Western Desert Aboriginal Art Expedition

AT A GLANCE

Dates 22–28 May 2023 and 10–16 July 2023
Activity LevelEasy
Tour Starts and EndsPick up Yulara Ayers Rock, and drop off all Alice Springs locations
Duration7 days, 6 nights
Price$4,500 per person (no single supplement applicable)
Group SizeMin 10, max 17
Area FeaturedCentral Australia – NT and WA

WHAT TO EXPECT

This exclusive Australian Geographic Travel expedition takes you deep into the Western Desert. Visit remote Aboriginal art galleries and see the artists working in situ, and travel on desert tracks through spectacular scenery and astonishing biodiversity.

HIGHLIGHTS

The remote Giles Weather Station

Travel the full length of Len Beadell’s Sandy Blight Junction Road

See spectacular Mount Liesler

Visit the remote Aboriginal communities of Warakurna/Kintore, Yuendumu and Papunya

Gain an understanding of the origins and significance of the dot painting movement and Western Desert art

ITINERARY

Day 1

We pick up at your hotel at Yulara at 10am and travel west through the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park and into the Western Desert. We will stop to admire the stunning vistas of the Petermann Ranges, through landscapes of red sandhills and desert ranges punctuated with stately desert oaks. At Docker River community we visit the Karltukatjara Art Centre. In the afternoon we cross the Western Australian border. We camp in view of the ramparts of the Schwerin Mural Crescent, a striking range named in 1874 by the explorer Ernest Giles.

Day 2

Awake to birdsong and your first morning in the desert. After breakfast we head for the settlement of Warakurna. We will visit Australia’s most remote meteorological station – Giles Weather Station. Built in 1955, it’s still a fully functioning station and very much a part of the Western Desert art story. We will visit the art gallery at Warakurna Roadhouse, which features work from Warakurna Artists, which was established in 2005. Whilst many of the artists paint Tjukurpa (dreaming stories) there is also a strong figurative movement here, where historical and cultural stories are told in paint. We head to Sandy Blight Junction Road and camp beneath the Walter James Range. We will walk into Bungabiddi Rockhole beneath spectacular red cliffs. There is some Aboriginal rock art to be found on the walls of the gorge.

Day 3

We travel north along Sandy Blight Junction Road, named by surveyor and road builder Len Beadell. Len considered this his most scenic road. At Sir Frederick Range we take a short walk to take in one of outback Australia’s most spectacular views, with the entirety of Sandy Blight Junction Road laid before us, from Mount Leisler in the north to the Petermann Ranges in the south. In the bed of a creek we will see some ancient petroglyphs carved into the rock. We camp on a clay pan in the Mu Hills.

Day 4

We continue north along Sandy Blight Junction Road, crossing back into the Northern Territory through impressive stands of desert oaks and deep red sandhills. We will lunch beneath the ramparts of Mount Leisler. In the afternoon we will visit Walngurru/Kintore, and visit the Papunya Tula Artists centre. Art is not available to purchase here. In the afternoon we head to Sandy Blight Junction, and then north on an Aboriginal business road to camp.

Day 5

We travel north through sand dune country. We visit Winnings Bore and travel to the Aboriginal community of Nyirripi. We head out to our camp beneath the spectacular bluff Karku.

Day 6

We travel to Yuendumu, and visit the longest-running and most successful art centre in Central Australia, Warlukurlangu Artists. We will enjoy a detailed tour through the gallery, but will also visit the extraordinary Men’s Museum, where some of the earliest examples of Western Desert art can be seen. In fact, it is argued that the art at the Men’s Museum actually predates the famous doors at Papunya. In the afternoon we head south along Tanami Road to camp in the Western MacDonnell Ranges.

Day 7

We visit the Papunya Tjupi Arts centre at Papunya, the town where Geoffrey Bardon encouraged the old men to paint. Some believe this was the genesis of the modern Western Desert art movement. We travel on to Haasts Bluff and visit the Ikuntji Arts centre, before turning east through the Western MacDonnell Ranges National Park to arrive at your hotel in Alice Springs mid to late afternoon.

WHAT’S INCLUDED

All meals from lunch Day 1 to Day 7

Entry fees and Aboriginal transit permits

All camping equipment

Travel in air-conditioned forward seating LandCruisers

Fully made-up swags with doona, sheet and pillow on a stretcher

WHAT’S NOT INCLUDED

Items of a personal nature, souvenirs, Aboriginal art purchases

Any domestic or international travel pre / post

Any accommodation, meals, transfers, guiding services, etc. other than what is specified

CONTACT US

Want to know more or register your interest?

Send us an email to travel@australiangeographic.com.au or call 1300 241 141.

We look forward to hearing from you!

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