1996 has been yet another good year for GO BUSH Safaris . Every 1996 safari proceeded with only two safaris having less than capacity. Most importantly though, our safarists had wonderful experiences, were inspired to greater creativity and have given us tremendous feedback. Many people are already planning to join particular 1997 safaris and are awaiting the brochure with dates and details.
The only experience is "Being There". The 1996 Kimberley and other safaris inspired some wonderful poems. Mary Long's most poignant poem describes the difficulty of translating the richness of our personal experience to others.
Turquoise and red and the setting sun,
I tell my children down the phone.
White sands and bending pandanus.
"Yes Mum, sounds great,"
down the phone.
Gorgeous, so lovely, huts by the beach,
Paradise, peace and fish to eat .....
No words can tell it down the phone.
New destinations in 1997. In keeping with our motto as "Australia's World Heritage areas specialists" we are adding three Australian World Heritage sites as new destinations next year. It means that we will be operating in every Australian state and the Northern Territory in 1997. As the number of sites increase it is no longer practical to include all each year.
More Accommodated Tours: Another development of GO BUSH Safaris is that while not abandonning camping, we have developed more safaris with softer options. For 1997 we have four accommodated safaris with no camping, Tasmania, Lord Howe Island, Tropical Rainforests and Capricornia Cruise. The Mungo trip will be 80% accommodated. To keep the price down we have avoided up-market accommodation, and so safarists may need to provide sleeping bags / bed linen, but nobody will have to inflate air mattresses and sleep so close to the ground. However, we are mindful of both location and privacy and have sought some exclusivity for our guests.
Shark Bay and the Golden West Wildflowers is timed to coincide with the end of Western Australia's winter wet and the peak of the wildflower season. We will be teaming up with Coate's Wildlife Tours to explore Australia's latest World Heritage Listing, Shark Bay, and a proposed World Heritage area which comprises an archipelago of flora reserves in one of the most biodiverse regions in the world. This inaugural camping trip from Perth is limited to just 12 people.
Lord Howe Island has been on our mind ever since John prepared a conservation strategy for this stunningly lovely island in 1988 but we have been deterred by the cost of such a trip. This year, however, we have developed a very competitively priced program in conjunction with Fastbook Pacific Holidays.
The Tropical Rainforest & Reef is almost completely new. While we have been to all of these most attractive destinations previously, we have revamped it to take greater advantage of the cheaper flights to Cairns and some excellent, well located but exclusive budget accommodation which enables us to live in the bush at most places but to avoid the rigours of camping. This safari ventures into the Gulf savannah country to explore two geological wonders, Undarra Lava Tubes and Chillagoe Caves.
Naracoorte Caves is another new World Heritage Listing which we are visiting for the first time in 1997. We are extending the Mungo trip by four days to include this and Victoria's scenic Great Ocean Road. This trip involves a number of different stopovers and so we have made it much easier by avoiding camping on all but three nights when we camp in National Parks where there is no alternative suitable option.
1998 Projections: In 1998 we will repeat some safaris which we didn't have enough days in the year for in 1997. (200 days away per year is enough). After 10 years of bush Christmases, family obligations prevent us offering our usual escape over the 97-98 Christmas - New Year period. We will be restoring the usual bush Christmases again in 1998. We are also reluctantly dropping Riversleigh and one of our favourite national parks in all Australia, Lawn Hill Gorge, from our 1997 program because of falling patronage for this particular safari and lack of time. However, we will restore it again in 1998 along with Uluru.
Cultural Contacts: Our contact with Aboriginal groups
grew enormously in 1996 particularly in the Kimberley and Kakadu.
We expect to extend these very enriching contacts even further
in 1997 both in these and other trips.
New Logo: We have developed a new logo after much deliberation and consultation. The old logo was becoming somewhat obsolete as a result of our progression to fewer camping trips and the fact that we are relying much less on open fires which were central to the old logo. The new logo focuses on the natural landscape which is the main focus of all GO BUSH Safaris . We plan to feature the logo on new T-Shirts which will be available before the end of the year.
Support for Conservation: During 1995-96 GO BUSH Safaris continued to support conservation. Apart from advertising almost exclusively with the journals of conservation groups, we have provided extensive time and effort campaigning for Fraser Island. We are involved in trying to beef up a national campaign to establish a National Population Policy for Australia. John attended the World Heritage Area Managers Workshop in Ravenshoe in April. We are also working on strategies to help conservation volunteers achieve more.
Safaris on their own contribute a great deal to conservation. It was during the Post Ramsar Convention - GO BUSH safari to Fraser Island in March that overseas experts identified the significance of Fraser Island's fens (peat bogs) for the first time. There have been many other discoveries.
Publisher / book distributor: After several other publishers rejected the manuscript for Rollo Petrie's autobiography, GO BUSH Safaris decided to publish the first part of Rollo's life story "Early Days on Fraser Island ó 1913-1922" because we believe that it is important to understanding the environment. It vividly presents the clear recollections of this wonderland more than 75 years ago. Rollo, aged 86 launched it in Maryborough in May, just three months before his death in Townsville on 16 August.
There are other books in the pipeline. We are also involved in publishing and distributing "Discovering Fraser Island and Cooloola", a fully illustrated guide book which we expect to launch before the end of this year. We have a limited number of John Sinclair's hard covered autobiography, "Fighting for Fraser Island" which can be autographed and posted for just $25. Sharan's recipe book, "Beating Around the Bush" can be purchased for $10.00 posted. Please order now.
Thanks to Our Safarists: In addition to meeting a rich variety of interesting people, who have so many interests in common, and who do so much to enrich the trips for others, we have some unique records of memorabilia ó inspired poems, some great visual art, (Vida Pearson had an exhibition in Ballarat of work inspired by a Torres Straits Cruise) and some wonderful diaries. The Waltzing Matilda Diary was recorded on a computer in Braille by Leah Francis. It is therefore always exciting to meet a new group of interesting individuals.
We would like to thank everyone, especially our many crew volunteers, who have helped to make our work a pleasure.
John Sinclair & Sharan Daly