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Sloggs' Travel Blog A journal of my travels in 2008 & beyond...

Adelaide to Alice... what a week!!

AUSTRALIA | Friday, 25 April 2008 | Views [2092] | Comments [1]

The bestest tour group ever!! Love em!

The bestest tour group ever!! Love em!

My tour from Adelaide to Alice springs turned out to be a fantastic week. As I said previously, I couldn't get on a tour before Friday the 18th, which was disappointing as I was bored with Adelaide, but it turned out to be so lucky as the group of people I spent the week with were brilliant. My tour was with a company called 'Groovy Grape' and our superb driver, Nathan, was about as Aussie as you can get! His introduction was superb including the classic line "I use shit and fuck as descriptive words" LOL!

The bus was so much more comfy than the Oz Experience buses I'd been on, simply because they'd removed one row of seats making lots of leg room, and they were greyhound bus seats, which recline and are lots more comfy anyway. This also meant that the group was slightly smaller than the Oz tours which is another bonus.

My group was 16 strong and included (unbelievably) 3 Bristolians and one honourary Bristolian! It consisted of 12 girls and 4 chaps, which was a nice ratio! The hounorary Bristolian was Sarah, who isn't from Bristol but went to Uni in Plymouth and hung out with lots of Bristolians during her studies and has a random Bristolian twang sometimes when speaking. Sarah was traveling with her friend Jenna who was also on this tour, she is a posho from Chew Magna! ;-) [They should have been with another mate of theirs, but she pulled out of the trip that morning with a hangover!!! Serious cash down the drain!] The other Bristolian was Aaron from Henbury who was sound as fook and meeting him and spending the week together was a definite highlight of the tour, we shared a lot of laughs. There was one Israeli girl called Elianne who was awesome fun and is someone I am definitely keeping in touch with. Tamas from Hungary was cool and we whiled away many evenings with beer fueled chats around the camp fire. There was the wonderful and crazy Michaela from Switzerland, who entertained everyone with her energy and insane animal impressions (one of her dog barks scared a big cat away from our dinner table after everyone else failed with their hissing and waving of hands!! Lol). There were the two Veronika's, friends from Germany who were spending a short time traveling together, who were a lot of fun after kick starting their under-used English into gear of a morning. The rest of the group were all from Holland, one chap called Ralph who snored like a train, much to the amusement (through gritted teeth) of everyone. The Dutch girls were a lot of fun throughout the trip, always up for a laugh! I spent a lot of time on the walks with the wonderful Kim, who seemed to be constantly laughing! She is one of the nicest and most geniune people I have ever met. Marieke and Sandra formed a good bond early on and were great fun in the bad-kid seats at the back of the bus with myself and Aaron. Klaarjteg and Renske also formed a good bond early on, so much so that we all thought they were traveling together as friends from home until we found out halfway through the week that they just met on the trip! Last but not least was Lucinda, who was very old fashioned in her ways and visibly cringed at the brash Nathan's language, and didn't want to join in with any late evening fun (which is fair enough if it isn't your thing), but she still had some laughs with the group along the way.

The good thing about the group was that no small groups formed inside it and everyone spent time with each other at various points, even on the walks, after each rest point different groups were walking together for the next sections. There were no problems at all, which was great, and I found watching the dynamic within the huge group of girls through the week quite fascinating!

Then there was our tour guide Nathan, who is now a mate for life! The guy is a seriously brash Aussie, right out of the stereotype book, but he is a bloody stand-up bloke, honest to the point of rude and a brilliant person to hang out with. His knowledge of his tour, the geology and the Aboriginal culture is superb too and he was a big part in getting everyone relaxed together from the start with a great attitude for life! He joined us everynight for a drink, sloping off quietly to get some sleep ready for the early starts each morning and was always on time and on the ball. He and I clicked pretty much straight away and had some really good laughs along the way. Hopefully we can spend some more time chuckling together in the future...

So, to the tour... the first day was an early start, and because of the Brizzles on the bus we had some good chats along the route right from the start. The tour took us through the Flinders range, north of Adelaide which has some stunning scenery. We drove on a dirt track in the afternoon, which was a lot of fun and filled the bus with dust for most of the afternoon (which is where we invented 'Dust - for men!' a new fragrence straight from the heart of Australia). We made several stops in some small towns on route for breaks and lunch. Lunch was fresh sandwiches which we made ourselves from all the kit and fresh food that Nathan had in the trailer. This was to be how we did lunch every day for the tour. Each of us would muck in to prepare a meal and then wash and tidy everything away. We also stopped to see some of the old brick homes of the guys that put the first dirt track into the heart of Austrlia, and heard tales from Nathan of just how hard that was. This was evident anyway with the incredible heat from the sun and the thousands of flies which like to hide in every orifice on the human head! That evening we stayed in the Parachilna Gorge at a town called Angorichina in our own building of dorms and kitchen with a toilet block outside. The beds weren't so good, but by the time I got there I was knackered anyway! We had a bar-b which included snags (sausages) and kangaroo steak, which is very nice indeed! Myself and Aaron lit a fire in the large pit nearby and we then sat around the fire drinking beers and goon and getting to know each other. Tamas and I managed to stay up talking about everything and anything until 3am... oops! (We drank nearly all the beer we bought for the next two days... ahem...)

