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Great Ocean Road and Red Centre

AUSTRALIA | Monday, 2 May 2011 | Views [643]

I finished work at AGC on Friday the 8th and had 4 weeks to travel in, but had to be back in Melbourne in 3 weeks so decided to see what tours could get through the red centre and after some talking with the travel agent in the hostel we managed to get me on some tours, (slightly more difficult than normal as it was Easter on the 25th so everyone was travelling). But got a 2 day tour of The Great Ocean Road, which is the largest war memorial in the world as it was built by ex-service men and was dedicated to them. That left on the 16th of April and the 1st day we went across the ocean road and saw the magnificent views there and got to see a koala in the wild, well actually saw a few in the wild, which was cool. Also saw the other main sights such as London Bridge and the Twelve Apostles and we walked the Maits rest rainforest walk which was cool, and as well as these sights also saw other amazing landscape views which were breathtaking. That night we stopped in the Grampians at 'Ned's other beds' hostel and then in the morning we had a walk to were there is sometimes a waterfall if there has been recent rainfall unfortunately there hadn't when we were there, as we had lovely sunny weather to see the sights in, but we did get to see a lot of kangaroos which was cool. The afternoon we went to Hollow Mountain and had a climb up that which gave you spectacular panoramic views of the area around which was amazing and was nice to do a bit of hiking. After the walk the people who were going on to Adelaide then caught a bus and the rest went back to Melbourne.

So got to Adelaide on the night of the 17th and met Jess and the next day we had a wonder around Adelaide city, not much really there it is a small city, but had a look round had luckily timed it right so the time I was in Adelaide Jess also had off work which was a bit of luck as hadn't actually organised it.

On the 20th of April I was leaving for the Rock Patrol tour with Groovy Grape going to Uluru and had to be in the city for 6.20am so had to leave the apartment at 5.30 so could catch a tram in. So got the tour and to start with for the first couple days there was only 8 of us which was good, meant plenty of room on the bus to spread out.

The 1st day we went to Flinders Ranges and did a walk up Dutchman’s Stern, which was a nice walk and got some amazing views out over the desert which was looking surprisingly green. By the time we got to this walk it was the afternoon and didn't finish it till around 5:00pm so afterwards we headed to the camp site were we thought we were going to have to sleep in swags but very nicely we were offered some cabins and decided to take then as would have plenty of opportunities later to sleep under the stars. That night the tour guide Jason did a BBQ for it was was great with kangaroo. The next day we were up bright and early thin about 5, slightly later than usual as decided would have breakfast later after had done some of the driving so we left heading towards Coober Pedy. On the way though we stopped off at Glendambo whose sign boast 'Population – sheep 22,500, Flies 2,000,000 (Approx), Humans 30! which is quite funny, luckily for us as it was getting slightly cooler there weren't that many flies about but still plenty to annoy you while your trying to eat. But we carried on and got to Coober Pedy in the afternoon, which is the largest opal mining area in the world. This area is normally described as looking like Mars and many films have been made here, such as Mad Max, but when we were there due to the rain they've had in the past year it is the greenest it's been since 1973 and didn't look anything like Mars, but was still good as went down an old mine and slept under ground like a lot of the locals do, which is were the town got it's name as Coober Pedy means 'White Man in Hole' which is what the Aboriginals called it as originally everyone slept under ground as the temperature stayed constant and wasn't boiling in the summer and cold in the winter. It was also in Coober Pedy that we met up with the desert patrol tour which we would merge with for the rest of the tour and met our new tour guide, Trevor, who after knowing him for a few days you realise is quite mad, but in a good way and was a lot of fun. In the town there is a Kangaroo orphanage and we got to hold a baby kangaroo which was cool, except it kept trying to eat my bracelets.

So on Friday the 22nd both groups now together headed towards Uluru and passed from South Australia into the Northern Territory, and by now we should have been seeing the true Red Centre of Australia except what we actually saw was greenery and flood waters, rather than a barren red desert, so didn't get to see the normal sight but saw something that only happens about every 20-30 years, which is visible life in the desert, so that was awesome. This day was mostly driving as drove something like 600km so we got to our camp-site late afternoon and went to a view point to see the Uluru sunset and had a good view point as was a bit of a distance away but as it was at the camp-site and not in the national park, there was basically only our group and a few other people there which was good. This was the 1st night of sleeping in swags as well and essentially they are like one man tents except you just role them out and most don't have any pole or anything like that, but mine was summer one and had a fly net by the head and a single pole to hold that end up so that it wasn't lying on your face, then you just sleep in your sleeping bag in side it.

The next day we went to Uluru and saw the Sunrise and the change of colour which is really difficult to capture on camera but was amazing, and they have built as new viewing platform for to view it from but it's on the opposite side to the sun so you don't see the colour change but if you start the walk around the base you can see the change and so that's what we did. Then after the sunrise we continued to walk around the base and saw these caterpillars that go around in a chain, not sure why but it's they way they do it. Also Trevor normally doesn't do the walk around but this time met us part way and so told us the stories about different things, but could tell he was really into the aboriginal thing as when you asked about one thing he would tell a story that just about answered your question but explained a lot more about aboriginal life which was great. He also told us the aboriginal stories for certain sections, and these stories are the basis of aboriginal living. The next day we went to the Olgas and walk around them which was good and saw some good scenery, and then afterwards we drove towards Kings Canyon (and the reason it's called Kings Canyon is because they thought it sounded good for tourist). On the way saw a wild Emu which was cool.

The last day of the tour the 25th we went for a hike through Kings Canyon and this was the highlight of the whole trip for me but most people wont of even heard of it like me before going to Uluru. The hike starts with Heartattack hill which is rightly named as it is really quite steep but after that it's not to hard but a very good walk with the best views of the whole tour. We also went for a swim in the garden of Eden there which is a waterhole, but you can't always swim there as there may not of been rain for a while and the water is not good for swimming in, but due to the water coming from Queensland we were able to swim in it which was good. That night we got into Alice Springs slightly later than planned as took a lot longer at the Canyon just having a relaxing day, but that didn't matter. That night we all met up at Toddy's bar and had a final meal together which was good.

The next day in Alice Springs I didn't really do much had a little wonder around town and decided there wasn't much there and then relaxed in the hostel, The following day was a bit more po-active we went for a walk which we thought was about 20mins but was actually closer to an hour at 3.5km to the telegraph station and had a look around there which was interesting, we also went up Anzac hill and that gave you a very good view over the town of Alice Springs and you could see how small it actually was. While walking to the telegraph station we were walking along the river and thought this would be good as it was a hot day but the river was bone dry and don't think there is normally much water in it as the roads that cross it, they don't have bridges they just go across the river bed and have barriers that come down obviously when there is water in the river saying road closed, so it must not happen very often. On the Thursday a lot of people were leaving on the Ghan railway and so went to say good bye to them and also meant got to see the train and it's pretty long, and in the morning when it arrived it was apparently even longer. The following day the 29th was when I flew back to Melbourne and got the plane at 11.35am, while on the plane as the sky was clear you could see below us and we flew over Lake Eyre and saw it with water in which is a rare sight and this is due to all the flood water coming down same as why the desert is green.

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