What five months of solo travel has taught me.

Every once in a while I start counting in my head exactly how many months and days I’ve been away now, and the other day realized that it’s almost been five months. Five months of discovery, adventures, happiness, sadness and everything in between. So what have I learned from traveling by myself so far?

Everyone thinks you’re going to die all the time, and really loves to remind you of it.
The most common thing is that everyone keeps reminding me that what I’m doing is dangerous, and that I might die. I then tell them that living is dangerous, and that I most certainly will die. Newsflash: we all do. The only thing we can really do anything about, is how we spend our lives between birth and death, and I’m not planning to spend them being scared. I will do what I want to do, and take the precautions necessary to not put myself in unnecessary danger but I’m not going to stop living my life just because someone says I might die because of it. Every single thing you do in life might kill you, and one day it will. I plan to live full out until that day, because dying at 30 while having the best time of my life sounds a lot better than living to 90 and thinking “I wish I had gone on that trip when I was 29.” I still plan to live until I’m very old of course, but I don’t think life is precious enough never to take risks. The risks are what makes life worth living.

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I feel absolutely invincible.

My confidence levels have skyrocketed since I began this journey. I feel like I can do absolutely anything and do it really well too. I think having to only have yourself to completely rely on for five months is either going to make you or break you, and I am far from broken. I have dealed with anything from sadness and being unable to eat, to being hit by a car and having to go in an ambulance to the hospital, to hiking in grizzly bear infested areas to driving for thousands and thousands of kilometers on my own. After having done all this, and especially with everyone thinking that I’m going to die no matter what I do, really gives you a huge confident boost. Luckily for me I’ve gotten really comfortable in every aspect of my life as well, from personal to professional to even body confidence. Last year I refused to wear a bikini, and earlier this summer I had anxiety about posting pictures from myself surfing and right now I’m at the point where I see myself in my underwear in the mirror and think “Hell yeah I look good!” And I promise you, my body looks exactly the same as it did a year ago. Maybe a bit more tanned… it has clearly proved to me that it’s all in the head. I feel confident in my body, in my English speaking abilities, in my social skills and just how I view myself daily. For the first time in my life I’m completely comfortable in myself and I want to shout it to the entire world! (which I kind of did the other day on Facebook but that’s a whole other story.)
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There might come a time when exploring feels downright boring.
I do realize that this might come across as spoilt and annoying to someone who might be a bit envious of my life right now, but sometimes being on what might seem as an endless holiday can be boring. Or maybe boring is not the right word, but after a while a beach is just another beach, a city just another city and a rock might just look like the very same rock you saw a few hours ago… Don’t get me wrong, it’s still so great, but it’s just maybe not as great as it was in the beginning. And I’m not comparing USA and Australia but had I arrived in Australia without just having spent three months in the United States I’m pretty sure I would have been a lot more wowed by the sights. If you do something for a certain amount of time, it will feel like everyday life, no matter how absolutely great it is. Being constantly on the move, and seeing brand new things every day makes me wish for boring days. Days where I do nothing, where I see no one and barely move. But remember, I still cried when I saw the sunrise over Uluru so I’m not completely traveled-out yet. But I’m still looking forward to returning back to Sweden in January and starting a new life closer to my family. They are the ones I constantly have in my mind every single day, and I’m so glad that I decided to resettle in my home town. I don’t even care if I won’t be able to get a work in the media industry, which is what I did up until I quit my job, because family is more important than a job. I’ll do whatever I can, as long as it will make me able to still travel and explore while being close to the people who matter the most to me.


