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Dora The Explorer
21st Sep 2007 - 30th Sep 2007
The Outback - Darwin to Alice Springs

Guten Tag

Wie gehts?  Why am I speaking  German? Well as some of you may or may not know I am going to work in the Maldives in two weeks time ( Fesdu Island) to be precise as a Marine Bio / Dive Instructor. I am looking to learn German again which at school I was pretty good so here’s my second chance to get it right!!! When did this happen I hear you say? Well after the eventful Cairns trip I was really in a quandary as to what my next move would be.

A few weeks prior to this I’d had a really bad day on the water – my recently broken hand was playing up & my camera was playing up etc, there were p@ssed aboriginals everywhere I looked and I thought my god how did it come to this?!! Thinking to myself I would love to go to the Maldives I started looking at the chances of realizing this – low & behold a resort were looking for someone with my skill set to start in October. Now this is going to sound big-headed I know but I knew it was mine as soon as I had sent my resume off, I had a really good feeling about it. It was there for the taking – perfect timing and I had already started planning my travels.  So then I fly out on the 12th October with a few days stop-over in Singapore. I celebrate my 30th birthday there. You know those loners which you laugh at when you see them sat at the bar on their lonesome? Well I think that’s going to be me!...with a cocktail umbrella behind my ear. Lovely.

After arriving back in Brisbane I toyed with the idea of casual work to earn some money as Cairns broke me financially … photography is a fickle business – sporadic work and poorly paid – unless of course you are Herb Ritz or the late David Bailey.  Being poor isn’t fun, it’s like being a student again & not for the faint-hearted…But thinking that I would miss the opportunity of travelling through the outback which I hadn’t as yet done before I left , I choose the latter.

Wow I think that the outback is my favourite part of Australia, it epitomizes the character of the country. Thousands of hectares of bush land & scrub, no life, no civilization, no water and no cars for hours at a time! Such a huge contrast to the developed east coast and the daily grind of 9 -5.

I flew into Darwin last Friday which I regret not being able to spend more time there, beautiful city- bombed in the war so completely rebuilt so very modern. The airport was a hub of activity where their aviation laws are different and flights are not restricted to normal hours, people fly from midnight through to five in the morning. It was like flying into Heathrow, very strange for a small city. The heat & humidity hit you like a punch in the guts, its 35 degrees and humid as hell, not conducive as I found out for good running conditions. I went for a run early morning and it almost broke me, there’s something to be said about acclimatization!

After an early morning 5 o’clock start (we had many of these,  I aged about ten years due to sleep deprivation)  we began our travels to Katherine & Katherine Gorge, where we would embark on an arduous canoeing trip…… Louise being Louise talks to everyone and makes an effort with those who seem to be loners - so having decided to take the Japanese girl with little English under my wing I offer to share my canoe with her. Bad mistake – Asian’s generally aren’t the most ‘aquatic’ of people, having more finesse in land-based activities rather than on the water per say. I was knackered by the time the afternoon was over, doing the work of two people rather than one – my comrades were gracefully paddling by sleekly manovering the paddle though the water whilst I was trying to correct every clumsy move my partner was making.  Three times we almost ended up on the crocodile infested banks due to her taking ‘picture, picture’ with a cigarette curled under her lip. Bloody Hell Rodney you’re having a laugh!   I became nostalgic of that memorable canoeing trip in France, ‘The Vendee’ with Magnus, Wilf, Richy & Di and the Ling Family.

Katherine is an unusual place full of again (pattern developing here) p@ssed aboriginals laying on the ground hiding from the unbearable heat. We stopped off at the bottle shop and made our way to camp. Am I too old for camping?  Were the words running around my mind - I like to think I am a ‘gung-ho’ kinda of chick – get out the leatherman, make a fire & boil some billy tea! But seriously am I? I like quirky hotels, and mini-bars & cocktails and moisturizer, I love London and all the accessories which go with it!

