To be honest, I wasn’t really excited for this trip but rather felt it was a trip I “had to do”. I booked the 7 day trip as I was afraid years from now I would regret not going and boy would I have. I loved everything about the Aussie Outback – okay everything minus the flies.
I started this trip by flying to Darwin, the capital of the Northern Territory. Summer weather was quickly arriving in Darwin with the temperature being 35 degrees while I was there. My short time in Darwin was spent seeing the famous saltwater jumping crocodiles in the Adelaide River. These crocs, measuring up to 8 meters long, would approach our cruise boat jumping out of the water in an attempt to eat the food our tour guides had dangling on a fishing pole. An average of one crocodile every 50 meters meant swimming in the freshwater a dangerous hobby and not one I wanted to take up.
I spent my evening in Darwin taking in the spectacular sunset views over the famous Mindel Beach before heading back to my hostel for the night.
I departed Darwin early the next day to begin a 5 day tour to Alice Springs. Our group of 20 backpackers from around the world along with our tour guides Trent and Sarah drove over 1500 km in a cool pink bus. The first 2 days of the tour were mainly spent driving. The long drives consisted of travelling down the Stuart Highway where seeing another car pass by or even passing a service station every couple 100 kilometers was an excitement. The scenery consisted of open fields with dark red dirt and green trees. During this drive we stopped at Karlu Karlu (The Devil’s Marbels) where we got up close to the red rocks that make up the beautiful scenery of the Northern Territory. We also stopped at Edith Falls and Mataranka Thermal Springs where we went swimming before spending the night in Daly Waters. The town of Daly Waters consisted only of a gas station and pub/hostel, making even the smallest of villages like Douro seem the size of Toronto.
The final 3 days of the tour were spent venturing around the Red Centre and visiting tourist favourites. Our first stop was the beautiful King’s Canyon where we hiked 6 kms around the North and South walls and The Garden of Eden. Our second hike, the following day, was 7 1/2 kms in Kata Tjuta for a walk through the Valley of the Winds trail. Both hikes through the red rocks were beautiful with views that are postcard worthy.
Our next two days were spent seeing Uluru (Ayer’s Rock), the main attraction for this trip and one of Australia’s most recognized natural landmarks. We spent sunset along with bottles of champagne in front of Uluru, watching the red colours of the rock change shades as the sun went down. Sunrise the following day (with a 4:30 am wake up) was spent again in front of the Uluru rock. Following sunrise we walked 9.4 kms around the base of Uluru, learning about the history of the the Rock and Aboriginal people. Although you can hike up the famous rock, the land and rock are sacred to the Aboriginal people and they ask that you respect the land and not climb it.
Our time around Uluru was spent camping where we slept in swags under the stars. Swags are a waterproof canvas sleeping compartment that has a built in foam mattress. In simple terms, it looks like a thick sleeping bag that you unroll onto the ground and climb in to, leaving your face left visible and making for the perfect view sleeping under the stars. I wore several layers (2 pants, 2 sweaters and a jacket to be exact) along with my hat and mitts to keep warm under the stars. One night, we had a guest join us while we were curled up in our swags. A dingo (the size of a German shepherd dog) decided to join us, walking around our camp site and even sleeping on the end of the swag of a girl sleeping next to me!
Camping was a lot of fun with campfires and laughs shared each night with the other backpackers. The food was amazing as we ate like kings while camping, eating camel, kangaroo, bacon and eggs, tacos, and my favourite – yogurt.
I was so impressed with all the Australian Outback had to offer. This was the highlight of my time in Australia so far!