We had a second day in Alice Springs waiting for the new people to join us later that day. Although we all very much wanted a lie in after all the sunrise starts we’d had, I think our bodies were used to being woken up early, so it wasn’t really possible to sleep all day. Instead we went for a walk around Alice, turns out there’s not a lot to do there. A bit like Darwin. But we ended up finding a bag of toys in a thrift shop which contained a Unicorn, Caitlin’s spirit animal. Unfortunately, we were not able to buy just the unicorn, so we ended up paying $6 for the whole bag, and donated the rest back to the store. We also kept Steven the Snake and tied him on the back of Baby Giles.
Once we got back to the hostel, Josh and I pocked our heads around the corner of the street and saw ‘mum’ (Caitlin) with Giles… Turns out when Caitlin moved Giles to take him for a wash, one of the tyres went flat and she had spent all day trying to get it sorted. We felt bad for her because it was meant to be her day off! We cheered her up a bit later with Uenis the Unicorn.
Went we got back to the room, another girl joined us, Charley! She was a vet back home in England, left to come to Australia for 6 weeks, decided she didn’t want to spend the whole time with her family and so booked this tour! We had made a plan to convince the new people that Josh was the CEO… Charley was our tester as the rest of the new people were arriving together later from an east coast tour. It’s fair to say we really didn’t convince everyone.
At around 7pm we had a meeting and met the newbies. There were seven of them all together, including Charley, all from different places. Although I loved my little original group, it was nice to talk to some new people. We went to dinner again that night and ended up in a cowboy bar. The night was short, however, as we had to prepare ourselves for another 4:30am start. Eurgh.
It was another long drive day. We stopped and did a long hike at Kings Canyon. It was pretty cool and the red layered rocks were awesome and made some great pictures. Someone said that Kings Canyon has been compared to the Grand Canyon and it’s like a smaller version. Ermmm, it’s definitely smaller, but I wouldn’t say they looked the same at all. Admittedly, Kings Canyon hike was a lot more fun, but I think that’s just because we just went up and down the same bit at the Grand Canyon.
When we got back to the car park we found another tour bus, from a different company, had broken down. Caitlin, bless her, of course helped. She took us and a few from the other tour to this little roadhouse with camels to chill for a bit whilst she helped the other bus. She did the best she could and brought all the passengers and guides to the roadhouse, but after that, there wasn’t much more we could do, so we carried on our journey.
We had a running joke of pointing out of the window and shouting Uluru, especially when people were asleep, getting them excited thinking we could see Uluru in the distance. We couldn’t. But when Caitlin pointed at a massive red rock in the distance, we totally believed it was the famous rock, but really it was Mount Connor. Finally though, Uluru, or as my dad called it, that big red rock, was visible on the horizon. It was actually pretty exciting.
We arrived pretty late to the campsite, so it was already dark and cold when we got there. Caitlin had put up fairy lights when she was last her though, so it looked all pretty and we had an indoor bit with a kitchen and dining area. After we sorted all the swags and sleeping bags out, Max and I started a fire again whilst Josh started cooking the BBQ. Most of the other group had never swagged before so I think it might have been a bit of a surprise for them. Especially as it was absolutely freezing at night now. It was a huge difference from when we were in Kakadu and Katherine. Most people slept in jumpers and trousers. I tried for the shorts, but severely regretted it in the morning. Celene, Josh, Max and I had decided to try and have a four way spoon in our swags and bundled close together. Not gonna lie, I don’t think it really helped much, but it was cute.
The next day was another sunrise start. I really didn’t want to get out of my swag, I was freezing but also sweaty. I wanted a shower but it was too cold and not enough time to eat breakfast as well. And obviously I’m not going to pass up breakfast, even though the electric wasn’t working so there was no coffee.
We watched the sun rise over Uluru, it was so far in the distance though we really had to work our camera’s zooms to get a semi decent picture. However, we were right next to Kata Tjuta, again, red rock but made up of more interesting dome like shapes. Celene pointed out how cool the colours were the more the sun had risen. The whole experience was pretty immense. Not a lot of people can say they stood and watched the sun rise over Uluru.
After about an hour of standing in the cold, Caitlin took us to Kata Tjuta to do a morning hike. It was actually one of my favourite hikes, scenic wise. Just the patterns in the rocks was so intriguing, nothing like I have seen before! And they it was so big! Although the you had to look at your footing, because the path was very uneven, you had to remind yourself to look up. We got to the main lookout we were aiming for, we came to a sight that just reminded me of A Land Lost In Time. If you’ve never seen it, it’s this cartoon tv show/movie with dinosaurs. It was awesome, I used to have the bed sheets. To be honest, a lot of the places we visited on this trip constantly reminded us of Jurassic Park.
