Our Year: The last twelve months have been particularly satisfying for GO BUSH Safaris :
* We have filled every seat/berth we have offered although this has meant that some applicants have missed out. This heavy demand looks likely to continue, based on advance inquiries.
* Another element for satisfaction and pride has been the amount of repeat business. More than 30% of our safarists have travelled with us at least once previously; another 30% or more are coming for the first time on the express recommendations of other safarists.
* A further factor has been the feed-back and responses from safarists helping to refine and improve our operations. Thus each year we return the experience becomes even richer. This was particularly apparent with our 1997 Kimberley Adventure.
Inspiration: The safaris continue to inspire. Some really wonderful diaries document almost every safari and produce much creative writing. We have now collected many of the verses and inspired pieces into an anthology.
Still More Accommodated Tours: In 97 we added Lord Howe Island and the Tropical Rainforests and Reef to our list of accommodated safaris and Mungo-Mootwingee safari was reduced to only three days camping. More accommodation options are becoming available which largely enable us to stay in the bush without losing the ambiance of our camping safaris and, as long as we continue to self-cater, without dramatically increasing our costs. We use an interesting variety of budget accommodation in some great settings.
Cultural Contacts: This year we had even more Aboriginal contacts than last year and we expect to extend these very enriching contacts even further in 1998
Reef Discovery: Our first Capricornia Cruise was amazingly good. The thrill of it all was beautifully encapsulated in a short poem by Jenny Merrick, a non-swimmer prior to the trip.
Snorkelling the Spurs and Ridges of North Reef
In a world that's oddly silent
I hear my breath rise and fall,
And I'm half afraid of dying,
But North Reef has me in thrall.
Floating over strange gardens
Drowned canyons on a warm tide,
Surreal iridescent fish
And a turtle at my side.
In this dreamscape there's no gravity
For Earthly laws don't apply,
So it is that I've discovered
You don't need to swim ..... to fly.
At the time of writing there are still a few berths left for this year's Capricornia Cruise but those who are planning further ahead should set aside a week in November to coincide with the coral spawning.
Lord Howe Island 97 was GO BUSH Safaris first safari there. We had a full complement of 20 safarists. Our appreciation of this stunningly lovely island was greatly helped by Islander, Jim Dorman. We will repeat this program in 98 in conjunction with Fastbook Pacific Holidays. In 97, artist, Lloyd Jones's, great sketches captured much of the atmosphere.
Our Safarists: In the last 12 months we carried 186 safarists on 10 safaris which involved 2391 client days. Others also travelled with us including a number of Aborigines. More than a dozen friends assisted in crews. Dalry Connolly was on five of them. We are very appreciative of their unique contributions. We were happy to have every single person aboard.
In 98 we are adding two more non-camping safaris.
Bush Christmas: After taking Christmas 97 off for a quiet family holiday we are offering a Bush Christmas safari in Queensland's Scenic Rim (the Border Ranges) for 98 as a wholly accommodated trip. This will focus on the Central Eastern Rainforests (CERA) World Heritage sites. Due to the chances of summer storms in southern Queensland at that time, we prefer to use budget accommodation. We will be visiting some very familiar country with magnificent mountains and rainforest.
Kakadu in the Wet: We have long been tempted to tackle Kakadu in the Wet. This option received an added impetus after a glowing report from our Intrepid Guide, Ian Morris, following a wonderful trip he led there during the last Big Wet. While adopting his exciting recommendation we have had to drop some parts of our 97 Kakadu schedule such as Arnhem Land. It is also more prudent to be accommodated during the Wet rather than be camping.
More Days: While repeating many safaris in 98, we continue to develop and refine them to improve the safarists enjoyment of them.
* We have and added an extra day to Mungo, Mootwingee and More in 98 to enable us to appreciate some very interesting parts of Victoria such as Hattah Kulkyne and the Little Desert at a more leisurely pace. We have also decided to do this trip in spring. This adds a new dimension to an already wonderful trip.
* Shark Bay is another safari which will benefit from an extra day in the itinerary in 1998 enabling more time to be spent in the wildflower area.
* Tropical Rainforests and Reef will be expanded by a day which allows time to discover more about local Aboriginal culture in this very biologically rich region. Another day permits an even more comfortable itinerary and time to explore new exciting destinations. To maximize the quality of this wonderful experience, we have to limit numbers to 12.
Support for Conservation: We continue to lend our support for conservation in many diverse ways.
* Austrop: Some exciting and interesting research is carried out at the Australian Tropical Research Foundation's (Austrop's) field research station at Cape Tribulation. The work on fruit bats and their role in pollination of rainforest species is particularly important. We support moves to build on and upgrade this facility. It is essential to have a well equipped high standard lab to enable field research work to be done in one of the more important areas of the world for biodiversity. Research effort here is more urgently needed than on the Great Barrier Reef where there are already five research stations which are generously provided for.
* Fraser Island: We continue to devote considerable time and resources to advocating improved management of Fraser Island. Political and bureaucratic obstacles are frustrating any public input into the decision making there. We have just published John's new field guide, "Discovering Fraser Island and Cooloola" which sells for $30.00.
* Fitzroy Expedition: We are actively assisting an adventurous canoeing adventure down Western Australia's largest river, the Fitzroy. This is scheduled for late February, at the height of the 98 Wet Season. The Expedition should help local Aborigines publicize their concerns about the damming of the West's greatest wild river, and highlight the World Heritage values of the Kimberley.
On the Internet: Andrew Sinclair , has placed GO BUSH Safaris on the internet. Full itineraries of all GO BUSH Safaris and everything people may need to know prior to booking, including an Application Form is available for anyone interested in reality rather than cyberspace. Our Internet Syte is: http://www.internetnorth.com.au/andrews/gobush/
Wishing you all many enriching experiences in 1998.
John Sinclair & Sharan Daly