Sunday, October 18, 2009
I returned to Sydney today after a week in the Australian Outback, also known as the Red Center because of the bright red sandy soil, a substantial amount of which I brought home with me on my clothing and in my hair. We spent a day in Adelaide, then one in Alice Springs, and then headed off for a three day camping tour with Wayoutback (highly recommended!). Our group consisted of my former college roommate Kristy and her husband Rodd, a few more Australian tourists, a few European backpackers, me, and two tour guides. I loved it! The scenery was spectacular (oh, the Aussies and Brits use much richer vocabulary than we Americans...I'd be all "cool!" whereas they would say something like "how splendidly magnificent"), the company was excellent, and I enjoyed eating food cooked over a campfire and sleeping under the stars in my swag. I even got a tan, complete with a sock line. Our first day we went to Uluru (Ayers Rock) which was as stunning as I had imagined. I didn't climb it because apparently the Aborigines prefer that people do not, so I hiked around the base instead. Positive: avoidance of tribal curses. Negative: FLIES. I literally had a cloud of them buzzing around my head at all times.
The rock itself is striking, rising out of the flat outback terrain, and we got great views of it at both sunset and sunrise. However, I liked the next two sites on the tour even more, even though I had never heard of them before this trip. The first was a different rock formation with a number of domes called the Olgas (or Kata Tjuta) and the second was Kings Canyon, which reminded me a bit of the American southwest. We spent several hours hiking around both sites, and both were quite beautiful. On the road, we encountered some native wildlife including a dingo pup, witchtail eagles, wild camels (not native but fairly common), kangaroos, and an emu family (dad with three babies). Unfortunately, I didn't manage to get any decent photos but I did eat some of these tasty animals (camel, emu sausage, and camel) at Bojangles Saloon in Alice Springs, which is basically the type of establishment the Outback Steakhouse seeks to emulate (there's no I in emulate, but there is an emu). While in the bush, I didn't run into anything scary or deadly with the exception of a redback spider Rodd spotted in the camp toilet- it was promptly squished. Here are a few photos and you can head over to Kris' blog for a more thorough recounting of our adventures. Overall, the trip was a great success... now I'm back in Sydney for a couple of days until I head south to Melbourne and the Great Ocean Road.