We’re on a mission! We’re heading south, then south again.
Our original plan was to complete a clockwise lap of the country and be back in Victoria for Christmas, but as we broke down in Fitzroy Crossing and ended up spending two months there, some readjustments to the itinerary were required.
Instead of heading from west to east across the top of Australia and down the coastline, the new plan is to race through the centre of the country from Katherine to the south coast via Kings Canyon & Uluru, then spend Christmas with family and friends before going on a canoe trip along the Glenelg River in early January, then we’ll get back to chasing some slow on the east coast.
Our first goal is to get to Kings Canyon, above Uluru. It’s about a 1,700 km drive and as we’re only going about 80 kms per hour, it’s a long way, so a few stops will be needed to break things up.
Stop one was a quick break at Mataranka Hot Springs, just over 100 kms into the drive, then stop two included grabbing a drink about 170 kms past there at the famous Daly Waters, a remote pub that’s known for people leaving their clothes, IDs and just about anything else attached to ceiling or walls.
We could have stayed at the caravan park next to the pub, but the extreme heat and no air conditioning (in the car or caravan) was constantly on our mind and we just needed to keep on moving, dreaming of the cool south coast breeze.
That night ended up being one of the worst on the entire trip so far.
We found a patch of sand out in the desert, off the highway. The temperature didn’t drop below 40°C the entire night, our water was almost too hot to drink and our fridge stopped working due to the heat. I woke up in the middle of night with food positioning and as I was outside being sick, a colony of bull ants set on me. But if that’s as bad as it got, it means we must have had a pretty smooth trip!
The whole next day was spent driving, then we found another patch of sand just outside of Alice Springs called Burt Plains Bush Camp and spent the night resting up.
Throughout the night, an unexpected cool breeze rolled through the caravan and we finally got some relief from the heat, it even managed to cool down our water tank.
Refreshed and recovered, we headed to town at Alice Springs for some supplies then spent the rest of the day making our way to Kings Canyon.
Like a lot of other places we’ve been to lately, Kings Canyon is remote, hot and dry. Upon arrival at the Kings Canyon Caravan Park, I got out of the car and jumped in the pool while Eva went and set up the caravan in the shade. Just as she joined me in the pool, a storm rolled in and we couldn’t have been more excited!
The campground was part of a resort, so there was a restaurant and bar – we left the camp kitchen packed up and spent the evening drinking beers, eating pizza and playing pool.
The main event is now upon us. It’ll be a big day ahead!
7:30am on the dot, we met up with the dog sitter, dropped off Papi then drove over to Kings Canyon.
We completed the Kings Canyon Rim Walk, which is 6-7km trail that took us up to the top of the canyon walls, around past a breathtaking oasis and looped back around to where we had started. Suddenly, the painful three day journey was worth it!
We got to stand on the edge of the canyon looking down, walk through ancient sand dunes that have turned to stone and see of completely different and diverse landscapes all from the same vantage point in one view, each spectacular in their own way.
With no time to spare, we went back to pick up Papi & the caravan, then drove about 300 km to Ayers Rock Campground, set the caravan back up, dropped Papi off to another dog sitter, and headed for the day’s second hike!
We soaked in the experience by taking our time to slowly walk right around the base of big red rock, observing the rock art and seeing all of the different angles that make it seem as though you’re looking at a completely different place.
We followed the Uluru Base Walk, which is about a 10 km loop. From a distance, Uluru seems pretty big, but walking around it made us realise just how massive the rock is.
Uluru’s size is impressive although it’s the change is texture, shape and colour that makes it so interesting to circumnavigate.
We stayed at Uluru right up until the sun had set and we were rightfully exhausted. Now, it’s all about getting out of the heat and over to the south coast.
Bright and early the next morning, we packed up and made our way 750 kms to Coober Pedy.
The place gets so hot that the people here built houses and hotels underground, which we had to take a look at. We went into the Desert Cave Hotel and checked out the bar that’s been dug out of the side of a a hill.
With another 1,300 kms to go until we reach the coast line at Eight Mile Creek in South Australia, just near the Victoria border, we didn’t stick around long.
We drove for another few hours and found a roadside campground to spend the night at. The next day was completely uneventful, just another full day of driving, then we made it to our goal location, reaching the Pippi Shack the following morning!
Having to sleep under the blanket and putting on a jumper after a warm shower couldn’t have felt better!
We stayed at the shack on the coast right up until Christmas morning, then headed to the Grampians to spend the big day with the family, as Mum was hosting lunch, dinner and drinks.
After driving from Katherine to Eight Mile Creek via Uluru & Kings Canyon in less than a week, we kept things pretty quiet after Christmas and stuck around at Mum’s, although something was eating away at us both. My Mum lives with her partner with a direct view of Mount William, so on New Year’s Day we gave in to our urges and hiked up to the summit, which is the tallest point in the Grampians National Park.
Completing a loop around the western half of Australia has been one hell of an experience. It was remote, rugged and exceptionally beautiful, although a bit spread out and hot up north in summer. In the future, we’ll fly back in winter and explore the place in a 4WD. Hopefully we’ll find the east coast just as enjoyable and interesting.
Up next: Years ago, we went canoeing on the Glenelg River and haven’t stopped talking about it since, so we’re going to do it again!