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Published: November 30th 2017
G'day from Australia - home for the next couple of months! Having been on the road for over 6 months now, and having stayed in over 100 different campsites / hostels / guesthouses / overnight buses / airplanes, we are taking a break from the backpacks and embracing the campervan lifestyle. Our very own home on wheels!
Landing into Darwin we were expecting the bright lights of a major Australian city. We quickly found that Ennis is 10 times busier! Still given that we had no preparation done for our road trip, a couple of days in Darwin provided us with the perfect opportunity to get our holiday plans in order.
We collected our campervan, named Stewie (because the road from Darwin to Adeliade is called the Stuart Highway, and because Mau is hoping we get to meet one of her childhood heroes - Alf Stewart), and set off for our first campsite near Litchfield National Park (NP). With the humidity up in the nineties, our first night was tough but luckily the heat became drier as we moved south. That and we got our hands on a fan (worth it's weight in gold to us!).
is famous for its impressive termite mounds, waterholes and waterfalls. After a day exploring and cooling down in the water, we set off for our second destination - Katherine where we enjoyed an early morning hike to see the many gorges in the Nitmiluk NP. Early mornings are a must in the Northern Territory to beat the sun. The thermometer hit 40 degrees Celsius the day we did our hike in Katherine!
It's easy to forget sometimes that Australia isn't just a country but also a continent! The size of the continent and the distances between cities / towns / blink-and-you-miss-them villages are huge. The Northern Territory alone is the size of Spain, France and Italy combined but with only a population of about 250,000! This is something we had to be very mindful of when planning our road trip as it's quite easy to run out of petrol if you don't top up at every opportunity. Having said that, the road-trip from Darwin to Melbourne is very doable.
We were quite ignorant to all that Australia has to offer at the start of our road trip. We were keen to see the Red Centre and Ayer's Rock
but neither of us was prepared for the number of National Parks, beautiful landscapes or indeed the general randomness of what we would encounter along the way (the road trains, the kangaroos, the roadkill, the great open spaces, the ever changing terrain...).
En route to Alice Springs (the gateway to Ayer's Rock), we stopped at the Devil's Marbles in Wauchope - giant boulders that looked as though they had been dropped from the sky. They were completely out of place amongst the otherwise flat terrain that surrounds the area for miles and miles.
At the campsite in Devil's Marbles, Donal got talking to one of the road train drivers (a trucking vehicle used in remote and rural parts of Australia that can be up to 50m long!!). The driver told him that he is limited to driving 12hrs per day (which could be up to 1000km!). We found this a little unnerving given the size and power of the road trains!
With the early starts beginning to take their toll, we had originally planned a lazy day for Alice Springs but we found out on arrival that the nearby West McDonnell ranges were not to be missed.
So the alarm went off at the crack of dawn as usual. Our day was filled with beautiful hikes, gorges, mountains, waterholes, glens and more. The camera was on overdrive!
We took a 300km detour to King's Canyon en route to Ayer's Rock and enjoyed a beautiful sunset AND sunrise there before hiking up the canyon where we were treated to some spectacular views.
After 8 jam packed days and 3000km we arrived into Uluru - Kata Tjuta National Park, the resting place of Australia's iconic Ayer's Rock and the less famous (but equally as impressive Olga's). Ayer's Rock exceeded all expectations. We did two sunsets, two sunrises (yes we have lost the plot) and circumvented the base in a bid to soak up as much of it as we could! Unfortunately, the morning that we planned to climb it the wind was too strong and the pathway was closed by the park ranger.
Bidding farewell to Uluru, we embarked on a 730km drive to our next campsite and next state - South Australia. We have the feeling that Ireland will seem a lot more compact and manageable after this road trip!
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