My beautiful family the day before I got on the plane. I love this photo! Can’t wait to take another group shot in January again (mostly because I’ll be tanned and they won’t…) 

My faith in humanity has been somewhat restored.
I feel conflicted about this because there is so much bad happening in the world right now, and especially in Sweden. To be honest it scares the crap out of me. But continuing on the “everyone thinks I’m going to die” line, so many people have warned me about all the bad people I will meet, both in the US and in Australia. After exactly 5 months on the road I feel like every single person I have met have welcomed me into their lives with open arms. For 5 months every single person I have met have showed interest in me, and I have spoken to people who have been openly racist, homophobic, have had pretty extreme religious views (in my opinion) but despite us having wildly different opinions, we have all managed to overcome that and have great conversations and meetings. I wish the world was a bit more like that, just accepting. I know that I’m at an advantage, being a blonde Swedish young woman, and I know that most people will want to take care of me rather than harm me, so I’m not claiming that everyone who travels will have my experience. There is still a lot of messed up things going on in the world, but so far I’ve had nothing but kindness. The one thing I have found the most interesting have been when I tell people about our “socialist ways” in Sweden, the free education, the health care and the parental leave and other things like that, and everyone thinks it sounds great. And then when their own president tries to move their own country in that direction they HATE him. Most Swedes LOVE Obama, me included, so I find it so weird… anyway, enough politics.
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There’s a lot of pressure when it comes to travel.
I’m usually a person who is great at relaxing, seriously if there was a world championships I would most definitely qualify. But when you’re traveling to new places almost every single day, there is so much pressure on what I should do and what I should see. No matter what I tell people about what I’ve done or what I’ve seen, there is always the “oh, didn’t you do that?”  or “didn’t you go there?” comment and it’s so stressful. Despite doing more in a few months than I’ve almost done in my entire life, I constantly feel like I’m missing out. It’s stressing me out and I’m actively working on feeling like I don’t have to actually do every single thing there is, but it’s hard. Once again, I feel so spoilt for just having these feelings, but it is what it is.
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So what about that left hand of yours?
It hurts. Every single day it hurts. Sometimes more, sometimes less. After having done like 30 cartwheels for that picture at the top, I walked away with it absolutely aching. I didn’t notice it while I was doing it but afterwards it ached. My hand is fully functional, I can do anything I want, and I mostly notice afterwards if I’ve done something stupid. But there’s a constant throbbing in it, especially when I’m driving. I still can’t hold onto a steering wheel for a long period of time because of that, so no matter how much I’d want to, I really wouldn’t be able to cycle still despite it being four months since the accident. It’s so insane. But I was lucky. I know of five of us who set out of Sweden this year to cycle the world, and one person is still on the road. One is dead, one has a lot of injuries from the car hitting him, one has a broken foot, I have an aching hand. Life is wildly unfair, but you still need to take risks. Even if I googled “3D printed hand” the other day to see what my options would be if I chopped it off, it was all worth it. I believe that every single thing that has happened to me so far has happened for a reason, and it has all been worth it.
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On my bucket list for the future of the lone traveller: 
Hike to the Everest base camp (I wonder how many people will tell me that I might die doing this…)
Road trip or cycle around Iceland
Hike to Machu Picchu
Hike a fourteener in Colorado
Visit all the rest of the National Parks in the United States
Spend at least a month in Alaska

So many good things to come for me, I promise you that.

Goodbye Uluru, and goodbye flies.

If I was sleepy as I stood at the bus stop at 4 in the morning clutching my pillow? Nooo, what makes you think that? I did get picked up first though (the perks of being at the lowest ranked establishment at the resort, you get to wait for all the others to get picked up too and have to get up half an hour earlier…) so I could pick the front seat. As you know I have a tendency to get sick on moving objects so better safe than sorry. I fell asleep right away on the bus though, and woke at 5:30 when the driver slammed the breaks and called out “kangaroos on the road!” It was so dark and before I got my glasses on I could only see them jumping away but it was still very cool. Everyone fell back asleep until an hour later when he once again slammed the breaks and called out “we’ve hit the jackpot, camels on the road!” This time I managed to get a very bad photo.    
Camels are not native to Australia, they were introduced more than a hundred years ago and now they say there’s more than a million wild ones running around. 

But at that point the sun was coming up and we were almost at the breakfast place. Okay I do realize now that the camel was after the sunrise but now I’m too lazy to change place of the photos.      

