Major apologies for the delay in posting- the past few weeks have been extremely hectic! Each weekend, I’ve been in a different state, and I’m in the midst of exam season- and there’s only 1 lab practical assignment between me and summer (or winter, if we’re speaking Aussie seasons)! In continuing the recap of my amazing mid-trimester break, today I'm going to focus on my 6-day bus tour through the outback!
Since the tour started in in Adelaide, I decided to spend a few days to see what the town was about. I spent one day on a wine tour through the Barossa Valley- known for impeccable wineries! I got to try all sorts of wine and eat an amazing meal. I would have to say my favorite were a red shiraz and a pink moscato. The tour also stopped by a cute, little German town called Hahndorf. It had all sorts of German restaurants, cafes, and shops. By the end of the day, I was quite tired from traveling, so I knew it was time to catch up on my sleep before beginning my outback adventure!
On first official day of the bus tour, I woke up bright and early at 5 am to get to the Adelaide central bus station. I found the Groovy Grape tour bus, along with the tour guide, and I knew right away I was in for an adventure! Throughout the morning, we stopped by several hostels in Adelaide to pick up other tour-goers. In total, there were 20 of us. As we traveled throughout the day, we stopped at Mt. Remarkable National Park, where we went on our first hike through Alligator Gorge. It was incredible seeing how vividly orange the stone was. At the end of the night, we stopped at a motel in Quorn where we had an authentic Aussie meal- “sangers” (sausages), chicken kabobs, and kangaroo meat. I was actually quite surprised that I enjoyed the Kangaroo- 10/10 recommend!
The following day was another early morning. In fact, there wasn’t a single day of the tour that we didn’t wake up later than 5 am. We rode in the bus for nearly the whole day, making our way up to Coober Pedy. Many people also claim that Coober Pedy looks like Mars or the Moon it’s been the landscape for many famous space movies. The town is known as the Opal capital of the world, so there were mines and underground buildings and houses everywhere! In fact, we stayed in an underground motel that night. I was a little nervous about it at first, but I (clearly) ended up making it out alive. That night, we visited a kangaroo sanctuary where a couple takes in injured kangaroos found on the road or joeys without mothers.
The third day was our biggest day for driving- 9 hours on the bus with plenty of small stops along the way as we made our way up Stewart Highway to get to Watarrka National Park area for the night. This was our first night not sleeping in a proper bed. Something I particularly enjoyed about my outback tour was sleeping under the stars. We quite literally slept with nothing but a sleeping bag and “swag” (no tents!) but it was incredible being able to see the beautiful night sky as we drifted to sleep.
The next morning is when the adventure really began. At 7am, we arrived at Kings Kanyon to begin a 5K hike. King’s Canyon was absolutely gorgeous and breath-taking. The first 15 minutes… not so much. The first part of the hike involves “heart-attack hill.” While it was definitely a stiff hike, and I was more concerned with getting a heart-attack from the terrifying view when looking down. I think the experience helped me in getting over my fear of heights, though (at least a little bit). Following the hike, we began our way to Uluru in the town of Yulara. When we arrived, we visited the Aboriginal Cultural Center. It was really interesting admiring Aboriginal artwork and learning more about their culture, especially the significance of the Uluru rock.
The next day was probably the busiest we’d experienced. In the morning, we walked all 13K around Uluru- taking about 4 hours, but it was well worth the time to be able to get up-close-and-personal with the rock’s beauty. The view was incredible, and it really gave me a strong insight on Aboriginal culture and beliefs, as many of the sights were sacred and included stories of what the areas
were used for.
After the Uluru walk, we broke for lunch, and I ended up riding a camel- rather interesting. A few hours later, we continued hiking by visiting Kata Tjuta. The view of the valley from the second lookout was amazing- and the bottom was quite a long way down! Our evening came to a close as we watched the sunset- with cheese and Jatz.
Day 6, our last day, finally came, and at this point, we were so exhausted from all the hiking and driving. Our final adventure included driving up to Alice Springs (on Easter Sunday) where we were able to get a little nap in before going to the bars as a group for one final night out. The next morning, I boarded the plane back to Armidale to get back to studying and finishing assignments.
Something unique about Australia is the amount of emus (ostrich-like birds) that roam around. In fact, years ago, the birds were so heavily populated that Australia actually had a war against them, but lost, so they still continue to roam. This one didn’t look too happy to see me. During the adventure, the long bus rides were not too dreadful, because often times, we were able to see some pretty cool wildlife. What I loved about the Northern Territory is how many unique lizards there are crawling around (blame Magnetic Island for stirring up my reptile-island). Also, we saw wild horses and wild camels roaming around, which was so cool because it’s definitely not something you see everyday in New South Wales, where I go to school. Overall, I am so thankful I took the opportunity to visit the outback because it reiterates the point that the different parts of Australia
are so unique and the whole country isn’t just like Sydney.
Speaking of Sydney, I’m currently at the Sydney airport, getting ready to head back to Armidale after yet, another extended weekend adventure. I promise to be back on the blog later this week to outline the rest of my other weekend adventures.