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Last year my family and I went on holiday to Australia. Instead of touring the country in style, we decided to take every day as it comes and that’s exactly what we did.
After arriving in Darwin, we spent the next couple of weeks burning up the miles travelling down to Adelaide. Darwin is not the most exciting of places, but the Hippy Club’s offer of free food went down a treat. There is also fish feeding at high tide, where metre long fish, feed bread from your hand, which is pretty strange.
In what was to become the first of many ridiculously early pre-dawn starts, we embarked on a day trip to Litchfield National Park, where we saw a seven metre high termite mound, (Fact: There are so many termites, their combined weight would be twice that of all the people!) and swam in crystal clear watering holes below sparkling waterfalls. We passed our first ‘sign’ of Aussie humour on our way back; a fire warning stating: “we like our lizards frilled not grilled!” We stopped off at the Mindel Beach Sunset Market back in Darwin, which really lived up to its name with a really spectacular sunset over the sea.
After which we wandered round all the local craft and international food stalls and ended up at the Road Kill Cafï¿½, where we tried crocodile, wallaby, kangaroo and emus kebabs! But they pretty much tasted like either chicken or beef.
Our next stop was Kakadu National Park and yet another stupidly early start at 5am.
We were heading off for 3 days and apparently six to eight km of walking a day, which didn’t actually happen. Neither did one of the supposed highlights – Jim Jim Falls; it was rather a case of Jim Jim flopped! But we did see some huge man eating crocodiles on a boat trip down river. That evening at an Aboriginal Corroboree (campfire with songs and dancing) we got dragged up (kicking and screaming) to get daubed in war paint, to dance around the campfire like idiots, now that was as an experience.
At Barrumundi Gorge the next day everyone dared each other to jump off ever-higher cliffs into the pools below and swim through holes in rocks under the water. We then headed out to Crocodile Dundee Country to see some ancient rock art and watch the sunset over the plains. To get to the famous Twin Falls, early the next morning, we needed to swim for 500 meters through freezing crocodiles infested waters and unfortunately my father suffered mild hypothermia!
Remember Charlie from Crocodile Dundee? – The buffalo is blocking the road and Dundee gets out the jeep and gets him to lie down, well on the start of our trip from Darwin down to Adelaide we called in at a pub to meet our tour group. We headed on to Katherine’s gorge where we all shared canoes for the afternoon – although I sat in the back and did nothing almost all of the way there! We had to drag the canoe over some pretty strong rapids which consisted of my brother gripping the canoe rope between his teeth and hanging on for dear life as he got sucked under and claims to have suffered a broken ankle and fractured wrist! To be fair it was pretty harsh conditions, and I got swept downstream myself.
Despite the freezing morning temperatures, we braved a dipping in the not so hot thermal pools, before heading out to Daley Waters with a population of twenty, which holds the dubious distinction of having the world’s most remote traffic light, and Oz’s first international airport, which the maniac bus driver tried to take off from to the tune of Star Wars! In Oz all it takes to be classified as a town is a pub and a post office, and believe it when I say, Daley Waters wasn’t anything more than that, although we did bump into some people that we knew.
We spent our first night out round the campfire in swags rather than tents, which are effectively bedrolls, which your sleeping bag fits inside. They’re surprisingly comfy but extremely cold in the morning when the temperature drops to minus four, which didn’t make for such a great start, and it got worse as we had a mine tour at seven fifteen in the morning! It was a truly horrendous experience and to add insult to injury the mine guide assured us that the cemetery was worth a visit, for the gruesome descriptions of people’s untimely deaths down the mines. My brother and sister proceeded to pester our guides and insisted that we divert via the cemetery, which they finally agreed to do but there wasn’t a grim tale in site. It was then on to the Devil’s Marbles for the obligatory photo opportunity, before continuing on our journey to Adelaide past the Tropic of Capricorn.
We had a tour group dinner that evening before going to bed as we had to be up at four thirty for our Ayers rock trip. We arrived at the Rainbow Valley at about seven in the morning, the absolute centre of oz and everyone introduced themselves, which made it hard to muster much enthusiasm, but to set the scene there were five Irish girls (a beautician and 4 nurses), an English couple, a guy from Birmingham, and last but not least our guide Bob, and his camera.
We then had a long drive to Yulara, the Ayers Rock resort, and the translation meaning very expensive! We all had the choice of whether to climb or not and I decided not to for ethical reasons as the Aboriginals don’t like it.
The Rock changes colour at different times of the day, and sunset is no exception. The sunset itself was nothing special, but the light on the Rock was definitely worth it (sunrise even more so). We stood watching the sun go down, while we polished off a bottle of Champers and several boxes of crackers! We then headed off to the campsite to sort out our swags and get dinner going on the barbeque before going to bed. Sunrise at Ayers Rock and breakfast cooked on the side of the road, won us an extra half hour in bed! We were back on the bus at a relatively early hour for a trip to the visitors centre before visiting the Olga’s.
Following a three-hour walk we stopped for lunch and then embarked on the long drive to Kings Canyon where we were to spend the night. On the way Bob tried to take a short cut through the outback, and ended up getting us slightly lost – he was doing his best to push the forward capabilities to their limits! Finally we pulled off the road and found a clearing to make our camp for the night. In the distance Dingo’s could be heard and Camel’s defecation was scattered over the site. My sister and me collected wood, while the others made dinner, and a relatively quiet night was had by the fire.
I hate pre dawn mornings, and the next day I literally had to be kicked from my swag, and it was so cold. We had a short ride to King’s canyon, which was pretty spectacular to walk around. We even all managed to cope with Heart Attack Hill without incident. After twenty-four hours recuperation in Alice Springs, we headed down to Adelaide on the overnight train and checked into a nice hotel in the centre of town, before flying home the next day. Our adventure in Oz was over and a great adventure it was.
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