06.08.2016 - 10.08.2016 22 °C
Australians drive on the same side of the road as the English, yet both Ben and Anna have managed to drive on the wrong side. So far it’s one all.
From Adelaide’s ferry terminal, we drove 5 and a half hours to Port Augusta. Theres not much to say about the journey as there wasn't much to see, the whole thing pretty much looked like this:
When we arrived at our motel, we did a much needed laundry load. Whilst the laundry was washing and drying we decided to sit down and do some more Benanna admin. We even found the time to drive into the town to get a Chinese… the satnav took us to an abandoned building which contained no food of the sort and so we took our hungry selves back to the motel. Luckily the guy at reception was extremely helpful and gave us a map with exact directions to the best Chinese in town. It was a very tiny town and Chinese was the only option besides Macca’s and KFC. We didn’t wait long for our order and soon headed back to scoff it down in our motel room whilst watching Friday Night Lights. By then, the Laundry was done and so we sorted through it but Ben had managed to lose a sock and gain somebody else’s. He was very upset about this sock as it was one of his favourite Billabong ones and so he whipped open the door to go and find it. Alls Anna heard was ‘Oh Hello’ and there the sock was, waiting on the doorstep cold and lonely.
We had another 10am check out the next morning. We aren’t enjoying Australian check out times. In Asia is was always 12pm… perfect! We headed to Coles to stock up on GF food as its very lacking in the outback. We also got a full tank of fuel and a jerry can. We must of looked like idiots attempting to undo, fill and seal the can though, we even had to ask the lady for help twice. Anna is now down on Australian dollars and so is having to withdraw money from the savings she very stupidly left in her UK account. We had another 5 hour drive ahead of us, but this time we were well prepared. We even bought a crate of bottled water and checked we had a spare tyre and all the parts needed to change one. Can you believe that Anna can change a tyre but Ben can’t!
On our journey, we saw more dead kangaroos. Its very strange seeing so much road kill when you can never spot any live roos hopping along the outback! We did however see two huge emus crossing the road! We have also seen and nearly squished a lot of lizards. The birds have been pretty incredible too. Lots of birds of pray flying around looking for goodies to eat. So it is true what they say, there is just nothing for miles and miles and miles! There is however plenty of petrol stations and emergency phones, so don’t worry folks, we will survive the outback! We have stopped in some very Oz places, its really nice getting the feeling of originality and culture. We have been stopping for picnics too. We actually didn't notice that one day we were covered in ants as we were eating. Anna soon freaked out in the car once she realised. We saw the BIGGEST bird eating a dead kangaroo. We think the bird was actually bigger than the kangaroo.
We made it to Coober Pedy where we stayed in an underground motel!
We enjoyed lovely GF pizzas for dinner and watched some more Friday Night Lights. We actually spent a few hours sorting out all of our stuff instead of blogging and video making. We seemed to have accumulated bags and bags of stuff which filled the car. Now it just fills the boot, apart from all the food we have sprawled across the back seats! This days journey was a big 7 and a half hours. We got plenty of fuel before we left and headed back onto the road. To our shock, about an hour in, we saw a man walking towards us in a bright green t-shirt pushing a trolly full of stuff. We concluded he must be walking from Darwin to Adelaide or something crazy like that. We still can’t get over it now. It’s so unusual to see as the only people we come across are at petrol stations or in towns. At this point in the blog post, Ben really want’s to hammer home the message of nothingness. There really is nothing out here, for hundreds of kilometres. NOTHING. We have had quite the nightmare finding somewhere to stay near Uluru. Its so expensive and we are on really tight budgets now. We have only just realised how much money we have spent in just over two weeks, and it is a shocking amount. Lets hope we get jobs pretty soonish before we start a fundraising page ‘help Benanna travel Oz!’
