On Saturday 22nd March Matt and I flew to Alice Springs in the Northern Territory of Australia (but to you and me, its right in the centre). We met up with our tour group for the next 5 days and had a look around the town. The presence of Aboriginals was striking. They were much better represented here than anywhere else I'd visited in Australia.
The next day we began the tour with a 5 hour drive to Uluru (Ayers Rock). This gave us time to get to know our group, and then share sunset with each other next to the rock. An early start gave us a chance to experience sunrise at Uluru…except this effort was slightly in vain as it was very foggy and it rained heavily throughout our 2 hour walk around the rock. Only 1% of visitors get to see rain at Uluru, and this made it quite special for us as we were able to see waterfalls coming off it, the water trickling down with its vast glistening background taking centre stage.
Dinner around the campfire and some didgeridoo playing (Matt and I had a lesson on this in Airlie Beach) made for an enjoyable evening spent in good company. Sleeping in swags (tough sleeping bags) outside under the stars was a relaxing experience, under a very starry sky. However, I woke up about 15metres from where I had fallen asleep, totally clueless as to how I got there! It turns out that I may have snored a little, and Matt rallied the troops appropriately and dragged me to the base of a small ant colony. Such a good mate!
Tuesday saw our group complete a walk in and around Kings Canyon. Prior to this point I had almost no clue that this even existed, but the beauty due to the range of colours, and textures in the rock formations made it a real highlight. I actually found the canyon more impressive than Uluru itself. Whilst exploring the Canyon's depths, we swam in a natural pool of water, which was pretty cool.
That afternoon, some of the group quadbiked on a red sand dirt track in the outback. This was both an adrenalin rush and totally hilarious - with occasional scares. Many shrubs, small trees and rocks were used as crash mats, and several cuts and bruises were obtained all round. Some more campfire chatting and another night under the stars followed an all round great day. However waking up twice during the night covered in big ants trying to crawl into your ears wasn't barrel of laughs, but then again I'd been moved away from the group for a reason.
The next day was Wednesday 26th March and this signalled the last day of the tour. A long drive back to Alice Springs was followed by a visit to the Royal Flying Doctors Service; a service mainly used to rescue injured people who are too far from decent medical help to make it there alive. An "end of tour" celebration took place afterwards with snake and other reptile holding, karaoke and a couple of gins…then a club.
A 6am start the next day wasn't too popular with me or Matt, but we had to catch our flight to Perth. Perth City was fairly vibrant, with lots of young people filling the streets. We had 5 days here, which turned out to be 2 or 3 days too many, as a city is just another city really. On Saturday 29th March Matt and I saw Jack Johnson in concert, which was a good laugh as well as hearing quality music being performed well. The atmosphere was excellent in the outdoor venue, particularly as JJ is incredibly popular in Oz. Sunday and Monday were days spent doing very little, just recharging the batteries, reading and chilling out. We had a poor night out with a couple of Aussie lads over from Melbourne on our last night, which meant the 5 hour flight to Singapore the next day was slightly groggy. Particularly as we had to sort out Matt's Thai Visa that morning at 10am and then went on to catch a 12:05 flight!
This signalled the end of our Oz Adventure, and I can say with total confidence that I thoroughly enjoyed pretty much every moment of it, and that Australia is a country that I would very much like to visit again.