Australian Outback!

G’day mates! Well you guessed it, this blog is about my journey through part of the Aussie outback. Let’s get acquainted with the map! I booked my tour through Intrepid Travel, but their partner company Adventure Tours was the one that took me out. So if you are interested in this trip, you can check out those companies.

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I see these purple flowered trees all over cities and towns, I just think they are really pretty!

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Anyway, I’ve been travelling solo and joining short tours here and there which has been going well. I started in Adelaide and worked my way up to Alice Springs over 7 days. We didn’t end up going on the Oodnadatta Track and William Creek as heavy rainfalls flooded the dirt road, so we stayed on the paved highway and stayed in a little town called Quorn. This is where that horror movie Wolf Creek was filmed, and here’s the highway from the movie cover.

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Flinders Ranges isn’t quite the outback yet, but we stayed in that area and did 2 hikes which one was quite nice.  You see the terrain really change as you work your way north.

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This hike in Warren Gorge I liked, very scenic with lots of wild Euro kangaroos.

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I never get sick of seeing the joeys in the pouches. I just love how they hang out of the pouch.

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This one is a beefy male.

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Breast is best!

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There’s lots of wild emu’s in the area. You see lots when driving on the highway. Interesting thing about them is that the dad that raises them. After the female is done putting all her energy in the eggs, she like F this, I’m out, and dad takes over. So here’s daddy with the babies.

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Here’s the hike at Wipena Pound. More wild kangaroos and lots of different birds.

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So I wasn’t a fan of this hike. The first bit was nice, as seen above. Then you have to climb this really steep part for the lookout points. I get myself all the way up there to lookout number 2, for this view..I’ve done a lot less for more better views.

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Once we left this area and headed north, you really see the green change to the red. And the temperature change too. My god, it went from low 20’s to low 40’s.

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Coober Pedy

This is a very interesting little town. Famous for mining opals, it’s also famous for many people living underground. This is mainly because of the heat. Underground stays a consistent 21-24 degrees Celsius whether it’s summer or winter. We toured an opal mine, saw how a normal house looks underground and slept overnight in an underground bunker.  I don’t think they are going to win the beautiful town award.

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My overnight accommodation. That’s our tour bus parked in front. You walk over the roofs of the underground houses too.

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The interesting thing about living underground is people can design their homes as they wish, as long as they are 4 metres away from their neighbour. So if you are expanding and happen to hit opal, it’s yours. So there’s many stories of people doing renovations, finding opal and getting tons of money from it.

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Air vents

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Not everyone or every place is underground, there’s lots on the ground. There are also an underground bar and coffee shop. Here’s the underground church. It’s smart to put the church underground, I would convert to any religion just to get out of the heat. It was so hot here, I drank 2 litres of water before 7:30am.

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It’s so damn hot that there’s water fountains on street corners.

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We went to a kangaroo sanctuary. This breed is the red kangaroos. The thing with marsupials is that it’s hard to tell a male from a female. In the case of the kangaroo, other than its size, it’s whether they have a pouch or not. If you look at its crotch, they all have that bulge. So if a kangaroo gets hit by a car, many times there’s a baby in the pouch, but some people just assume it’s a male by the bulge and don’t check for a pouch. Often there is a Joey inside, so they end up at  sanctuaries. This is the same for all marsupials, so check for pouches!

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There’s nothing quite like visiting a kangaroo sanctuary, seeing the cute babies, watching them get bottle fed, watching them play, and hand feeding the big ones then to walk over to a pizza place for supper and eat a kangaroo and emu pizza! It was yummy!

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My tour in the outback had very early start times to beat the heat. I was happy with this decision because as soon as the sun was out at around 5:55am, it didn’t take long to heat up. It would be 37 Celsius at 7:00am. Often we were up at 3:30-4:00 am to start hikes at sunrise. The bonus was I got to see a few sunrises which I love. We left Coober Pedy early morning as we had a long drive to Uluru (Ayers Rock).

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This is the dingo fence. It was put up to keep dingos from eating farmers sheep. It’s the longest fence in the world. Not wall, but fence! I only saw some dingos running in the distance, I was disappointed, but oh well. That’s a kangaroo bone.

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Northern Terrirtory. Our guide changed up the itinerary so that we had 2 days at Uluru instead of one, so it meant a 10 hour day of driving, we were all good with that. (I dunno if it’s the angle of the go pro or just my positioning, but my right arm looks like a creepy little dolls arm).

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It’s so hot in the outback that it’s common for stores to keep chocolate bars refrigerated.

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This tour was different than any other tour I’ve been on. Meals were included, but we cooked them together, and cleaned up together etc. There was also mostly shared sleeping arrangements and camping. I didn’t mind the permanent tent sites, it was cozy. We were a small group so we got our own.

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The pigeons here were so odd looking, not sure what evolutionary purpose the hair style is for.

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Theres both wild and domesticated one hump camels here. Lots of camel camps to ride them, I didn’t do that, but here’s one on a farm.

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They also make a delicious sausage. I heard camel burgers were good, only have eaten the sausage, the other meat is kangaroo, also good.

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I just like this cow, looks like it’s smiling….

