

Story and photos: Andrew Harper

ImageAs an 18-year-old jackaroo working on a property near Longreach in 1982, I used to often see the sign declaring that the Tropic of Capricorn passes through the main street.

I remember wondering where it comes from, where it goes and what lies along it - which put a hazy idea into my head that one day I would jump in my HZ ute and cross Australia by road.

But after studying a map, I though why not follow the TOC across the deserts, making the journey a real adventure and challenge?

One major problem - tackling the sand dunes of the Simpson Desert would probably test out the ute.

While travelling in Morocco in 1990, it became obvious that the way to traverse the Tropic of Capricorn was by camel, without requiring vehicle support.

As I feel most comfortable in endless open spaces, I was delighted to find that the TOC passes through the Little Sandy and Gibson Deserts in WA as well as crossing the northern fringe of the Simpson Desert in the NT.

ImagePerfect. A mental and physical journey through a mixture of country.

In 1994 I began planning the journey - 3800 km in a straight line from coast to coast, but probably nearer 5000 km to walk the distance. About two thirds would be on station tracks, minor roads and stock routes.

About one third (1300 km) would be across the open desert with no tracks.

I was looking forward to this most, as it would take just over seven months, divided into seven stages of various lengths and during each stage I would be completely self-sufficient, able to carry enough food, water and supplies.

I would re-supply at the end of each stage. Story end

Full story Issue 9, February/March 2000

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