Highlights of the last year were mainly based on northern Australia, particularly the Kimberley and Kakadu. We had three trips to each.
Our first Kakadu in the Wet safari occurred only 3 months after our safari finished the previous November. The contrast between the two seasons is so dramatic that it appeared to be a different country. Despite the record floods last February, we managed to cover everything on our agenda without any great inconvenience. It was so popular that we have decided to offer it again in 1999. If necessary we may offer a second one following on because there is such a strong demand to discover this land during this special season. We will also be extending it by a day so that Billy Harney can take us out to show us some special rock art sites near the Victoria River in Gregory N. P..
We were back in both the Kimberley and Kakadu with a group of English naturalists in May — June. The north revealed yet more facets of the diverse and interesting Nature to a very appreciative and informed group.
In February John undertook a 300 km canoe trip with a number of Bunuba friends down the Fitzroy River (Bandrarl Ngadu) from Mt Barnett to Fitzroy Crossing (the wet season). He claims that it was one of the most exciting adventures of his life. His report can be found on his Home Page — www.sinclair.org.au/fitzroy. The trip had a strong conservation objective to prevent the damming of the Fitzroy River and that is why Senator Bob Brown (Greens) of Franklin River fame accompanied the group led by Willigan (Joe Ross - well known to Kimberley safarists). Ian Morris (Uncle Long Nose) was another friend on the 10 day expedition which discovered what is now considered Australia's greatest wild river. The Conservation objective is well on the way to being achieved with the announcement that the dam's proponents are looking at alternative ways to tap the Fitzroy's water without building dams.
Every trip to the Kimberley is a special adventure including probably more Aboriginal interaction than any other trip we know of. They usually contain unexpected excitement and 1998 was no exception. Our Kimberley camping safari justifies its popularity. Next year we plan to spend more time at magical Cape Leveque and extend it by one day to include Broome to provide an even more comprehensive geographic appreciation of this remote and fascinating frontier.
The Tropical Rainforests & Reef is our other northern Australian destination and again we couldn't meet the demand. This trip continues to benefit from the contacts we have established over many years. The accommodation standard continues to improve. This is an especially enjoyable trip with a lot of focus on the luxuriant forests. August is a great month in Far North Queensland and new arrangements will enable us to increase the numbers from 12 to 18.
Our Great Barrier Reef cruise has had to be dropped for 1999 due to cost increases and reduced demand. It is a decision taken reluctantly due to our love of the Reef, especially after having organized many Reef expeditions during the last 30 years.
Our Discovering Tasmania safari has justifiably proved to be ever popular. Again our network continues to grow and so does the quality of our accommodation. In 1998 we added Poatina, Seaview Lodge at Koonya and Maydena Lodge to our list of venues. We again had the benefit of a veteran bushwalker, Chris King, who added much local knowledge to add to the enjoyment of this trip
Lord Howe Island was added to our program last year. Both safaris there have justified the exceptional interest in this beautiful island group. Although this safari is based at Ocean View Lodge for the whole 9 days, we sample many island eateries for dinners and our lack of touring is compensated for by the opportunity for a lot more walking than other trips.
Our 1997 Shark Bay safari was outstanding. We have now developed and refined it for 1999 to be a wholly accommodated trip with more comfort and ease to cover the long distances. The exciting coral reef at Ningaloo off North West Cape is something which many more Australians from the east need to experience and appreciate.
Our only remaining camping trips are the Kimberley Adventure, Fraser Island and Bush Christmas in New England. While camping is declining in popularity, it enables people to get closer to Nature and it makes it possible to squeeze more activities into a day and to be more mobile.
For example while we camp for only four nights on the Mungo safari we would not be able to enjoy either the Mootwingee or Hattah Kulkyne National Parks if we didn't and that would be denying us the full appreciation of two very atmospheric and spiritual places. Luckily we have lots of other good sites as alternatives which enables us to be less rushed in covering big distances in three states.
Although we offer only one GO BUSH Safaris to Fraser Island each year, it continues to be strong part of our agenda consuming more time than any other project due to our continuing commitment to its conservation. During 1999, John and his three eldest sons (and perhaps his youngest) are planning a marathon 10 day walking trek from Sandy Cape to Noosa Heads to mark his 60th birthday and to highlight other ways of exploring this wonderful region without four wheel drives.
While our 1998 Bush Christmas safari will be accommodated in a variety of Border Ranges hostels and cabins, similar conveniently located facilities just don't exist for groups of our size in New England. So we will spend our 7th Bush Christmas in 1999 camping in New England. This should avoid any complications from the Y2K bug. Both Bush Christmas safaris visit different parts of the Central Eastern Rainforest Reserves (CERRA) World Heritage area. This is an archipelago of National Parks between Newcastle and Brisbane.
Internet users may be interested in our sites — www.gobush.com.auor John's home page: www.sinclair.org.au
GO BUSH safaris continue to inspire and produce interesting literary efforts. Last year we combined over 100 of the original safari bush verses into a private anthology (NFS). In just over a year since, we have more than half filled our second volume from extracts from the various safari diaries. These continue to maintain an excellent standard and produce an enduring record of the safari. The following contribution came from Mavis Clements' "Sensory Experiences" inspired by her Tasmanian safari:
by Mavis Clements
Silence Your own thoughts
Solitude in a natural environment
Water dripping Water dropping
Water flowing Water lapping
Feet crunching Possums munching
Wind blowing leaves and branches
Bird calls Bird chorus
Sleeping people sounds
Restless people sounds
Plastic bags rustling
Questions and answers Information
Instructions and follow up Interpretations or misinterpretations
Idle chatter John's infectious laugh
"All ABOARD!" John's bus starting.
As we prepare for our 1999 program the Federal Coalition's Tax Package has just been released. It has our alarm bells ringing. It will increase our administration costs significantly and, since very little of our current expenses (food, vehicle hire, and a wide range of services) incur indirect taxes, it will mean that the cost of our safaris to consumers can be anticipated to rise by about the full 10% of the GST if it comes into effect. It is a prospect which we do not relish.
1999 is our 12th year of GO BUSH Safaris . Our experience and knowledge ensure many wonderful experiences for safarists. We hope that you can share these with us.
The success of every safari depends so much on each and every safarist. We would therefore like to thank every safarist for ensuring that each journey has provided such wonderful memories and experiences.
John Sinclair & Sharan Daly