This was by far the coolest experience I’ve had in Australia and I feel so lucky to have been able to see what the Outback is all about. I really felt immersed in the Aussie culture while in middle of the Red Centre, otherwise known as the Northern Territory, which consists of dusty red desert, mountain ranges, salt lakes and gorges. With only 3 short days to spend in the Outback, I made sure to fill every moment with a unique experience. I visited the Field of Lights, Kings Canyon, watched the sun set over Ayers Rock, and rode a camel across the red desert at sunrise. Every moment was beyond breathtaking and I would do anything to live it over again!
I began my journey bright and early heading to the airport at 4:30a.m. to fly to Sydney and then to Ayers Rock. The Ayers Rock airport has one runway and two gates with only three flights arriving and departing each day. I knew that this meant I was really in the outback. I was mentally prepared for the hot weather, but it really hit me getting off the airplane into 100+ degree weather and seeing a lizard crawling across the tarmac. Since there is not much civilization in the area, everything is organized around tourists with free shuttles to and from the airport.
Once I arrived to the Ayers Rock Resort, I checked into my hotel and explored the cute town of Yulara. Since it was Easter, I bought a ticket for the Field of Light, an art installation by Uluru/Ayers Rock. This event welcomed me at an exclusive desert dune top just as the sun set on the horizon. With a selection of outback canapes (crocodile, kangaroo, prawn, and sweet potato) and sparkling wines to enjoy as darkness fell, 50,000 glass spheres gently came to rainbow-colored life. Covered under a sky brilliant with stars, the Field of Light reflected the beautiful landscape in such a surreal way. In this moment, it felt so unreal seeing the beautiful night sky above me as I walked through the desert installation and I truly felt so lucky.
Monday was a long day as I had to be ready for my 13-hour tour to Kings Canyon by 4:30 a.m. We drove through the sand hill country towards Kings Canyon, stopping for breakfast at Kings Creek Station. We continued to Watarrka National Park where we made the rocky climb to the rim of Kings Canyon to be rewarded with amazing views. The climb started off quickly with 600 steps up to the top of the canyon followed by a rim walk and descent into the Garden of Eden. Even though it was almost 100 degrees, the views made the heat worth it. I met the sweetest family the night before at the Field of Light event who took me under their wing for the day. The Ramseys are from Geelong, a suburb of Melbourne, and were on holiday for Easter. Justine (the mother), Tate (the father), Baxter and Chloe (their children) basically acted as my family for the day. We endured the 3 hour climb together, shared life stories and bonded over our hiking struggles all day. This day was probably the highlight of my trip because even though I made the journey to the outback alone, there was not one moment I felt that way because of their company.
After the long and exhausting day, I said goodbye to my second family and made my way to my hotel room ordered dinner and turned on the T.V. to relax. With only 6 channels, I was pleasantly surprised to find Friends on and I was perfectly content. I woke up early again Tuesday morning for what I was most excited for…A SUNRISE CAMEL RIDE THROUGH THE DESERT!!!!!!! My grandma raved about her experience riding a camel here so it was the top thing on my bucket list.
The most fun part was having my camel stand up because it was probably the wildest and most thrilling moment of the ride. Our camels were lined in a train of 15 across the desert as we watched the sunset. I got to breathe in the cool morning air as I rode my friendly camel, Bonnie, through the desert landscape as dawn broke over Uluru and Kata Tjuta. I was able to watch the desert come to life and learn about the flora and fauna along the trail as well as learn about the interesting habits of camels. Australia has the largest population of camels and after being up close and personal with them, I can now say how uniquely cute they are. After my ride, I enjoyed freshly baked beer bread and a cup of coffee and saw all of the beautiful pictures from my ride. It was so surreal being able to have this once in a lifetime experience.
The Outback was everything I expected and more! This has been my favorite trip and I can honestly say I felt so immersed in Aussie culture. I met such a wonderful family I plan to stay in touch with, saw beautiful landscapes and animals only found in Australia, and developed confidence in my ability to be independent. This trip was probably the highlight of my time abroad and as I said earlier, I would do anything to re-live it!
Stay tuned for my adventure week in Queenstown, New Zealand with friends!