I’m not going to lie here, I was more than a little excited to head into the outback. I mean, it’s something we hear about…all the time, don’t we? There are a thousand thousand memes about how everything in Australia wants to kill you, and of course I wanted to see that for myself.
I signed up to go on a two-day camping trip which sounded really cool and also promised to do some awesome things, like watch the sun set over Uluru, rise over Kata Tjuta, and hike round the Outback.
I’m going to be upfront here and tell you guys that I was mopey on this trip. And everyone was utterly in love with my RBF (resting bitch face), which meant that I somehow earned the moniker “the quiet girl.” The truth was, I had just come from hanging out with amazing new friends for a week and was missing them. Starting all over again just wasn’t appealing to me.
So that kind of set the tone for my trip. While by the end of it, I had made a few new friends, it was a much more sedate experience, self-reflective more than chatty, and that’s ok.
But it does make for less stories.
Anyway, our first day was mostly spent driving down. It was eight hours from Alice Springs down to the camp where we were staying. (We also picked some people up from the airport). Since we left at 7am, this meant we showed up mid afternoon, had some sandwiches, and headed out to Uluru to see what all the fuss is about.
Now, I’m not a very spiritual (or religious) person. And Uluru is essentially the Bible for the Aboriginals for whom this is their ancestral home. My lead up to this place had been about the energy thriving through great stone monolith, the incredible vastness of its face, and the history that it had written for the people of the land.
Don’t get me wrong. Uluru is pretty cool to see. But I think for others the experience had a lot more meaning. To me, it was a huge, sacred rock, and that was neat. But for others it is literally a Bible, and that’s infinitely cooler.
What do I mean when I say “Bible?” Well, the Aboriginals here “read” the rock. All of their stories are “written” into the cracks of the stone. They mean it. They’ve got explanations for every facet of the rock, and there are even places, “women’s areas,” that are forbidden to take photos of.
After we traversed bits of the base (which is quite massive), we headed off to the museum, where we spent about an hour before driving out to take in the sunset from afar.
Funnily enough, we weren’t watching the sun set behind the rock; rather, we were standing with our backs to it while it descended from the sky. The colors it casts on Uluru’s face are supposed to be incredible.
I say “supposed” because, hilariously, the second the sun was meant to hit Uluru, it was obscured by clouds and remained so for the entirety of its setting. It did make for some really nice photos of Kata Tjuta, though, which was behind us.
So we’ve just left off with Cairns and one of the highlights of my trip- where I successfully managed to SCUBA dive not once, but twice. Unfortunately, this also happened to be the part of the trip where Katie, Shuaib, and I had to split up. They were staying on longer in Cairns, while I was due to head to Alice Springs and the Outback for a chance to visit Uluru.
Does anyone remember when I talked about my trip to Naples, where I found out after arriving that Naples was generally considered to be an unsavory and unsafe place to be? And how maybe a little bit of Googling could have saved me from that realization?
My first clue here was when half the people appeared to be homeless. My second clue was when everyone shut at 5pm and rolled steel cages down in front of their storefronts.
I had originally planned on staying 4 nights in Alice Springs, and thank God I did not, because I completed (essentially) the city’s sole attraction on day one, which is a hill that is slightly higher than the rest of the city.
I stayed in a hostel here too, one of the best as recommended by tons of internet sites and even Lonely Planet. It calls itself quirky- and that’s true. I slept in a shipping container.
Anyway, Alice Springs is most famous for being known as the final outpost before the Outback, and that’s true. I left early the next morning, eager to finally get into the “bush” and be wowed by the Australian landscape.
Carissa “No Really Hobos Sleep in Shipping Containers” Rawson
It’s a wonder what peer pressure will do for you. After leaving Airlie Beach, I had literally one day in Cairns before heading over to Alice Springs (and the Outback). After my most recent failure at scuba diving (not two days before) I was content to snorkel the Great Barrier Reef. But I don’t know, maybe I was all jazzed up about the skydive, or maybe I couldn’t bear the look of incredulous disappointment on Katie and Shuaib’s faces when I told them I wasn’t going to dive, but I went ahead and signed up for scuba diving. Again. Third time’s the charm?
And it was!
This last time I was able to hold the panic at bay. It helped that it was a really simple beginner’s dive, and I clutched the instructor’s arm the entire time I was doing it, but scuba dive I did. Not just once, twice.
It went so well that the instructor suggested I get open water dive certified. Lol.
Anyway, we had a fantastic time, and after the two dives were over, we still had plenty of time to snorkel, which we spent looking at fish and attempting to teach Shuaib how to dive underwater, which was…less than successful.
If you guys know me at all, you know that my goal in life is to do pretty much all the things. Why is this pertinent? Because when Katie and Shuaib casually mentioned that they wanted to go skydiving in Airlie Beach, I was all:
And so we booked the skydive. I’d actually been 4 times previously (because I’m insane), but hadn’t gone since about 2013. So it had been a while.
