Australia always signified total freedom and adventure for me. Before I came here, I dreamed of buying my own little hippie van, driving around this vast country, stopping wherever I wanted and just living day by day. Somehow it all came differently than imagined. Instead of cruising around in my own vehicle, I was standing with my thumb out and a sign in my hand, next to the road, trying to catch a ride with a stranger. It all worked out really well and it was fun but just very different to what I initially expected.
Therefore, I was really excited when my friend Louise asked me if I want to go on a road trip to Alice Springs with her and two other girls. This would give me the opportunity to explore the great vastness of this country and really feel the long distances. We were more than lucky and spontaneously found a cheap relocation car from Cairns to Alice Springs. The company we rented it from needed to have the vehicle in Alice Springs within five days and would pay for all the fuel on the way. Nicolina, who took over responsibility and rented the car, did the maths and figured out that we each only had to pay 38AUD for the car to get to our destination.
Two days later, we all met up in Townsville and started our journey to Alice Springs, about to cover a distance of about 2000km within three days. The relocation car we rented, wasn’t just a normal car, instead it was a spacious and luxurious campervan, equipped with its own bathroom, kitchen, table and comfortable beds. I don’t think I have ever travelled in such a comfortable manner before. I felt like a true flashpacker. We all took turns driving on these long endless roads towards Australia’s famous red centre. While two people were sitting in the front, listening to a huge variety of different music genres, the two others could relax and comfortably sleep in the back. It was a tiny home on wheels, all you could possibly need was within arm’s reach. At night we stayed in campgrounds and took turns cooking delicious meals for each other.
Devils Marbles /Karlu Karlu (aboriginal name):
On our way we made a quick stopover at the Devils Marbles, located about 400km north of Alice Springs. The whole area is impressively scattered with massive red granite bolders, some balanced on top of each other, and varying in sizes up to 6m.
Before we arrived in Alice Springs, we found another relocation car which would have to be delivered to Darwin within five days. This time it was “only” a 4WD with a rooftop tent and we would have to pay for fuel ourselves. Even though it wouldn’t be nearly as cheap as the previous drive and time was very limited, I decided to join the girls for the second part of their trip. It had been a lot of fun so far and I really enjoyed their company, so why not travel together for a few more days?
Ayers Rock/ Uluru (aboriginal name):
After one night in Alice Springs, our first destination was the world famous Uluru, an impressive red sandstone rock formation, which I’ve seen so many photos of before already. Even though I’ve seen all these photos, I had a funny mistake along the way. While I was driving and everybody else was resting with closed eyes, I saw a gigantic red mountain in the far distance. Excited as I was, I enthusiastically screamed “Uluru!”, pointing towards this landmark. My three sleeping passengers woke with a start and were equally excited to finally see Uluru. It took us a while to realise that this wasn’t Uluru but Mount Conner instead (apparently, at least according to Google, a mistake that happens to many tourists).
When we finally made it to the “real” Uluru, we watched a cloudy sunset and then drove to a nearby campsite for the night. It was absolutely freezing this evening and it took us a while until we figured out how to set up our rooftop tent in the dark. This first night camping on top and next to our 4WD, we all truly missed our luxurious campervan. After only a few hours of sleep, we made our way back to Uluru the next day to watch the sunrise, which we unfortunately had to admire from the car as we were running a little late. We then spent three hours walking around this impressive landmark, learning more about the aboriginal stories connected to Uluru, as well as admiring various rock caves and paintings.
In the late afternoon we then made our way to the Watarrka National Park where we would stay for the night to see Kings Canyon the next day. We did the 6km Rim Walk, which started with a steep climb, then took us to incredible viewing points of the surrounding landscape, the canyon rim, sandstone walls, and the so called “Garden of Eden”. This walk was my absolute highlight, I was simply amazed by nature’s beauty.
The following days were characterized by long days of driving, little sleep and tired faces. We rolled past an everchanging landscape, countless termite mounds with shirts and hats on, only sometimes sharing the long straight roads with other vehicles and long road trains.
On our last day, we rounded up our long journey with a relaxed morning swim in the Bitter Springs. The thermal pool, surrounded by palm trees and green bush, kept us warm and was the perfect start into our last day on the road.
We made it!
Exactly one week and about 5000km later, we then arrived at our final destination: Darwin. What a great adventure we had!
PS: Thank you girls for your great company, and for organising most of our trip, Nicolina! I’m happy that our paths have crossed!