Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Up top!

Some of you might know that I’ve spend the last week and a half travelling around the Northern Territory of Australia, which is why there has been no Project 365 for a while and no blog last week. Well I’m making it up to you by posting last weekend’s blog post today and also posting one on Saturday. I will also update Project 365 at some point in the next few days.

So anyway, I flew up to Alice Springs early Saturday morning (September 25th) and got in about midday, so I had the afternoon to relax by the pool and wind down before the tour started on Sunday. This way fortunate because it was an early start on Sunday – we had to have our bags on the bus at 6:30 in the morning! After a bit of breakfast we started the long trip to Uluru (4 or 5 hours on a bus). We had lunch in our resort before heading out to the Rock for the afternoon.

Uluru was very beautiful. Although some of the group climbed to the top, the Aboriginals request that you don’t, so I decided not to. Instead I did a walk around the bottom and took some very good photos! In the evening we sat and watched the sun set over the Rock, which was a wonderful experience.

Then it was back to our resort and into bed after a bit of supper in preparation for another long day. We woke up for breakfast at 5 am in order to get to Kata Tjuta (some big rocks a few miles away from Uluru) for sunrise and then do a two and a half hour walk around the domes before the heat set in. We retraced our steps in the afternoon on the way to King’s Canyon; our stop off point for that evening. Again it was dinner and an early night in preparation for another early morning the next day.

The early morning was so that we could walk through King’s Canyon before the heat of the day. This walk was probably the highlight of the trip; even better than Ayer’s Rock! The rock formations reminded me a lot of pictures I have seen of Cappadocia in central Turkey; needless to say it was absolutely stunning. That evening we returned to Alice for dinner at a charming pub called Bojangles. I ate an 800 gram steak, which I think was about 2 pounds! I got a certificate for my trouble from the restaurant and $5 from a friend, so it was worth it.

The next morning was a late start (thankfully because we’d stayed at the pub until late the last night). We travelled up to the Western MacDonnell Mountains and explored some of the beautiful rock formations in the morning and then went back to Alice for the afternoon. Some of the group stayed in Alice the afternoon, but about half a dozen of us (me included) went Quad biking, which was absolutely awesome! We then returned to our resort for dinner and entertainment in the form of a live Guitarist and a reptile handler. I got to have a snake wrapped around my neck!

From Alice we spend the next 2 days heading 'up the track' to Katherine. This involved 2 days of solid driving through some of the most desolate and deserted landscape I've ever seen. Apart from the occasional rest stop and a couple of small towns there was almost no sign of civilisation for miles on end. The small patches of civilisation were all pretty quirky as well. Two of the best were probably Daly Waters; a pub in which passers by have left pretty much every kind of memorabilia to adorn the walls. We left a vest signed by the entire tour to add to the extensive collection of crap, and Wycliffe Wells; the self-proclaimed UFO capital of Australia.

Eventually, after many long hours on the bus, we arrived in Katherine; the third largest town in The Territory. We had a bit of time to shop here before heading off to our accommodation for the evening. The next day we went Kayaking down the Katherine River before cooling off in the pools beneath Edith Falls - the first of many swimming stops over the next few days, which were much needed due to the oppressive tropical humidity. In the afternoon we headed into Kakadu; the largest National Park in Australia, and got settled down in our accommodation. Unlike the rest of the tour, this accommodation was in permanent tents, which was an interesting experience, but very humid given that they lacked air con!

The next morning I, along with half a dozen other people from the tour, went on a scenic flight over the national park, which was absolutely stunning. It proved to be a superb way to see the park both because of its vastness and the humidity making it impossible to spend too much time outside the air conditioned bus. The rest of the morning was spent exploring some of the Aboriginal art sites around Kakadu, which was a really interesting experience. It's a bit of a shame that we don't really know what most of the paintings represent. In the afternoon it was back to the camp site for a relaxing time in the pool and at the bar watching the Rugby League Grand Final.

We were up early the next morning so that we could get to Corroboree Billabong to get up close and personal with Australia's deadliest species - the Salt Water Croc! Fortunately no-one was eaten and we got to get a close look at both fresh and salt water Crocodiles as well as a plethora of bird species that inhabit the Billabong. After our close encounter we got back in the bus and drove to Mt Bundy for our final night together! Another tour member and I went on a guided horse ride through the homestead, which was good fun - and I didn't even fall off once! We saw lots of Wallabies and Kangaroos roaming the homestead as well as some huge termite mounds.

We departed Mt Bundy on the last day of our trip and headed to Lichfield National Park, where we spend a relaxing day travelling between waterfalls and swimming in the beautiful pools. Our last stop was Darwin, where we had dinner and hit the pub to say goodbye to everyone! I unfortunately had a plane to catch in the early hours, so I didn't stay for the duration. Even so it was a really good end to a really good trip and I look forward to my next one.

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