Q: WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT ON A TRIP?
A: That’s a hard question to answer as a desert spirit journey is a very personal experience. The structure is quite easy to describe--once we get into the desert we drive a few hours each day, make camp, and have time to experience the desert in our own ways. There are at least a couple of days with no driving at all to permit longer and more in-depth encounters with the desert, with others on the journey and with ourselves. We start each day with a reflection and a question to ponder throughout the day, and in the evening after a delicious meal, we gather around the fire and share our experiences of the day. Many who journey with us are surprised about some new insight, awareness, friendship, sense of peace, renewed sense of purpose or a long hoped for personal breakthrough. The desert is a place of the unexpected--come with an open mind and heart and expect the unexpected.
Q: WILL I BE SAFE?
A: We do everything in our power to ensure safe vehicles and drivers, we carry a great deal of safety equipment, we bring ample food and water, our leaders are equipped and trained to deal with vehicle and health emergencies and we plan our journeys with safety as a top priority. Still, we will be travelling in harsh and unforgiving country. Perhaps one of the lessons of a journey is that like the desert, life itself is full of risks and unplanned for events. We can do everything in our power to be prepared, but ultimately we are not in control, yet through the support of others and a belief in something bigger we can courageously face the unknown.
Q: I LIKE MY HOT SHOWERS AND A TOILET! HOW WILL I COPE?
A: Matters of personal hygiene and toileting are the most common concerns raised by those new to spending time in the bush and camping. Toileting in the bush is not difficult, and we will provide instruction if needed. For those with mobility or balance challenges we provide a toilet seat on a sturdy frame. On most journeys we carry sufficient water to permit one or two sponge baths...but really, the crisp desert air seems to have a cleansing effect and the lack of a hot shower just doesn’t seem like that big of an issue once we’re out there.
Q: DO I NEED TO BE PHYSICALLY FIT? MAYBE I’M TOO OLD?
Participants from their twenties to their eighties have had wonderful journeys. You will need to be able to endure long stretches of driving on sealed roads en route to the desert , then four to five hours of daily driving on rutted winding tracks. You’ll need to be able to walk over uneven ground, crawl into a swag or tent, and sleep close to the ground. Because this is a communal as well as an individual journey, there will always be someone to offer assistance and support when needed.
Q: I’M GETTING A SENSE OF WHAT A SPIRIT JOURNEY IS. BUT WHAT ISN’T IT?
A: A journey is NOT a tourist trip, where you clock up a sight or experience as a souvenir. It is NOT a race, an opportunity to prove your superior strength or the power of your vehicle. It is NOT an attempt to conquer a bit of wilderness, a wild party in the bush, a weird cult experience or a religious conversion camp. It is definitely NOT like anything you’ve ever done before.
Q: SPIRITUALITY...IS THAT LIKE RELIGION? DO I HAVE TO BE RELIGIOUS TO COME ALONG? WILL I BE JUDGED BY OTHERS ON THE JOURNEY IF I DON’T CONFORM TO THEIR BELIEFS? IS EVERYONE REALLY WELCOME?
A: We embrace the reality that spirituality is a personal matter, and we are unified in honouring each participant’s diversity. The journey is a personal experience with plenty of time to contemplate who you are and your deepest values and guiding principles; it is also a communal journey in which each member of the community can learn from others. Our leaders do not impose their beliefs and values, but rather evoke the insights and wisdom of each member of the journey community.
Q: WHAT IF I NEED TO LEAVE BEFORE THE JOURNEY IS OVER?
A: Unless you are experiencing a life-threatening emergency, it is nearly impossible to leave a journey before it ends due to the remote areas through which we travel. In the event of a life threatening emergency (which has never happened in our 16 years of leading journeys), we are prepared with a satellite phone and multiple emergency beacons to summon a helicopter or Royal Flying Doctor Service rescue. While we are well-covered for public liability, we are not insured for your health or air ambulance. You may wish to consider purchasing travel and rescue insurance; we encourage you to discuss this directly with your insurance provider.
Q: HOW CAN I GET IN CONTACT WITH MY FAMILY OR FRIENDS DURING THE JOURNEY IF I HAVE TO?
A: We travel with a SpotTracker device which broadcasts our location in real time to as many family members and friends as you wish; it also transmits a pre-programmed text or email message that all is well each time we arrive at camp. In addition, we turn on the satellite phone for an hour each evening so if necessary your loved ones can contact you; you can also use that phone to make calls. Rates are quite high; therefore we recommend that the phone only be used for emergency situations.
Q: WHAT WILL THE WEATHER BE LIKE?
A: The desert days are generally in the 20s and quite cold at night, at times dropping below zero.. Most days are clear and sunny, yet storms and rain are always a possibility. The air is dry, so hands, faces and lips can easily become chapped.
Q: I'M NOT AN EXPERIENCED CAMPER. CAN YOU HELP ME?
A: Of course! Every member of a journey has expertise that others don’t possess, and one of the joys of a journey is to experience the support, care and learning that happens within the journey community.
Q: HOW LONG DO WE DRIVE EACH DAY?
A: The drive to and from the desert generally involves long days, but once we’re in the desert and driving on tracks, we enjoy breakfast and are in the vehicles well after the sun comes up. We aim to be at our next camp by mid afternoon so as to make camp in the daylight and have time to explore and experience the features surrounding our temporary home.
Q: A JOURNEY SOUNDS LIKE A LOT OF TOGETHERNESS. IS THERE GOING TO BE SOME ALONE TIME?
A: The desert spirit journey is both a communal and individual experience. For some, the best part of a journey is becoming a part of a tight-knit community, conversing in the vehicles, being part of a cooking or clean-up team, sharing around the campfire and telling stories under the stars. For others it’s the opportunities to be alone, walk across a salt lake, sit under a tree or on top of a dune, photograph flowers, write, read, or just soak in the silence. The journey experience provides enough flexibility to allow each participant to find his or her own rhythm and balance between group and individual time.
Q: ARE THERE SNAKES AND SPIDERS THAT MIGHT KILL ME? WHAT ABOUT DINGOES? AND I HEAR THAT FERAL CAMELS CAN BE QUITE FIERCE!
A: Remember, a wild animal will almost always be more frightened of you than you are of it. An encounter with a dingo, or a herd of camels for that matter, can be quite a magical experience if we let them be without provocation. We travel in the winter months when snakes are minimally active. We’ll see plenty of spiders, mostly only mildly venomous, which will only bite if threatened. We have yet to encounter a drop bear on any of our journeys.
Q: WHAT HAPPENS IF WE BREAK DOWN OUT THERE?
A: We’re prepared! Our vehicles undergo thorough reliability checks prior to each journey, and we carry the tools we need to make repairs. Every journey is marked by at least a few flat tyres and we carry plenty of spares. In wet seasons we are likely to get bogged in the mud. While inconvenient, we carry snatch straps, recovery tracks, jacks and other recovery gear. For those who have not seen a bogged vehicle propelled out of the mud by a flexible snatch strap, the experience can be quite exciting.
Q: WILL WE HAVE OPPORTUNITIES TO INTERACT WITH ABORIGINAL PEOPLE, THE ORIGINAL CUSTODIANS OF THE LAND?
A: ADSJ leaders have developed good relationships with members of the communities through whose country we travel. We make every effort to spend some time with Aboriginal guides and teachers who often share some wisdom of bush tucker, rock art, music, dreamtime stories, astrology and more. We abide by all conditions of permits and do all that is in our power to treat the land as sacred mother, worthy of our care and respect.