The second day started with bleary eyes and a dodgy-stomach inducing breakfast of toast with vegemite and 3 paracetamols! ;-) The whole day was driving on dirt and we saw lots along the way, including a disused coal mine with some of the massive equipment left for us to clamber on and take pictures of. We also drove through some crazy dirt tracks which twisted and wound through some great scenery. At one point we hit a big bump, which sent me, Elianne and Kim flying out of our seats at the rear of the bus, along with the big box of apples on the back seat which ended up all over the floor of the bus, twas very funny! Nathan revealed to me once we stopped that the bus pretty much had no brakes from halfway through that section, so he had to slow as much as possible and then accelerate through the corners to make it! Quality driving at that point... heheh! Unfortunately the buses aircon decided to pack in completely after threatening all day the first day with its slipping and very noisy fan belt, so it was hot on this day! If we opened the windows we would have filled the bus up with dust ('for men') and that would not have been nice. Pretty much everybody's nose and throat were effected by the dust from day one already. We followed the Oodnadatta track alongside the old Ghan Railway for much of the day, stopping in a small town to have lunch and then stopping in the afternoon to collect some firewood for camp tonight. The camp was supposed to be a camp site with showers and toilets, but Nathan sold the bush idea well enough to get the majority vote and I was very pleased to be setting up camp in precisely the middle of nowhere by late afternoon! We drove several kilometers off of the dirt track near William Creek and setup camp in the bush. Once the fire was going and dinner was underway, we were all tucking into yet more beers or goon. After dinner a group of us went off for our own night bush walk, using the moon as reference to get back to camp. We didn't go a long long way, but far enough to not be able see the camp fire on this huge open flat plain. Along route we found the skull from some cattle which we used as a mascot for the rest of our trip, tied to the front of the bus, lol! We named the camp 'Piss Creek' due to the fact that the toilets were "all around us" and we were drinking lots of 'piss', the fond Aussie term for booze! Late on Elianne revealed that she had some smoke so she, I and Tamas wandered of into the bush to finish the evening off in a blur... splendid.

Day three started after only a few hours sleep for myself, but I felt pretty good considering. We got the hot embers of the fire burning again and sat around for breakfast before heading off through the massive Anna Creek along the road to Cobber Pedy, the Opal mining capital of Australia. We were there by midday and got taken on a bus tour of the town, which was quite amusing as the place has a small population and highlights of the tour around it included seeing the caravan that the dentist and hairdresser work from "every sex weeks"! We also had a tour around an old opal mine and then went off to try our hand at 'noodling' in the local mine area. Mining is actually illegal in the town now, but you can use an old area that was churned up by diggers, to just pick your own way through the dust and rocks in the hope of finding some opal! Chances are slim to say the least, but one of the Veronika's did manage to find three very small pieces of opal. Team Bristol gave up after a while and went to the shop to buy shit loads of beers and goon. We did not want to run out again after the last two night of drinking everything in sight (The tone was set). We had a pizza binge at a local cafe before checking out the local underground pub near our accomodation, where we played some pool using the roof of the cave to chalk our cues, pretty unique! We then went back to our accomodation to sink some more beers and relax before sleeping in an 'underground' dorm. It is actually cut into a hill, so doesn't truly fulfil the image one has in the mind when you say underground, but technically it is... most people in the town live like this as it is the only way to escape the crazy temperatures in central Australia, with the underground homes maintaining a constant temperature much lower than outside, all year round. This was a good chance to use the electricity to charge camera batteries and ipods too! ;-)

Day four was drive drive drive after another early start. Our aim was to cover over 700km to get to our camp near Ularu (Ayres Rock) in time for sunset. During the drive we crossed the border between Southern Australia and the Northern Territory, which is where we stopped for lunch. Our camp tonight was still going to be sleeping in swags, but we had facilites nearby and a covered area to prepare food in. We dropped off our food and supplies and drove out to the rock for sunset. Our spot we next to one of the mahuusive posh buses that do these tours, and they had tables setup with champange and nibbles! We on the other hand were all filthy from the dirt exposure and had goon, beer and crackers! Perfectly adequate for a sunset. Sunset was really nice and the gang enjoyed some beers and the opportunity for silly photos before getting back on the bus to head back to camp. This afternoon I had been riding in the front seat next to Nathan (whoever sits there is not allowed to sleep for obvious reasons) and my ipod was still connected to the stereo system (the best plalist of the tour ;-)). I chucked on 3 or 4 songs that everyone could sing along to and we had a great moment together with everyone happily singing along all the way back to camp. This sparked everyone into life and after a superb bar-b (with double the lamb chops that we needed thanks to Nathan not noticing the packs he bought had 4 chops in) we all sat around and chatted on into the night around the fire. Quality bonding... which ended up once again with Tamas and I putting the world to rights before crawling into our swags to sleep for a few hours.

