Stranded – day 335

An early start to catch our 7am shuttle bus from Shepparton to Melbourne Tullamarine airport. It meant we would get to the airport far too early for our flight to Bangkok but it saved us the hassle of getting the train and then connecting to the SkyBus once in town. Tracey was our hero, dropping us off at the pick up point and waiting until our bus turned up before heading off to work. Cue tears, hugs and silly photos as we waited – can’t quite believe our time in Australia is over. It has been epic!An easy bus drive, stopping in Seymour for a coffee and toilet stop before continuing onto the airport. Checked in using the machines (no human contact allowed when you are travelling with low cost airline, JetStar) only to then have an issue putting my bag through. Turns out the check in machines will tell you to proceed to the bag drop machine but they can’t quite tell you that that bag drop machine won’t check your bag until someone hidden behind a wall will allow it to! Fortunately, a passing elusive JetStar employee was walking past and managed to override said arsy and temperamental machine to check in my baggage. Security and border control was easy, although I still didn’t get a stamp in my passport (very disappointing Australia!!) and we waited in the lounge for our flight to be called. Got some water and a couple of magazines to pass the time before tucking into an early lunch at Hungry Jacks, knowing that we wouldn’t get food on the plane (budget airline, remember?!?). We were waiting at the gate when we got the announcement that the plane was going to be delayed by an hour. I understand that this is an inconvenience to lots of people but I always maintain that I’d rather be late than in a plane that shouldn’t be flying! Anyway, one hour turned into two and the gentleman beside us decided to use this as a chance to talk to us (we clearly still haven’t perfected that ‘leave us alone’ aura). Apparently having tried to fool the airline by not paying for checked bag and only bringing hand luggage, he was furious that they weighed his bags to find they were 7kg OVER the 7kg limit… He was then equally furious that they made him pay $120 to keep his bag. I didn’t think it was an appropriate time to tell him that I prepaid $12 for our 20kg backpack! When the announcement came that it was a three hour delay, he stormed off and we used he opportunity to find a plug to charge our phone and to swap seats. We got offered $10 food vouchers each due to the delay so Jayne went off in search of ‘second lunch’ whilst I guarded our charging devices. At four and a half hours delay, the announcement came through that the flight was cancelled. Shouting from other passengers occurred immediately as Jayne and I looked over in bewilderment. Our only concern was where were we going to sleep tonight?!? Marched back through passport control with security guards and collected our bags, we then headed up to the check in desk to await our fate… Fortunately, we were lucky and were about fifth in the queue. Managed to get a hotel room for tonight together since they had booked us into separate hotels, with $30 worth of food each and a new flight on a better airline (Qantas) for tomorrow although we would be going via Sydney and not direct. Not bothered in the slightest, we left the poor ladies to deal with the rest of the raging passengers and headed to our free shuttle bus to our free hotel. Checked in at the hotel and confused the reception lady who was adamant about giving us a twin room. Even when we told her we were married and wanted a double bed, she was determined to find us a twin room. Don’t think Australia really understands the lesbian thing… All sorted with a double bed, we were told that we would also receive a free glass of wine with dinner, so we booked ourselves a table and headed out for a quick walk. Nothing really to see or do, except for a selfie outside the world largest lolly (sweet) shop and bought some amuse-bouche cheesy chicken nuggets at Red Rooster(I’d wanted to try them for ages and never got around to it!). Back at the hotel for a really nice meal, we even considered it our belated wedding anniversary meal, with free wine and enough on our meal voucher for a cheeky dessert too! Back in our room to snuggle up early since we needed to be up at 4.30am to try leaving Australia again tomorrow. Tuesday 6th September 2016

Travelling & Alice Springs – day 316/6

Woke up in Wauchope at the Devils Marbles Hotel.

I’d had the best of sleeps, I’d had the worst of sleeps, as the bed was so snuggly and the hotel so quiet, yet the constant fear of sleeping in the gecko drop zone meant I feared waking up covered in geckos screaming “where’s my tail?”

