Saturday, April 9, 2011

Alice and the Outback

Yes. I made it to the Outback! And it was amazing!  Before I get started with this post let me warn you for a long post with lots of pictures; but hopefully you'll enjoy reading it.  Oh, and I am going to organize this post by days to make it less confusing for me and hopefully you.  So here we go!

Day One

I woke up at 3:20am and caught the bus to Brisbane.  (This trip was sponsored by the international office so everything was organized for us.)  In Brisbane we caught a flight to Alice Springs and were on the ground in central Australia by noon. I don't know what I expected when I got to Alice Springs, but I didn't expect to see a green wonderland!  Because of all the rain Australia has been getting, the Outback was green... not a red desert! So it was a unique chance to be there for a week!

All in all, there were about 23 students (I think) and three instructors.  We got divided up into three groups, each with seven or eight students.  Two groups traveled the route counter clockwise and one group traveled it clockwise.  I ended up in the smaller group traveling by ourselves, which turned out to be perfect!  I loved our small group and it was so neat to be able to do our own thing.  "Jude's Tour Group" as we joking became known composed of myself, Amy, Ashley, Julia, Alyson, Kurt, Trent, Brain, and Jude - our guide.

After organizing food and eating lunch we headed out to Ellory Creek Big Hole about an hour or two drive away from Alice. Ellory Creek was a fun first camp site because it had a nice (cold!) waterhole and was perfect for day one of our journey. We got to sleep on the sand under the stars and it was amazing.

Day Two

After waking up and eating a meal of Milo (similar to hot chocolate), powered milk, and cereal we packed up the rental Ute (truck) and headed to Ormistin Gorge.  It was a beautiful gorge that was cut deep into the earth.  We hiked the gorge and pound walk wich was about a three hour walk.  The Ormostin Pound was a huge valley that would typically be red desert, but it looked at parts more like an oasis than desert.

Once the hiking and lunch was finished we stopped at Glen Helen (small backpacker lodge) for snacks and a swim at the water hole there.  Then drove and slept at Redbank Gorge on the sand.

Day Three

Day three was madness... in the fact that we all got up at 2am to hike Mount Sonder.  The hike was 18 kms round trip and it was hard.  I came back with several blisters from that and I learned I am not a hiker.  I'll stick to horses.   But the hike was worth it to see the sunrise, but it was so windy and cold! Brrr!

After the hike we spent the rest of the day at Red Bank Gorge exploring and playing frisbee in the waterhole there. We made camp on the sand again and it was really fun to relax after such a hard hike.

Day Four

We woke up, packed up, and headed out towards Kings Canyon on day four. The drive was long and all on red dirt roads. The roads were in good shape, but every so often we would hit a huge dip and send everyone in the back flying!

After the drive we met up with the other two groups and hiked into camp at sunset. We all camped together on huge rock slabs at a place called the Amphitheater in Kings Canyon.  It was funny because even though everyone was together our small group still stayed close and didn't mingle with the others. It was like a little family. And the sleep was good... for rocks.

Day Five

Today we walked about from the Amphitheater down to the car park and broke away from the other group.  At the car park we ate some lunch and then hiked the rest of the King's Canyon circuit. The walk was really neat, but very touristy. King's Canyon itself was amazing!  It was so unique and interesting.  A fun hike for sure!

After making the loop we headed out into the middle of nowhere and made camp along the side of the road. We also had the best firewood getting experience ever. It involved knocking over trees with the bull grill on the front of the truck!  So much fun!!  We also told riddles around the fire and became a much closer group.

Day Six

This was the day that we drove to Yulara (near Ayer's Rock). We stopped at Mt Conner Lookout, but otherwise the drive was pretty long. When I first saw Uluru (Ayer's Rock) in the distance it was really neat, but I was actually more excited to hike Kata Tjuata. Kata Tjuata is more sacred to the Aboriginal population and, to me, it was actually much prettier.  It was one of my favorite hikes if I had to pick!

After the 2.5 hour walk we decided to walk up Walpa Gorge and watch the sunset.  Apparently you aren't supposed to do this as a park ranger informed us when we got back to our truck, but it was worth it. It was so neat to chill with the group and tell stories.  Plus we kept making echos in the canyon so it was neat!

Day Six was also neat because we got to go eat out at a restaurant called Pioneer Tavern. I'm sure I could have ordered something really interesting (like roo or croc) but I had steak. Yummy yummy steak.  There was also live music and dancing so it was a fun night.

Day Seven

We woke up early when it was still dark out and headed out to Uluru to see the sunrise.  It was so touristy there but it was worth it! As the sun hit Uluru the rock changed colors from a dark brown to a vivid red!  Awesome!  Uluru has some really interesting features and stories behind it, so I enjoyed it.  We walked around the base of Uluru (13kms) and then headed to Finke River and slept on a huge dry river bed.  It was sad because it was the last day the group was together but it was a fun night!

We cooked potatoes in the sand, made bush damper (self-rising flour and flour wrapped around a stick then cooked over the fire till golden brown), and talked about the week.  The dynamics of the group were perfect and it was amazing to see how we had all bonded.

Day Eight

We headed back to Alice and then home to Lismore.  I wish this could have lasted longer because I loved it.  I love sleeping under the stars surrounded by people who love the same things I do.  It was a great adventure!  (All in all we hiked somewhere around 65kms and drove 1600 miles.  A huge journey if you ask me!)

[Outback Animal List]
Cattle (Stations)
Dingos (Heard them at night, sounds like a coyote!)
Whistling Kites (Bird)
Wedge-tail Eagle
Brumbees (Horses)

[Aussie Words Used this Trip]
I reckon'
No Worries
Give it a Think


  1. Sounds like you had an awesome time!!! Which guy was your guide (in the group photo)?

  2. The names of the people (left to right) in the photo are: Kurt, Julia, Amy, Brian, myself, Alyson, Ashley, Jude (our guide), and Trent.