As some may know – I spent six months of my life studying and traveling in and around Adelaide and Australia. Given the many convos and enquiries I’ve received about my experiences and recommendations, I thought it might be a good idea to capture the entire thing within a series of blog posts. Although they won’t be as detailed – I’ll write what I can remember.
Here it goes…
First up – the famous Ayres Rock, or more well known as Uluru amongst the Aussies. It was early July and our semester at the University of South Australia was about to commence, having a week off before classes began gave us a great opportunity to do a roadtrip from Adelaide to the Outback. The journey took us 5 days, and most of that time was spent driving. Admittedly, that sounds quite boring and it was anything but!
That time of year was a perfect time to go as temperatures were around 20 degrees during the day, although nights got very chilly (bring warm clothes). I wouldn’t recommend going during the summer season as temperatures reach up to 40 degrees – to me, that’s just not enjoyable. Especially whilst doing a lot of driving, camping and hiking. Go in the cooler months !
Day 0 (prep day): The five of us headed to coles with our wicked rental car and stocked up big time. I’m talking, toast, pasta, cereal bars, water and tin food which almost got us through the entire trip. Another stop at K-Mart got us sleeping bags, torches, cooking gas and what not. GO PREPARED, or go home (joking – but you will pay a fortune in the desert, and yes you do drive for hours on end through a whole lota nothing, well then during a breakdown an extra water bottle or cereal bar might come in handy). Upon recommendation from my roomie we decided to rent with wicked campers – got a toyota carola 5 seater with a 3 man tent on the roof, we also brought an extra tent. It was very cheap but also very snugg. Jean-Mi, our Tetris genius, somehow always managed to fit everything into the trunk. Wicked equips you with a gas cooker, pot, plates, cups and cutlery. One downer was not having any cooler or fridge – no fresh goods. I do warn – insurance policies are loose, no night driving, reversing is not ensured and what not. Also if drivers are under 21 there is a surcharge of 5 dollars per day. Foreign driving licenses are accepted, no international translation needed.
Day 1: Due to certain circumstances (that being an awesome house party the night before, and Laura oversleeping) we didn’t manage to leave Adelaide until around 7/8 am. We then literally drove,drove,drove. At 5pm, we were more than delighted to arrive at Coober Pedy (half way), but to our disappointment by that time the tourist office had already closed. So we had a quick look around town and discovered the quaint (free) opal museum. Not having a clue where to camp we simply parked far behind the petrol station – where nobody complained. Did our washing up at the station in the morning – apparently you could even shower there for a couple of bucks, we passed on that one. But a shower’s a shower on a roadtrip. If you don’t have enough food – stock up at the grocery store in Coober Pedy, you’ve also got a couple of joints to eat warm food at (I heard the pizza’s good). If you’ve got time, check out the mines – they’ve got gorgeous Opals to display. Another highlight is the Kangaroo orphanage, which we also missed due to unexpected closure.
Day 2: Got up at around 5, crack of dawn. Drove, drove, drove all the way to Uluru and arrived at around 4pm. We decided to stay at the resort for one night, which was quite expensive – but hot showers, bbqs and what not. They also have quite a large grocery store, so stock up here – it’s your last affordable chance before Kings Canyon 😉 The highlight of that night was going to the lookout point and gazing at the stars and the milkyway – I’ve never seen such a beautiful night sky! Another one being our frenchie, Antoine, interupting our romantic star gazing by publicly urinating within a couple of meters – as he was too scared to go any further. We cried with laughter to say the least. But hey, dingos, rattle snakes and all…
Day 3: Rise and shine. Off into the Uluru National Park before sunrise which cost us $25 per person – this pass is valid for 3 days, but we only used it for 1. Getting up in time to view the beautiful sunrise upon Ayers Rock from the Kata Tjuta Dune Viewing Area was well worth it. After this we headed straight over to Kata Tjuta – a majestic, even more impressive rock formation, a couple of kilometers down the road. Here we cooked a yummy pancake breakfast, with an amazing view at one of the rest areas nearby. We proceeded to do the full circuit valley of the winds walk – which was indicated as difficult and estimated at 4hrs, from what I can remember it took us 2.5hrs. It was a fun walk, with a few difficult parts, and the rock formations were simply splendid.
We then headed over to Uluru. After lunch and a debate whether to climb the monstrosity or not, four of us decided to take the leap and go up. Amongst Aboriginies it is seen as questionable to climb Ayers Rock, but that’s a debate you can have with yourself. The view certainly doesn’t disappoint. The first steep ascent is intimidating and demanding. Only having a metal rope to hang onto whilst climbing up the dawnting slope, gave us a bit of a scare at first. But after this initial part, it’s all easy cheesy. The boys were even prancing around bare foot. So don’t be afraid, bring enough water and stick through the first part and you’ll be fine. At the top that view though – endless desert – like nothing I’ve ever seen before. We felt like we were ontop of the world. Our day finished off with the sunset viewing on Uluru, heading to the free campsite Curtin Springs after. A decent campsite with 2 dollar showers, and Emus to greet you in the morning. Our way to the campsite was somewhat eventful, we suddenly found ourselves facing cows in the middle of the road, eyes beaming through headlights. Although we avoided the ‘obstacles’ safely, bar a couple of damaged ears from screams, keep in mind that a lot of wild animals are on the road – especially at night, hence no insurance.
Day 4: Next stop – Kings Canyon ! Another early morning rise allowed us to take our time and walk the 6km loop around the breathtaking canyon. The boys had their fun jumping and climbing on rocks, and we didn’t mind the splendid views either. I somehow felt like I was on the set of a Flintstones movie. Because it was so beautiful, we stopped to take pictures every 5 minutes – which ended up in us actually taking the estimated 4 hours to complete the circuit. This was a point where we had nearly run out of food – prices in the tiny visitors center were insanely expensive, but we did our best to get our value for money 😉 Wow were we hangry at that stage…peace was restored after scrambled eggs, toast and beans. From there we drove, drove, drove back towards Adelaide until the sun went down. I think this was our dodgy camping night – we like to call them random camp spots. Not very legal, and not very quiet. Between monkey sounding birds, helicopters and trains – I wouldn’t call it a peaceful night’s sleep. That didn’t dampen our cozy chats and drinking session around our last campfire of the trip though 🙂
Day 5: And so we drove, drove, drove back to the South Australian capital. Although we had intended in possibly paying the Flinder’s ranges a visit, we were simply too tired and it was a little far off the track for us. So if you have more time – by all means you could take up to 10 days to do this trip, but as we were under time and money pressure – we made it work. If you do want to go in 5 days – prepare well, rise early and drive your hearts out.
It was truly an amazing trip, we became the bestest of friends and continued our journeys throughout the semester!
-check if the car radio is working before you leave, even better, bring your own music, or any car activities you can think of that is!
-plan your campsites ahead, something we should have done a little more precisely. There’s not many around – and it’s not as easy to wing it as say, on the east coast.
– go with a full gas(petrol) tank also, it gets crazy expensive the further you go up.get gas at EVERY petrol station, you do not know when or where the next one will be.
– take a map (and a nap, on several occasions, preferably in the car) the navigation system shuts down at some stage (it’s all good though, it’s one big a** road (looong naps), can’t miss it really)
– do your entire food shopping before you leave. plenty of water too!
– bring warm clothes and sleeping bags for the night time.
– buy gas for gas cooker, paper towels, toilet roll, bug repelant, torch.
– bring a french guy, that doesn’t know a heck of a lot of english, but begins singing upon mentioning a word he knows 😀 best entertainment you could ask for!