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Published: July 10th 2013
Part II of the adventure. I joined a tour with a company called Top Deck, a week long tour of south and central Australia. An area approximately 4 times the size of England. Crazy. Day 1
An early start: 7am pick up ready for an adventure. The tour bus picked me up from my hostel in Adelaide. There were 5 of us on tour altogether and I was happy that every one of them were great. We all got on really well. Good thing as we would be spending 24 hours a day together for the next 7 days. There was a French girl, Australian girl, American, stereotypical Texan, girl, a Swedish guy and me. We all introduced ourselves and chatted like we'd known each other ages.
We set off, heading north. Our tour guide was called Shelley and she was just awesome. A font of knowledge and really fun. First stop was the Whispering Wall. A huge dam, curved in such a way that you can talk to someone at the opposite end of the river and hear them like they were standing next to you. Very cool. We jumped back on the bus and continued north.
Our next stop was a winery in Clare Valley - at 10am. By 11am I was actually a little tipsy. What a great way to start the tour. We walked round the winery and went in the oldest underground wine cellar in Australia. Then it was time for tasting. I think the woman liked us, or was having a slow day, as she kept giving us more and more wine to try. Then the ports came out. Not my usual way of spending a Sunday morning but I liked it. A few of the group bought some of the wines and then we were off again - to the town of Melrose for some lunch.
We stopped at the North Star hotel, established 1854, and soaked up our wine with some quiche. Then it was back on the bus and further north into Flinders Ranges. The heavens opened. The rain had been on and off for days and now it had become cold and miserable. Shelley drove us carefully through some winding roads. We reached a creek and the road was flooded, bringing us to a halt. We stopped and looked at it, trying to figure out the depth
and whether the bus would make it. After 5 minutes of uncertainty, I volunteered to be brave and test it out. I put my flip flops on, rolled up my jeans high as they would go, and head out into the rain. I walked through the creek, the water rising further up my legs. I tested different routes and found the shallowest parts. I guided the bus through and got back on to applause and the promise of a free drink later. I wiped the mud off my legs, blasted the heater and we were off again.
The weather improved as the day continued. We explored some old farm house ruins, saw too many dead kangaroos, saw many live kangaroos, and watched a beautiful sunset over Flinders Ranges. We walked up to some aboriginal caves to look at the artwork and see flinders from up high. It was beautiful.
After a long day we drove to Parachilna, population: 4. Tiny tiny place, but has a good pub that pride themselves on their 'roadkill restaurant'. They serve up kangaroo steak, emu burger and camel sausage. I didn't like the camel. I got my free glass of wine, chatted to
fellow travellers and collapsed into bed. Day 2
Today we explored more of flinders ranges. We walked through the bush, over creeks and up hills. The views were stunning. The thing that hit me the most was the silence. I couldn't hear anyone else; there was no road noise; no sounds at all other than the birds and the sound of my breathing. I'd never been anywhere so peaceful. I sat down on a rock, closed my eyes, felt the sun on my face and just took a few deep breaths; taking the time to relax and enjoy the serenity.
We had lunch at Wilpena Pound then again hit the road. We had to stop when an Emu and her baby emus were crossing the road. They were adorable. We also stopped whenever we saw groups of kangaroos, dingos, brumbies (wild horses) or eagles to take photos or simply watch them. There's not much else to see in the outback. Generally just the 1 road, that stretches for miles beyond what the eye can see, and there may be 3 or 4 hours drive between small towns.
As we continued north, the landscape became more red.
Central Australia is known as the red centre - the dirt and sand is orange/red here due to it being rich in iron and other minerals. We spent the night in the town of Quorn. We slept in rather nice hotel rooms, 3 to a room, attached to the town pub. We went in for dinner, finished off with Quandong pie; a fruit native to this part of the world. I think I've found my favourite new dessert. As we sat at the bar, with just 4 other people in the place, I heard a British accent. Not just any British accent - a Black Country accent! I went over to say hello. Turns out he was from Walsall, had been working in my home town of Halesowen and has been living in Australia the past 10 months. Such a small world! Here I was in literally the middle of nowhere; the tiniest pub in the tiniest town in the Aussie outback and I meet a guy from a small town on the opposite side of the world where I'm from. Crazy. I did have to translate much of what he was saying for the others- he was VERY Black
Country. My group congratulated me for having not acquired this accent in childhood. Haha.
We went to bed pretty early, ready for a 5:30am start and a big day of adventure. All to come in part 3.
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