Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Outback

Tuesday: Hit up CBD for the first time with a fantastic group of SPOT X girls. Had a great time yet woke up wednesday and went to class hungover for the first time in Australia.
Wednesday: After getting myself together I got on a bus to Robina to catch a train to Brisbane. I got off at the wrong stop, and had to get back on to meet Tina and Tina at the next stop. We stayed at Base X, a hostel for the night. It was incredibly noisy, but the service desk was very helpful. (I had forgotten to grab my booking information, so I had to ask Student Flights to fax it to me. I am now a huge supporter of their company!) Of course we went out in Brisbane first, hit up a hotel bar Vics, and Dunder.
Thursday: 5 A.M. walked to the train that would take us to the airport. Got on a plane to Caines, then a plane to Alice Springs. Alice Springs is the most bizare little town. It is what I image the midwest ghost towns of America to be like. Obviously tourists and backpackers are what keep the local economy going. Tina looked at me when we passed some friendly constructors and said "I don't know whether people are just really friendly here, or if it's because we're girls" I responded "The later, I don't think construction workers would be as apt to say "G'day," ( try to get this out of your head) and stop to stare if we were two boys walking around town." It started to down pour, and was so cold Tina decided she wanted to buy some jeans; in addition, to the bottles of wine we walked into town for initially.

Friday: We woke up at 5 A.M. to get onto a bus for the OZexperience. We stopped at a Camel Farm and rode camels along the way. We drove to Katja and got out to walk the Valley of the Winds. It was my favorite walk of the trip, it was absolutely gorgeous. It was like walking into a hidden world. I don't know what made me think of it, but if someone could pull off a wedding there, it would be surreal. We then got on the bus again, heading to see the sunset at Uluru then headed to camp. There was no cabins, no tents. Just a sleepingbag covering called a Swag or a Matilda ( ) There was nothinggg protecting us from the elements, bugs, mice, grasshoppers, flies, and stars. Thank god it did not rain. We ate Kangaroo steak and Camel sausages for dinner and drank enough wine to think sleeping in a Swag was an ok idea.

Saturday: Once again we woke up at 5 A.M. went to get breakfast and then watched the sunrise at Uluru, it was FREEZING. We then drove up to the large rock for the first time. We walked the 9 km around the rock, but did not climb it. I don't think I would have even if it was one of the supposed 90 days it is open out of the year. It holds spiritual value to the Aboriginals, wouldn't want to disrespect their culture any more than we already tend to do.

While walking the 9km I stoped by a waterhole. There was a tour going on in what I thought was Spanish, but one of the Scottish kids in my tour group informed me it was Italian. Either way, the tour guide was speaking and I walked up behind him and started taking photos over to the side. Aparently his tour group was staring at me and not paying attention to him any longer. He stopped talking about the waterfall, and commenced talking about the "photographia bella being more interesante no?" and then would keep glancing over his shoulder at me as he chatted on. I can't entirely blame the group of foreign tourists, nor their tour guide. Afterall, I was wearing short shorts and a DPhiE tank top. I quickly covered up and put on my Bentley Hoodie. Speaking of groups, I had a great tour group! It was mostly all girls, there were only three guys including the tour guide (a very much welcomed experience as I had been spending a majority of my Australia experience with guys) The only part I did not like was when the tour guide would send us into the bush to collect wood for the fire. I was afraid a snake would bite me: Later that same day all of us girls were sitting around the table sipping on water at a rest stop and yet another tour guide makes a loaded remark. "I obviously am leading the wrong tour," then freely continued staring at each of us in turn. To set the record straight, I love attention, and hearing comments like these while an ego booster are more annoying than anything else. I mean, I was in the Outback for three days, not much of a shower, no make up, hair awry, tired, sore, hungry, and grown men are trying to make passes. Give me a break. Do people think it socially acceptable to talk about others in earshot as if they are not there? As if women are secondary citizens, an object to be remarked on. What kind of society have I been living in recently? So I glared, turned on my heel, and walked away.