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Uluru (Ayers Rock)! This is what brought me to the outback, my bucket list item. When planning my Australia trip, I first thought if I can do only one thing in Australia, it would be to see Uluru. What I liked about it is that it’s a very spiritual place for the Aboriginals there. It was taken away in the 1940’s and “returned” in the 80’s. But don’t climb it. There was such a tourist push to promote climbing. People have been injured. Also, once people get up there they use the top as their own toilet and when it rains, it all runs into the clean water that the Aboriginal people were drinking.  Once there was many cases of E.coli, they realized it was from people shitting and pissing all over the rock. The water now is no longer clean. Also people left their garbage, old used condoms etc at the top. They allow you to do a base walk around the rock, you can get guided tours by local Aborginals, and the cultural centre is very good. So just enjoy it as a sacred space. Travellers need to stop with this bucket list desire of climbing and riding everything. Just go and enjoy things respectfully as they are. We also watched the sunrise and sunset over Uluru.

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Always ask permission before taking an Aboriginal persons picture. Not only is it respectful, but some don’t get their picture taken as they believe part of their soul is taken everytime you take a pic. Clearly my Uluru guide here consented. He took us on a walk to explain some of the stories and cave paintings. He doesn’t speak English, so another guy interpreted. Very interesting history here.

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So back to the climbing. They call the path people climb “the pink scar of Uluru”. When the Aboriginal people were given their land and rock back, it was under the condition that they lease it back to the government for 99 years to build the national park, preserve and educate tourists etc. The people agreed. Which it seems like there’s a good partnership. The board consists of 12 seats, and in order to change anything, there has to be a 100% consensus. When they voted to stop the climb, 11 votes supported to stop, the 1 vote to keep it open was the seat by Australia Tourism. So the climb stayed open. Aus Tourism believes that if people can’t climb it, they won’t come. Now over the years, the path is quite worn, so a metal chain and posts were installed for safety. Someone recently went up and cut 10 of the chains. So due to safety, they have closed the climb until repaired. However, they have to vote on whether to repair it and need a 100% consensus. So I don’t think that climb is going to open up again lol. I think people will still flock there whether they can climb or not. They get 400,000 tourists a year.

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Now Uluru is interesting, but it’s a flat 10 km around the base. There are 2 other hikes in the area that are a must!

Kata Tjuata (The Olgas)

This is another spiritual site, but this one has a hiking path through it. This was one of my favourite hikes ever. Really cool place. I also think it’s cool that the Aboriginal people won’t really share why it’s spiritual. They keep that within their culture. All people know is that it means “many heads” and it’s spiritual for the males. It’s also cool that The Olgas look different from different directions.

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The outback wins the prize for the most annoying flies known to man. That says a lot when we have some super annoying bugs in Canada, but these ones win. The flies are constantly in your face but they constantly go for your nose and ears, it’ll drive you insane. You can buy a net to cover your head, works wonders. Best $8.95 I ever spent, because those flies loved me. So either I smell like shit or rotting meat, or they know I’m full of shit. The only thing is I had to wear it all the time, even in town. Then when I would pull it up before going into a store, I either looked like the bride of Dracula or it looked like a giant hair net lol.

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Kings Canyon

This hike is  an absolute must. It’s really the show stopper. Most people think the outback is just Uluru and that’s all they do. You must do The Olgas and Kings Canyon. Kings Canyon is very steep at the start, but once you are up on the rim, nothing is quite as hard. This was my Everst! The first piece we did right at sunrise to beat the heat, half way up, outta breath, I thought what did I agree to, even baby Jesus can’t save me now, but I pressed on. It’s a challenging climb, I was nervous about doing it,  and I was proud that I did it. Great way to end my outback experience.

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The initial steep climb.

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Then up on the rim. Once that sun came out, it was hot, there’s very little shade. You aren’t allowed up without bringing 3 litres of water. It took us about 3 1/2 hours, but my guide stopped at a few places for talking and photo ops. I drank 3 litres of water and 1200 ml of Powerade, I was still hot and thirsty at the end. It was 42 degrees Celsius by 8:30am. We finished around 9:30am. This is only spring, I can’t imagine summer. Some Aussies liked giving me a hard time that we Canadians would find +42 that hot, how funny they think that is. I politely reminded them to come to my world when it’s -42 Celsius, then it’s game on bitches. They didn’t find my response particularly funny, but it shut them up pretty fast lol.

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A little dragon running around, not sure what kind. He sure knows how to blend!

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Once we finished the hike or as the Aussies call it, a bushwalk, we headed to our final destination Alice Springs. We stopped at a river along the way, but I don’t think you can do much swimming…

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Heres a sign on one of the bathroom stalls on one of our breaks, I just liked it lol.

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On that note, I really enjoyed my outback experience. I didn’t go far enough north to have to worry about crocodiles. I decided not to go up to Darwin as its rainy season and many roads are closed. I was happy to end at Alice Springs as I’m pretty sure the sun was going to kill me. Now I’m happily in Melbourne where it’s 17-20 degrees Celsius, that’s more like it! I’m here for a couple more days then I’m off to New Zealand. Until next time, ttyl!

4 thoughts on “Australian Outback!

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