In honour of the tenth anniversary of my trip around Australia and New Zealand, here is the next installment of “Stuff to write home about”. This time, I’m taking you to The Red Centre – Alice Springs and the Outback. I had lots of interesting experiences and a great time! Who know that sleeping outside where the Dingos might steal your shoes would be so much fun!
Some of you may already have heard that I love to sleep outside. I didn’t realize how much until I took a tour of the Outback near Alice Springs, the centre of Australia. I arrived in Alice Springs around mid-day. It was warm, but not too hot yet. The town itself is unremarkable, but it is the stepping off point for tours of the desert. It is very dry indeed. The Todd River, which runs through the centre of town, is bone-dry. I could see where the water would run if there were water, but there was no hope of seeing any water in the river, especially since it was dry season. I walked around town, which honestly didn’t take long. I went to Alice Springs in order to tour the Outback. With a 5am wake-up the following morning, I thought it best to stay over the night before. If I were getting up for work, I would not be happy about getting up at 5am to leave by 6am. I am not friends with the morning before the sun comes up. Since I am travelling and the day is meant to be fun, I don’t mind getting up that early.
Day one of “The Rock” tour had us visiting Uluru (Ayers Rock). It’s about 6 hours drive to Uluru from Alice Springs, so we had a bit of driving ahead of us. Luckily we didn’t have to do it all in one shot. There were stops in between such as the Aboriginal interpretive centre (not the actual name) where we learned about the aboriginal culture and how they survived in the desert. I liked the feeling of remoteness in the Outback. My group and I even got irritated when other tourists showed up. We had a 2.5 hour walk around the base of Uluru in the afternoon (about 30C), then watched the sunset over the big rock. In case you were wondering, there are no toilets at Uluru. There are toilets at the camp ground, but you’re only at the camp ground at night time. Back at camp, we had a nice dinner and sat around the camp fire drinking expensive cheap beer. At night, we slept in “swags”, which are made of heavy canvass, a waterproof under-side and a thin mattress inside. The swag is a great Aussie camping invention. I had a sleeping bag as well, because although it was 30C+ during the day, it was only about 5C at night. We had no tents, so we could just lie there and stare at the stars until we fell asleep. It was awesome. I do love sleeping outside.
Day Two was Kata Tjuta (The Olgas). We had another big walk on this day, about 3 hours. It was a hot one too. On day three, after another night of sleeping under the stars, we had our most challenging hike through King’s Canyon, with the most spectacular views. One might not think that rocks and the desert in general would be boring, but there is a lot to see here. All the good stuff is hidden and you have to search to discover it. I think that’s what is so neat about the desert. You have to earn everything you get from it: nothing is handed to you. At the end of Day 3, we headed back to “civilization” and Alice Springs. A night out with my new friends from the tour was a great way to finish off the trip. But Alice Springs is small, so I did end up seeing (and chilling with) some of the people from the tour as I wandered around town waiting for my flight back to Melbourne. I had a great time in the desert. Some people say “I don’t need to see the desert…Ayers Rock is just a big rock”, but it really is so much more than that. You just have to be willing to look.