It is a little unusual for an Australian to go on a tour of Australia. So much so the tour guide suspected I may have been there to secretly review him! Due to its remote nature, Central Australia is a little harder to visit on your own as you need a lot of equipment and to know what you are doing. That in mind, I jumped on the tour bus and took to the road. Our first stop was. Around 5 hours north of Adelaide, it was my first taste of rural Australia and whet my appetite for the Outback that lay ahead.
Being a camping trip, we settled into the the Wilpena Pound Resort where we had a campsite for our group. It was then that everyone realised what camping in the outback really entails! Sleeping in swags (small rollaway beds) on an empty patch of land, with a small shelter for cooking and respite from the sun. This was certainly no glamping holiday, but we would certainly see the 'real' Australia.
The Flinders Ranges
When exploring in Australia, it doesn’t really take all that long to find yourself in the middle of nowhere. Far from being boring or empty, the Australian middle of nowhere is spectacular, untouched and worth exploring.
We woke early to begin our exploration of the Flinders Ranges National Park. Like many places in Australia it is named after an explorer. In this case it is named after, Captain Matthew Flinders RN who was an English navigator and cartographer. He was the leader of the first circumnavigation of Australia and identified it as a continent.
If you want to truly appreciate how big Lake Eyre is, you’ll need to do it by air. Lake Eyre occasionally has water in it, but is usually a salt plain. If you’re viewing it by airplane, hold on to your stomach, the ride is rather bumpy!
Lake Eyre, is officially known as KatiThanda Lake-Eyre and is the lowest lying point in Australia. On the rare occasion that it is full, it is the biggest lake in Australia covering over 9,500 square kilometres!
Coober Pedy is an iconic Australia opal mining town. Many of its inhabitants live under the ground in houses called dugouts. The temperature in these dugouts is constant all year round and protects them from the scorching summer heat. They are also known for their unique style of mining using the trucks pictured in this photo to sift and sort the soil as they search for precious opals. Some people building their dugouts have come across huge caches of opals worth enough to cover the cost of their house or more. Its a little bit like Australia meets the wild west.
A trip to the red centre would be incomplete without visiting Uluru. Previously known as Ayres Rock, Uluru is the largest monolithic rock of its kind in the world. Due to traditional Aboriginal beliefs, Uluru is controversial to climb, although you can still do it. I chose not to and instead enjoyed a walk around the base. If you do visit, make sure you come at dawn and then again at dusk. The colour of the rock changes in the sunlight and is certainly most magnificent.
A nearby neighbour to Uluru is Kata Tjuta, previously known as The Olgas. They are within eyes sight of Uluru, but are far less publicised. They are a collection of large domed rock formations and are an incredible place to hike and view native animals. They also have a rich history in the Aboriginal dreamtime and are still a significant site.
If you were impressed with Uluru, wait until you see King’s Canyon. Situated between Uluru and Alice Springs, the canyon can be hiked or viewed by helicopter. If you have time, I would recommend doing both as you cannot appreciate the size of the canyon until you are overhead, yet when you are hiking you will be spoiled with stunning fauna, breathtaking cliffs and if you look closely you may even see fossilised remains of the inland sea that once covered this area.
After a short stay in Alice, we were off and onto The Ghan to Darwin. Known as one of Australia's premier rail journeys, it certainly was an experience, and a much quicker way to get to Darwin than by bus!
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