We had breakfast at a roadhouse at 7, and then at 8:15 we were finally at Kings Canyon. There were two different hikes to choose from, one smaller in the creek and one longer along the rim of the canyon. If you wanted to go on the rim walk you needed to have good shoes, have a hat, carry at least 3 liters of water and sign a waiver that the tour company weren’t responsible if you would fall to your death. More on that later. Still people came off the bus in flip flops (they’re called thongs here, I still giggle every time) and with no water… They didn’t get to go. Oh, and they told us that when you’re at Kings Canyon you’re closer to the international space station than the nearest city. How wild is that? Mind blowing…

The rest of us, around 25 people and the guide set off towards the trail. First you had to climb up 500 steps to reach the top of the rim. It was tougher than it looks…       

  After 200 steps. And when I say steps it’s a very loose term. More like 200 randomly placed rocks. 

After everyone had made the climb I got stuck at the back of the group which I hated. I’m a fast walker, I hate walking slow so the next time we stopped so that our guide Tom could explain something I made my way to the front. Three other women had the same idea, so we hiked together with the guide at the front for the rest of the day which was great. It was me, another solo female traveller from Spain and a couple from Sydney.    

   
Kings canyon kind of reminded me of Arizona in some ways. We were so lucky to go there on a cloudy day though, and that’s why we had to get there so early. The Rangers want everyone to have finished their hikes by 11 because after that it’s too hot, but with the clouds it helped a lot. It was just above 30 so that’s almost cool for this area. But we hiked on, talked and laughed a lot and also got to see a place called Priscilla’s crack because in the movie Priscilla the queen of the desert they climb through there. It’s also the place of the last scene where they’re standing at the top looking out and saying “I think it’s time to go home.” If you haven’t seen it I’d recommend it, it’s very funny.    

Priscilla’s crack. 

    
    
    
  

Lizard! I like lizards. They’re cute.   

Walking at the front of the group was good but we had to stop and wait for the rest to catch up so often. Many people weren’t very used to hiking or didn’t have good enough shoes to go fast so it was a very diverse group in that sense. But we still enjoyed it at the front, and since we were with Tom the Guide all the time we were told a lot more information than the stragglers in the back. 

After a couple of hours we got to the last outlook. I saw a single yellow rose lying by the edge and it turns out that a year ago a woman fell to her death after her tour guide had encouraged her to do a handstand by the edge. It was another tour company (or so they said) but that’s why they had is sign those waivers. Apparently that company are now in court and might get sentenced for her death. Crazy. 

  
The descent. 

We got back right to the bus right before 12, we’re picked up and got to go to the Kings Canyon resort for lunch. I had a camel burger and it was the best burger I’ve had in a very long time. Tasted like beef but it was so good.  
As soon as we got back on the bus for the 300 km ride back to Yulara I fell asleep again. I slept until I heard Tom whimpering, and our bus driver saying “look very closely now because now I’m going to do something I haven’t done in a long time. I’m going to use my windscreen wipers.”   

There were seriously like 20 drops of rain in total but it very seldom rains out there. 

It was such a fun day and I got back to the resort exhausted but happy. Oh, and that bus driver sang Cecilia to me as well. Seems like a very popular song in the outback. 

The next morning I headed to the Olgas or Kata Tjuta. They’re only 40 km from Uluru but less known, at least I had never heard of them. So beautiful though and just as sacred to the aboriginal people.   

They don’t look very big here but they’re huge!
And then I said my last goodbye to Uluru before i left the area. It was a good stay but so hot and so many flies and I have red sand everywhere.   

I drove for a while and stopped at the Marla roadhouse once I was back on the main Stuart highway. I stayed next to a bicycle tourer! He was from Germany and he was cycling from Darwin to Melbourne. It’s flat mostly, but such boring cycling. And hot. Very very hot. And the flies. Ugh, I wasn’t jealous. 

