Well, it has been a month since we arrived in Australia and about half our time here has passed. It has been a wonderful month… an awesome month.
the monotonous drive or may just be that Aussies are just very friendly to each other, who knows but you do it nonetheless. There are many ways to greet drivers I found the one where you lift the index finger to be the most popular although the “V” sign is a close second.
approach it it only has two exits, very close to each other. The town spreads to the right (east) of the highway (when driving north) and not along the highway. The cellular reception is also very localized, a few kilometers out of town and there is no reception at all. A town like Marla with 50 people goes by even faster.
becomes very dangerous. All along the highway there are skid marks, farther evidence to the dangers of the highway are the wrecks on both sides of the highway. People just plainly fall asleep on the wheel or drink and drive. The only kangaroos that we saw were splattered on both sides of the pavement,
along with other wildlife like lizards, birds, etc. On the way to Uluru, we actually did hit a bird (πιάσαμε πουλιά στον αέρα! sorry it cannot be translated in English) and it must have escaped unscathed and there were no scratches on the hired car.
This town had many more Greeks in the past, well over 1000 at some point. Their dwindling numbers are now down to less than 400. Nevertheless, as we were shopping in the general store, I came upon a face that looked Greek and so I tried my luck. It turned out that it was Jimmy from Greece, a miner for over 40 years that emigrated to Australia as a kid with his parents. In Greek fashion we were also immediately invited to his home for dinner with friends, it would have been interesting to meet these people and hear about their lives in this town that looked so out of place in the middle of the Outback. Ben had to be showered, fed and then put to sleep so we had to refuse Jimmy’s offer. At the caravan park we rented rooms (with linen!?!), as many of you know I love meeting people so I started to chat with the guy that pulled with his Land Cruiser next to our puny Jetta. Turns out Rodney was on his way back to his farm of 5000 sq miles, yup that is about as big as the state of Connecticut. As soon as his wife and son disappeared in their room he opened the back lid and a there from a huge cooler he pulled out a couple cans of beer and offered me one. Beth got mad at me for forgetting that we had to get Ben and other things ready but I love these chance encounters. It turns out
Rodney is a real cowboy, that was educated with School of the Air, and has spend most of his life in the outdoors. He was also very helpful by giving us the a fly net for Ben’s stroller, he just handed it to me although I had offered to pay for it. Without it we would not be able to make the base walk in Uluru.
contact to an absolute minimum and for ugly housing. We wanted to head of to the Breakaway Ranges but the road did not seem to be in good condition due to the heavy rainfalls of the past few days. We then came across a jeep with four Germans that were actually had decided to head back due to the bad condition of the road. They told us of other 4WD that were bogged down out there. This chance encounter was interesting for two reasons, one that we again came across Germans, the Outback is full of them and German is enough to actually get by out there. The other one is that this group has been on a world trip for the past six years by boat. They always travel on land to wait out the hurricane/typhoon/etc season. In the Outback we also met a Spanish traveller who is circling the world in his jeep, his wife joins him on parts of the trip as she has to work in Barcelona. The guy has been on the road for well over two years. We met many people and that has been a big part of this trip, it has enriched it and made it more interesting. In Coober Pedy we saw the underground Serbian church and of course we visited a mine, an underground home and the underground hotel. The town has been used as a filming location for many movies and we saw props
left behind from the movie “Pitch Black”. Here I would also like to mention the Stuart Caravan Park, it is where we stayed for three nights in total and the hospitality was great, what would one expect, it is owned by Mr. Yianni and his family. They also make a great Pizza.
to drink lots of water and we made sure that he did not dehydrate. Everyone knows about Uluru but not many people know that in the same park, not far away there is another wonderful rock formation. A rock formation that supposedly many years ago was similar in shape to Uluru, only 6 times bigger. This rock formation is called Kata-Tjuta or as it used to be called the Olgas, named after its tallest peak Mt. Olga. Mt. Olga was named after Queen Olga of Würrtemberg, Germany (Olga Nikolaevna of Russia, daughter of Nikolas I of Russia). This group of domed shaped formations is more interesting to explore as there are gorges and valleys that you can hike into. Of course we did not miss the opportunity and we did hike part of the Valley of the Winds. With Ben carried by Beth on her back it was dangerous to do the whole hike. What we saw though was a wonderful and unique landscape that took our breath away. Ben slept most of the way and there is something to be said about a baby sleeping like that on his mum’s back. We enjoyed it immensely and love to take him around to see as much as possible even if he will not consciously remember much. The winds were quite strong and it was a cooler day to hike, the wind sounded like whispers, and weird sounds emanated from
the wind whipping the rocks. I am not sure why the Olgas are not well known, maybe it is because the sunrises and sunsets are not as awe inspiring as in Uluru or maybe it is just lack of marketing.
One thing that we really missed though, the national park is a world heritage site for it, is the cultural aspect. We did see some aborigines driving by and one lady in the park HQ but there was nothing that else. There was no chance to get close to their villages and see how they live or learn about their history, their culture. In that sense the trip to Uluru left some weird after taste. This land is new for us but it is very old for the aborigines who have lived here for thousands of years. They know how to live here with the bare minimum. Most aborigines that we saw where in Coober Pedy and it was not a pretty sight. They were drunks, bums that seem not to care about themselves or anybody else. It is a stark difference to what I experienced in the American West, where there is much more to see and do in the Indian lands and the India reservations.
employs about 1000 people on site during low season, which in Australia is during their summer. This country is so different and hot that the winter is the high season! There are 2000 people on site during high season all to service about 800 rooms, and a caravan park. If you really think about it is a bit crazy but the resort at least does a good job in being as eco friendly as possible and by blending well in its surroundings. Interesting was the mix of the staff, most where not from Australia.
understand, at least a little bit. Flying to Uluru from Melbourne or Adelaide and then back is half the experience. It is an experience that will remain with us for a long time to come. With Ben this trip has also some special significance as we literally spend every hour of every day together by forming our own little world for him. We were not sure how he will take it but looking back at the experience and the pictures are proof he had a heck of a time. He has become a world traveller before he turned 10 months. His smile in the morning was priceless and despite the fact that we could not always make it comfortable for him he never complained, he took it at a stride and we can only learn from that.