Paul and Karen are the owners and operators of Camel Treks Australia Pty Ltd. They have won the prestigious Best Tour Operator Award from The South Australian Tourism Commission. They have been filmed with Discover S.A, The Great Outdoors, Totally Wild, SBS, Life S.A., Good Life Pictures and the British Broadcasting Company (BBC) and Nat Geo. They met in the 1990's at a camel race gathering in Canberra. Together they have been mentored by several old camel men who share links to a bye gone era. Their lives are lived with camels grounded in nature and they believe in the benefits that this offers. They have selected, trained and transported healthy Australian Camels to the middle east and are strong advocates for wise solutions to feral Camel populations in Australia.
Paul and Karen Ellis; Co-Owners and Director
Camel Treks Australia Pty Ltd.
Paul has been working with camels for over 30 years and has over time developed a natural instinct to read them in the yards, or out on the field. Like most professions, when you've been doing something for a while it becomes second nature. Paul enjoys starting fresh with untouched camels straight out of the desert, and watching their individual personalities develop. Paul started his career assisting camel treks for Bush Safari Co. with Rex Ellis in the 1980's and soon purchased his own camels and a property to look after them. He operated a rides business in Adelaide, and for 15 years was involved with the camel racing circuit in Australia. Paul met Karen, his wife of over twenty years as her competitor on the race track in the 1990's. Paul is an easy going lover of the nature, and known his keen interest in flora and fauna identification. Guests often tell us how much they love a yarn with Paul around the evening campfire with a cup of port. Paul is in charge of camel saddlery and camp shift logistics. Paul is also a licensed microlight pilot, qualified in Permaculture and remote first aid trained with St. Johns.
Karen began working with camels over twenty years ago purchasing her first camels Aloka and Najara when she was 21, working alongside well respected cameleer Lionel Keegan before joining Paul. Karen has worked across a wide spectrum of cameleering and continues to expand her understanding of camels and working with them. Until his passing in mid 2014, she was guided by Jim Lowe having had her first camel ride with him as a child; he took his last breath in her arms. Karen also collaborated on a camel training book with the legendary Noel Fullarton just prior to his recent passing in September 2015 and intends to collate all this information into a camel handling guide.
One of the highlights of Karen's career was training camels to walk alongside rhino, cheetah, zebra, and giraffe at the Monarto Zoological Park for the South Australian Royal Zoological Society, and establishing tours. Karen has most recently turned her focus towards facilitating extended Camel treks along to Lake Eyre and into the Tirari Desert in remote South Australia.
Karen and her family have trained and exported Camels into the United Arab Emirates, she has accompanied camels on flight and provided a professional hand over for Sheiks staff. Since then Karen has presented in the United Arab Emirates at an Australian Government supported conference sharing her knowledge regarding camel training and welfare guidelines for importation into the UAE. Karen has been the guest of several UAE Sheiks and has also visited and milked camels in India at the International Camel Research Centre. Karen has travelled through the Thar (India), Sahara (Morocco), and Gobi (Mongolia) Deserts, living alongside nomadic cameleeers and has a deep respect for traditional cultures. Her vision has turned towards longer remote expeditions with accreditation to operate within desert National Parks, coupled with involving her guests with the daily hands on routine of trekking. Karen is a certified Eco Guide and remote first aid trained with St.Johns, she enjoys training new cameleers in the same fashion as she learnt, through mentoring hands on, for extended periods of trekking.
Head Cameleer, Owner, Admin, Website Maintenance, International Tours, Export
Aidan has a very laid back, easy going temperament and as such blends between the camels and people with ease. He is happiest outdoors and is enjoying the opportunity to be outside after graduating from Virginia Tech with a Computer Science Degree. Apart from being a wizz with computers, he is a good cook, grew up around boats, is SCUBA certified, has loads of belay and rock climbing experience, works with camels and can juggle. Managing to get a good Aussie whip cracking has since been added to this list! Aiden is a long way from home, having grown up in Virginia Beach, VA in the USA. He has been fortunate enough to see a lot of the world already; however, he wants to see more before he settles downs into a full time job. This is how he arrived at Camel Treks Australia, looking for adventure in the outback. Aiden completed our 2018 trekking season and is set to be the Senior Cameleer assisting Karen in 2019. Currently he has been busy making traditional Afghan Pack Saddles for the camels and has earnt the nickname 'Rope Man'. Aiden knows his knots!
