Travelling & Alice Springs – day 320/10

Everyone else thought that someone else on the road trip had written today’s blog. It was only once catching up on blog photos and getting the remaining blogs from Tracey back in Melbourne that we realised the truth. Thus, it is with a great deal of pain and guilt that I am writing this blog a considerable amount of time after Monday the 22nd of August. It is however a fortunate circumstance that nothing happened on that day and there’s not much to remember (or write about). 
We left Kings Canyon with Tracey having seen a wild Dingo pass near by the motel rooms. Katherine and I weren’t so fortunate so we had our eyes peeled to the sides of the road on our way back to Alice Springs. The only ‘wild’life we saw were the emus at Erldunda Roadhouse. A family with two kids were entertaining themselves by teasing the birds and we considered frightening the dad the next time he swooped in to pinch an emu. Mum found it hilarious but we left without scaring dad or kids. 

Back at Alice Springs we didn’t have a trip to a kangaroo sanctuary planned, so we had to console ourselves with other plans for the evening. Firstly though, Tracey returned the car to the airport and found out we had done almost 3,000kms in the 10days driving. Well worth every kilometre. Secondly, we were all in desperate need of a few clean clothes. Well, a lot of clean clothes. 
So, after a few hours of chores and time spent reconnecting with the social network world we had… Pizza! 2x bottles of wine (for the 2 Ninjas), Dominoes (pizzas and cheesy garlic breads) and we were unwinding from days of driving, sore asses and not being able to hear each other (me) when in the car. Plus, we got to listen to and mock the trivialities of modern youths on the opposite table and watch one gentleman take 2hours, seriously no joke, to take chicken off a roast chicken and serve it, what for the drum roll, spaghetti and salad. It was painful watching him.

So, went to bed. But, no day or evening is truly complete without being an idiot. When I thought Tracey was returning to the room, I jumped out from behind the wall in the room to try and surprise her. Except it wasn’t her. It was our new Asian roommate. She totally grassed me out for scaring her, Katherine was in hysterics, I was mortified, Tracey wasn’t letting me live it down, but the poor girl I frightened said it was ok coz’ I was cute. So, I went to bed all embarrassed and blushing. 
Monday 22nd August 2016

Kings Canyon – day 319/9

The usual morning routine (incl. breakfast) takes about two hours for the three of us. But, once everything was in order we had a final farewell up at the lookout to Uluru. Still looking like a prop at a pantomime, we couldn’t believe we were here or how beautiful a solitary rock could be. It was a striking image growing further away in distance as we drove back down the highway. 
We stopped at the service station near Mt. Conner lookout. The view from the yard was pretty awesome as we waited for the attendant to come out and unlock the handles. Not connected to the tills inside the shop, the whole transaction is carried out at the pump and we were on our way after more extortionately priced fuel would safely get us to Kings Canyon. At the only other stop en route for the bathroom, there was the most beautiful pet cockatoo in the tree outside the restaurant. Charlie was able to say ‘Hello’ and we contemplated stuffing him under a t-shirt and taking him with us. But, we arrived at Kings Canyon Resort, without our feathered friend and without a booking on the system. Ninjas sorted the whole situation out as I stayed in the car, nobody wanted to unleash the Kraken. 
A breather and a spot of lunch in the room and we headed off for the afternoon. The yawning chasm of Kings Canyon in Watarrka National Park is one of the most spectacular sights in central Australia. Despite the map depicting a steep climb at the beginning of the trail and several AED’s, Emergency Call Radios and First Aid boxes dotted along the route we knew we could do it. The steep climb was the start of the 6km loop of the Kings Canyon Rim Walk. The canyon delivered better views the higher we climbed to the top of the cliff and we weren’t expecting it to get much better than that… but it did. Meandering through the beehive sandstone formations, over plains of rippled sandstone, past trees scorched and twisted from fire and through sections alive with vegetation the walk itself was slow going because we were taking so many photos. Then, we emerged from the honeycomb maze to start viewing the canyon from the middle of a cliff wall and the sheer drop.We traversed the new (and not burned down) metal bridge to Cotterills Lookout. It gave the most impressive view down the canyon with the height giving an eagle view of the creek below. It was also, when viewed from the other side of the rim, undercut and sticking out precariously with very little rock supporting it underneath. That wasn’t a very comforting thought to find out later on. However, until then, ignorance was bliss and the Garden of Eden, down a fleet of stairs was equally blissful. A lush pocket of ferns, prehistoric cycads (plants that have survived from the time of the dinosaurs) and red leaf gum trees surround a tranquil pool. Pooling on top of an impermeable layer of slate, giving life to plants and animals in the area, the pocket of serenity was worth the extra walk down. Tracey and I returned up the stairs to catch up with Katherine who was still recovering from over-doing it with what I think is a cold. We didn’t take as many photos on the last stretch of the walk. Namely we were filling up our memory cards with very similar photos of orange stone, also because it was slowing us down and we could see the storm clouds rolling in on the horizon. Not sure if it was going to hit us or not, the rumbling thunder echoed through the paths and the wind howled, giving a careful warning of what could happen if one was not prepared or cautious. So when we passed a family where the son had twisted his ankle we were eager to help and make sure everyone was down off the walk before any bad weather hit. I had a Panadol in my purse which was greatly appreciated and we caught up with the girls and told them to wait for mum and dad. When everyone was together we promised to wait at the car park until they were down safely. We didn’t do much in the end, but when the rain came and went and they came strolling (and hopping) towards the shaded hut in the car park they were grateful that we waited for them. 

