Field Trips

What We Do Best

The Friends’ main activity each year is a field trip (or several trips) to the GVD on the South Australian side of the border. The trips are generally held over one or two weeks in the cooler months. Members travel in their own vehicles and we are supported by DEW staff. All work and travel is approved by the traditional owners. In recent years the trips have concentrated on biological survey work, but a great deal of valuable clean-up and track clearing work has been undertaken in the past. Our field trips are conducted in a relaxed, friendly manner. Lots gets done, but we take full account of the harsh environment and the long distances involved; not to mention the average age of our members. We camp out every night and a great sense of camaraderie quickly develops. The links will take you to summaries, photos and reports which will give you a feel for the work involved and how we went about it. To give prospective new members an idea of what’s involved in a field trip, an edited version of our “Information for Members Participating in Field Trips” document is worth a read. Members can read the full version by logging in to the Members’ Area.

From the mid 1990s to the early 2000s, the Friends collected plant specimens for the State Herbarium of South Australia on an opportunistic basis.  These specimens were identified and archived by herbarium botanists.  For about 10 years from the early 2000s, the Friends undertook more formal plant surveys on one-hectare plots identified by the State Herbarium.  Unfortunately, funding cuts to the herbarium have meant that this material can no longer be processed and we have discontinued this work.  However, we have also been photographing the vegetation at set points in three sections of the South Australian part of the GVD – the Googs Track area, the Mamungari area and around Maralinga.  We generally get to one of these sections every year, so the recording of each photopoint is done every three years.  These records are supplied to the Herbarium and they now fill several DVDs.

More recently we have supported research projects recording marble gum (Eucalyptus gonglyocarpa) distribution and the use of marble gums by the Wipu Wara (Princess Parrot).  We have also provided substantial support for a project investigating camel damage to the desert vegetation.


The photos have brief captions describing the places we visit and the work we do. Hover the mouse over an image to freeze the slideshow.

  • Friends at Djindugara Rockhole, just over the border into Western Australia

COVID-Era Field Trips

All proposed field trips for 2020 were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Two field trips were planned for August, 2021.  The first trip (vegetation photopoints and drone vegetation monitoring) was completed successfully – see the link below.  The second trip (quondong survey) had to be cancelled due to an outback COVID exposure incident.

Field Trip Reports

Follow the links below  for detailed information on the work undertaken each year since 2004. The reports come in a variety of formats, depending on whether the report was a report to a general meeting, a report prepared for our Newsletter, or a report to the Department of Environment and Water. If the link for a particular year takes you to a Newsletter, there will often be several small reports in that Newsletter.

2024  2023  2022  2021  2019   2018

2017 (Aug & Sept trips)  2017 (May trip)   2016   2015  

2014   2013   2012   2011   2010   2009   2008   2007   2006   2005

2017 Field Trip Video

This short YouTube video shows feral camels damaging vegetation near the Emu atomic bomb test site and our first experimental use of the Friends’ drone to survey vegetation sites.  View it here.