Steph and I visited Broome with our new work friend Tori while we were on a five day break from work. We took the ten hour drive (apparently that’s a perfectly acceptable distance to drive in a day in this part of the world) and were so excited to arrive at a beach after a long time of just red dust. Broome is lovely, it has that real relaxed beach holiday town atmosphere. We were even on the bus when the driver stopped and waited to let a passenger run into his house, pick something up and get back on the bus. Perfect example of one thing they are well known for: ‘Broome Time’. We spent our few days there enjoying the good weather, the beaches, matso’s beer and the moon – even if we did have to leave a few days before the ‘staircase to the moon’ (google it, looks incredible).
The best thing about this part of the country has to be the sunsets. We’d seem some incredible ones whilst working but the Broome sunsets were just as pretty but rather than seeing them whilst cleaning dishes, we enjoyed them sitting on the back of the Ute parked on the sand, beer in hand, while the sun dropped behind the ocean. Pure bliss!
With only five months left on our visa, we made the same decision most backpackers do at this point – to go and do farm work. For those unaware, backpackers aren’t genuinely interest in picking fruit, but it is the easiest way to get an extra year on your visa. After extensive research we chose to head to a town called Kununurra. Supposedly at that time of year (May) this small town in the north of the country had heaps of work, so we made the long journey to the middle of nowhere ready to pick fruit in 35 degree heat. That’s the dream right?! Well whether it was a blessing in disguise, turns out that wasn’t what Australia had in store for us. We arrived to find that there wasn’t much work and a queue of 100 or so backpackers ahead of us waiting for work. We were basically told that unless we were Korean men we had little hope of getting a job for several weeks yet, by which point even if we worked back to back days, we wouldn’t work enough days to qualify for a second year visa. With our bank accounts empty and the only way out of this town coting several hundred dollars, we were at a bit of a loss! While we sat there googling which organs to sell, the local job shop rang to offer us a job in the Bungle Bungle range as a camp host. There was only one job going but it was $220 a day with free food and accommodation so being the crazy people we are, we offered to both do the job for one wage – no one is splitting us two up!
With hardly any knowledge of what we were doing, we were picked up in a truck and driven three hours into the Purnululu National Park. Turns out ‘camp host’ was them over glamourising the job – we were cleaners. For two months we worked two weeks on, four days off and spent our time living in a basic cabin, cleaning rooms and dishes for 12 hours a day. It was a true Aussie outback experience, living in the bush with the wildlife and no phone signal. The work wasn’t the best and the situation was very repetitive and frustrating at times but the money we were saving was amazing, we made some great friends in our colleagues and had such a unique experience that we will never get again. Working in this beautiful national park was an incredible experience, we were even flown back to Kununurra on tiny scenic aeroplanes whenever we had time off – something we would never be able to afford normally.
The day we left was one of mixed emotions, I was so excited to get back to civilastion and never clean another toilet again but we have some great memories of our time working for East Kimberley Tours and everyone that worked there.
After an interesting trip to Ayers Rock and the surrounds we continued our tour with a two day trip to Darwin. There’s not much plan for this trip and it’s predominantly driving. We traveled with the same company and most of the group is the same as before but we do have a different driver – Jason. Despite Jason being the manager/owner of Mulgas Adventures, he doesn’t exactly make the best tour guide. Wish we’d had Lachlan again!
After a few too many bottles of wine the night before, Steph and I only just made it to the bus before it left, meaning we did draw the short straw with the seats. I spent most of the next two days sleeping, so can’t say I was particularly bothered. Other than a few pit stops to view some rocks and waterfalls there’s not really much to say about the trip to Darwin.
Half way through the 1500km trip we stopped at Daly Waters Pub where we spent the night. One of my favourite places ever! It’s everything you’d expect from an outback pub and it’s so busy! Food was pretty sub-standard but the atmosphere, décor and music were amazing! Unfortunately I was too wrapped up in the evening to take any pictures apart from one of my new favourite band – Lou Bradley.
We had originally only planned to stay in Darwin a night, but extended to spend a little longer with new found friends and give us the opportunity to see a little more of the area. Darwin is a pretty average small city, with everything you need on one small strip. It’s also incredibly hot with temperatures well over 35 degrees – and this is the cold/dry season! For our one full day, we rented a car with a couple other English girls and headed to Litchfield National Park where we spent the day hitting up the many waterfalls where we swam as long as there were no crocodile signs! It was beautiful! Like many times this year I found myself in a place I’d never heard of and never expected to visit, but absolutely loved and would highly recommend! After a dodgy drive back (What?! I’d never driven automatic before!) We headed straight to Mindil Beach where we watched the sunset over the croc infested waters before heading to the night market for a feed.