  
I made some friends at the pool, Heather and Peter from outside of Melbourne. They’re roughly my parents age I would guess. We spent all afternoon and night together, having drinks and dinner with another couple in the bar. It was a long time ago I laughed that much, they were really hilarious. But we did have a serious conversation about the indigenous people in this country as well, as I have really seen just how much they seem to be struggling since I got to the outback. It hurts my heart really, so I got a history lesson and they also told me about the situation nowadays. It was interesting.   

Entering south Australia after more than a week in Northern Territory.  
A road train with three trailers carrying two trucks and two tractors.  
And now I’m in an underground city called Coober Pedy. 95% of the worlds opals come from here, and it gets so damn hot out here that almost all the houses are located underground. Really fascinating. I have actually splurged on some jewelry for the first time in my life. I have bought a ring and some earrings for more money than I’ve ever paid for jewelry combined in my life I think, but I love opals. They’re so pretty and it just felt like the right thing to do in this city.    

 
Almost all houses are connected to a hill so that it’s only the porch sticking out.   

Hard hat on my way down into an old opal mine. This mine was one of the first Opal caves and still has a lot of Opal down there.  The sandstone is very hard so they didn’t have to worry about it falling down on their heads luckily.          
   

  

  

I bought this ring and also some earrings. If you’ve ever seen the awesome TV show Parks and Rec you’ll recognize the expression “treat yo self!” That’s just what I did. 

Tomorrow I’ll head to Port Augusta which means I’ll finally see the ocean again! And then I’m off to Adelaide for two nights. By then I’ll have slept in my campervan for an entire month so once again I thought “treat yo self!” And booked a hotel room. It’s going to be SO nice. I love the car but being able to go to the bathroom without having to get my flashlight and walk outside is going to be so nice. 

Oh! And after many weeks of discussions with a team of people I’ve come up with a new name for this blog! It’s going to be called the lone traveller, but you’ll still be able to access it through this address too. I’ll probably fix all of those things when I’m in my hotel room in Adelaide because will finally have reliable power and internet for my laptop. Something I took for granted in USA and now I’m so thankful whenever I can access either of those things… Weird isn’t it!

I hope you like the new name, I do!  

Red dust and flies and sacred places.

The night before I left Alice Springs one of the teams from the solar power challenge stayed at my campground, but I didn’t think much of it. It’s some sort of car race with only solar powered cars driving across Australia. But as I drove out of Alice springs I realized that they had just left the city as well, and they weren’t fast. Each car also had a following of at least ten cars driving the same speed. I’m guessing this is what people who encounters Team Rynkeby on their journey from Scandinavia to Paris each summer feels. Since they were so slow and the outback is so empty it was easy to overtake them though. And they were a lot of fun to look at. 

  
One of the petrol stations had an emu farm. As you do.
Mt Conner.

I arrived in Yulara which is a resort really, close to Ayers Rock. It’s the only place you can stay at close to the rock and it has five different hotels and a campground. Let’s just say I’m not impressed with the campground. There’s very little shade, the camp kitchen is a joke, the bathroom facilities are very dirty and worn down and the pool is filthy. I guess that’s what happens when you have no competition… It’s frustrating though, I only have a car. I need the rest of the place to be good because I can’t boil to death in my car each day. Oh well. Luckily you’re allowed to use the other resort facilities as well so I’ve been using the pool at the five star hotel here instead. It’s really good so at least that helps. I just wish they would make an effort with the camping as well.

The first night here I had booked the sunset dinner called Sounds of Silence. I got picked up in a bus along with a lot of other people and we were driven to a spot outside of the actual park but with views of Ayers Rock. It was so amazing seeing it up close for the first time. We were given champagne to sip as we listened to a man playing didgeridoo and watching the sunset. Magical. After that we were taken down a path to where we would be eating. I was seated next to a woman in her 70’s traveling by herself from Boston, and a man in his 80’s traveling by himself from Oregon. Needless to say, I was in heaven. I had such a great time talking to them about traveling, about my summer in the US and about their lives. We had some red wine and the staff kept refilling them all the time, so I think we all drank more than we expected. When it was our turn to get the food from the buffet (which included both kangaroo and crocodile, both delicious) the man stood up, clutched his hand to his chest and said “I’m not feeling so well.” I got terrified and took a hold of his arm while a man on the other side did the same and someone brought over a chair. Turned out to be a little too much wine and too little food luckily. Scary though! We were also treated to an aboriginal dance and a star expert came to talk about all the stars in the sky. Very fascinating. I was disappointed when the busses came to take us back to the resort.

