A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about kangaroo

The Outback

Uluru and a whole lot more…

After 5 weeks in the car, we were happy to turn in our keys and fly to Sydney for a stay with one of Marin’s besties, Sarah. More to come on our amazing times in Manly with Sarah and her lovely life in our next entry.

Right smack in the middle of our 2 week Sydney stint, we flew to Alice Springs in central Australia. We spent 2 nights and 3 days on a camping tour through the highlights of the Red Center, namely Uluru/Ayer’s Rock, Kata Tjuta/The Olgas, and Kings Canyon. I have given the Aboriginal name and the White Australian name for both. There has been quite a bit of unrest as to whom this land actually belongs. I will spare you our views on the politics of it all here but if anyone wants to have a conversation about it in person at a later date, Nikki would be more than willing to share her very strong views on this topic. And Marin would be happy to give the moderate, “well I can see it from both ways” perspective. ☺

The Red Center earned its name because it is a desert comprised of red sand as a result of the large red rock formations scattered throughout. Until recently, the Northern Territory experienced very little rain and remained an arid environment. However, over the past 5 years there has been a tremendous amount of rainfall (bring on the ice age!). This has led to lush green vegetation sprinkled throughout the red rock and sand with a clear blue sky behind it all. The result is one of the most beautiful scenes that we’ve ever experienced…truly unparalleled! Marin was so inspired by this natural beauty that she snapped a good 500 photos – lots of photos of rocks here. This was a good spot to play with the infinite number of settings on her camera, so some still need to be photoshopped.

Cool salt lake:


Our tour involved us and 12 other backpackers being shuttled around the Outback in an old school bus by one of the cutest Aussie tour guides you can imagine, Ryan. He had the dimples, the accent, and the kind-hearted, gentle nature.

Needless to say we were in love with him from the get go. Here is our Ryan photoshoot:


We enjoyed not having to do the driving ourselves as we covered roughly 1500K in 3 days. We sat in the back of the van and slept, ate ice cream, read, enjoyed the beautiful desert scenery (even a few wild camels ran by), and watched Sex and City DVDs on our laptop- thanks for the loaners Sarah :-)!

Our eclectic traveling crew was pretty comical, including a few Brits, another lesbian couple (they were Aussies and so we loved them), an older couple (they were older than us and so we loved them, too), a German, a gal from Holland (we lovingly called her Dutchie), two Canadians and an Asian couple. Pretty much the United Nations. All in all, a good mix and everyone got along! Nobody bothered to learn each other’s names so we just referred to each other by country name. We were “Team America.” Here’s the group and some pictures of the camping scene – note Nikki holding court per usual:


We all got cozy quite quickly as we slept outside in neat contraptions called swags. Yes, there were many jokes made about enjoying a Swag Shag…haha! A swag is basically a suped-up sleeping bag. There were not any hot rims attached, but there was quite a bit of padding, a waterproof outer shell, and a pillow. Nikki was thrilled to find the pillow- camping is a million times better with a pillow! No tents were involved, which was awesome because it allowed us to see the millions of stars stretched across the long sky. We had fun trying to make sense of the constellations in the Southern Hemisphere.

Nighttime camping pic by the fire:


Although this may sound torturous to some, we awoke each morning at 4:30 am, so as to experience the sunrise over one of the many beautiful rocks that we visited. We also wanted to avoid this:


We also caught the sun set each evening around some more gorgeous rocks. It was def worth missing some sleep to see these amazing views! Take a look at some pics of sunrises and sunsets throughout the trip:

We hiked each day for a few hours. The first day’s hike was around the base of Uluru, the quintessential Australian postcard photo. It is the largest monolith in the world and it is amazing in person! Although we did spend quite a bit of time swatting the famous Australian flies out of our eyes, noses, and mouths. Check out the flies on this guy's back -- an average amount:

The Aboriginal people ask that you not climb the rock as it is considered to be sacred, so we opted for the base walk – it is 9 kilometers around the entire rock!

