So after leaving Melbourne, Charlotte and I caught an overnight bus to Adelaide arriving early morning. Adelaide however was a hole and there was nothing to do so I haven't bothered with creating a blog for it. We literally wandered the town for one day, and then wandered a suburb the next day. Nothing there. The best part was watching the beginning of the Olympics at our hostel!
So after two days of boredem, we began our tour into the outback beginning with a 2 day bus journey up to Alice Springs. Our driver and tour guide was a guy called Nathan and was a stereotypical Aussie who came out with all the perfect phrases. He had a thick accent, mullet, and very opinionated views but he was such a laugh which helped the 1600km drive go by quicker. Looking out of the window along the way, we saw the landscape change from green fields near Adelaide, to the wine growing region and this all slowly fell away into shrubland and then into flat plains of nothingness! After 10 hours of driving the first day, we stopped off at a wierd place called Coober Pedy which is the world's biggest opal mining town but everything is underground to protect it from the elements of the desert. So after checking into our underground hostel, we went and had some pizza and drinks at our underground restaurant and bar. The following day we had an easy drive of 8 hours along the straightest road I've ever seen. All we saw for the whole journey was flat desert plains, straight road, dead kangaroos and the occasional rattling road train that are humungous! We finally arrived late that evening in Alice Springs, proud that we had completed such a long journey!
Just like everyone else, we had come to Alice Springs to go and see Ayres Rock and the real Australian Outback so the next morning we were off on 3 day 2 night tour into the desert. A lot of the same people from our drive were on the tour and there was a group of 5 of us who got on really well. Uluru (Ayres Rock) is another 6 hour drive through nothingness from Alice Springs and I was really starting to get a sense of the vastness of Australia! After collecting some firewood, we arrived at camp, had some lunch and then set off to do a hike around the neighbouring Olgas. We saw Uluru and the Olgas appear from the horizon and they did look amazing against the featureless surroundings. We began to get our first glimpses of the red dirt we expected to see, but there was a lot more shrub than we thought there would be. We took a 3 hour hike through the valley of the Olgas, a collection of 36 huge boulders that were really impressive but the desert was cold, not what we had expected! So wrapped up in our jackets and scarves, we headed over to Uluru to watch the sunset. Unfortunately it was cloudy but the rock did light up at one point, at which the hundreds of tourists dashed for the cameras which was proabably a more amazing sight! That night was our first night sleeping in a swag which is basically just a mattress and sleeping bag on the ground. The best part was doing some star gazing before falling asleep and there were hundreds of stars to see!
The next morning we watched the sunrise at Uluru but this was pretty disappointing. We then took a hike around the base of it and it's absolutely massive! We wanted to climb it before we came out here and were told that it is possible to but that the Aboriginal population don't like you to as it's a sacred sight to them. So instead we took some great photos and learnt a lot about Aboriginal culture from our guide. Having seen the massive rock and taken numerous photos, we grabbed some lunch and took a drive to see Kings Canyon, about 5 hours away. All these drives are so long but on the map, the distance covered is tiny! We camped up for the night in the bush and hit the canyon walk in the morning. Managed to see some shooting stars at night which was great while we sat round eating marshmellows and drinking goon by the fire! The canyon walk was by far the best thing of the trip. There was so much to see and so many different landscapes, and we had great fun taking all kinds of photos. There were huge cliff faces and amazing rock formations as well as greenery and desert plains, and from the top we could see for miles! The rest of the day was spent driving back to Alice Springs.
Charlotte and I had an extra day in the town of Alice Springs which we spent wandering the many Aboriginal art galleries and staring at the groups of Aboriginals that were hanging around as we hadn't seen them anywhere else in Australia. I also managed to go and check out a museum on the Royal Flying Doctor Service which is the only way to get out to people that are unwell in the outback as it's so vast! We spent the night chilling out, recovering from our busy time in the outback and reflecting on the 3600km that we had travelled in 5 days! We caught a flight back to Sydney the next day and had some amazing views over the vast expanse of nothingness and it seemed wierd to think we had travelling by bus through it. Can't comprehend how big the distances are, and that's only half the country's width!
The outback tour that we did was definitely one of my favorite parts of Australia, if not my whole trip. It's just so different to everything else and I'm glad to be able to say that I got out to see the "real australia" as well as the east coast. Was great to be able to compare all the different landscapes that I've seen throughout Oz. Ayres Rock itself was good but I think only so because it is Ayres Rock and that it's on so many postcards. I much prefered the Olgas and Kings Canyon was even better. Was great to meet and learn about Aboriginal life, culture and history and how they survived out in the desert. Definitely worth the time and money spent! Would have loved to have done it myself without the tour but in the end we learnt a lot from our guide and although there were some very annoying people, we met a great group of people who we later met up with in Sydney on our return. So much more I could tell you guys about it but my fingers are hurting and you're probably tired from reading so much. Photos are on there way soon. G