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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!