The viewing area for the sunset behind the lodges was cramped and lacking the promised pop-up bar. Everyone milled around watching the canyons in the distance change slowly to a deep red. I have lost the ingenuity to describe the colours in different ways, but imagine that today’s scene was the transformation of an element in a toaster turning from a dull black to a warm orange. These hills changed from a pale yellowy orange with trees and bushes dotted along the slopes to one alive and vibrant, an intoxicating reddy orange that captivated the soul. It was a rare occasion where I was more transfixed with the view cast by the sunset rather than watch the sun set behind the hills and a bright sky. Plus, I didn’t even take a single photo and lived in the moment. Fortunately, Tracey did…Over to the ‘Thristy Dingo’, it was amazing to see how busy the dinner service was. The Ninjas enjoyed their first bottle of wine and I sipped a bit at the fruit cider before taking it back to the room and enjoying it with a film. Roll forward two hours when they stumbled back to the room, ‘Shitfaced’, and regaling tales of heckling the singer and kids coming up to give them goodnight kisses. I don’t know what antics happened and to be honest, what happens in the outback stays in the outback. Kat and I had some noodles and watched poor Tracey convince herself she could watch a film, passing out with Chicken Crimpys and the iPad on her bed. I should have taken it as a sign that Katherine would be the same with her passing out only a few minutes in to an episode of Friends.  

Sunday 21st August 2016

Dookie – day 256 (K)

Woke up early and I made breakfast – extending my cooking skills from cereal to fried eggs on toast. Slight scary moment where the eggs didn’t all cook evenly but flipped them over to double fry them. Phew! Crisis averted!! Got dressed for a walk, put Chilli dog in the back of the car and drove 20km to the town of Dookie. During the car journey, we had to keep the car windows open as Chilli kept letting fluffy off the chain (an Aussie way of saying she was farting – lots!!!). Parked the car at the start of the 9.4km circular trail, a very picturesque trail that starts at the base of Mt. Saddleback and crosses some of the Goulburn Valley’s most fertile farm land. The trail follows the old railway line to Katamatite which was constructed by the Yarrawonga Shire in 1890 and taken over by the Victorian Railways in 1892. The railway was closed in 1986 and the rails removed shortly after. The branch line from Shepparton to Dookie is still used by grain trains. Local residents formed the Friends of Dookie Rail Trail group to encourage the City of Greater Shepparton to take out a lease on this section of the rail corridor and the rail trail was completed in early 2010. The trail was relatively flat as we were surrounded by scenic views of rolling hills, olive and orange groves, vineyards, cropping lands and the most beautiful church ever. The trail was deserted and had a severe lack of bins as we had to carry a very smelly dog poo for over 7Km until we could throw it away!! Stopped off in the local pub for a glass of wine at the end of the walk, as passerby’s made comments about the size of Chilli – she is quite literally a cross between a dog and a Shetland pony!! As it started getting colder, we finished up, jumped back in the car and headed home for dinner with more wine. A hilarious Skype with Jayne, Clare and Martin back in the UK had all five of us in stitches as Chilli dog was passed out on the carpet next to us. She looked so peaceful that I had to have some cuddle time!! 16 days to go.Sunday 19th June 2016