Kings Canyon

Our last day in the outback definitely felt the longest! We woke up at 4 am, and got to Kings Canyon at 6 am. The plan was to hike the canyon, which is about 6 km/3.5 hours.  Because of the heat, the track closes at 10, so we had to get an early start.

When we started I didn’t know if I’d make it, because the hardest part is conveniently at the beginning, but once you make it past the accurately named ‘steep climb’ it gets much easier.  We started before sun rise, meaning we had a wonderful view of the sun rise from the canyon itself around 7.

The next quarter of the hike continued along the canyon.

The half way point is the Garden of Eden.

The last half was all downhill so when a lot quicker! It stayed along the canyon for a little, and then moved inwards and offered new terrain and new views.

By the time we finished I felt like a full day had passed, since we started so early!  We slowly started making our way back to Alice Springs, but we had one last stop – a camel ride!

Australia has the largest population of wild camels in the world.  It’s the perfect temperature for them, and the outback has plenty of trees for them to rest under. We had a quick camel ride around a short field, but as I’ve never ridden a horse or other animal I decided I had to give this a try.  We walked up one end and ran down the other, and I swear it felt like a roller coaster ride.

We got back to Alice Springs around 5 and I was excited to go see some of the shops, as I hadn’t had time before we left.  However, it’s Sunday so everything closed early. The shopping area did seem lovely though, with the trees all lit up at night.

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I’m off to Adelaide tomorrow, and looking forward for some cooler weather!

The Olgas and the Valley of the Winds

We got up nice and early this morning (4:30!) to beat the crowds and be first in line to watch the sunset.  It was a good idea, as there were 4 rows of people behind me when we left, but it was hard getting up.

And then we went for a 3 hour walk in the Olgas and the Valley of the Winds. It gets so hot in the middle of the day that the path closes at 11, so we had to be done by then.

After camel burgers for lunch, we had another dip in the pool then made our way to our second camp site near Kings Canyon where we got to relax for a little! Then it was kangaroo for dinner and an astronomy lesson.  You can see the stars and milky way so clearly here, it’s the most unbelievable sight of all! And I had an early night’s sleep, as we had to get up at 4 am the next morning.

Ayers Rock

I had been excited to explore Australia’s red center for some time! I purposefully put it towards the end of my time in Australia in hopes for cooler weather.  Usually at this time of the year its 25 degrees, but we got lucky and it was 41.  It’s not humid but when it’s that hot I still can’t handle it.

Our day today focused around Ayers Rock (also known as Uluru), a large rock in the middle of the outback. The land belongs to the Aboriginal people, who have many stories about it.  Our guide told us some, but I actually got heat exhaustion today, so most of the stories went in one ear and out the other.  It was pretty cool to see though, on the flat landscape.

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We went on a 45 minute walk around part of the base (which is where I was first sick, which was lots of fun).

Thankfully our camp had a very cold pool, so that helped cool us off before we prepared dinner.  Our camp had a great lookout over Ayers Rock and the Olgas, so we headed up there for sunset.  The wonderful thing is that we were the only group there – everyone else heads to where we started at Uluru this morning.  We watched the cars drive back once the sun went down, and there were so many! It would have been so crowded, whereas we just had the 22 of us enjoying the space.

And that was day one! I wish I had a picture of our camping gear, but of course we only had it out when it was dark.  Because we didn’t sleep in tents, instead we used swags. Basically it is a sleeping bag for your sleeping bag, with a thin mattress inside. Your head is out in the air.  Thankfully I was so tired from being sick, that I fell asleep no issue, and didn’t worry about the spiders, snakes or scorpions that could come by when I was sleeping and kill me.

Here’s the promotional picture of the swag, to give you an idea.

Swag

 

Darwin to Alice Springs

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My next two days were spent travelling 1500 kms through the outback, to get to the second largest city in the Northern Territory, Alice Springs.  We did have some stops along the way, but there was also a lot of time spent sitting (sleeping) in the bus.

Our first stop was at Katherine Gorge National Park, where we got to go swimming in a dam.

Next up was Mataranka Thermal Pool.  Usually this is the swimming spot for day one, however the river behind the pools has flooded and there’s a freshwater croc who lives in the river.  The freshwater crocs will leave you alone unless provoked, however, it’s very large and often gets mistaken for a saltwater one, so the pools are always closed when the river floods.  It’s too bad, because it looked beautiful!

We stopped in Daly Waters for the night, an averaged size small town in the Outback with a total population of 8. We were up quite early the next day, in order to get a view of the sunrise.

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Here’s a road sign you won’t find in Canada!

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After the sunrise, we stopped at Mary Anne Dam, the largest swimming area where you don’t have to watch out for crocs!

And the main attraction, for the whole 1500 kms, was the Devils Marbles.

Wycliffe Well is where the most UFO sightings have happened in Australia, and the road house there really runs with the theme.

Our final stop before arriving in Alice Springs was to check out the Tropic of Capricorn, one of the major latitude lines.

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It was so nice to get out of the car, but it was 41 degrees in Alice Springs, so I still didn’t want to be outside.