Greetings to all from a wet Darwin! Yes it is raining! In fact it always rains towards the end of the day in wet season!!! But that’s ok as the rest of the time it is really sunny and hot!!!!
And so for another update on what I have been doing the past week… and no I haven’t been lazy, in fact quite the opposite! So read on and I shall tell you my story…
On the 13th I began my Red Rocket tour, a seven day camping trek from Alice Springs to Darwin. On the first day we were picked up at an ungodly hour of 5:15am by our driver ‘Spinna’. I immediately made friends with some of the guys on the bus, namely Andre, a Swiss chap, Rachel, from NYC, Jo, from Hampshire England, Dan from Canada, and Mandy, from Dutch land. We drove for many hours until we reached Kings Canyon, a very impressive canyon system with an amazing walking track atop its rim, as well as an interesting creek walk. I managed to drink two litres of water whilst on our two hour walk!!
After the Kings Canyon walk we drove to a hotel in the middle of nowhere and we used their swimming pool to cool down and have lunch, which was wonderfully refreshing! Then it was back on the road again for another five hours to get to our camping site near Uluru. At the camp site our group walked to a lookout point and watched the sun set beautifully over the Olgas… amazing! After that we ate a group meal and drank a few tinnies, before we all got into our ‘swags’ (like an outdoor sleeping bag but much thicker and it has a sleeping mat in it) and went to sleep looking at the stars, which without light pollution is something amazing I can tell you!
On the 14th we all woke up at 04:30am in order to get to Uluru before sunrise! Once we arrived at Uluru several of us decided we would climb to the top of Uluru to watch the sun rise from its mighty heights! And so we began to ascend the red rock under the cover of darkness, hoping to reach the top before the sun crept over the brow and cooked us alive! Well after an hours climb, twelve breather stops, and two and a half litres of water later we reached the top of Uluru as the sun drew over the horizon… breath taking! We stayed up there for forty minutes or so taking photographs before descending back down to the rest of our group who had been doing the base walk.
After leaving Uluru behind we drove to the Olgas and took an hour’s walk through their pass. Now the Olgas are pretty much as impressive as Uluru, except you cannot climb them. Spinna gave us a guided tour of the Olgas before we departed on our way back to Alice Springs for the night, where we just chilled out and drank more beer together.
On the 15th we were picked up at 06:00am by our new driver for the next part of the tour named ‘J’ or ‘Justin’. How do I describe J? Well he was a happy go lucky, hippy like (although he didn’t like that stereotype) dude, who worried about nothing and was a good laugh… yes that sums him up.
So any way after we left Alice Springs we headed to Wycliffe Well, the most UFO visited place in Oz… apparently! After a short lunch there we headed out to the ‘Devils Marbles’ Conservation Reserve. There we walked amongst giant boulders that seemed to defy gravity and the laws of physics! They were all very impressive and J gave us a great guided tour of the reserve. After that we drove the rest of the day to our unique farm camp where we would spend the night. There we fed an orphan kangaroo, some calves and an emu before eating a good group dinner and the once again star gazing before bed!
On the 16th we did a whole lot of driving! We stopped at a water reservoir and went swimming before heading back onto the road to take a trip to the historic ‘Stuart Tree’, if you would call it that! I shall say no more other than a lot of us had a laugh at this historic tree! After that we had lunch and a swim at a pub called the ‘Daly Waters Pub’. At this pub everyone had to leave behind a memento, so I stapled one of my Jersey Pound notes to the bar, very good. After that we drove to ‘Mataranka Thermal Pools and Rainbow Spring’, a reserve where you can’t actually swim in the pools due to the copious amounts of fruit bat droppings in the water! Yup, the bats were everywhere!! Lastly for the day we drove to our overnight camp site in the midst of Catherine Gorge.
On the 17th we all woke up early again and prepared for a long walk through Catherine Gorge! The walk was very hot but good and the gorge was beautiful. Half way through the walk we stopped and swam in a lovely water pool in the gorge and did a bit of rock jumping, before continuing the rest of the walk. After our hike was over we drove to the Adelaide River Pub where we visited ‘Charlie the Buffalo’ from the ‘Crocodile Dundee’ movies… well Charlie’s stuffed corpse anyway! Next we visited an Aboriginal Art Gallery, where I bought myself a bit of Aboriginal art called ‘Healing Leaves’, its very nice. Then we drove to Darwin where our tour group all went out on the booze in the Vic Pub, where there also happened to be a miss Darwin contest… not too bad! Oh and my awesome bovine leather hat and Oakley sunglasses got stolen from my hostel… b******s! Oh well the loss of material possessions such as these can’t be allowed to upset me too much!
