One of the things I really wanted to do while in Australia, was head into the outback. But to go into the outback on your own seems rather foolish, especially for me since this was my first ‘big-far away-even off the trusted continent’-trip. Going into the outback on my own was never an option.
It was January 2003 and there I was in Perth, doing my research and trying to find an organised tour through the outback. And I did! Australian Adventure Travel (not to be confused with Australian Adventure Tours, yech) offered a 6-day organised tour from Perth to Alice Springs, right through the Great Victoria Desert. Perfect! 🙂 Another bonus was the small group of one tourguide and 4 tourists. I don’t remember when in January I did the tour (yikes, memory!), but off we went in a 4WD tough-looking bus/jeep/vehicle/monster. First touristy spot was the Suba Pit, a large open mine in Kalgoorlie. I don’t remember much of Kalgoorlie, just that mine and how dusty it looked. The first three days would be a lot of driving, so on we went.
After a long day on the bus, we arrived at an abandoned homestead, where we stayed the first night. It was a bit eery walking around the house that still had furniture, bedding etc. while nobody lived there anymore. We pitched our tents and that’s where I made two mistakes: one I put my tent on the concrete porch floor (so I was shielded from possible rain, but forgot to realise I’d have a wooden back) and two I put my tent too close to one of the travellers who snored so loudly I hardly got any sleep. That night we enjoyed a very yummy barbecue dinner. I love barbecue, it’s the perfect thing for me to celebrate holiday and summer time! We were literally in the middle of nowhere which gave a weird kind of serenity. That night there was a lot of thunder and lightning, but it was so far away that we got to enjoy the coloured sky decorated with lightning flashes from a safe distance. It was sublime! ❤
The next day we again had a lot of travelling to do. We had left the sealed roads behind us long before and we were ‘bumpbumpbump’ driving along dirt roads, deeper and deeper into the outback. That second night we stayed at Docker River, where we stayed at a campsite on Aboriginal land. The weather wasn’t that great. We had rain, it was cloudy and I had a rather cold night. Of course I had to use the outhouse in the middle of the night. As I walked to the outhouse, flashlight in hand, I saw two eyes lighting up. Dingo! Eeeek! When daylight had finally come, we realised that we had spent the night at the edge of a storm. We were so lucky we didn’t get washed away in all that red sand. Pfew!
More driving, more dirt roads and then we saw lots of wild camels! Cool! We set up camp in the middle of nowhere and, as every night, enjoyed a wonderful dinner with a lovely dessert. The tourguide was a very laidback and friendly Australian, who really respected nature, and clearly enjoyed being away from people with short fuses, traffic lights and honking cars. And I don’t blame him. There is something special about pulling up a chair close to a fire eating wonderful food cooked in open fire in a beautiful serene environment. When the stars are out, it’s magical. Since it was cloudy again, I only briefly saw the Southern Cross constellation.
After surviving three nights ‘out in the wild’, this tough cookie (lol) was rather happy to reach a comfortable camping (Ayer’s Rock Resort) to enjoy a wonderful, cleansing shower. The red sand had gotten into everything and even my dark blue shorts, which I had bought only a few months earlier, had a red veil from all the desert sand. At the campsite I pitched my tent and made my third mistake: I placed my tent on a slight slope. So for the next three days, I occassionally rolled off my mattress and had to roll back on. Lol! It was quite special going outside at night. There were a lot of shooting stars. One early morning I looked up into the sky and saw seven shooting stars. Wow!
Those three days in the Red Centre, we went to The Olga’s, King’s Canyon and of course Uluru (Ayer’s Rock). The Olga’s were beautiful, but the flies were absolutely unbearable. There were so many flies and they went everywhere. Even the relaxed tourguide thought the amount of flies was insane. It really ruined a lot of the experience for me, because all I did was frantically wave my arms to keep the flies from getting into my mouth, nose, ears and clothes.
King’s Canyon was beautiful. Not that many flies, which was a relief. First you have a stiff hike up and then you can walk around the canyon’s edge. Beautiful, amazing views, amazing outback colours. We visited the ‘Garden of Eden’, a little green oasis in the middle of red rocks and other deserty things. Very pretty. I really enjoyed King’s Canyon.
Of course you can’t go to the Red Centre and not go to Uluru! The tourguide explained that it’s a sacred place for Aborigines, which I already knew, and that while he couldn’t forbid us from going up there he urged us to think carefully about climbing the rock. Personally, I didn’t feel the need to climb the rock, partly because it was way too steep, partly because I don’t have to conquer everything and partly out of respect for the Aborigines. It felt right for me not to climb it. I walked around it and was picked up about halfway. It was beautiful! I saw rock art and could enjoy Uluru from different sides. Great choice! In the evening we went to see the sunset over Uluru, because that’s when you get amazing colours. Well, it was cloudy so we didn’t see anything! Boo! But the fun part was that there were heaps of huge touring cars with posh looking people sipping champagne. And then there was our bunch: sitting on top of an outdoorsy bus-jeep-thing like a bunch of hillbillies, stained with red desert sand, enjoying the cheapest drinks and snacks possible. But where the people on the ground were ‘fighting’ over good spots, we had the best view of all! 🙂
We ended the tour in Alice Springs. I had booked a hostel and it turned out to be absolutely awful. Melanka’s Resort, absolutely never again! That night, after everyone had settled into their rooms at various places, we shared a meal at ‘The Hog’s Breath Café’ (what’s in a name!). Everyone, except the very weird woman who gave us all the creeps.
That was a recap of an amazing tour I did over eleven years ago. It seems so easy for those memories to take a backseat to more recent events, but now that I sat down and wrote about this awesome tour, I remember more than I thought I would. I’m really happy that I got to experience the outback and that I can relive it by telling the story and showing my photos. It was very special! 🙂
P.S. I know the quality of these photos isn’t the best. Think ‘non-digital, point-and-shoot, printed and scanned’. 😛