   
  
  
   
The next day I was not feeling very fresh when I wake up, but a nice and cool breeze circulated in my van so I could stay in bed until 9:30. So nice! I went to the Sails in the Desert hotel pool and just hung out. It was a good and slow day. I called my mother on Skype and saw that she was wearing a scarf, I got pretty jealous. Please remind me of this in January when I’m cold and miserable in Sweden, that I longed for the cold. Because yes, I have booked my flight home. I will leave New Zealand on the 11th of January and arrive at the airport in Copenhagen on the 12th. I’m very excited, I miss my family.

  
This morning I woke up at 4 because the bus to pick me up for my sunrise tour arrived at 4:30. I opened the car door and was just amazed. The starry sky was incredible, the best I’ve ever seen. I could clearly see the milky way and just had to take some photos. Wow.

  
And when I got to the bus the driver sang Simon and Garfunkel’s Cecilia for me so that made me wake up a bit more. We got to the viewing area in the pitch black night still, but the sun quickly rose and painted Uluru a beautiful red. I cry when I’m sad, when I’m happy and when I’m amazed. So yes, I cried. It was just fabulous.

  
   
Clutching the railing so I don’t tip over because tired. 

   
 When the sun had come up I got back in the bus for the next part of the tour, the cultural experience. We got to the cultural house and was dropped off, I was surprised to realize that there was only three of us who had booked that specific tour. But it was great actually, it was two girls in my age called Laura and Andrea and we got along great. We were given breakfast, got to look at the cultural center and sign the “I did not climb Uluru” guest book. I have no photos though, because it’s considered a spiritual place and it’s not allowed to film or take photos in there. It’s also not allowed to take picture of some parts of Uluru because they’re the “women’s places” and the Anangu men could accidentally see pictures and that’s not allowed. 

A bit later a man came to get us, it was time for the weapons show. He showed us the Anangu tools and weapons that they use, they are the indigenous people who owns the land Uluru is on. He was Anangu too and the presentation was very fascinating. He showed us how to make glue for example.  

We were allowed to take pictures of the tools. On the left the men’s tools (spears and boomerangs for hunting) and on the right the women’s (baskets and things for gathering). 

After the presentation it was time to get back on the bus and go to the base of Uluru. We got dropped of at the climb area, which luckily was closed today. If it’s windy or very hot they close it. I don’t understand why the park insists on keeping it open, it’s so rude and disrespectful. But I guess it’s all about the money… It was SO steep though, you can’t really see but it’s very steep. I wouldn’t have gone up even if it wasn’t sacred, I would have been terrified.

    
  

   
The four of us walked around the base while our guide told us stories by the Anangu people and the markings on Uluru. It was so interesting but we were all glad we brought our fly nets, the flies are insane in the outback. At all times there are 5-10 flies circling your head.   

Andrea, me and Laura. 
   
    
 At 11 we were dropped off at the resort again, tired but happy. Turns out they’re both going to King’s Canyon tomorrow too so we’ll meet then again. I was so glad to hear that, they were really nice girls.

This afternoon I’ve napped by the pool again listening to podcasts. When I was leaving that area and taking a shuttle bus back to the campground a lady sat next to me. She turned to me and said “I think I made a mistake coming here.” as she swatted away the flies. She was a lady from Tennessee and she had just arrived to the area. I told her to buy a fly net and then we talked for almost 20 minutes. She has been solo traveling for 40 years, she was super cool. I hope she does enjoy the area after all, I know it took me some time to get used to both the heat and the bugs.

