It is one of those ‘once in a lifetime’ experiences that I was lucky enough to have! One of those experiences that I will never forget: I visited the Outback!
The road ahead was long, 1530 kilometres long that is. The trip was on, gear was packed, bus spick and span and the tour guide, my colleague Trevor ready to rumble. We were on our way from Adelaide to Alice Springs, to discover the Australian Outback!
I imagine most of you have heard of the Outback and the incredible Red Desert of Australia, but only a few can actually relate to what is going on out there. I was on my internship with backpacker tour operator Groovy Grape Getaways and was lucky enough to participate in their trips and of course this ultimate roadtrip couldn’t be missed.
The Stuart Highway is the longest straight road in Australia and winds from Adelaide in South Australia to Darwin in the Northern Territory and was named after John McDuall Stuart, the first European to take the road from North to South.
As soon as we left the city behind, the landscape started changing. No more city lights, racing cars and petrol stations until Port Augusta where we stocked up on petrol, refreshments and got ourselves some beers from the drive thru liquor shop, welcome to Australia baby. From then on we were up for an adventure and the entire tour group, there were about 20 of us, breathed excitement. I had been to the Death Valley in the US so I thought driving in the Outback would be similar. So I thought. Boy was I wrong, there is nothing like driving in the Outback!
Out trip took 7 days, 7 days of straight driving but with the most incredible stops of which our campsite at Stoney Creek was the first. Here we’d camp underneath the starry skies with nothing more than a campfire and a ‘swag’. So we got ‘swagger’, an Aussie roll-up and sort of cover-up mattress that can be used outdoors. Click here for more info. Stoney Creek was a stones throw away from The Flinders Ranges, a magnificent bright orange gorge with an abundance of wildlife including some kangaroos, big-ass spiders and birds. Check out photo 2 atop for The Flinders Ranges.
The next morning, we’d rise up early for the road ahead to Coober Pedy, the (in)famous Outback underground town. Because of the high temperatures out here, the majority of this little mining town lives underground, and so did we. For 1 night. Now I didn’t think of Coober Pedy as the most attractive town out there but they did have some amazing pizza, Josephine’s Gallery & Kangaroo Orphanage and the amazing Breakaways. Check photo 5 atop for a sneak-a-peek into The Breakaways, which is still a very important Aboriginal site and a location where they get there natural paint materials from. Josephine’s is a must if you ever get to Coober Pedy. The owners take care of injured and abandoned kangaroos and raise them like most would raise kids. Also check their gallery for some exquisite Aboriginal art work.
After Coober Pedy, we were up for a long run but ‘toss the ipod’ proved to be a good past time and it was during these long hours on the road that I discovered Mumford & Sons which is now one of my favorite bands! Yay for group travel. We had an amazing group and a good mix of young backpackers like myself and older couples and friends.
Now that we were getting closer to Ayers Rock (THE famous red rock) or as the Aboriginals officially named it, Uluru, the excitement grew and we were about to witness one of the most mysterious and incredible sites on earth. After taking an exit (the only one out there!) and passing a dead wild camel, we reached the Red Rock! And WOW!
Uluru, as the Aboriginals refer to Ayers Rock, is a magnificent site where you can sort of feel the ‘magic’ of this place. Aboriginals believe in Dreamtime and Uluru is part of many of them. There are parts where the women gave birth to their children, a part that was used as a school and a part where men would discuss live, all in or around Uluru. We took a 10k hike around it while our tour guide Trevor would share some the Dreamtime stories.
Besides the well-known Uluru, lies the even more majestic Kata Tjuta or more commonly known as The Olgas. These giant marbles, which easily rise up to 60 meters form The Valley of the Wind and are a setting for a great hike. To the Aboriginals, Kata Tjuta ale houses several of their Dreamtime stories, which sadly enough, I can’t remember.
The road ahead was long, but definitely worth it! The road ahead took us to this amazing ancient place, filled with stories and a sense of magic.
I hope you ever get that chance to take the road ahead!