We are seeing a lot more aboriginal people now. In fact Anna didn't even know they existed before she arrived in Australia. She didn’t see any until we stayed in Coober Pedy. We crossed the Northern territory border which was exciting, we even did a little photoshoot with the sign:
As you can see, the sun is out and the skies are blue… it’s got hot and we have packed away our coats, hats, scarves and gloves into the darkest corner of the car boot.
We haven’t had any phone signal since Adelaide. Internet is also a rarity, we get it once a night if we are lucky as most of it is limited by 500mb.
We arrived at Curtin Springs in the late afternoon and reached our accommodation for the next 2 nights. We couldn't work out how to get into the carpark or how to check in for that matter. We parked up in a random spot and headed to the general store that turned out to also be the reception and the bar! After a confusing check in Anna headed to the room while Ben ran back to the car before someone came out with a shotgun because we had parked in his way! We had booked a twin room as it was the only one left, which turned out to be a quad room, we had the choice of 4 single beds none of which were the comfiest. We ate our left over pizza and wedges cold while being as productive as possible without an internet connection. We had pushed 2 of the beds together at one end of the room, this is where we were sat carrying out our life admin duties when Anna looked up and noticed a ridiculous amount of bugs swarming around the light. She managed to find some bug spray and sprayed it so much she set off the smoke alarm. The bugs literally dropped like flies all over the floor and beds. We walked around as little as possible after that and when we had to go to the bathroom at the other end of the room it was like we were kids again, playing the floor is made of lava! It was an average night sleep which was better than we had expected considering the battle with the bugs, unfortunately though we were woken pretty early by our neighbours which was annoying as wed hoped for a bit of a lie in. It didn't matter too much though as we were excited to go and see the worlds biggest rock.
We drove another hour and 20 minutes to Uluru. Initially we didn't think to much of it until we got closer and closer and realised just how incredible it is. Our first stop was the cultural centre where we learned all about the Aboriginal people's cultures, traditions and way of life. We even got to see some of the aboriginal women painting. We bought a small hand weaved basket and a postcard showing them making a similar one, Ben even got Anna a little bracelet, Awwwwww. It was midday and we were both starving so we headed back to the car and drove round to a different car park. As we were having our picnic in the car we saw a ranger open a gate and take down some signs. We weren't really sure what he was doing until we saw people starting to climb! Once we had finished our food we had pumped ourselves up to climb the rock. When we got over to the open gate we read a sign saying that the climb was very dangerous and the Aboriginal people ask that you not climb it as it is a sacred place for them. We stood for a long time deliberating weather or not we should make the climb. We saw many people go ahead without taking any notice of the sign. It was a tough decision as we didn't want to offend anyone but at the same time it was a once in a lifetime opportunity. In the end we decided to go for it as we figured that if everybody didn't do things for fear of upsetting others nothing amazing would ever get done. It was an incredibly steep and difficult climb. It was very hot and very sweaty but the experience is something that will stay with us forever and the views from the top were awesome! The way back down was just as hard if not harder and we could see how so many people could have been hurt. When we were safely back on the ground we went back to the car and downed some water and blasted the air con. We still had some time to kill before the world famous sun set so we drove around the base, admiring it from every angle. Once we finished the lap we headed to a sunset viewing area where we sat on Sheila's roof, ate some snacks, set up the cameras and watched an Uluru change colour while the sun set behind us. The drive back to Curtin Springs was just as dark as on kangaroo island only we didn't see as single animal this time! As soon as we got back we headed straight to the "restaurant" (I use inverted commas here as restaurant is a bit of a stretch. Curtin Springs is a cattle station and the menu consisted of 6 things all of which were beef). The only gluten free option was steak. The food was nice though and well deserved. Back at the room we found a census waiting for us that was mandatory for every person in Australia. Not exactly how we had imagined spending our night but we filled them in as quickly as possible and handed them back to the census officer that was half cut at the bar. All in all it had been an incredible day, the only downside that Ben got a sun burt neck. At least the suns finally making an appearance though!
