Butt sweat and tours
Trip Start Jul 26, 2004
23Trip End May 31, 2005
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
From Adelaide we joined our group for a tour of nearby Kangaroo Island. The island is located two hours directly south of Adelaide and is the last land mass before you reach Antarctica. KI has more than just kangaroos to offer as part of the wildlife. During our time there we saw wallabies, kangaroos(of course), pelicans, a goanna, a blue penguin, fur seals, black swans, koalas, possums and a little dog named Jimmy. Other native wildlife included two obnoxious Australians...wait they were on our tour. Our guide "Nige" was excellent and a fountain of knowledge
We spent our days racing around the island to see different sights, and trying to learn German, as half our tour spoke that language. In addition to the incredible wildlife we saw some spectacular rock formations, including the Remarkables (not an Aussie rock band). At night we stayed on a working sheep farm, and went looking for possums in the trees. Despite the early wake-ups we learned a great deal and enjoyed ourselves immensely.
Back in Adelaide we planned and packed our bags for our early flight at 6AM, ...which we promptly slept through. Despite running a few lights to get there, we arrived 7 minutes after our plane's departure. Luckily we found another flight and made our way to Alice Springs, which is Australian for REALLY HOT, so hot that sweat is produced in areas you never thought sweatable before. Of course the airline kindly left Lara's bag behind (who needs all those extra clothes when it is 36 degrees C outside?).
Our hostel was interesting, as most things are in "The Alice" (clarification "interesting" is a euphemism for "really bizarre"). We had one of the double rooms in the backyard which was essentially a trailer park home. Yes, we became Australian trailer trash! (a big stretch for us). These things happen in an interesting (see above) town where the raging Todd River that courses through the city is actually a dry desert bed with no water (yet it doesn't stop them from having a Henley race every year where they carry their boats)
One thing one notices about being in the desert is that everyone moves a lot slower. At our hostel the main activities included laying around, reading, suntanning or hiding in the shade. Anywhere you can find air conditioning, or some shade, people are sitting about. It is also one of the towns where we finally saw the presence of the native Aboriginal people. Aboriginal art is plentiful here with many galleries lining the baking streets.
Our tour to the Red Centre was outstanding! We joined 20 other travellers and two tour guides (Rew was being trained by Ex Pat Matt) tearing down the dusty roads stopping at a variety of places: camel stations, salt water rivers, cattle stations, towns where the population totals 6. The history in the Outback is filled with brave and crazy men pushing their limits as they tried to cross this arid somewhat barren territory. Yet the Aboriginals had lived contentedly for years.
Our first stop was Kings Canyon where we did a three hour walking tour along the top of a huge red canyon that was made up of prehistoric compressed sandstone. In the middle of the canyon was a lush watering hole, named The Garden of Eden, which was littered with fig trees
The next day we were off to Yulara, the National Park that held the legendary Ayers Rock (Uluru) and an interesting rock formation called The Olgas (Kata Tjuta). At lunch we lost one of our two guides (not to a scorpion sting or dingo attack) as another trip was short a guide due to illness. Rew, our guide trainee, was on his own! Despite the fact that this was just his third trip he did a great job. He led us on a tour of The Olgas, which is actually considered to be more sacred by the Aboriginal people than Ayers Rock. We walked among the domes and the huge rocks that shot out of the desert floor reaching The Valley of the Winds which opened up to a beautiful view.
We rushed over to the viewing site to drink champagne as we watched Ayers Rock glow and change colour (slightly) as the sun set over the dry horizon. That night at our campsite we slept under the stars in swags (padded canvas bags in which you put your sleeping bags) and fell asleep listening to the howling of the dingoes in the distance.
The next morning we had a 4 AM wake up(!) to watch the sun rise and Ayers Rock change in colour again. Lara went a little snap happy with the camera, and took 40 pictures. Thankfully we have a digital camera, so we spent the next night deleting 36 of them. The walk up was closed due to the winds (and the Aboriginals prefer you do not walk on this sacred ground), so we walked around the base (9.5 km in the sun!) and saw all of the really interesting formations in the rock itself
From here we flew into Brisbane... stay tuned for our next update where we chronicle our journey to the island of sand, Fraser Island.
Things we've Learned While Travelling in Oz (the country not the Cable TV show)
1. After seeing them in the wild, we've come to a conclusive answer: Lara does not sound like a seal when she coughs (barks), she sounds like a koala. They're cute but loud buggers!
2. Australians Aboriginals know so much about survival in the desert no matter how hot and dry it gets. They've got the most advanced mapping system in the world.
3. Animal facts: koalas sleep 20 hours a day (don't we wish we all could) and pelicans can turn their heads 360 degrees (whoa, the Exorcist!)
4. In the desert in Australia water is not required for locals to call areas rivers.
5. As big as Ayers Rock is, only 1/10 of it is showing. The rest is buried beneath the sand.