That night we drove to a different campsite. We headed to King's Canyon, on the way we stopped at a petrol station and learned about a great project:  We also stopped to see a salt lake across from a "fooluru" look out. Fooluru is a table top mountain in Central Australia, and while interesting in its own right, many tourists and backpackers believe it to be Uluru, take photos, then head back. Not realizing that Uluru is another hour or so up the road. I chatted for a bit with a couple from Galway, Ireland who asked me to take their photo in front of the mountain. It was awkward, but after I took the photo I suggested they travel further up the road to Uluru interpreting that they had miscalculated their adventures. They looked at each other exchanging shocked glances, "What is this then?" "Fooluru." I'm not quite sure if they thought I was making fun, but either way they got back in the car and continued on the road.

We made a pasta dinner then roasted 'danish bread.' We wrapped bread around a stick, roasted it, pulled it off, then put jam/nutella down the middle hole, yum. One of the girls offered me her roasting stick because she was done, and hers was longer than mine. I said "Thanks, but I like my stick." Which set off the Danish girls in a plethora of lighthearted sarcasm: "Take it with you into your swag if you like it that much." "Put some Marshmellows on it for added fun." We all crawled into bed laughing and dodging flying crickets.

That night I awoke to noise, raised my dome, and was peering face to face with a mouse. My hands were by my sides in the swag, I had no way to defend myself. My eyes wide, I whispered out 'TINA!' The mouse scurried off and Tina, next to me, slept on soundly as I lay face to the stars counting shooting stars and praying nothing else would come near.

Sunday: Woke up yet again at 5 A.M. to get on the bus. Today we would be hiking only 7 km, but it was a mountain. The walk was gorgeous and I was sad to leave, but by the end of the walk I was exhausted. I really need to remember to pack snickers with me when I go for long walks. I almost fainted/blacked out in the bathroom after. We were walking down the hill back to the bus when I started feeling lightheaded. I finished my water and walked straight to the bathroom where I started seeing spots. I felt alot better once I had eaten something, but just shows how out of shape I am!

Saw many wild animals: camels, emus, horses, a sand lizard

We left the Outback and headed to the Stuart Highway to drive back to Hostel Haven in Alice Springs.

Monday: Woke up at 7 A.M. without an alarm. Tina and I walked into Town in the morning to find a boomerang. My father had said, "you can go to Australia, but you have to bring me back a Boomerang." I was not going to disapoint. I hunted for that boomerang at every stop we made, they were all terrible. Either outrageously priced: 500$ for a piece of wood or 50-100$ for a piece of souvie trash not even made by an aboriginal tribe. I wanted it to be from the Outback feeling that it would be more authentic, and would hold more personal value for my dad. I then learned that 'real' Boomerangs are not made to return. Excuse me? You expect me to pay 100-500$ for a piece of wood that does not return? Apparently the returning Boomerangs were only used in a small section of Australia by a tribe that would use them to hunt birds. They would not even use them to kill the bird and bring it back, but rather it would be used to scare the birds backwards, so that they could kill the animal with a 'real' Boomerang. I honestly remember hearing about this somewhere before, some know-it-all dictionary in Elementary school I think mentioned it once. Not to name names, but I think it was Eric, ha I'll give credit for the 'did you know' fact. In any case I got back to Alice Springs and only had 2 hours to find a Boomerang before I had to jump on a Plane. Tina and I were literally running around town, but we found some! I saw one hanging on a wall and I had to get it, it was perfect. Made waiting to buy the Boomerang worth it. I haggled with the owner over the price. Do you have any student deals?! "No." C'mon, we're buying more than one here, you won't cut us some kind of deal?" In the end he generously chopped off over 150$ combined. We thanked him and then ran out of the store just in time to catch the airport transfer from the Hostel to the Airport. We flew from Alice Springs to Sydney to Brisbane. Got on a plane, to a train, to a bus, then walked to my room, did some laundry, talked to my family, then got into bed.

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