Recovery Through Discovery
The Cameleers was formed in 2014 when a group of retired ADF veterans all of whom were broken or ill, searched for activities within their abilities, to give them sense of purpose. Deciding to research and document the footsteps of the great explorers, the group soon turned its attention to the 1860 expedition led by Robert O’Hara Burke and William John Wills.
The Cameleers put together an 18-day motorbike adventure, later made into an 8-part documentary as they crossed the Australian continent. During this adventure it was decided to formally register the group. More adventures were planned and the membership of the organisation grew.
In 2015, the Cameleers successfully lobbied the Queensland Government to provide support for a Cameleers-led expedition to seek and retrieve the box of navigational equipment buried by Burke and Wills in the Queensland desert on 03 April 1861. This historical event is known in the Burke and Wills journals as “PLANT CAMP”
Now a secret location due to the value of the buried artefacts, the Cameleers were required to provide archaeologists, surveyors, medical support and logistics, as well as permissions from land and title owners. By mid-2016, the hard work paid off, and together with the Australian Army agreeing to provide ground penetrating radar and 60 troops, one of Australia’s largest archeological ventures was born. The Cameleers was central to bringing all the parties together and it would be here that the Cameleers partnered with Mithaka, the traditional land owners of Channel Country.
Due to record rain levels in September 2016, all roads in south-west Queensland were closed due to flooding and the expedition was postponed until September, 2017. However, the Cameleers together with new partners, the elders of Mithaka, deployed into the desert on a “Mission Rehersal”. During this time the Cameleers and Mithaka people formed a working relationship that richly benefitted both groups.
The traditional land owners of Channel Country are the Mithaka people. Channel Country comprises 33,800km2 of country, that in practical terms, is larger than the land mass of Denmark. After Native Title Determination was realised in 2015, the people of Mithaka developed a plan to would allow them and the wider community to discover, research and understand their country, people and culture. Part of this plan would be to deploy several times a year into desert country with the purpose of searching each grid for signs of ancient occupation.
The Cameleers have been invited to become partners with Mithaka, and we’ve happily accepted. The Cameleers have also forged less formal working relationships with other organisations such as Griffith University, the State Government, and the Australian Army, in the quest to locate and unearth significant cultural artefacts, as well as European pioneering treasures.
The Cameleers are busy for much of this year in support of Mithaka finding valuable ancient artefacts, and in the search, location and research of prehistoric fossils and human remains.