With exams around the corner, there was limited time left for a spontaneous Australian Adventure. When Lisa Murphy rang me in the middle of May about a Red Centre Tour, I couldn’t say no. From June 1st to June 5th we were going to be heading to Alice Springs, Kings Canyon, & the Uluru – Kata Tjuta National Park!
Shortly after landing in Melbourne from Sydney, I had an afternoon to study, pack and write an exam before leaving the next day at 6am to head back to the airport for the Red Centre.
Everywhere down the East Coast in Australia is relatively similar. Covered by beaches, and backpackers, I consider it very “commercial” & “typical” tourism. It is amazing, don’t get me wrong, but for those who really want to see the country, you need to get off the beaten track. I was stoked to go to Central Australia, because it is completely different than everywhere else I had been in Australia to date.
After a short 2 and a half hour flight from Melbourne to Alice Springs, we arrived, surrounding by a sea of RED!
Out of this world. The Red Centre is amazing. There are landmarks literally in the middle of nowhere. It is crazy to think how these places got to where they are now.
Day 1: When we arrived in Alice Springs, we checked into our hostel and ventured out into the town. We had three things on our agenda to accomplish that day in Alice Springs, and we were informed by the worker at the hostel that we will have done everything there is to do in Alice Springs. First was to roam the city, take a free digereydoo lesson, and go up to Anzac Hill and get a nice veiw of the town. Needless to say, there isnt much to do here. Alice Springs is one of the MAIN hubs for all the Rock Tour departs. First thing was grab a coffee. The real first thing on the list was to roam the streets and check out what this place was all about. Alice Springs has a HUGE indigenous population with more than half of the people being indigenous. It was amazing to see how different their lifestyle was compared to the rest of Australians in the town. They walk around with barefeet, shout across the roads to each other (which I was later informed, they aren’t mad at each other, it was just that back in the day when it was WAY to hot in the middle of the desert to have to get up and go talk to someone, they would just yell from one tree to the other). Alice Springs was amazing.
On our way through the town in search of lunch, we were spotted and called to join a BBQ at the town’s “community centre.” We were informed it was National Reconcilation Week, and they were celebrating by having a free BBQ. Perfect timing, I’d say! NRW is when they celebrate the coming together of the Australians and the Aboriginals as one. It was amazing feel the excitement and how proud everyone was in this town. They also had a banner where you were able to put a handprint and write something layed out on the ground. We got our picture taken by one of the coordinators, and we may show up in the Alice Springs newspaper in the near future. Lisa and I are practicaly celebrities in Alice Springs.
These are didgeridoos. They are a unique musical instrument that is known in the Indigenous culture. Lisa and I went to the theatre in Alice Springs and participated in a workshop. Let me tell you, it was ALOT harder than both of us imagined. The way that you have to position your mouth, and form your lips to create specific sounds is so hard! Another check off the bucket list however!
Before heading back to the hostel for an early night’s rest prior to our 5am Rock Tour pick-up, we hiked/walked up Anzac Hill.
The view was incredible. I finally figured out that on my camera I had a panoramic setting that was extremely handy while I was in the real outback. The weather was so nice compared to the weather I have been used to back in Melbourne. When we rocked up on Anzac Hill we ran into Lisa’s roommate who was also doing a Rock Tour the next day! In such a small town, the chances of running into someone you know is very likely haha. We also met another Canadian. She was from Nunavut. She was so interesting, and she told us all about life in Nunavut, and what it was like to be from an Aboriginal decent. She was making her way to work on a Indigenous site for the next three months, being an after school coordinator and volunteer. After this trip, I think something like that would be such an incredible experience, and may look into doing something in the future!
Whilst taking this picture, I was scouted out by a professional photographer who was also in Anzac Hill. He came up to me afterwards with his business card and said he wanted to use me as a model. Unfortunately I was leaving the next morning, so I had to decline. Apparently I have a level of grace when I jump… hahaha.
Time for an early nights rest! The morning was going to be here in no time. zzzzzzzZZZZ
Day 2: June 2nd/12
Alarm went off at 5am… to early for some people, but I dont think I have ever jumped out of bed so fast in my life. Time to hit the RED CENTRE. What a dream come true. After gathering all our belongings and heading to the check out desk, we were informed there was a 30 minute time difference in Alice Springs and we could of slept in for another half hour. Not impressed in the slightest. I suppose, free breakfast and coffee makes everything better?