Senior Cameleer, Saddlery & Ropework designs
Shelley packs some punch when it comes to Outdoor education experience. Currently Shelley is the Location and Compliance Co-ordinator for Australia's largest Outdoor education Provider 'OEG', although she has worn many hats over her lengthy career with OEG including, Risk Management, Group Leader, Programme Co-ordinator and Camp location - logists specialist. The entire team is beyond thrilled to have called Shelley a friend since 2014 and throughly benefited from her valuable input as a crew member in 2018. We welcome Shelley back with open arms in 2019 to look after logistics and our mid year secondary school camp program.
Logistics, Risk Management, Staff development
Eyla is from the Netherlands and feels at home in natural remote landscapes. On trek she likes getting to know people from Australia and other cultures. Eyla worked with Camel Treks Australia in 2018 and learnt camel husbandry skills and saddlery. She is interested in self sustainability and gathering as many bush skills as possible so she can live an independent lifestyle in the future. Eyla is creative and loves to work on art projects, painting, sculpting anything decorative and hands on including utilising her Degree in Photography when on camel treks. She loves cooking and has prepared meals for large groups; you might find her between the camels and helping the chef. Eyla is open to life and is excited to be with the 2019 Camel Treks Australia team in Outback Australia.
Senior Cameleer and Trek Photographer
Julien is a culinary artist and qualified 'Michelin Star' ranked Chef who has fallen in love with our camels and outback Australia! All of our meals are prepared over campfires and coals with cast irons ... not many professional cooks are ever up for that challenge. Julien came to Australia seven years ago from France after having trained in Hôtellerie and has worked in exclusive restaurants in France, England, USA, and across Australia. Our guests are in for a real treat when it comes to tasty tucker prepared by our resident French chef.
Yolanda is dedicated to all animals well being. She is proactive and sees what needs to be done and does it, you will never see her sitting still during a camel trek. With over a decade of horse training in Switzerland, she was an asset to the Camel Treks Australia team in 2018 and we look forward to her return in the later part of 2019. Yolanda has been nicknamed the 'Lara Croft' of CTA being highly intelligent, athletic and prepared to venture into hazardous zones, such as the dishwashing tubs and cleaning cast irons! Karen works closely with Yolanda and will be offering the 2019 India tour with her in January.
Yolanda "Yo Mo"
Brian is from France and nobody including Brian himself expected him to be a natural born cameleer. Brain commands attention in the most gentle manner, and the camels listen. Brain has been an asset to the 2018 cameleer team and we look forward to his company again in 2019. Brian has a wealth of experience in tourism and hospitality and is known for his caring attitude towards fellow cameleers and guests.
Marcus has been a friend to the Ellis family for many years before joining the Cameleer team, so the camels are well accustomed to his presence! He is preparing to start full time studies completing a degree in Tourism Management at Flinders University next year in Adelaide. Marcus will join the team as a Senior Cameleer during his holiday breaks. Marcus is in touch with his Adnyamathanha heritage which he shares with private guests and school camps alike.
Luke is the youngest son of Paul and Karen Ellis. He has grown up trekking and in between secondary school terms he lends a helping hand on camel treks. A young man of few words, like his father! You'll find Luke helping with camp shifts, driving vehicles, and hanging out with Zaki the camel!
Camp Shift Assistant
Sophie Matterson has extensive experience in the Film and Photography industry but caught the camel bug around two years ago when she came across Camel Treks Australia while hiking the Heyson Trail in the Flinders Ranges. She has since worked in a camel dairy in Queensland as well as traveling to the US and India to learn more about camel culture worldwide. She now owns four camels of her own which she hopes to one day be able to ride. Sophie has a respect and admiration for these beautiful animals that pushes her to continue to learn as much as she can about camels. Sophie was a 2018 favourite with camels and guests, we look forward to having her return as a Senior Cameleer in 2019.