The next morning we were up early packing our bags. We checked out and filled up the tank and were on the road again by 9:15 (yes AM!). We were headed to kings Canyon then on to Alice Springs. The drive to Kings Canyon was almost 2 hours so we stopped to fill the tank just before we arrived (we still had 3/4 of a tank but have been stopping at every petrol station we see in the outback an filling up just to be on the safe side). it was $2.08 a Litre here which is more than double what it was in Adelaide! We got to Kings Canyon at midday-ish and hiked up to the first viewpoint. We saw some incredible views but feel we might have been spoiled by Uluru. The climb up was no where near as difficult is the day before but we were still knackered and absolutely starving. Another picnic in the car and an unsuccessful attempt at connecting to the free wifi and we were back on our way again.
We were gunning for Alice Springs although weren't sure if we would make it that far. The road soon turned to a track and that soon turned to dirt until we were fully off roading. It was incredibly difficult driving, we were lucky if we could make it to 40km an hour. occasionally a land rover or other purpose built 4X4 would fly past leaving us literally to eat their dust. Poor old sheila was taking a real beating, despite Annas incredible driving. The off road road is what they call the scenic route and when we could take a half second to take our eyes off the road we really could appreciate how amazing the Australian outback really is. No sign of humans as far as the eye could see in all directions apart from the dirt track. After 2 hours the driving started to take its toll on Anna so we found a safe place to pull over to switch seats. It took a little time for Ben to get used to the driving conditions but he managed. One thing we had been noticing while driving was huge piles of poo on either side of the road. It was far too big to be a kangaroo or any other native species and we were hundreds of kilometres from any farmland. We were baffled and slightly concerned that some prehistoric monster had been surviving out there unnoticed and forgotten by man, preying on the unfortunate travellers who decide to tackle dirt roads in old beat-up cars unworthy of the challenge, who break down and wonder out on foot in search of help only to meet a grizzly end, leaving behind a broken down car filled with backpacks and lonely planet books, to be engulfed by the flames of the next bush fire or washed away in the seasonal flooding. After passing a couple of shells of old burnt out estates and saloons adding to our worries we found the culprit that had been leaving such large piles of excrement. 3 wild horses galloped along in the bush by the car and one shot out in front of us only to turn on his heels and head back to his pack. There was no need for heavy breaking as at that particular point the pot holes were so bad we were literally crawling over them. We took some pictures and let them be. The sun was beginning to get lower in the sky and there was no sign of the dirt track coming to an end. Regardless of the burnt out and abandoned cars reminding us of what possible future we would face if we weren't careful and more 4X4's racing past us reminding us of how truly unfit Sheila was for this road we persevered. After 4 and a half hours or shaking and bumping and banging, swerving and skidding, gasping and swearing we eventually hit tarmac. We had never felt relief like it! Sheila had made it and once more sounded better than ever! It's funny, the things we take for granted but neither of us will ever criticise and poorly maintained road again.
The town we reached had a petrol station so we thought we would fill up again and stretch our legs. Unfortunately it was not to be, as the petrol station was closed. We realised we were in an aboriginal community and saw signs that alcohol was prohibited there. Apparently there are a lot of areas in Australia where it is prohibited to sell alcohol to Aboriginal people, It has caused a lot of problems within some communities so the governments and aboriginal elders decided to totally ban the sale of it. After our stressful drive we were reward with what is possibly the most incredible sunset either of us has ever seen! We arrived at Alice Springs in the dark and found ourselves a nice hotel. We headed out into civilisation for the first time in days to find some food. We found an Italian with gf pasta available and headed in. It appears we found the only Italian for thousands of kilometres as it was heaving. We waited 20 minutes for a table then half an hour for 2 tiny dishes. 50 minutes waiting for 50 seconds eating. Needless to say we were still ravenous and didn't fancy hanging around to order more. We found a dominoes, ordered a pizza and ate it in bed watching Friday Night Lights.