The next day we were up at stupid o'clock again for breakfast in the dark and then off to Ularu for sunrise. This wasn't as spectacular as the sunset, but the changing colours of the rock are quite amazing. I stood on top of the trailer with loads of the girls for the best views, as there were so many people there in the way at the perimeter fence! After this we had our 'cultural walk' with Nathan where he explained all about the Aboriginal culture and the significance of the rock to them, which was very interesting. We then went on the base walk around the rock which was 9km long followed by another 2km to the cultural centre because of where we parked! It turned out that there was a shortcut to cut out the last kilometer and the additional 2km to the cultural centre, but I was glad to complete the walk all the way around anyway, and after so much sitting on the bus it was nice to really stretch the legs! We had a lot of fun along the walk anyway, as everyone had been getting along so well to this point... we had plenty to talk about and some of the view points and scenery around the rock are beautiful anyway. In the afternoon some of us went off to use the swimming pool over on the main camp site and it was a welcome break from the bus in the sun. The pool was pretty cold, and seriously refreshing to dive into! We borrowed a ball and frisby from Nathan and myself, Aaron and Tamas stayed in the pool for hours messing around, with some of the girls joining in at the start but opting for lying in the sun for the rest of the afternoon instead. That evening we walked up to a hill near to camp to see sunset over Kata Tjuta (The Olgas) with Ularu in sight also. This was disappointing though as there was lots of cloud cover. We discussed taking some of the dead trees from here back to camp too as we had no firewood left, but one of the guides on a tour up there said it was all protected by the national park, even the dead stuff. When we got back to camp Nathan had cooked up a mahuusive Mexican buritto mix with kangaroo meat and fresh salad which the girls had prepared earlier and we sat around the table together and feasted on that before an impromptu drinking game session began. We played several games (Roxanne and 'Ring of Fire') and everyone got involved. It turned into an excellent night all in all! I shared another smoke with the ever generous Elianne and we walked off and found a very comfy hay shed near camp to sit and chill in... which was loudly interrupted shortly afterwards by the mad trio of Aaron, Sandra and Marieke who began a fight in the hay (regardless of what creatures might be lurking in there!). After the mayhem we went back to camp with Sandra stopping several times on route to fish straw out of her pockets, bra, etc, only to get back to the lights of camp to see she was still covered in hay! Good times, Lol! (You had to be there :-p). Everyone else was fading and it gave Nathan and I a chance for a beery chat which was a long time coming at this point. I had a choice of the last two swags and one of them had a broken zip, so I used both of them for the best nights sleep of the tour (totalling a massive 5 hours, lol!) with the help of my eye covers from the last qantas flight and my ear plugs.

Day six started with a later breakfast of 7am and then we packed up to leave for our drive to Kata Tjuta. From here we had a three hour walk through this amazing landscape, taking in the Valley of the Winds and Nathan told us all about the geology of the country and how it all came to be. After lunch we drove to Watarrka (Kings Canyon) where we set up camp nearby on the Kings Creek Cattle Station. Once again the beer was flowing, although plenty of the group were pretty tired by now! We had a great fire going and while the girls made a huge curry in the kitchen nearby, the boys finally had some 'bloke' time around the fire. Hilariously the girls couldn't believe that they'd stood in the kitchen discussing sex and boyfriends, while we had been discussing politics, life and world bloody peace (amongst other things!). Typical females... underestimating the geezers ;-). The first male/female seperation of the group didn't last long of course, as the girls attempted to lock the beer esky in with them... Tamas and I put a stop to that and broke in to drag the esky out to the fire with Marieke and Sandra sat screaming on top of it... lol. Later I pretended to lock the kitchen door from the outside, with the sliding bolt on there. This was highly amusing as they struggled with it the bolt through the little gap for a while before one of them simply pushed the swing door open... heheh. After our dinner the guys washed the bloody bomb site up in the kitchen while the girls warmed by the fire, and later we all played charades (or 'hint' if you're Dutch) around the fire, which Nathan loved faaaaar too much! It was clearly not his first time... ;-P Once again Tamas and I put in the late shift after everyone suddenly went to bed and we put our swags right next to the fire pit, chucked a couple of big logs on and chatted on until 2:30am...