And to make things even better… our tour guide wasn’t to bad to look at either, especially at 530am. Lisa and I are still not sure if he was a nice, genuine guy? or way to sarcastic it was almost mean? hahaha
After a 5 hour drive through the middle of nowhere, where if your car broke down, or you ran out of gas… you’d be screwed, we made it to our first 10km hike of the tour. It was at Watarrka (King’s Canyon). This Canyon put’s the Grand Canyon (apparently it is actually a Gorge) to shame. In the middle of the summer, this area can get up to 45 degrees celcius, which would be completely UNBERABLE to have to hike through.
The King’s Canyon was gorgeous. Located in the middle of absolutely nowhere, this Canyon was the only thing you could see for miles.
After being an expert rock climber and hiker from my rock climbing class, no hike is to tough for this Canadian chick!
The view from the top of the stairs. Complete bliss.
I adore this chick. Best person to travel with ever.
Stacks on stacks on stacks of red rocks.
The view from across the Canyon to the other side.
Never have I ever felt so small in my life, as I did when I was in Kings Canyon.
Mid way through the hike, Cooper our tour guide informed us we were allowed to cross “wanting to jump over a canyon” off our bucket list. Half the group you could tell was scared shitless…
This is a 300 million year beach we are lying on. If you pay close attention to the texture in the rocks, there is a ripple pattern. Sexy beach pose.
Another really cool fossil in the rocks. This is a barnacle fossil.
Here is the Canyon jump. Not as death defying or exciting as I expected.
Jumping off a cliff. I survived as you probably realized… as I am able to write about it now.
We had such an amazzzzzzing group. This is one of the first tour groups that everyone got to know everyone. Hands down, favourite group I have travelled with!
After a long 10km walk, and over 3 litres of water… it was time to head back to our camp for the night. The first night was a Bush Camp… in the middle of NOWHERE. We had no toilet or shower facilities, and we had to collect firewood for heat and cooking.
Dirty charcoal hands. It took Lisa and I about 20 minutes to drag ONE piece of firewood to the trailor… the sad thing is, I dont even think we used our piece. BRUTAL.
Bush camp preparation.
Amazing dinner prepared on the fire, and a few beers to complete a perfect day in the Red Centre!
Day 3: Kata Tjuta – “The Olgas”
Once again an incredible landmark found in the middle of nowhere. Today we did another 10 km hike through the Olgas.
Ready for another long day in the Outback!
Trying to be all artsy with my photography.
These rocks are HUGE. Pictures do not do the Olga’s justice.
Breath-taking… and yes I am talking about the background.
Lisa and I.
Western Pride follows me to each travel destination.
The Amazing Rock Tour Group!The second half of the 2nd day on our Rock Tour was spent in the Cultural Centre at Uluru, and check out Uluru at a distance. Fun fact of the day… only 1/3 of this rock is able to be seen on the surface. Over 60% of this huge ONE PIECE rock is barried under the ground. THIS THING IS MASSSSIVE. Uluru was my favourite part of the trip. You realize it isn’t… just one big rock in the middle of nowhere. There is so much history and cultural significance behind it, it really makes you appreciate what you are seeing. Cooper our tour guide is really culturally sensitive because he is friends with lots of the indigenous people in the area. Some areas on the Uluru are considered sacred and are classified as “male” or “female” sites. It was said that back in the day if a male was to see one of the female sacred sites they would be punished. Punishments ranged from beatings, to having their head slit on the forehead. Cooper, likes to instill this mentality with the sacred sites, and has never seen the sacred sites himself. As tourists in this area, the indigenous people see us as children. We do not have a name, a gender, or any sort of importance. Because of this, we are able to look at the sites and not be punished for it. There was ALOT of really cool history and stories behind everything in the Red Centre.
Little rock… and bigggg ROCK.
It is an option to climb Uluru. The indigenous in this area try their hardest to convince people otherwise. This rock is extremely sacred and important to them, and they are hurt on the inside as each an every person walks on their piece of land. Over 35 people have died from climbing this rock, and the government will finally close it down as soon at 3 more people lose their lives. The indigenous feel great sadness when someone loses their lfie, or injures themselves on their land, and they host huge ceremonies and memorials for those individuals. Lisa and I were convinced we were going to climb, but after all the knowledge and information we found out about Uluru, we decided to respect the Indigenous’ wishes, and not climb. I bought a certificate at the gift shop that I signed, they states I did not climb Uluru.
We only did a 3 km walk called the Mala walk this evening. We stopped off at a few sacred sites, however we were unable to take pictures of them.
This picture here is a classssssic touristy shot. Depending on how you angle the camera, you can see how the relative height of the tree to the height of the rock. I dont know if I got it perfectly bang on… but I think it was a good attempt.
All smiles here!
Hot Tom and I. To lazy to stand up.
