So this trip happened weeks ago but I’ve had a manic time since then, so now I can finally document my trip!
Tash, Ben and myself packed up and set into the centre of Adelaide to get picked up by our tour. It was 6am, rainy and so cold; we were more than ready to get to the Northern Territory!
Our groovy grape tour arrived and we were the final people to join. We were introduced to our driver, a lovely Aussie guy named Con. We found this out straight away as Tash immediately asked his name, since she heard great reviews about him. We then hopped on the bus, to which I quickly scoured for hot 25 year old guys but unfortunately there were none. No romance for me, again..
The bus drove off and we headed on a long ass drive.
Our first stop was after a seven hour drive. We arrived at a place called Alligator Gorge, where were to do a hike. This was the thing that I was dreading as I’m not a hiker and thought everyone was super fit. So to battle my fear, I walked ahead and beasted the hike – talking to no one. This way, I got to go through the tough bits and not show anyone how red and out of breath I was. My plan worked and everyone thought I was a pro!
We then headed back to camp to cook dinner. The group were amazing, we all mucked in and helped Con cook a chicken stir fry. After dinner the group got a chance to bond, there were; four Germans, one Korean, two Swiss, one American and one English.
The boys and girls got separated so Tash and I bonded with our new roomies. Then it was off to bed as we had to leave by 5am.
The next day arrived and we set off for another seven hour journey! It was all good though because the group grew accustomed to napping and snacking! Especially on Tim Tams, which the English girl, Audrey, loved so much – Tash decided to rename her after the chocolate biscuits! We finally arrived at one of the main destinations; the opal capital of the world – Coober Pedy.
And it was time for our tour of the caves! We learned all about the community there; how they worked in the mines and even lived inside them to this day! We then got to see how opals were cut and were in awe at the jewellery. Tash even got a wee treat from Ben and I most definitely wasn’t jealous…
After the cave tour, we watched the sunset (one of many) on top of a cave:
We ended the night with pizza and went to bed early, as it was another early start the next day!
The next morning, we said goodbye to the most random and quaint town ever and got back on the road.
Around an hour into the drive, Con pulled over to show us the world famous dingo fence as well as a gorgeous sunrise:
It was breathtaking! And set us up for our drive to the NT!
After numourous packets of Tim tams, we arrived into the Northern Territory! It was so nice to feel the heat again!
Con told a few jokes and I shared some horror stories (to Mary’s dismay – the American). Then it was time to get cosy in our swags – basically padded sleeping bags. Oh boy! They were not comfy, and it still got freezing at night so I did not sleep well.
After that bad nights sleep, I woke up to hear we were going on another hike. I should have read the itinerary, I know! So we headed very early over to hike Kings Canyon. The first section was horrendous, it was straight up so we literally climbed up. However, once we got up there and caught our breath, it was gorgeous! Con taught us about all the indigenous traditions, whilst we took in the sights. My favourite moment was when Con got us to all hold hands, stand in a straight line and shout ‘coo eee’ – the echo created was unreal!
Here’s some pictures from the amazing hike:
After that amazing hike, we headed over to the star of the show: Uluru!! The weather wasn’t the best but it was still breath taking. It was so big!!! We did a walking tour around the rock, as it is extremely disrespectful to go up it – even though some pricks still decided to, and learned about all the stories the rock told. It was such a peaceful place and full of tradition.
After the walk, we went to see the sunset over Uluru. The weather wasn’t the best but we still enjoyed the view:
We were all pooped after the long day, so got into our swags and went to bed:
We were up bright and early again, so we could see a sunrise over Uluru this time. There were a ton of tourists but it was still gorgeous:
Then it was time for our final hike! Oh my goodness, I’ll tell you I’ve been converted. We went to Khata Tjuta and it was AMAZING! The scenery, the energy and the people were perfect. We even got a wee dance roll call going!
The weather was spectacular! Next up on the agenda was returning to Uluru, but to visit the cultural centre this time. We learned how the indigenous tribes fought to get Uluru back in the 80s and why this rock was so significant to them. I felt ashamed to be white. After that lesson we went for more pictures by Uluru as the weather was on our side:
After getting those Facebook profile pic worthy shots, we headed back to camp for our last night as a group. What did we do to commemorate our trip? Saw a sunset of course!! It was truly magical, being in that place with that group of people.
We even went back up to that same place that night to star gaze! It was a beautiful ending.
The final morning arrived and we savored our last moments in the swags:
And headed onto the long road to Alice Springs, not before saying goodbye to our beloved Tim Tam:
The group got back to their napping and snacking schedule, when suddenly the bus swerved and stopped. We all woke up thinking we had hit a kangaroo, but it turned out that a tire had burst because the ground was so hot! Only in the NT, I’ll tell ya!
So Con and Ben got their manly hats on and changed the tire; meanwhile I was reminding the group that this is how all horror movies start out – a group of young people stranded in the middle of nowhere….
None of us got murdered thankfully and we were back on the road in no time! Con even took a little detour to a camel farm to make up for lost time.
And of course we had to go for a ride!
After that fun trip, we got on the road for one last time and finally made it to Alice Springs!
It was bittersweet; we had finally arrived in the center of Australia, but our amazing trip was over.
Con, the legend that he was, organised a farewell dinner in a local pub so we could say our goodbyes properly. It was so nice and felt like nothing was rushed. The steak was beautiful too.
The majority of our group were joining another tour up to Darwin, while the others were flying somewhere else the next day so we made a point to see one last sunset together.
And then it was us three again; we had a couple days to explore Alice Springs before it was time to part once more.
First thing I’ll say about the place, it was weird! It was not what we expected at all; it was very modern and westernized. There were three groups of inhabitants: indigenous, tourists and hippies. It was a very strange place.
Nevetheless, we had fun! The first thing we did was scour the place for authentic indigenous art; as Tash and I really wanted a memento from our journey – but we didn’t want any galleries making profit. We looked and looked for some, but they were either too expensive or not from the painter themselves. We started losing hope, when we saw some painting on a patch of grass; we wandered over to further inspect and a lovely lady came over to tell us about her art. She was called Nula and her country was Laramba, she said she painted to look after her family and the piece of art I fell in love with was the story of collecting bush medicine. She even offered to have a photo with Tash and I, and we felt honoured.
The whole time I felt so guilty that my people had come and taken over her land, and that the indigenous succumbed to alcohol and drugs because they weren’t prepared for a westernized lifestyle. However, I thought if I can educate myself to be respectful and teach others on this, then it won’t have been for nothing.
Our final day in Alice was spent with many types of wildlife! The morning was spent with all the reptiles Australia had to offer, we even got to hold some:
And the evening was at a kangaroo sanctuary, that was actually made famous by a BBC Documentary – where it focused on a single man dedicating his life to looking after rescused kangas.
It was a gorgeous setting; we were out in the bush, seeing animals in their natural habitat, the sun was setting and we even got to cuddle a joey.
I left that experience with a massive smile on my face and in my heart. The passion of travelling had erupted in me again.
The final night came and we just chilled in our random AF hostel. Literally, there were 80 year olds LIVING there, walking around with their nighties on.
The next day had come, it was time to say goodbye to Tash and Ben again (after paying back a hefty bill I racked up, whoops!). They were off to Perth and I was off to Melbourne.
Tash and I had a teary goodbye, but I reminded her that they’d have to put up with me once again in Vietnam (hopefully).
It was a magical and humbling trip. I’ll never forget my Groovy Grape tour!