This 10 day tour through the Australian Outback took us to places nothing like we’d ever experienced before. We wanted to explore a part of the country that was a bit different to the classic sun, sand and surfing you see in Home and Away and this was the perfect way to do it. By the end Shalini was saying that she was ‘one with nature’ and had ‘found herself’ so it was obviously worth it – even it she did turn a bit hippie!
Here are the highlights…!!
Alice Springs was a welcome return to warm weather having not enjoyed 30 degree heat since Fiji. Our highlights within the town were:
- Anzac hill – the most visited landmark in Alice which, as well as being a memorial to Anzac efforts in war, offers amazing views of the town.
- The Todd River which Google Maps suggested offered a lovely riverside walk. Turns out the river is bone dry for most of the year so we actually found ourselves walking alongside red sand!
- The botanical gardens which couldn’t grow any flowers (awks)
- It was the first time we were being exposed to large Aboriginal communities, their culture and heartbreaking history. It was an eye opener.
The highlight of our visit to Alice however was a hike up Mount Gillen – part of the spectacular MacDonnell ranges which are believed to represent the decapitated body of an unruly caterpillar according to aboriginal legend. The stunning views were well worth the arduous climb!
Sleeping Under the Stars:
After collecting our own fire wood from the side of the road, we headed to our campsite. We aren’t talking tents or camper-vans here…. it’s just you tucked up in a sleeping bag/swag under the stars. Kind of like I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here, but without the phone-booth or Kiosk Keith.
We kicked of the evening with a bit of stargazing, to check out the Moon, Jupiter and Saturn through a telescope. We attempted to learn about navigating with the use of stars but it wasn’t that successful to be honest. Let’s just hope we are never in a position where our phone Sat Nav has died…
Dinner involved cooking some Kangaroo over the “Barbie” and signing/dancing to some Aussie music (look up the G’Day song by Slim Peters – it was our fav!). Pretty stereotypical we know, but so much fun!
With the fire burning out, it was finally time to fall asleep under the stars of the Milky Way galaxy and beyond. One of the best experiences of our lives.
As we drive up to Uluru, we see a pretty large rock in the distance and begin to get excited. The side road is full of tourists taking pictures, so we decide to join them. Turns out it’s a false alarm – there is another large rock en route to Uluru called Fooluru (or officially, Mount Conner) and so we continue on our merry way!
Eventually we reach Uluru – this iconic and cultural rock is known as the Solar Plexus of the world. Uluru is sacred to the Aboriginal people and is famous for changing colour at different times of the day, glowing an amazing shade of red during sunrise/ sunset. It’s an easy and picturesque walk around the rock, as you keep seeing it in a different light – sometimes it looks like sand dunes, sometimes like a small hut, sometimes like where children back in the day would play and draw.
Just opposite Uluru, Kata Tjuta (meaning ‘many heads’) is a stunning mountain range! As well as offering amazing views, Kata Tjuta is also the centre for a number of Aboriginal legends.
Coober Pedy is the home of the luxurious Opal stone, which is found by mining deep under the ground. Almost the entire village including homes, bars, hotels, cafes and shops are built underground – inside the mountains, hills and rocks. This is largely to escape the heat but there have been stories of finding Opal whilst extending your underground house! Pretty cool experience to sleep in one for a night!
While you’re there, you can visit the mines to see how Opal is made (and buy some if you fancy!)
The unexpected highlight of the visit was the Kangaroo Rescue Centre – seeing a 4 month year old Joey was the best and cutest experience ever!!
Amidst all the red sand, we stumbled across an intriguing piece of white land. Bring out the tequila guys, because it turned out to be one of Australia’s many Salt Lakes. It was used by the government to test atomic bombs up until the 1970s, so we didn’t venture too far out!
We stayed overnight in a nice little town called Quorn before venturing out to the mountains for a hike up the Devils Peak to catch the sunset. The views were spectacular and well worth the early rise!
Known for their vineyards, wine tasting here is a must!! As we knew we were going to be partying that evening, we used this as an opportunity to pre-drink (a bit less classy than some of the other groups there) and tried pretty much every drink on the menu (including the $100 bottle!).
We used this cute little city for some rest and relaxation. After the wine tasting and night out, we ended up going to Nandos (which by the way has an appalling sauce selection compared to the UK but the chicken is fantastic!), having a massage, watching Johnny English in the cinema and having a nice Indian curry. #BestDayEver!
This felt magical – love love loved this!!! The pink colour of the lake comes from algae and pink bacteria and was a sight to behold!
Grampians National Park:
The Grampians is one of the most beautiful places we have been to on this trip and produced one of Shalini’s best Instagram photos!
Great Ocean Road:
One of the most popular tourist attractions in Australia, the Great Ocean Road is an amazing part of the world and a must visit if you’re in this neck of the woods. The road runs for over 200 km and contains some of the most wonderful attractions in Australia including the 12 Apostles, the Maits Rest rainforest and the Grotto.
The road is also home to Victoria’s diary country and as such contains fields and fields of cows!
We ended the tour in Melbourne to get our fix of coffee, and great food after 10 days in the wilderness. Check out our 48 Hours in Melbourne Foodie Guide here!
P.s thanks to our awesome Tour Guide Cara and the rest of our tour group for being absolute legends!!!!!