...5am the final day of the tour, and we're all woken up for a nice early start! (Charming!) We packed up camp had a bite to eat and drove to Kings Canyon for our last walk. This place was stunning, the best scenery I've enjoyed on the trip so far (it doesn't beat Ularu for shear scale and for being such a unique site however). We started our walk in the dark, and did so deliberately to avoid the tourists that would no doubt be all over it later in the morning. The first part of the walk is a very very steep climb (Nathan called it heart-attack hill) and halfway up I was not impressed! However, once we got to the top my hangover had no chance and the rest of the walk was really nice. Klaarjteg and Renske must have taken something different for breakfast today, as they stole the show for madness during the walk. Once we'd all got back from the walk we had another long drive to get us into Alice. We stopped twice on route, once for lunch and once for a camel farm where Sarah, Kim, Tamas and Lucinda took a camel ride around the courtyard there for $5. I couldn't be arsed really, plus I think the camel is an untrustworthy looking beast and would much rather be eating it with a nice salad! As we pulled into Alice everyone started getting a bit sad as we were all staying in different parts of town. We organised to meet tonight after scrubbing up clean for a meal and a night out on the tiles. During the afternoon after showering to within an inch of my life and shaving for the first time in the week, I sat on the PC and made a certificate type of thing to present to Nathan tonight. It is obviously only a very cheap and tacky thing to do, but he made the tour so good that I simply had to do something! I used one of his catch phrases and his favourite swear words on there, added a photo of him which I took on the tour and made a space for everyone to sign it above their name so he could remember everyone. I guess it will fade as quickly as the memories of the group as he does another one, but it got the meal off to a good start, especially as I stood up in the busy pub to make a speech, lol! The meal was really nice, and I had a big camel steak! Haha! Lucinda didn't come along, which I thought was bloody rude, she could have easily taken a taxi back to her hostel after the meal! Ralph decided to stay behind once we moved on to the pub as he couldn't face a loud night out, and it turned out to be a good move as the pub we went to was mental! It's called Bo Jangles and the place has a live webcam broadcast of the night in there for anyone that wants to watch the mayhem unfold! Apparently you can even wire money to the till to buy your mates a drink! The place was jumping when we got in there and we all got a drink and headed over to next to the dance floor. The night was a lot of fun, with us all staying there until the end, boozing, dancing and laughing together. I forgot to take my camera along, but there are plenty of nasty pictures typical of a mad night out on some of the others' cameras! Around closing I went back to Nathans room nearby with some of his mates and Marieke for a nightcap before walking across town to my hostel about 2:30am. This was an adventure in itself as there are shitloads of pissed Aboriginals hanging around and plenty of groups of lads fighting one another on the streets... a lovely place! I picked a good route and made the estimated 25 minute walk in 15... I did not want to get involved in *anything*.

The next two days in Alice were spent relaxing and sorting my laundry etc out. I hung out with Aaron and Kim and saw Marieke, Michaela, Klaarjteg and Renske a few times too. Kim, Aaron and I shared a nice meal out while the girls cooked for themselves at the hostel and then we said a fond farewell to each other and went off to our seperate hostels to sleep well one more time before heading our seperate ways the next day.

In the morning I felt a little sad knowing that I may not see any of those guys again, or at least for a while. I will definitely be trying to keep in touch with some of them and we may even be able to organise some kind of reunion in the future.

I got myself a cafe breakfast and then caught the shuttle to the airport ready for my flight. Whilst at the airport I ran into Elianne who was on the same flight which was excellent.

Once we'd boarded Elianne asked the person in the seat next to her if she would swap with me so that we could sit together, which the girl agreed to do with some persuasion. Once we'd moved her I realised that it wasn't even the row that Elianne was supposed to be sitting in, lol! We moved into the correct row (just infront) and chuckled quietly to ourselves after ditching this poor girl into a rubbish seat where she couldn't even see the TV screen for the inflight movie! LMAO. The flight was nice and they gave us food and we both watched the movie (Mr Woodcock) which was funny. After landing and getting our bags we shared a train into Brisbane where we said goodbye as she was off north to collect her surf board and move on. It was great to get one last moment with one of the gang, and also to make sure Elianne new how cool I thought she was.

This tour is probably the highlight of my whole trip so far, simply because of the fantastic group of people that I shared it with... Once again the trip has surpassed itself! Goodness knows what New Zealand has to do to be better than this! I'm so glad I'm coming back to Australia though, I really really like it here, the vibe is so cool and there is still so much to see.

My photo's from this tour are on Facebook in three seperate albums, which have descriptions and peoples names etc in... Click the links: Album 1, album 2 & album 3.

Tags: adventures, animals, history, mountains, sightseeing, the great outdoors, walking

 

Comments

1

vbbn5555555555555e5ttt from Harvey xx
Another brill experience to add to your collection! You sound really happy x x

  Jo and Harvey May 1, 2008 5:28 PM

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Me with the kids at Cawaro Village School during the Vitika Trek

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