The bus arrives at 4 in the morning tomorrow too to pick me up, so I’m bringing a pillow and my noise canceling headphones on the 3 hour bus ride to the canyon. I think it will be great though, I’ve been told King’s Canyon is beautiful. I’m excited to both go there and to go hiking again.

You’ll hear from me soon again!

 

Nothing but desert as far as the eye can see.

I had planned for it to take 4-5 days to drive from Cairns to Alice Springs, and that was just what it did. First I drove south for half a day, then west for 3,5 days and then finally south again. So yes, I pretty much only had to turn my steering wheel three times in those days because oh boy, they sure know how to make straight roads here in Australia. What they don’t know how to make is cities. For most part it was completely empty for 200 km and then a roadhouse with a restaurant, petrol station and caravan park. The only real city I saw was Mount Isa halfway through my third day but it was okay. I hadn’t expected anything more. But what really surprised me was how alive the desert was! I had expected red dirt and nothing more, but I barely saw it. Bushes, trees and grass lines the roads the entire way. The only dead things I saw were the hundreds upon hundreds of roadkill unfortunately. Mostly dead kangaroos but the occasional cow and camel too. I did see a living wild camel though, that was exciting!   

Leaving! I ended up driving a different route than the gps wanted me to take though, so that I would be on a bigger road the entire way. It was longer (2425 km) but faster. 
Lesson learned: when a police car comes flashing its lights in the wrong direction, get off the road! Because soon after this beasts comes through: 

    
Flat flat flat! And very empty. Not as empty as I had expected though, I saw another car at least every 15-20 minutes. Or a road train, which was when I clung to my steering wheel for dear life. A road train is a truck but it has at least 3 and often 4 trailers attached to it, making it around 50 meters long. HUGE! I always slowed down and moved as far away as I dared but sometimes the wind following it was really scary. And there are a lot of road trains in the outback, the distances are simply to long to make it worthwhile to just pull one trailer. 


I found a beast in a town. 

    
And I climbed a tree in a caravan park. Was immediately attacked by a magpie who wanted to kill me so I went to the pool to cool down instead. The moment I got to the outback the temperatures soared to 36-38 degrees and rarely got down below 25 even at night. Sweaty!

After a few days of driving and trying to learn how to throw a boomerang to a moderate level of success (as can be see here on my private Facebook, it’s in Swedish though) I finally left Queensland and entered Northern Territory! Yes!

   

  This now the official koala pose. 

I kept on driving and as soon as I got to the Northern Territory, hello Mosquitos! I used up so many different types of bug sprays and wipes but I still got bit pretty bad. But I got to stay in some pretty good places with pools and great sunsets so who am I to complain. 

  

  

  

One afternoon I headed to the pool where one family and an older couple was swimming and I got in as well. Soon I realized that the family was Norwegian so I introduced myself as Swedish. The older couple almost gave themselves whiplash as they spun around and exclaimed that they were Danish! All of Scandinavia gathered at a pool in the middle of the outback in Australia, so weird. We all started speaking extremely slowly and really enounciating our words so we understood each other okay. The languages are very similar, especially written but the accents make it hard. 

The next day was the fifth day and I had two goals in mind, finally get to Alice Springs but also to catch the longboarders as I knew that they would be somewhere on Stuart highway that I would be entering. But first I got to the Devils marbles, a bunch of rocks that looks to just have been thrown right out in the desert. They were very cool so I had to climb then of course. And yes dad, I barely looked up because I kept an eye out for snakes the entire time. 

   
    

After that I came across Australia’s UFO town. I didn’t even know they had one… It wasn’t quite as impressive as Roswell thigh, mostly because it wasn’t a city at all, it was a single road house and a petrol station.

   I might look impressed but trust me, I wasn’t. 

  Open speed zone!! For most parts it was 130 km/h on Stuart highway so I did 100 km/h (it’s not exactly a sports car I drive…) so that’s what I kept doing despite having encountered Australia’s autobahn. And even though I was so slow, only one single car drove past me that entire day. Not a lot of fast traffic coming my way. 

Rolled over cars are a common sight here. 