Even though this hike was pretty cool, I basically collapsed at the back of the bus when we got there. Every single morning, without fail, I have a cup of coffee. Except this morning. I used to be so addicted to coffee, especially at University where I would have 7-9 cups a day. It didn’t help that my ex had bought me a Nespresso machine. But since travelling I’ve been managing to survive on one cup a day, but when I don’t have that one cup, my body is not happy with it. And today, with the early morning and hike, my body really was not happy. Once we had got back to the campsite, I just stayed on the bus with my eyes closed because my head hurt that much and I felt exhausted. All I wanted was coffee. Luckily the power came back on, and as cute as he is, Max made me a cup of the stuff. It was so weird how my mood seemed to soar after that. I didn’t really eat any lunch, but I was raring to go for the walk around Uluru.
Most of the group opted to do the full walk around Uluru, but Max, Josh, Celene, Marissa and myself decided to do the half way walk. I wanted to do the longer one, but I didn’t feel confident in walking it fast enough in the time limit whilst feel shit and I really didn’t want to rush what I saw. There are some areas around Uluru where you’re not allowed to take any pictures because it’s a sacred area, which of course all of us totally respected. But, we saw some people who just ignored the signs, even if they were standing right next to it. People like that don’t deserve to come to a scared place like this if they’re going to disrespect it.
It was a pretty surreal walk. You don’t realise all the crevices and little caves are there until you’re really up close. In the pictures you always see and from a distance, it always looks simple, but there’s so many different parts to it. If you ever go to Aus, at least do a trip to Uluru if you can’t do the whole outback.
That evening we had champagne whilst watching the sun go down. For some reason I ended up being the one opening the bottles, I didn’t mess up thank god. But it was a nice chilled evening. Anna and Andi made risotto which was unbelievably tasty! And we stood around the fire telling weird stories and doing weird dances (not naked, too cold for that). It was a cool evening until Max fell asleep right next to me and started snoring in my face, causing me to move my swag away from the spooning corner for the night.
We were up again at half five the next day and on the road by half 6. This time I slept in my jeans, so I didn’t need to get changed. Sun had barely risen when Caitlin pulled over after seeing a dead kangaroo in the middle of the road. We ran out to check if here was a joey in the pouch. There was! It was so tiny and had no hair. Probably never been out of the pouch before. We tried to keep it warm and the only plan we had was to take it to the animal sanctuary in the town we were heading to. The only problem was it was a nine hour drive until we got there. So at the first roadhouse we stopped, a guy who worked there took the joey of us so he could hand it to people to look after. It was sad giving up the joey as it was so cute, but it was for the best!
We had another crazy day with the glitter. We were going to see another gadventures tour when we crossed the border to Southern Australia and so obviously glitter and face paint was essential. We ended up glittering half of their tour as well. Caitlin was able to see her other tour guide friend and they both were crazy excited! It was cute! We took pictures with the sign before heading off to Coober Pedy. This is the main opal mining place in Australia, and maybe even the world I think. We had a tour of the mines and people actually live underground here. The have holes dug in the rock and rooms and electric… it was cosy! We even stayed in an underground hostel overnight. The fours boys each had their own rooms whilst the girls crammed into two. It’s been five months since I’ve had a room to myself…
We ended up playing Never Have I Ever and Questions again, this time in a mattress den in Max’s room. It was awesome!! Some of the girls left pretty early, but the rest of us, again, learnt a lot about each other. Wishing we could have stayed up all night doing this, we headed to bed with another early morning ahead of us again. Not before I snuck into Josh’s room, tried to climb into the cupboard (which we later found out was haunted with dolls), but failing and scaring Celene instead.
At 7am we went to the animal sanctuary and got to meet some rescued kangaroos. Even baby ones that could barely walk. They were sooooo cute I wanted to keep one. It was awesome knowing that amazing people like these guys look after Roos who have been abandoned or, like our baby yesterday, their mum’s have been killed and they had just been left.
This was the day I lost my odds on bet to run into a tree everyday for the rest of the trip. If you have seen my snapchat and wondered what the hell I’ve been doing running into trees for the past week, here’s the explanation. Each day I had to run into a tree, usually chosen by my peers, and… well that was it. The first one was pretty tame at the roadside, but they didn’t get more painful as the days went on. Especially day 5 when I receive multiple scratches and nearly broke my foot when it was trapped between rock and tree stump.
We stopped at Lake Hart, which is a small salt lake. I always find these so pretty, until I lost another odds on and I had to sit in the wet salt. Yum. We were staying at a place called Flinders Range that night. It felt like it was in the middle of nowhere. We were talking about ghost stories and when I went to the toilet, I walked round the outside of the hut and tapped the window and ended up scaring half the group.
A few beers later, Aman and Marine introduced the game Werewolf to us. We used a normal deck of cards and basically everyone had to go to ‘sleep’ each round, the werewolves (those who hold the King cards) kill someone off each round then the villagers and other characters have to try and find out who the werewolves are and kill them. It was such a fun game!
We had another early morning walk the next day. Luckily I’d had my coffee this time and so didn’t feel as tired as the last hike. It was a cool walk, but it was had to retain an average temperature as it was so cold, but walking so far made you so warm. We basically walked to the top of this natural amphitheatre where they used to keep sheep so they wouldn’t escape.