I managed to get through the night and another early morning saw us visit Daly Waters and the oldest pub in Australia. Mick Dundee ‘come out come out wherever you are!”  - It’s hard to believe that people live like this, 2 houses and a population of 15 people. Interesting looking children to say the least.  The pub relies on the hordes of backpackers coming though to derive a living, and it’s like going back in time. After a quick game on the oldest pool table this side of the hemisphere we made our way, yes you’ve guessed it to the bottle shop on way to our next camp in Tennant Creek – a cattle station.

Sleeping in SWAGS I aliken to sleeping in a big artic roll, where you roll yourself in sleeping bags & layers and zip yourself up neatly at the side. Once you’re in pray you don’t need the bathroom.

We were warned to keep our distance from the camp fire as if the winds pick up during the night it’s likely that they blow the fire in our direction. After a few beers we became a little care-free and camped pretty close to the fire, settling down we fell asleep pretty quickly..only to be woken up by hot embers cascading onto our swag. Needless to say the wind had picked up and it was a sight for sore ears to see six adults jumping up in their swags rather like a sack race and relocating to a safer area.

Fires seemed to feature quite prominently that day and I witnessed an event which probably has been the most mind-blowing event for me this year. Travelling along the road we could see billows of grey smoke traveling for miles & we had heard that bush fires were extremely common in such dry arid conditions. Wow - we stopped to get out and take photographs –typical tourists eh! Literally 3 metres away these fires were demolishing the land - it was the most surreal experience as the sun was setting at the same time. It was what I imagined the end of the world to look like

We visited the Devils Marbles which was pretty amazing – how on earth such formations exist puzzle me!  (The Devils Marbles are 4 meters high and 13 to 33 wide. The Devils Marbles are massive granite boulders that have been formed over millions of years. The aborigine’s theory is that the Devils Marbles are Rainbow Serpent eggs).

Once back in Alice Springs we had rather a big night as we were finishing one tour and starting another…Too many pitchers of Pure Blonde beer later and armed with ear plugs we passed out in our mixed dorm only to wake up at 5 o clock the next morning for our Uluru trip…not so lucky for us our previous tour guide had got it wrong and had assured that that the next day would be easy and peaceful with no long 4 hour hikes through mountain ranges…au contraire!

Sods law that the day Louise woke up with a hangover to rival that of an entire rugby team we were scheduled to walk up Kings Canyon in the backing heat. Wonderbar I thought, dehydrated to buggery, lack of sleep and aching from the mini-bus suspension ‘can’t wait to do that-highlight of the trip -not!”. Anyway the views were astounding and by the time we stopped for our half way break my hangover was pretty much gone and I was feeling quite pleased that I had managed to negotiate the afternoon without any incidents….  Until we decided to perch ourselves on the sloping granite floor which led into the lake -  as I got up to leave my trainer slipped down the rock and in slow motion I fell into the water. Bugger I thought this wasn’t part of the plan - and holding my camera above my head treaded water whilst my comrades rolled around on the floor laughing. At least I got to cool off on the hike back to the minibus!!!

Maybe I am becoming too complacent with my travels but Uluru (Ayers Rock), I felt that I had already seen it many times before! Sunset and Sunrise where good, but with millions of tourists all trying to jostle with the prime position to capture a shot it was all too commercial!

That said the outback is probably one of the best places in the world that I’ve been too it’s great & it’s hard to imagine that 80% of all Aussie’s have never visited…so maybe their ad campaign should be “Where the bloody hell are you?!”.

Next: Singapore..or RIP Edna Ling `Sindapore`
Previous: I hate backpackers- if it`s not bolted to the floor they will steal it.

Diary Photos

Alice Springs Airport

Ayers Rock

Alice Springs

Barrow Creek -Peter Falcanio Case British Tourist

Good Child Care- munching on a bar of chocolate

Lyons Cottage ( Colonial House) - Darwin

Darwin - The Old Colonial House

Darwin Real Estate

Sunset - Katherine

The Campfire got out of hand! - Katherine

Louise at Ayers Rock

The Campfire got out of hand! - Katherine

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