Some people ignored the whole sacred bit. They will now be cursed:


The second day’s hike was through Kata Tjuta. We went on a walk there called the Valley of the Winds Walk. The name is appropriate in that the various red rock formations create lovely wind tunnels. Quite a few people on our tour thought this spot was the most beautiful of them all. To Marin’s delight, we also spotted a few Kangaroos along the way.

The final day’s walk was around the rim of King’s Canyon. Nikki fell in love with this spot when we watched the sunrise over the canyon. It was spectacular! Ryan, our cute guide, pointed out various plants and trees used for homeopathic remedies by the Aboriginal people along the way. Marin continued to fumble with her camera and lag meters and meters behind the group.


On the way back to Alice Springs we stopped at a Camel Farm to ride some camels. We chose not to ride them because we weren’t happy with the small pens in which they were living. However, it was neat to see them up close and Marin snapped some great pics-see:

Other highlights of the trip were collecting firewood in the 110-degree, fly swarming heat (this was more of a lowlight), and making Nikki pose as the company’s logo:

Exhausted and amazed by our time in the Outback, we headed back to the city for some more QT with Sarah and Sydney.

Up next: Sydney and all its splendor, Manly, and Coogee, Nikki’s study abroad paradise from 10 years ago.

Also, in real time, we are in Thailand right now and it is awesome! The goal is to get a few entries out in the next couple of days as we lie by the sea and sip rum punch, so that you all can see how amazing Thailand has been too! Xoxo Nikki and Marin

Posted by Marbert18 22:03 Archived in Australia Tagged desert uluru hiking outback olgas camel kangaroo kings_canyon ayer's_rock emu_run Comments (1)

Tasmania…more like Tas-rain-ia…

19°C, RAIN!!!

To begin with, Tassie is absolutely gorgeous!!! Like Africa meets the ocean.

We had big dreams of circling the entire island state in just under a week. However, this did not happen, due to a) our complete and total exhaustion and b) the weather. As we cruised around Tassie in our Britz camper van, usually the only radio reception we got were various weather reports, all the same. For the week, our driving soundtrack was a young woman’s soothing accent reading out the temperature in each town each day… Swanswea…19…rain….Coles Bay…rain…19….St. Helens…rain, heavy at first….then light…19…. We stuck to cruising up and down the east coast Tassie beaches. While it wasn’t really beach weather, we saw some great stuff.

We had a great welcome to Australia on St Patrick’s Day. Hobart, the capital of the great Aussie state of Tasmania, and more specifically Salamanca Square, is a glorious place to drink Guinness, of which we did plenty. We knew we arrived at the right place when we saw this sign on our hostel door:

And, at the Hobart Waterfront, we ate the freshest, creamiest, oysters you can imagine (seriously, there were still live barnacles attached to the shells and they were 4 bites thick each…at least). Look at Nikki’s expert preparations and the resultant supremely satisfied look on Marin’s face:

We ate, drank, and were merry…very merry! We were proud that we were able to hang with the kids (the 18-20 something backpacker crowd) until approximately 10:30pm- we left just as things started to heat up in Irish Murphy’s. However, we were there long enough to enjoy the lovely Aussie one-man show, who performed a fantastic acoustic cover of “Livin’ on a Prayer” by Bon Jovi, as requested by a feisty co-ed in a green velvet top hat (and not much else). You haven’t lived until you have sung along to Bon Jovi along with a drunk Aussie chorus. Also, on our way home, we stopped to procure one of Nikki’s favorite Australian ice cream treats- The Magnum Ice Cream Bar…oh yeah!!! In other cheap dessert news, Marin has discovered Tim Tam’s, which are these amazing chocolate covered wafers. She will send you some if you are nice.

The next day, we picked up the Britz, our home on wheels for the week. Here she is in all her glory. Who knew so much was possible in a camper van?