I never know whether I should be calling it Ayers Rock or Uluru! Well whichever you prefer, it was the number one place I wanted to visit in Australia. When my parents did the long trip to this side of the world a few years ago, it was their highlight and the photos looked amazing! It was a pretty expensive decision to visit but as we were heading up north anyway, it’d be rude just to fly overhead! We booked a tour with Mulgas Adventures that would see us and a group of backpackers spending three days exploring the red centre before journeying for another two up to Darwin.
Safe in the knowledge that we were leaving a cold Melbourne behind to go to a sunny hot dry place, it was very confusing to arrive in a cloudy Alice Springs. Alice Springs is probably not somewhere I’d choose to stay for too long, the one day and night we had there was plenty long enough to see the small aboriginal town. After a 6am wakeup we were off in the bus with our tour guide Lachlan – great guy! First stop was for a camel ride where a mancunian lad walked us round in a circle, much to our hilarity and the pain of my bottom. After stupidly leaning on an unmarked electric fence, we were off to Ayres Rock. Several hours of napping later and we were off the bus for a walk around the base, constantly swatting at the flies learning some aboriginal stories along the route. It is a rather spectacular looking thing and I so wish that it had been sunnier to really bring out the red! After a glass of champagne at a non-existent sunset, the light drizzle that we’d coped with all day had turned into unrelenting rain. After a Camel burger (not the ones we’d ridden earlier I hope!) it was time to roll our swags outside for some stargazing while falling to sleep….oh wait the rain! Much better a night all squished into the laundry room…
Next day we were woken at 5am to discover the rain wasn’t going anywhere and our lovely sunrise at the rock was cancelled. After us mob of grumpy backpackers had eaten breakfast, we donned our rain coats and drove to Kata Tjuta for a morning walk. Supposedly Kata Tjuta are dome shaped rocks but we couldn’t make anything out as we were pretty much walking through clouds. It was crazy, I don’t think this is what anyone has in mind when they visit the red centre! Despite this, our spirits were as high as the rain levels and we all opted for the long walk – well at this point we couldn’t get wetter!
Next on the itinerary was a drive to Kings Canyon where we’d have another night under the stars ready to wake up and explore in the morning. Most people visiting the area say they come for Ayers Rock but its King Canyon that they prefer. Luck being our absolute enemy this weekend meant that just as we were about to set off we found out that the road had been flooded and instead we were going back to Alice Springs for a night in a hostel and would not get to see King Canyon. Now I’d tried to be optimistic this whole time and being from England I’m used to horrendous unpredictable weather, but now I was becoming a grumpy girl. When you’ve spent months saving for a trip and getting excited about it, for it to go so wrong and have so many things cancelled it’s really not good. Beers and a BBQ back in the hostel that night helped a little but there was still a massive feeling of disappointment lingering. Luckily we had such a good group that made it all so much better!
Dragging ourselves out of bed this morning wasn’t easy when you know all your plans have failed! Lachlan was amazing and cooked us a great breakfast to cheer us all up and told us as a ‘treat’ we were going to go for a walk around the West Macdonnell Range. Not somewhere I’d ever heard of and not far from town, but at least it had finally stopped raining. It was such a beautiful walk, we all absolutely loved our day there. It’s such a surprise as somewhere we knew nothing about but after some very miserable moments, we ended on a high. It was somewhere I’d never have dreamt of going and that made it all the more special – although I still would’ve loved to see Kings Canyon!
Reflecting back, it was a really good tour and massive praise goes to Lachlan and the group, which absolutely made it. The weather we experienced was beyond unfortunate! We were visiting one of the driest parts of this country and saw ridiculous amounts of rain! Things just weren’t all that red in the grey clouds, although we were lucky that we got to see waterfalls flowing in Kata Tjuta which is a pretty rare sight for most tourists!
I think my expectations were far too high and at the end of the day it’s a big red rock with some fascinating stories attached. Even if the weather had been better, I’m still not 100% sold that this is one of the best things to see in Australia when there’s so many incredible places. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great, but maybe a little too expensive! Sorry Mum and dad but it didn’t quite live up to the hype that you gave it. I’ve realised I’m more of a green girl rather than a red girl when it comes to scenery, so I guess it all comes down to preference and you can’t come to Australia and not see the outback!