Published: March 1st 2008March 1st 2008
Hi there, what's going on mates? ;)
things are still going fine so far here in Australia.
I booked two tours and left Darwin a few weeks ago and went into outback of Australia. It was nice, beautiful, and interesting....very long drives on the Stuart Highway without anything particiular to see outside (just bush, rocks, sand)....once a while you see an old telegraph station. The Stuart Highway runs all the way from Darwin to Port Augusta (north of Adelaide) and has more than 2800 km in length and is named after John Mc Douall Stuart, which was the first human being (known by written history) to cross Australia from south to north more than 140 years ago. Along the road there are several roadhouses, where you can but petrol and of course have a drink and buy something to eat (very expensive!), and of course go to the toilet! The outback was also quite hot with THOUSANDS of FLIES and they are really annoying!!! Nitmuluk National Park (Katherine Gorge)
in the Northern Territory was our first stop in the Outback. It's about 300 km from Darwin. We did a hike of about 10 km in the park and
we got a heavy rainshower during the hike. I was prepared for this, and I brought like a big special plastic bag with me, just to keep my backpack and camera dry. So obviously everyone became totally wet during the walk. We had to to a cruise on the Katherine River as well, but this was canceled due to the strong currents in the river. There was a part of the park where we were allowed to swim, but it was prohibited to swim in many areas due to the presence of crocodiles.
We drove south and visited Daly Waters
, which has only about 30 inhabitants but one a very popular pub, called Daly Waters Pub. It's a tradition that people who visit the pub, leave something behind. So inside the pub you'll see all kinds of stuff that people left behind: their picture, bra, underwear, stickers, country flags etc. I left a small Curaçao flag that I had with me in the pub. Daly Waters is also the place where they built Australia's first international airport. Those days the aircrafts used to stop in Daly Waters to get fuel and then continue their flight to Asia. We stayed one
night on a camping site near Tennant Creek, which is actually a cattle station. It was very nice, and full moon. Almost everyone slept outside this night, despite the presence of spiders, snakes and scorpions in the area...well, it wasn't too bad...we've just seen spiders around the place. Tennant Creek was also the place where the flies started to invade everyone. There are VERY annoying and the further south we went, the more they became. In center Australia they were worse than all other places we've been to. The Devils Marbles
were just a few huge rocks in the middle of nowhere. The place was used in the past to let cattle rest, and many cows ended up dead. So people thought that there is some kind of evil spirit in the area. But the cows used to eat some plants in the area which were poisonous, and that's why many ended up dead after visiting the place.
The city of Alice Springs
has about 30.000 people and is the biggest town in central Australia. Travelers normally stop here especially to visit the Uluru (Ayers Rock) and area. The town is very small and there is not a lot
to do. The day we arrived there it was 41°C and you could feel the heat "smashing" into your face when you step out of the air conditioned bus. I spent a total 3 days in Alice Springs, also to visit the Ayers Rock. In Alice Springs I went to the Anzac Hill, from where you have nice views of the whole city, and I walked around the city on my own just to check it out. The other two days in Alice Springs were better because it was cloudy and it even rained one morning!
We visited the Kata Tjuta (Olgas)
, which are rock formations made up off rounded domes. Kata Tjuta is the Aborinigal name for the place. We went for a walk there and it was nice....you walk like between two giant walls which encounter each other in the front with some of trees and plants in between. You're not allowed to walk until the place where the rocks encounter each other. After this walk we went to view the sunset at Uluru (Ayers Rock)
, which was beautiful! Very touristic though, hundreds of tourists were standing in the whole area. The next morning we went for
a base walk around the rock. It was a cloudy day, which on one hand was good because it wasn't hot at all. On the other had it was bad, because no one was allowed to climb the rock, due to high winds and rain that has been forecasted, but it didn't happen. The base walk was long but nice and interesting. From up close you'll see a lot of formations, holes etc. in the rock which you wouldn't expect when you see it from a distance. It was prohibited to take pictures at many parts of the rock, since those places are sacred places for the Aboriginal people. We also saw old Aboriginal wall paintings and we've been told many stories about the Aboriginals in the area. The whole area where Uluru and Kata Tjuta is, is a national park. The land was taken away from the Aboriginals by the Australian government and they made it a national park. But around 1985 the land was given back to the Aboriginals, who have a majority in the management of the national park now. The most impressive site to me was the Kings Canyon.
We did a 3,5 hour walk around
the canyon and it was very beautiful. Again the weather was a bit cloudy, which was good! The canyon is situated in the Watarrka National Park and the deepest canyon is about 400 m. The first part of the walk was the hardest, as you have to climb about 300 m on steep stairs and rocks. Once there you'll enjoy some spectacular views of the area and the canyon. Constantly you'll see signs that warns people to stay away from the edges, as there were a couple of people that fell off in the past. There was a possibility to swim in a natural pool, but none of us did this because it wasn't too warm and it was quite windy. Coober Pedy
is the Opal capital of the world....where the largest amount of opals of the world are found. "Coober Pedy" is an Aboriginal name, which means "white man in holes". It's not a beautiful place at all, but it's interesting. Because of the heat (50°C in the summer is very normal), many houses are built underground. They dig into the rocks and make houses, in which the temperature stays around 22 - 24°C all year. The rooms
where we spend the night were also underground. The place has 3.000 people and the population doubles if there is a "gold rush"...which means, when they discover a certain area with a lot of opal, hundreds of people flock to the town and try to find opal as well. Opal is a raw material found into rocks, which once in the past were covered by the sea. The forming process is very long and involves sea, rain and drought. Australia is the oldest continent in the world, so the Coober Pedy area had periods with sea, rain and droughts in the past. Actually it's still a very dry place and water is very expensive (water costs 5x more than in cities like Sydney and Melbourne). Many different jewelery can be made with opal; they are very beautiful and also very expensive. In Coober Pedy itself it's not allowed to dig and look for opal anymore because it's too dangerous, but outside the town everyone can do so....everyone! So if you come around here one day, you just dig a little bit in the ground and you're lucky enough to find a big piece of good opal, you can earn thousands
of dollars. We visited a museum and old opal mine in the city and we saw a piece of opal which could be worth at least AU$ 30.000, but it will remain there since it's not allowed to dig in the city anymore.
South Australia is the driest state of Australia and the state has a lot of salt lakes. The largest one is Lake Eyre, which has an area larger than Puerto Rico, but there are several other smaller ones like Lake Hart, which we visited on our way to Adelaide. During our way on the Stuart Highway we also crossed the Tropic of Capricorn (23,5° S). This is the latitude where the sun stands straight above the Southern Hemisphere, on December 22nd, which is officially the start of the summer here and the start of the winter in the Northern Hemisphere. During the whole journey through the outback, again I met several people from many countries. The common question is of course "where are you from?" and since I was in Sydney I draw a small map to show people where Curaçao is. I keep the map always in my wallet and I took a picture of the
map to put it on the blog.
So at the moment I'm in Adelaide, South Australia where I met with Tim already. On the number plates, SA is called "The Festival State" and there are many different festivals and activities going on these days and the coming weeks! The plan is to stay in Adelaide for about a month and work somewhere to save some money, before I continue to Melbourne. In the next blog I'll tell more about Adelaide.
Take care all!!!
There are more photos below