Blogging in the Britz

Britz side view

Britz feast

Beach side camping in the Britz

Sammies in the Britz

Britz beach nap

Britz by campfire-light

Wow…the Britz is amazing!


The highlight of the week for us was the two days we spent camping (for FREE) at the Bay of Fires, a beach on Tassie’s Northeast coast, which was voted the 2nd most beautiful beach in the world by Conde Nast in 2005. Picture seafoam green waters, with massive waves, crashing onto bright orange rocks (so bright they appeared as of they were spray-painted). The orange color is due to a moss, unique to Tassie, that grows on these rocks. Here are some views from/at/around our campsite:


Also, the beaches were so deserted that we skinny-dipped mid-afternoon (no pictures of that- sorry folks!). This counted for our weekly shower.


We also went on some beautiful day hikes at a few of Tasmania’s World National Parks. On one of these hikes, Nikki managed to pick up a leech, which Marin promptly removed by banging a rock against Nikki’s hip. Luckily, little to no blood was lost and many beautiful sights were seen. Take a look at picturesque Wineglass Bay and some of the sites along our many happy trails:


At first, Marin was a bit discouraged because all of the wildlife we encountered in Tassie was in the form of roadkill (nothing like seeing your first kanga splatted all over the pavement ...and then another one 50 meters later…and so on…). Also, Marin was lucky enough to spot a large, poisonous, brown, potentially deadly spider on her own shoulder using her peripheral vision (at first she thought the light brown fuzz was a rodent coming by on the ground to beg for food…not a SPIDER ON HER SHOULDER!!!). There was screaming and jumping up and down that followed. Not to mention Marin’s impersonation of a person frozen after being bitten by a poisonous arachnid…all by the light of the lovely campfire that Marin skillfully built (this was NOT the campfire the following night that we decided we must build in the beach wind and rain…for which we sacrificed a box of matches, several cigarettes, and the Western Australia (who goes there anyway?) section of our Lonely Planet travel guide…but we got that flame, dammit!).

It turned out that some of the wildlife was indeed alive. We were lucky enough to encounter some Wallabies (mini-kangaroos) on our hikes:


And we visited Nature World, a nature park where the animals roam free – we termed it a “free range zoo.” Marin fell in love with Kangaroos. Nikki fell in love with watching Marin with the roos. Here’s Marin communing with the marsupials (and their babies in their pouches), and Nikki getting knocked over by them (they are very tall and pushy about their food!):


Also, there were Koalas:


And Wombats:

And the famed Tasmanian Devils (relatives of hyenas). Absolutely gross!!!


These guys are the scavengers who eat animals that are only already dead. And eat their hair and bones and EVERYTHING. They have one of the strongest jaw pressures in the animal kingdom, so they can crunch right through bones. They are extremely competitive and howl loudly and bite at each other – they start competing in the womb! They got their names when the Europeans came to Australia and had never seen anything like them – they saw their red ears and heard their awful howling in the night and thought the devil spirits were after them.


Unfortunately, the weather in Tassie grew extremely rainy and windy in our last couple of days there (we are talking hurricane caliber here). The highlight of these days was homemade rice-a roni in the camper and scoring the Sopranos Season 6 DVD from the airport caravan park, where we huddled down and did laundry for two days… So much for those beautiful national parks ☺


By the end of the week, we were ready to head to our next destination in the sun, Cairns! Tune in next time for our adventures snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef and our good times cheering on a goldfish race at the pub. Also plenty of floating in the pool at the most amazing hostel we have stayed at yet (not to mention the cute Welch bloke at reception, who made us blush each time he looked our way). And after that... pictures of rain, rain and more...RAIN! Xoxo Mar & Nik

Posted by Marbert18 20:12 Archived in Australia Tagged koala wombat tasmania hobart kangaroo campervan britz bay_of_fires natureworld tasmanian_devil Comments (1)

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