Outback Spirit Travel Update regarding COVID-19

3 April 2020

Outback Spirit is continuing to closely monitor the developments and advice provided around COVID-19. The health, safety and well-being of both our guests and staff remain our number one priority during this difficult period.

We are aware of further advice received from the Federal government, together with the number of restrictions initiated by various state governments. This is having a significant impact across our operations, and hence we provide the following update to our guests travelling this year.

Adventures to the following regions are now suspended for the entire 2020 season:

  • The Kimberley
  • Arnhem Land
  • Cape York
  • Canning Stock Route
  • Simpson Desert
  • The Binns Track
  • The Pilbara
  • Outback Queensland
  • The Gulf (Savannah Way)
  • Red Centre & Central Australia
  • The Corner Country

Adventures to the following regions are partially suspended:

Outback South Australia
Adventures to Outback South Australia will be suspended until August 31, 2020. Tours departing in September and October 2020 will at this stage remain on schedule.

Seven Spirit Bay Short Breaks
All short break to Seven Spirit Bay will be suspended until September 30, 2020. Fishing packages will remain on schedule from 1st October 2020, as will our yet to be released Christmas Wilderness Escape

Adventures that remain on schedule towards the end of 2020 are as follows:

  • Western Wildflowers Discovery
  • South Western Explorer
  • East Coast Island Escape
  • Eyre Peninsula Whale & Seafood Discovery
  • Tasmanian Wilderness Explorer
  • West Coast and Hobart Adventure

We recognise that the suspensions detailed above will be incredibly disappointing news for our guests booked to travel within these periods. We trust you will understand the situation.

Contact with our Call Centre

As you can appreciate, we have an enormous number of guests booked to travel in 2020 who we need to contact. If you are affected by the suspension of our adventures, we ask that you please wait for one of consultants to contact you. If you have not yet heard from our travel team, please rest assured we will get to you as soon as we can to discuss the options for your booking. We are endeavouring to contact all affected guests by Friday, April 9. We thank you for your patience and understanding.

Transfers and Credits

Guests who are affected by the suspensions above will be offered a future credit voucher valid for use until the end of 2022. The credit can be used across any Outback Spirit tour or short break but is not redeemable for cash. Those looking to re-book the same adventure for 2021 will travel at the same tour fare. Our 2021 departure dates will be released in the coming months.

Journey Beyond, owner of Outback Spirit, is one of the largest and strongest travel businesses in Australia. The group includes a range of iconic brands such as The Ghan & Indian Pacific Rail Journeys, Rottnest Express, Eureka Skydeck, Cruise Whitsundays and Horizontal Falls Seaplane Adventures. Whilst the current situation is extremely disruptive, Journey Beyond looks forward to delivering the extraordinary experiences we’re renowned for once the COVID-19 crisis subsides.

Unforeseeable Circumstances / Force Majeure

The COVID-19 crisis and its impacts are beyond all reasonable control and not reasonably preventable by our business. It is therefore classified as a Force Majeure event. Our full Terms and Conditions can be read here

Important information once operations resume

Hygiene Practices

The health and safety of our guests and staff is always our top priority and we’re taking a number of steps to ensure your continued well-being whilst travelling with us. Outback Spirit is closely following all advice received from Australian medical authorities, as well as the World Health Organisation (WHO), regarding precautions that are needed to minimise risks concerned with COVID-19. We are continually providing the latest updates to our staff to ensure they’re well informed.

Outback Spirit maintains a high level of cleaning and hygiene across its business. However, as a precaution we are increasing cleaning frequency and intensity across our fleet of coaches, aircraft, boats, lodges, terminals and experiences. Antiseptic cleaning products that reduce the risk of spreading harmful viruses, moulds, fungi, algae and other possible harmful pathogenic bacteria are used by Outback Spirit in regular cleaning procedures. We are also ensuring our staff maintain high hygiene standards at work, including practicing proper hand washing and sanitising procedures. Outback Spirit passengers will also have access to hand sanitiser at all lodges and terminals, and aboard all coaches, 4WD’s, boats, aircraft.

Declaration forms to be completed prior to travel

Prior to departing on your adventure with us, we will require the completion of a Passenger Health Declaration. This form will ask whether you have recently been in close contact with someone diagnosed or suspected of having COVID-19 or have a fever or flu-like symptoms yourself. If you answer yes to any of these questions, you will not be able to join the tour until you have been assessed and cleared by a doctor. The information in the form may be provided to relevant public health authorities and as such, penalties may apply to individuals who knowingly provide a false statement.

In the event you are unable to be cleared, Outback Spirit will work with you to arrange for a suitable alternate departure date. For more information, please refer to ‘What if I contract COVID-19 and cannot travel’ located further down.

Guests suspected of having COVID-19

Any guest who presents as unwell or with flu-like symptoms at the start of their adventure will not be allowed to commence their journey with us. Hand sanitiser and masks will be provided to the guest, and they’ll be asked to isolate themselves from other guests and Outback Spirit staff immediately. The guest will then need to see a GP or hospital for testing. Outback Spirit will assist in securing suitable accommodation during the period of isolation.

If a guest presents as unwell or with flu-like symptoms during the journey, the guest will be isolated from other passengers and staff and transported to the nearest major town for medical testing and/or treatment. Guests will be given sanitiser and masks to help prevent any spread of the suspected COVID-19.

What if I contract COVID-19 and cannot travel?

The overall risk of contracting COVID-19 in Australia remains low. However, if you do contract the virus and need to cancel your booking, you will not be charged the full cancellation fee detailed in our standard Terms and Conditions (you will need to provide a doctor’s certificate in such circumstances). A modest fee may be incurred, and this will be dependent on the notice given and the specific adventure you are booked on and will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.  Outback Spirit will then transfer you to a suitable future departure date. Any fees imposed by other service providers outside the tour package, such as airlines, will not be covered by Outback Spirit.

How can I stay safe?

The most important thing to avoid catching any virus is to wash your hands and avoid touching your face. It is also advised to use hand sanitiser and cover your sneeze or cough with your arm, not your hands. According to the World Health Organisation, if you’re healthy, wearing a mask is not recommended unless you have respiratory issues like coughing or sneezing.