Notes from the Great Australian Outback, Northern Territory

australian-outback (5)Garth Brooks, “Friends in Low Places” was playing at some point in the last few days in one of our tour vehicles. The trend in music among the outfitters seems to be older American Country. I’m perfectly fine with that.

I didn’t hear about the incredible amount of flies in the Outback this particular year prior to my trip – probably something to do with all the rain they’ve had here. There is a cream you can dab on your face which keeps them from landing…for a bit. The best solution is a mosquito net and all the stores sell them.

Before I arrived, I assumed the landscape was going to be parched, dry and brown. But it has been the opposite – rains a week ago have livened the landscape to various shades of green.

Today we woke up around 4am to gorgeous Italian opera blasting from nearby our tents. This was our wake-up call from our exuberant Italian guide, Filippo. He spent a year touring Australia before settling in Alice Springs and now he guides trips in the outback for tourists from around the world.

From the Open Road!

Two National Parks well worth visiting are Kata Tjuta (located about 40 km from Uluru) and Kings Canyon. This part of Australia is not called the Red Centre for nothing – the outside of the rocks here are a brilliant red at times, turned this color from iron oxide. Canyons, gorges and impressive ocher colored cliff faces are visual treats from hikes in either park.

This is the heart of the summer – with temperatures in the upper 30′s and low 40′s the past few weeks. It has been brilliantly blue the past few days but today the clouds rolled in – the temperature dropped somewhat. But then it really dropped and as we were speeding down a dirt road in the bush it started to hail – large pieces of ice fell from the sky and were scattered on the dirt.

The Witchety Grub is found in the appropriately named Witchety tree. This grub grows to a fairly decent size – something like 5 cm. The aborigine women used to still collect these – and would eat them raw or sometimes cook them. We pulled our vehicle over to the side of the dirt road and went out hunting for these. One locates a Witchety tree (there are plenty) then look for cracks in the soil indicating possible grub activity. The grubs live in the bushes thick roots and a full size grub burrows a decent size track through the roots. We sound several empty tracks but then broke our shovel on one particularly large root. This is not easy work – Aborigine women only had digging sticks.

There are no ambient lights here from anywhere – as a result we have spectacular skies – and even a quarter moon is a full moon. With no air pollution and clear nighttime skies you can actually see the entire full moon even though only a part of it is lit up. We fall asleep to the howling of the wild dingo’s in the distance.

I used Wayoutback Safari’s for the above experiences; they offer a number of both short and longer more in depth safaris – hiking, sightseeing and cultural activities. Tours are geared towards either backpackers or are more upscale. Visit: www.wayoutback.com.au for more information.

#ad I have been commissioned by and will be working with Tourism Australia for this program and resulting content.

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Comments

  1. The best part of getting up and close and nature is the reward of clear skies. But looks like I will have fun in this part of Australia because I love dry landscapes.

  2. Yes! I love the deserts – the dry heat, the heat, the openness and deserts aren’t a good geographical climate to attract too many people so there is always plenty of open space :)

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