Forgive the mistakes through out this post, writing from my phone as it’s been a pain to drag out a lap top and then not able to connect to the Internet and hell, for the most part I haven’t had internet or cell service. I don’t hate that and only miss it when I want to post a photo or say something amazing about where I am or what I see…
Here’s the Northern Territory
Wednesday, 12/09: while searching for jobs to apply for on Gumtree, I looked through the travel portion and saw that a backpacker needed a lift to Melbourne. Since I was going that way, I picked up Tanguy from France and he joined me and I joined him on travel adventures. We pretty much wanted to hit the same places and we are both adventurous so we knew this trip would work. We leave Darwin and land in Litchfield National Park and check out the Termite Mounds (Australia is really proud of these puppies. They’re cool and also all over the place but the two in the park are over 50 years old.) Afterwards, we go to Florence Falls. 1001 steps later we are there and it’s gorgeous. We then trek to Manturanka (spelling butchered to shit here) and go the thermal pool and it is amazing. As we’re floating in the pools the red flying fox (bats) take off for the evening. It’s loud yet amazing to watch. Nature in flight as I stare from below and marvel at the creatures that often scare others. We leave this oasis and decide to drive to our destination for the night but 2 things happen along the way: destination doesn’t exist so we drive on and are pushing the big E in empty on gas. Poor planning on our parts…so we actually park the car in the trucker lot across from the gas station and sleep in the car. The car is a sauna even with windows open. My sweat is sweating. I look at the bright side and think I could possible drop 5lbs in sweat. Words of advice avoid Elliot. I would get scolded by a nice caring Aussie in Alice Springs about staying there on Thursday.
Thursday, 12/10: Tanguy and I stalk the gas station that opens at 7, fuel up and head towards Karlu Karlu (The Devils Marbles). If it’s a climbable we climb it and while there a tour guide said we must stop in Waycliffe Creek for the alien stuff (Ancient Alien fan here is in) and Barrows Creek pub and to ask for Michael. So we do just that. Waycliffe isn’t Area 51 but it is Aussie’s love of all things alien. At the pub we fill the tank and I talk to Michael who is a walking encyclopedia (or wiki for those who have no clue what an encyclopedia is) of knowledge and since I’m from the US he doles out US history to me. We then stop at Alieron and visit a giant aboriginal statue you can see from the road and grab a photo at the Tropic of Cancer before landing in Alice Springs. At the campground there is a giant waterslide and after the previous night of mishaps it’s great to be a kid and laugh and play in water.
Friday, 12/11: We are up and at’em early and at Macdonnell Range to tackle every hiking track we can. We do the Ormiston Gorge and choose the Pound Circuit. The name fits the circuit perfectly. The sun is pounding down on you from all angles. There is no shade or reprieve from the heat. The water that once cut the gorge is long gone and what is left is a bone dry bed and a mountain side. It is an absolute gorgeous walk. Worth the early wake up call and the roasting sun. At the end of our hike, we are rewarded with a swim in the waterhole. We could have taken the short 500 meter walk but we did the 7km walk to it. We visit the Ochre Pits and Ellery Creek Waterhole. It’s a quiet place and beautiful. I could have set up a tent and never left. But we do leave and head to Standley Chasm and knowing you’re walking somewhere sacred to others makes a place special (at least to me). There’s an air about the place that is magical (again at least to me). So far in the NT, Alice Springs has been my favorite.
Saturday, 12/12: we are up and at’em early, the early hours are no longer a shock to my body and I kind of like waking before the other campers. Normally the camp kitchen is buzzing but in the wee AM hours it’s usually ours alone. We head to Trephina Gorge and hike it. The said waterhole is long gone but doesn’t distract from the beauty that once was and now is. Afterwards we head to Corroboree Rock. It’s a sacred site to Aboriginals and there’s a rock on one side that looks like a face to me and I suspect it’s an ancient looking over the souls of the land…watching and protecting. We stop at Jesse Gap and realize we don’t have time to hike it and head towards to Rainbow Valley. Our research has said this is the place to hike, walk, explore, and camp. Maybe our research was talking about another time and place because it is none of the above or maybe in the summer it’s just meh. Even Kathy at our campground said it was beautiful and a must do. We enjoy our lunch there as we are the only people there (which is a recurring theme everywhere we go…apparently no one visits parts of the NT in an Aussie summer…too hot for some perhaps). We drive on toward Kings Canyon for the night. It’s only 5 hours, the drive won’t kill us if we tag team it.
Sunday, 12/13: we were told to skip Kings Canyon because it was meh. Leave it to an Aussie to almost spoil it for us and an Italian to save it. We get up and hike Kings Canyon rim and it is gorgeous. We get there before the sunrises and my body has no desire to climb up a mountain side to get to the top but per usual it’s worth the knee pain and being out of breath. We watch the sunrise over the canyon and it’s just us and the universe. I can wax poetic on the peace, the quiet, the beauty, and such but until you’re sitting on the rim of a canyon staring out over it and the sun I don’t think you’ll understand the sigh of a soul in peace. We take the bazillion stairs down to “Garden of Eden” hidden in the chasm of the canyon and sit and reflect in the silent beauty of the Aboriginals sacred place. Then our silence is ruined by a tour group so we climb the bazillion stairs up and resume our hike. Along the way, we pick up a Swiss girl who’s gotten lost on her hike. With Kings Canyon complete, we head to Uluru. We were gonna stay in Curtains Springs for free but the creepy factory there tells me to get the hell out of dodge and since I was creeped the fuck out by the place, I force us to stay at Ayers Rock Resort/Campground. Not scary! Yay! We set up our tent, eat lunch and meet Twang, an outback tour guide. He tells us to avoid Adelaide and skip all of South Australia if possible with a shit eating grin on his face. He does give us a few places to go. His trek and tour is going the way we just left. We leave him and after a swim in the pool which feels amaze-balls after hiking in the AM we head to Uluru to watch the sunset and drive around Uluru.
Monday, 12/14: today’s adventure includes hiking and more hiking. We do the entire “Valley of the Winds” circuit which is only truly windy at a few points but is an amazing and beautiful walk. We also walk to Waljapa Gorge and visit the Culture Center and the waterhole at Uluru. After the day of hiking, we spend our afternoon poolside trying to shake to heat of the day away. We also eat kangaroo burgers for the first time. Better than expected. I wrote on Facebook that most things Ulura and Kata Tjuta are just giant rocks in the desert but to know their sacredness to the people of the land, an energy is in the air. I can feel it on my skin and in my lungs (and it’s not the sun roasting my skin or my lungs out of air). It’s magical there and I understand why it’s special to them. For Tanguy, he studied Uluru in grade school and knew he had to go see it in person. For me, it is synonymous with who Australia is and I had to come and pay my respect to the Universe for creating something so amazing.