The only other thing we did this day was a wine tasting! It was at an actual vineyard, surprisingly the first one I’ve been to in Aus. It was with a brand called Taylors, they actually import to England, but under a different name. I must remember to research this as I was keen to buy my grandparents a bottle of the port we tried. The white wine was all nice, some a bit sharp. The red wine though I ended up having to drink it in one go as I’m not the biggest fan of red in general.
The next stop was our hostel for the night, however, about 5 minutes after we left Taylor’s, one of the wheels just burst and came off. After struggling for a little bit, luckily a man and his wife pulled over and the guy was able to help us. It was the nicest thing and Caitlin was so grateful! So thankfully it only took about an hour to change the tyre and we were able to go again.
We arrived in Adelaide and headed out for dinner nearly straight away. Unfortunately I had got a cold and really couldn’t stand to drink so went back to the hostel early. Besides going out for brunch the next day, we did nothing. Literally, we watched about 3 movies in the cinema room before being served a three course meal by Anna and Andi and then playing a game of werewolf before heading to bed after some other group decided to join in, but were really drunk and weird, one spilling red wine on Aman’s cards.
Adelaide is where we left Anna who was headed home the next day, but she was replaced by another girl, Hannah who was coming with us to Melbourne. I honestly can’t remember much from this day, the only thing I recall doing (from looking at the pics on my phone) is walking to this amazing waterfall in a place called Zumsteins (again, read from my phone). It was pretty cool, but I needed the toilet beforehand and when I came out, the group had disappeared and there was a fork in the path. Luckily I chose the right path to the waterfall, and all of it was downhill, so at the back of my mind I knew we were going to have to climb back up this. It was torture.
That night we stayed at a little family run hostel, it was cute and we had our own section in the kitchen! There was an unfortunate accident though. Marissa opened her bag and found there was a weird smell coming from in. After a little dig later, she discovered her red wine had smashed open and covered her clothes. It was awful and I felt so bad for her. Luckily, I told the lady at reception and she cleaned Marissa’s clothes for her! It didn’t get all the stains out, but she did a good job!
I made a couple of new friends here as well! The daughter of the owners, Lucy, came and started talking to me about Harry Potter, Pirates of the Caribbean and Star Wars, and somehow I ended up playing a game of snap with her. And then her brother (I have a feeling his name was Nicholas) came and joined us. Obviously I had to ‘pretend’ I was slow so I didn’t keep beating them! The group played another great game of werewolf, at one point a weird man walking through the room just stopped and watched us for a bit… Oooo, that’s what we did earlier in the day, we bought a piñata (well Marissa did whilst Max and I bought sweets), which we smashed open that evening. Max and I ended up taking the rest of the sweets, which I’m not unhappy about.
The next day we did a looooong walk up the Jaws of Death in the Grampian Mountains. The walk was a lot of uphill again, but Max helped it go quicker by starting a game of 20 questions. The walk turned out to be worth it, however, and there were these two beautiful balconies at the top (great photo opportunity). I felt a bit like I was back in New Zealand again. On the way back down, I had to do my daily ‘tree running’ and the guys picked a lovely bush for me. This time I kind of slowed down and jumped into it… probably not the best decision, but I committed and ended up with massive scratches down my back and nearly spraining my ankle again as I got it stuck between a rock and tree.
And then we started on the Great Ocean Road! We only saw the start, the bay of islands bit before sunset. We stayed in a place called Port Campbell, our last proper night together. I had volunteered to make dinner tonight with the help of Charley and Denise and thankfully everyone enjoyed the spaghetti bolognese we cooked up! Getting a bit tipsy after a few glasses of goon later and one last game of werewolf, we all turned in before our final sunrise start of the trip.
We watched the sun rise over the twelve apostles. It was definitely worth it. The colours again were spectacular, even the colour of the sea. As the sun kept rising, we went to other sites such as the London Bridge and the archway and even did a rainforest walk.
Our last stop of the trip was a little surprise to see wilds koalas and birds. Caitlin gave us some bird seeds and then jumped up on our arms and shoulders to eat them. This guy from another tour gave me some black seeds and immediately I had two cockatoos on my arms. They were actually really heavy and had sharp clawed digging into me, so it was a relief when they finally flew away!
And then to Melbourne to end the trip. Most of us were staying in the same hostel, so once we got settled, we had a few drinks, said goodbye to Celene and Marissa (even though we were Celene the next day anyway), before heading to the Queen Street Night Market which reminded me of Christmas, especially because of how cold it was. Over the next few days we said goodbye to members of the group one by one. It was quite sad, and bless Charlotte, she trekked all the way to the airport at 1am to then find out that her travel agent had got the date wrong and her flight was actually the next day!
So that was the end of the outback tour. I did have an extra week in Melbourne afterwards, but I’ll go into that more in my next post since this has turned into a mammoth of an essay. Thanks if you stuck the whole way through this. The best advice I have for anyone who wants to go to Australia is do the outback, even if you just do a short trip to Uluru/Alice Springs, it’s so worth it. It’s the real Australia.
Until next time x