The evening was spent at the parking lot which provides the postcard view of Uluru-Ayer’s Rock. Within our group, the tour guide proposed a challenge that if anyone finds a pose that he has never seen before in fron of the rock he would buy them a jug of beer.
Why not get naked?
Canadian Chicks for the win! I wonder if anyone on Uluru had binoculars and got a nice show from the two of us… sorry mom!
Hat, gloves, plaid shirt, sock and sandals… the typical Canadian. Never have I ever been so proud to be from Canada in my life. Everyone loves Canadians.
It’s not Ayer’s Rock without shotgunning a beer.
The infamous Uluru – Ayer’s Rock sunset.
On the way home from Uluru – Ayer’s Rock we stopped at the closest petrol station to grab some snacks….
TIM TAM smores for me please! Nothing taste better than a fire toasted marshmellow with the accompaniment of a chocolate timtam on a biscuit… Australia doesnt have graham crackers readily avaliable apparently. SO DELICIOUS.
This is a SWAG. My definition and best way of describing a SWAG is an extremely durable ziploc bag. After shuffling into your sleeping bag, you make your way into your SWAG. It is used to keep your sleeping bag clean, and to trap in the heat while in the freezing cold nighttime desert. As temperatures reach the negatives in the winter, you need a SWAG to avoid freeezzing.
Day 4: Uluru Base Walk (10km)
Today was our last day on the The Rock Tour. The morning came extremely early… 5am once again. In order to see the Uluru Sunrise we had to pack up camp and make it to the carpark by 6am latest. Breakfast and hot drinks were prepared here, where we had a chance to take some pictures of the sunrise. Since being in Australia, I have a new appreciation for Sunset and Sunrises. I have seen heaps in various locations, all having a mixtures of colours and designs. Some of them have been the most breathtaking sights I have seen before.
Gorgeous photo take by Lise.
At 6am… it is FREEEZZZING in the desert… hence why I stayed in the bus.
After the sunrose, we made our way back to the base of Uluru for our 10km – 3 hour hike around the base of Uluru… as the name states. Lisa and I took the lead in the group, and within minutes we were already way ahead of everyone else. Without even noticing we missed on of the sights we were suppose to stop in (a special waterhole) and we continued along the track.
One thing we were informed of before our walk, is that only 1/3rd of the rock is actually located above ground. Being over 350metres above ground… it is mind blowing to think that about 750 metres are barried beneath the surface. This rock is needless to say fricken MASSIVE.
We must of been deep in conversation, and didn’t notice we had separated from the group. We made it back to the carpark and had to wait for the rest of the group to catch up. Woops.
The Uluru Base walk was the last organized event on our Rock Tour as a whole group. We dropped more than half of the tour off at the Ayer’s Rock Airport, and prepared for a 5 hour drive back to Alice Springs. On our way we stopped off at this Camel Farm. This farm had wallabies, dingos, emus, and plenty of camels. For the small price of $6 we were able to take a ride on a camel. I can officially say before this day, I have never had to ask a sales person for a camel ride. Well, there is another think to check off the bucket list!
This is the Western Camel. He is rocking the purple quite well! #stangsvscamels
Here is Bert. Bert is a trainee camel. In a couple years, Bert will be a racing Camel. Yes you read that correctly, camels race in Australia just like horses. Being able to ride a camel was the funniest and strangest thing I have ever done in my life. As you can see, Lisa and I were not able to hold our composure whilst on the camel, and were in hysterics the entire time. BUSCH.
This is Lisa and my attempt at kissing a camel. Going against my mother’s request to not get to close, I discovered that she was correct on one thing. They do indeed have terrible breath. I guess the statement is true, mother’s are always right.
The camel farm that we went too is the same one that is featured on the Discovery Atlas : Australia Revealed series. While I was watching this show, I put two and two together and realized that the guy who I met at the camel farm, was featured on this segment. Sooooo coooool!
We finally made it back to Alice Springs after an amazing 3 days in the Red Centre. It was really sad to say goodbye to the group that we travelled with. You meet people from all over the world, and it makes it really hard to say goodbye cause it is rare you will ever see them again in your life. Thanks to good ole’ facebook for being a good source to keep in touch! The Rock Tour surpassed all of my expectations. Until the Outback, the Whitsundays was my favourite place that I had seen in Australia. These two places come really close to each other for #1 in my book. The outback is so difference than any other place in Australia. It was the perfect end trip to my exchange. Spending 5 days with Lisa was also amazing. She is fabulous in every which way! Such a cool cat.
Can’t wait to reminesce on all the good times in Australia back at Western!