And then finally!! Just when I really started thinking that I had missed them I saw two silhouettes in the distance. I pulled over, basically jumped out of my car and shouted “hi!! There you are, I thought I had missed you!” To a very perplexed woman on her longboard. I wanted to surprise them and not let them know I was coming and I succeeded. They were just about to stop skating for the day so we pulled into a rest stop where I could give them everything I had saved for them, including beer, soda, chips and Swedish candy like ahlgrens bilar, sail and salty licorice. They were very pleased and so was I. It was a lot of fun talking to them, and it turned out that Anders works with my cousins boyfriend. It’s a small world. You can read his blog here about their journey across Australia, it’s so cool and they’re great people!

      
 I stole this last picture from his blog. 

And then finally! Alice springs!  Since I arrived here I’ve read two books, star gazed, treated my mosquito bitten body and swim in pools and swimming holes. It’s super hot and full of flies but I still like it here. 

   
I apologize for the amount of leg but seriously, it looks like I have chickenpox or something. 

  

Ouch!

  This actually helps! Or it’s all in my head but even if it is I still like it. 

I found a tent fan in the camp store in Alice springs! Happiness! No more super sweaty nights in the car here in the desert. Oh, and ice cream of course. Much needed in this heat. 

  Pool and slide at camping in Alice springs. 

 I took this yesterday night. Pretty pleased with it. I’m practicing for when I get to Uluru/Ayers rock later this week. 

 Ellery creek big hole. A man at the camping recommended it to me so I drove here today and it was so nice. Really cool water and so beautiful. It’s “just” 90 km from Alice springs, a distance I nowadays consider as next door. 

  

  

  

  

  Watch out for the horses in hats! 

 The sky as I’m sitting in my camping chair writing this. 

So all in all life continues to be good. I’m very happy to be done with the longest stretch across the outback, even though I still have 250 km to Uluru. Oh, I have so many fun tours booked there! I first thought that I might not book tours but I need some more human contact. Australians are very nice and so are all the tourists I meet but I miss the American friendliness a lot. So I have sunset dinner, sunrise watching with walk around Uluru and a day tour to kings canyon booked. I’m really lookin forward to it. I will NOT be hiking up to the top of Uluru though since it’s considered extremely holy for the aboriginal people and it’s considered very rude. I will be able to enjoy it just fine while being considerate on the ground. 

One more full day in Alice springs then I’m off again! I’ll try to rest my hand some more, it’s really starting to hurt again after clutching the steering wheel for 2450 km in such a short amount of time. Ugh. Stupid hand. I hate that it’s not completely healed. Oh well. I will probably go back to Sweden in January, I’ll have it looked at then if it’s not completely healed by that point. 

See you!

Cecilia the Seasick Koala Cuddler.

I love it when the tours I book start at 10, but the weather doesn’t care about my ability to sleep in, as the sun usually wakes me up at 7 no matter what. But when that is the only complaint I have in life, it’s not really a complaint at all.

But my skyrail experience up to Kuranda was booked to 10, so of course I arrived at 9:30. I don’t know how to be punctual, I’m always extremely early. The skyrail over the rainforest was amazing, and they had two stations where you got off and could take a closer look at the views.

   
    
   
Kuranda feels like a little hippie village up in the mountains, with lots of stores selling everything from opals to the typical tourist t-shirts. I walked around, bought some christmas gifts for my niece and nephews and then decided to go to the different wildlife sanctuaries there. They had one for butterflies, one for birds and one with all the native Australian animals. And yes, I got to cuddle another koala. I just can’t resist when it’s offered to me, they’re so cute and cuddly!

   
   

   
    
    
 I also had time to go for a hike in the rainforest, it was just beautiful. It even started raining while I was in it, how appropriate.   

   
On the way back down, I had booked the Kuranda Scenic Railway, and I even splurged and got myself gold class tickets. That meant that I got to sit in comfortable seats, I got all the drinks I wanted and some great finger food. I sat next to two nice guys from Sydney so we spent the ride sipping sparkling wine, eating cheese platters while watching the view and talking about life. It was definitely worth that extra money, and the views as we descended the mountain was fabulous. 
(Ps I have new earrings, they are koalas.)  

