The Great Austrlian Outback!

If you hadn’t heard, Australia is pretty damn big. We’ve heard that many visitors assume they can "Do Australia" in a week or two – nope. Like Canada there are a small number of cities separated huge distances. Unlike Canada, Australia has more than one airline from which to cover these distances. 

With this in mind, our original plan was to stick to the East Coast of Australia for the four months, leaving the West coast and the Outback for future trips, thus allowing plenty of time to take in local culture and the diverse regions that make up Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria. We had planned to included in Tasmania, the southern most territory of Australia, as it has been described to us as the most beautiful landscapes in the country.

Returning from New Zealand, it occurred to us that we’d been using the word Beautiful a lot over the previous three weeks and so while Tassie is no doubt as amazing as people say, it might fall short of the sights we have just seen in New Zealand. We decided instead that we should visit the outback. There was little chance of it looking anything like we’d seen in New Zealand, and really, what’s a trip to Oz without seeing ‘The Rock’?

After a week in Melbourne in 40+ heat we thought it would be a great time to head further North (closer to the equator). Summer heat be damned.

Flying into Alice Springs on the always exciting Tiger Airways we were met on the runway with a surprisingly pleasant 46 degrees celcius.  But it was a dry heat. We spent 38 very hot hours exploring Alice Springs before picking up a campervan and heading off to see the sights.

It’s worth mentioning, we learnt that the average trip taken to the outback lasts 1.3 days. Perhaps those tourists know something we don’t (like how hot it is, or perhaps how irritating the millions of very friendly flies can get) but you really can’t see much in 1.3 days, even from the comfort of an air conditioned luxury Coach. If you go, trust us, you need to spend a week at least. Preferably in the Winter.

After our great success navigating Fraser Island, we opted for another Britz 4WD camper van.

… Oh, another piece of advice. It seems that the Maui, Britz and BackPacker Campervan companies are all the same company. Maui gets brand new vehicles, which are later passed to Britz customers, which are later passed to BackPacker customers. BackPacker customer pay less, have a smaller insurance deductable ($4500 vs. $7500!) and yet very often get Maui or Britz vehicles anyway as there are more available! If you’re booking a caravan trip, be sure to check out www.backpackercampervans.com for all your caravan needs, and please keep arms and legs inside the campervan at all times…

For those curious, you can reach Uluru (the correct name for Ayers Rock) by sunset from Alice Springs with a quick stop at Rainbow Valley if you really put your mind to it… and leave before lunch time. Fortunately our plans to stop at some creeks to swim were cut short by there being no creeks.

Did I mention the flies? In Alice Springs we had to contend with two or three buzzing around your face continuously. Outside Alice Springs, where there are, as you can imagine, fewer distractions for flies, there are hundreds and hundreds of them. A shout out to the lovely English girls at the hostel for recommending we pick up some fly screen head masks before setting out. Being both stylish and functional, these masks may have prevented us from going insane. As you can see from the photo, Sarah wore hers with pride and dignity.

Australia has come along way in the past few years with its recognition of Traditional Ownership, handing back large amounts of land to the original Aboriginal owners. Ayers Rock is now formally recognized as Uluru, a sacred site of the local people. While they still allow you to climb the rock, they ask that you don’t, which we chose to respect. Not only is it dangerous, especially when over 40 degrees, it represents another aspect of absurd white-man thinking of climbing things just because they’re there. The view 200 feet up in the outback is like looking at stars through at telescope… it looks exactly the same! The Aboriginal traditions of Dreamtime stories also separate stories for children, men and women, and many of their sacred locations are also limited to men, or women, or children. As non-members of the tribes, tourists are treated (aptly so) as Children and therefore forbidden to hear certain stories, see certain places, and interesting enough, photograph certain sites.

See, ya learn something here!

Click here are the pictures!

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