Senior Cameleer and Trek Photographer
Louisa Walsh came to Camel Treks Australia as a guest on the inaugural Clayton Station trek in 2017. Inspired and energised by the experience, in 2018 she joined as a volunteer crew member for a 9 day trek on Clayton Station, and in 2019 will be joining CTA for the final 4 weeks of the trekking season. In addition to her growing knowledge of camels, Louisa has large animal experience working with horses, cattle, alpacas and sheep on her family’s farm. She is also the proud owner of two enormous hounds, which are often more of a challenge to walk than a string of camels! In her non-desert life, Louisa is a physiotherapist and health communications professional who is currently working in research and teaching roles at a university in Melbourne. Louisa says - “The trips with Karen and Paul give me the opportunity to step away from my busy life, take a break from my ‘thinky’ job, and do something physical in an environment I love and with a fantastic group of people. I’m so lucky to have the opportunity to keep working with CTA in 2019”.
Nat was a guest on a 4 day camel trek in April 2016, she experienced a special connection with these interesting animals that keeps drawing her back. In 2017, Nat utilised her 4 weeks annual leave to assist with Camel Treks Australia's artist and school themed treks. Very different from her day job working as a microbiologist and laboratory technician in the dairy industry. Nat has a Bachelor of Applied Science (Natural Resource Management) and Bachelor of Science (Honours). Nat has an interest in animal husbandry; animal conservation; ecology and desert landscapes. Her Interests beyond dairy products and camels include: dancing (Latin American, Street Latin) yoga, photography and travelling. Camel Treks Australia looks forward to Nat returning on desert treks in 2018.
Tessa is a keen naturalist and zoologist with a deep love of the Australian bush and assists on our Secondary School camps with semi arid zone species identification. Currently studying for an Arts Degree and Masters of Zoology, Tessa has previously worked extensively in Natural History here in Australia and in the United Kingdom. While in Australia she participated in many field research projects and is an old hand at setting up expedition camps. When at home Tessa shares a hobby farm with an assorted menagerie, including two Llamas ( Cecil B de Llama and Skip ). Tessa enjoys camping, bird watching, bug catching and of course camel trekking. We are thrilled to have Tessa on treks assisting students with species identification in the semi arid zone we call home.
Stefan Wilton is the archetypal Adnyamathanha Aboriginal man. He has spent his entire life in the Flinders Ranges, immersed in his culture. He grew up in Nepabunna Aboriginal Community, surrounded by family, actively practicing and passing on their cultural knowledge. Stefan spent much of his childhood in the bush, learning from his uncles and especially his maternal grandmother, camping, trapping and tracking, cooking, collecting food and learning the stories of his land and the secrets of survival. It was a time when the Elders felt it was imperative that this knowledge be passed down as it was at great risk of being diluted and lost as more modern ways were being embraced. Stefan joins Camel Treks Australia on Secondary School camps, with him students might discover the secrets of how the Adnyamathanha bush men and women survived on the land, learning about bush tucker, bush medicine, plants and animals of significance to the Adnyamathanha people, how food and water was gathered, animals tracked and hunted.
In the evenings students can listen as Stefan shares Dreamtime Stories of the Adnyamathanha people. These Stories describe how the animals, the waterholes, the rocks and the stars in the sky are all connected. The Stories establish the laws of the Adnyamathanha people, of how we should live together, respect the land, the animals and each other. Camel Treks Australia is extremely fortunate and grateful to have Stefan's knowledge on camps.
Matt is passionate about all things Astromony and Telescopes, he brings the night sky to life for private guest groups, enthralling them with impossible mind bending contemplations revolving around space and time continuum concepts, and facts and figures beyond mere mortal brain capacity. Just for fun Matt studies particle physics and competes in World Championship athletic events. Everyone become quiet when he takes the helm. When Matt's on a trek, the evenings are late, hot chocolate flows, marshmallows roast by the camp fire, and sleeping in the following morning is permissible ... to a certain extent! We are most fortunate to have Matt as part of the enthusiastic Camel Treks Australia team.