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Friday, 06 February 2009

Uluru or Bust: Adventure in Australia’s Outback - Page 5

Written by Kristen Hamill
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They thought we were slightly nuts.

Six of us, all students at the University of Adelaide — three Americans (Jonny, Kate, and myself) one Brit (Carrie-Ann), one Canadian (Taylor), and one Aussie (Jakob) who had made the trip before — were making a five day round-trip from Adelaide, north through 1500 kilometers of empty desert, in the middle of the Australian summer, without air-conditioning.  We were headed to Uluru, the giant red monolith also known as Ayers Rock, sacred to Aboriginal tribes and as much an Australian icon as the kangaroo.


The six of us stood silently watching the poor bird try to shuffle away, wondering if we could administer first aid to an eagle.


We decided to find help for the eagle in the next town. An hour later we pulled into a gas station at Marla. Taylor, Carrie-Ann and Jonny stayed to call the rental agency about our shattered windshield, and Jakob, Kate and I walked to the police station. Jakob told two bored-looking cops our tragic story. They weren’t impressed.


“A wedge-tailed? Yeah, happens all the time,” the cop laughed. The two of them griped about road kill, and then remembered why we were there in the first place. “Alright,” the cop said, “I’m heading down that way in a bit. I’ll see what I can do.”


Dejected, but having done the best we could, we drove (very slowly) to Coober Pedy. Things started to look up once we fired up the campsite grill for a makeshift Thanksgiving dinner of turkey and cheese melts, fried potatoes, sausages, bread, and apples. We lit a sparkler on the mound of sandwiches and Jonny made a speech.


There was a lot to be thankful for that night, not to mention narrowly avoiding being chased out of the campsite by the management (we had accidentally paid for only 5 campers, not 6). We were also thankful for Uluru sunsets, refreshing canyon watering holes, singing bartenders, animal-friendly cops, sympathetic campsite managers, and double-laminated windshields.


Uluru or Bust: Adventure in Australia’s Outback, University of Adelaide, Uluru, Ayers Rock, Kata Tjuta, outback camper trip, Uluru’s Aboriginal history, Valley of the Winds, Kings Canyon, Coober Pedy, The Big Winch, Mt. Ebenezer, travel Adelaide, Kristen HamillThe ten-hour drive back to Adelaide was a long one, especially with a half-functioning windshield, but once we had parked the van outside our university housing, we didn’t want to leave it. We’d become so attached that we spent one last night in the van, looking at photos and laughing about the past five days. Our trip had been far from flawless, and maybe my family had reason to caution us, but our outback adventure was one I will never forget.


©Kristen Hamill

(Page 5 of 5)
Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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