    
    
 On Monday it was time for my second snorkeling trip out on the Great Barrier Reef. We gathered at 7 by the boat, were given wetsuits and snorkeling masks and told that it would take 2 hours to get to the reef. We first headed to Fitzroy Island to pick up some other guest before we kept going. I was feeling pretty bad by then, and after about an hour into the journey I though I was going to die. I was standing at the back of the boat desperately clinging to the railing while trying to not…well, die. Those seasickness tablets I had taken definitely did not help me at all. An hour later we were by another boat out at the reef, it’s always stationed out there so we were brining supplies and new divers who were going to spend the night there. At that point I couldn’t imagine anything worse than having to stay there for an entire night as well! When we stopped we saw a huge sea turtle as well, but I was feeling so bad that I could hardly get excited.  

But I got my snorkeling mask and flippers on and jumped in the water, and even though it was still lots of waves my stomach immediately calmed down and I was able to snorkel around for an hour or so just watching the amazing wildlife. This reef was much more beautiful than the one outside of Airlie Beach, I saw hundreds of different types of fish and so many corals. I tried taking pictures but it’s hard to capture just how beautiful it really is.   

    
    
 I dreaded the moment I had to go back on that rocking boat, but it was lunch time so everyone had to get up. I put my cap on, wrapped myself in a towel and promptly fell asleep. I’m so thankful for that because sleeping always helps to fight seasickness, and I couldn’t have eaten anything anyway. An hour later we were allowed back in the water, this time I got in a wetsuit to protect my back from the sun, it was 26 degrees in the water though so it wasn’t necessary for that reason I thought. The Aussies still think it’s cold, crazy…   

    
    
   
After the second swim we all got back on the boat and headed towards Cairns again. This time we were floating in with the tide somehow, and it was a lot calmer. I finally felt better! And that was good because I could take advantage of actually talking to the two other Swedes on the boat, one guy who worked on it and another guy who had been out on the other boat for a night diving. We really bonded right away, after 10 minutes we were discussing self worth, the meaning of life and how important it is the know yourself haha. It got really deep, I’m glad I was feeling better so I didn’t miss out on that. Oh, and just let me say that I saw a lot of burnt skin on they way back, ouch! I had showered in spf50, but burnt my lips. Could have been worse though. 

Back in Cairns everything was swaying but I was STARVING. I hadn’t eaten since six that morning and it was now six at night. I got back to the campground to find out that someone had stolen my spot (they’re numbered) but the woman working moved me to a better spot so no complains from me. I ordered a pizza and fell asleep completely exhausted at nine. It was a really rough day for me, but I still think it was worth it. Had I known just how bad I would feel, I probably wouldn’t have gone though.

Today I needed a calm, relaxing day after that crazy Monday. My options were to get a drop in appointment to get a koala tattooed on my body, or to drive to Douglas to have lunch. Unfortunately Port Douglas won, but I’m really glad I went. It’s about an hour north of Cairns. It was amazingly beautiful up there, as you can see for yourself here. The tattoo can wait for a little while I guess…   

    
 Tomorrow I’m heading west finally. Well, first I need to go back south for a little bit before I head west. Alice Springs here I come!! Well, in a few weeks. It’s really, really far. 2420 km, or 1503 miles to be exact. I’m really looking forward to seeing the outback though, even if I know that there won’t be much to see at all. And I’m hoping to catch the couple from my hometown in Sweden who is on their way to Alice Springs on longboards (!!) before they get there, it would be so much fun to actually be able to help them out somehow on the road. It’s also always good to have examples of people who are crazier than you, because I can show them to my mother and say “at least I’m not doing this!” to her. I find that very helpful.

The next time you’ll hear from me, I’ll be in the outback. I’m not expecting much of a phone reception out there though, but maybe it will surprise me. Wish me luck!