We did the old showers and breakfast routine and were soon on the road….

Long and winding road

…… 11 May 1970, Lennon McCartney 
Well that song was not written about the road from the Devils Marbles Hotel to Alice Springs! It had been discussed earlier that there was a chance of possibly sighting some aliens in the town of Wycliffe Well. 

Wycliffe Well is the UFO capital of Australia and only 12 minutes from the Devils Marbles so off we went dragging Jayne by the hair kicking and screaming as she was more convinced it would be lame as opposed to AMAZING like Katherine and I believed. It turns out it was a mix of both. The locals were clearly milking the aliens for everything they’ve got! It was so bad it was great!! We took the obligatory alien photos as you do and hit the road again. The long tedious drive was made better by mine and Katherine’s excellent car karaoke to our newly put together “Australia Road Trip 2016” playlist on my iPhone. Such classics as “Hangover, Goodluck and Battlefield (now Boulder field due to the rocky scenery), were sung completely in tune and beautifully like a couple of songbirds. Jayne seemed to be so mesmerised by our soulful tunes and pitch perfect renditions of modern pop classics that she promptly put in her headphones and caught up on writing blogs. Oh well, it was her loss…..

I stopped to take a photo at Barrow Creek telegraph station that had nice old brick fences and buildings as they looked nice and I felt that there wasn’t much else to look at during this long tedious drive. We cruised the Stuart Highway like three badass chicks on a legendary road trip, loving the open speed limit i cruised past losers doing 100km per hour. I even shot passed the police of which we had been following for a little while. When we next stopped at a roadhouse to fuel up the police pulled up as well and proceeded to remove a young handcuffed indigenous man for a toilet stop whilst the other officer stood guard by the van with the other prisoner. When they returned him to the van they ordered food for both prisoners and themselves.

Next we detoured to a small community and roadhouse off the Stuart Highway about 135km north of Tennant Creek. This was Aileron. Home to the giant statue on the hill of “Anmatjere Man” which was erected in 2005. At 17 metres tall and weighing 8 tonne he is certainly impressive! He was on that hill for 3 lonely years until he was finally given a family. In 2008 he was given a wife and child that are situated at the base of the hill with a goanna that is on the end of her spear. Up close it was surprising to find that her anatomy was scarily correct and large..

We arrived at the YHA hostel in Alice Springs and checked into our 6 bed female dorm (that had 4 beds and a man)! 

After scoping the establishment we headed off to the supermarket for supplies for the next three days at Uluru/Kings Canyon. We rushed back in anticipation of our trip to the Kangaroo Sanctuary! I knew about the Kangaroo Sanctuary from the BBC mini series called Kangaroo Dundee about Chris ‘Brolga’ Barns who set up a baby kangaroo rescue centre just out of Alice Springs. He nurtures the Joeys like he’s their mother as most of the mummy kangaroos have been killed on the road. There bodies are designed to protect their young even in the pouch where they tense there muscles to protect their newborns from trauma. Due to the BBC documentary, Brolga has received generous donations from around the world to help build and better his sanctuary. He raises most of the kangaroos to be a part of a mob and be released back into the wild together as kangaroos need friends and family to survive. He currently has 15 joeys in his care but only three are available for visitors and educational purposes as they will be staying with him at the sanctuary. The others are kept separate and away from visitors as they need to be released into back into the wild. This experience was quite possibly one of the happiest times in my life and I think it shows, all you have to do is look at the photos. Katherine, Jayne and myself were so excited it was ridiculous. Just getting to cuddle the tiny baby Joeys was amazing.

We made our way back to our coach transfer and headed home to the YHA for a late dinner of tacos and wine. 

 I checked my bunk as I was still recovering from night of the gecko. We headed off to bed exhausted from the night of kangaroo cuteness.

Thursday 18th August 2016