I arrived back from our night out at around 04:30am on the 18th and went to bed… and woke up an hour later, still rather drunk, and got on the final part of my tour to Kakadoo National park! At first none of us got on with our new tour guide ‘Bevin’ as he seemed a bit of a dick, but in the end we all seemed to make friends and all was good. We drove out into Kakadoo National Park where we went on a crocodile boat cruise to see some salt water crocodiles! We saw them being fed form 5ft… YES!! 5ft away!!!!! They are magnificent creatures and extremely efficient killing machines too! Once we were back on solid and safe land we visited a Spiritual Aboriginal outcrop named ‘Anbangbang’ and Bevin took us on a guided walk to see rock paintings, which were quite impressive, and I now have a high regard for the Aboriginal culture. The last thing we did that day was head to a nice hotel camping site where there was a big pool to swim in and cool down after a very muggy day! After an awesome meal cooked by Bevin we chilled by the pool until bed.
On the 19th we were all up early (how surprising) and drove a fair way to see some enormous termite mounds! They were amazing and Bevin gave us a good lesson on termites. Then we undertook a two hour walk to two excellent waterfalls where we went swimming and I had a go at some freehand rock climbing over the water! After that it was time to end the tour and we returned to Darwin by early evening. That night we all went to the Vic Pub again and I led my group in the pub quiz named ‘Allua Allua’, named so after two of the Irish lads we had traveled with earlier in the tour! Well what can I say, we were excellent and after Laura stuffed 18 marshmallows in her mouth, and Rachel had blown down a didgeridoo made out of a hoover pipe, we won the $100 prize!!! Which was obviously then promptly spent on drinks? A great night was had by all, and after walking three ladies home, I have become quite the gentleman, I finally stumbled into bed around 03:30am!
On the 20th I enjoyed a nice lay in, my first for some time! Unfortunately I wasn’t altogether comfortable in the dorm so I checked out of the dorm and moved into the hotel section of Cavanagh Hotel and Backpackers!! Well I have to say that I could get used to remote air-con, plasma TV, free drinks, and my own double bed, plus en suite bathroom I can tell you!
We had lunch at the hostel/hotel and went for a swim after. Unfortunately Rachel fell ill with dehydration so we all looked after her and chilled at the pool for the rest of the day until she was well enough to go out to the cinema in the night.
On the 21st Andre left, leaving only Jo, Rachel, and myself. So we took a trip to the Northern Territory Museum where we saw an Aboriginal Art exhibition and an exhibition all about the bombing of Darwin by the Japanese in WWII. After that we walked along the beach where Jo cut her foot open and I had to administer first aid because I was the only one with a first aid kit! (and they all laughed at me for carrying a first aid kit, and 50ft of army rope, and a knife – well now who’s laughing). All was well in the end and we visited the Darwin Bowling Club where I had a chat with the club president. After that we headed back into town and we all went out for dinner because it was Jo’s last night in Darwin. The meal was at ‘Chars’ and was excellent! At the end of the night we all said goodbye to Jo and I headed back to my hotel!
Today, the 22nd I have mostly been slaving in the net café to get this site up to date and sort out my five day open water diving course that I start in two days! However, I did manage to fit in a full neck, shoulders, and back massage in the afternoon, which was as relaxing as it was painful!
All in all it has been an awesome week and I have met so many cool people like Andre, Rachel, Jo, Dan and Mandy. I believe that the last week has been a changer for me and I am now looking ever more positively at my future travels! A big thanks goes out to all the guys that made the last week very special, love you all!
Well that is it! Long I know, but necessary as you wouldn’t have wanted me to miss anything out… would you??
So I am off now, it’s just Rachel and I left so we are going to chill out tonight as we both head to Cairns early tomorrow morning! Farewell until the next time…
Baity aka Jersey aka John signing off…..