I was surprisingly not nervous, but I had a blast terrifying both Katie and Shuaib, both of whom were first-timers.
“Are we gonna die up there?” -Katie and Shuaib
This was the first time I ever did photos and a video, though, so I have actual proof of going. Now enjoy.
Shuaib playing it cool as a cucumber
I will literally never get over Katie’s “death is nigh” face.
Who doesn’t look like this while skydiving?
*internally* “Time of death, 12:36 p.m.”
MY PARACHUTE DIDN’T OPEN. You can see the exact moment in the video when I realize this.
I think out of all the thing I did during my trip to Australia, the two days I spent in the Whitsundays were my favorite. Not only did I have an awesome group of people to hang out with (hi guys!) The Whitsundays are home to some of the coolest things I’ve ever seen.
Like Whitehaven Beach, whose sand NASA uses in order to clean its lenses.
It was off the coast of Whitehaven Beach that I attempted to do my basic skills for SCUBA diving again, barely succeeding before failing miserably in the actual attempt.
Fortunately for me, the hot guy who worked on the boat picked me up, assuring me that I was gorgeous despite my utter failure.
This is foreshadowing to the fact that he later tried to pick me up with the same term, at which point I asked him if he knew my name.
It’s ok though, because then I found out that our crew had earned its own special name- the fivesome. Cliques for life, you guys.
We also woke up disgustingly early in order to climb to the top of Whitehaven Beach to watch the sunrise. It was exactly as spectacular as you’d imagine.
Perhaps my favorite part was when they unveiled the two story inflatable slide, which we took turns sliding down straight into the ocean.
That, and our many, many, disastrous attempts to take a good photo of the five of us on a stand-up paddle board.
Anyways, it was an awesome two days, made all the better because I found friends (real friends!) to spend it with.
Having become fast friends with Katie and Shuaib, I decided to hop into their car in lieu of taking the train on the way up to Airlie Beach.
However, first, we headed down to Tin Can Bay to see some dolphins, on the advice of Katie and Cassi.
So, we woke up at 5am and headed the hour and a half out of the way in order to go hang out with some river dolphins at 7am.
Long story short, the dolphins, which were due to arrive at 7, in fact did not turn up until 9:30. So we sat, and waited, and waited, and waited some more.
We waited for so long that we took photos of the laminated action shots of the dolphins and pretended they were ours.
Finally! Two dolphins arrived and we got to spend a brief few minutes hanging out with them in the water before making the 13 hour trek to our hostels.
We were super authentic along the way, eating at Macca’s and (in my case) ordering only ice cream and french fries.
We didn’t get in until about 10pm, at which point we headed to our separate hostels. (We had already prebooked everything).
Mine was a little less than…great.
I was awoken bright and early by the sounds of my bunkmake noisily leaving, which I extra appreciated because she had kept me up with her snoring the night before.
So! Along the way to Airlie Beach, we five had decided to book a two night Whitsundays cruise together. Kati and Cassi met us separately, having driven their camper van up to Airlie Beach, so the next day we all met up and headed out to the boat.
Our first day started late, so we only had time for a bit of a swim before settling down to dinner and continuing on our way. We found out later that our swimming spot was a favorite hangout for sharks, but luckily none of us managed to get eaten.
Oh! I almost forgot to mention the best part.
Look, I know space is tight on a boat.
But why did I have to sleep in a coffin?
Above the engine room?
At least we were all smushed in together, so we all got to suffer equally. That’s true friendship, you guys.
Anyway, coffin bunk aside, there’s something so unspeakably cool about having a (nearly) private boat sailing you amongst some of the nicest islands in the world.
Oh, where to start with this? I view my trip to Australia as being in two parts. One, by myself, and two, with my amazing new friends.
Now I don’t want them to get big heads or anything, since I know they’ll be reading this, but basically I made the best friends ever and hanging out with them truly made my trip.
So! How did I come to meet this fantastic group of people?
Well that…is a little less exciting.
After my days in Brisbane, I caught a train up to Airlie Beach, where I crashed in (yet another) hostel before getting up early to catch an overnight trip to Fraser Island.
Now, the brochure for Fraser Island mentions four wheeling from one insane natural wonder to the next on an island made entirely of sand. And you know what, that brochure was freaking right. Fraser Island is super cool, with tons of things to see, and its only population being tourists and a single beach resort.
That being said, one of the coolest things about traveling alone is getting to meet new people.
So it was with no little amount of hostility that I moved to the front passenger seat, alone, because the tour guide wanted to make sure that everyone else had a seat first. This meant that I got to sit up front in silence while the entire rest of the bus chattered and made new friends.
Yes, I’m still bitter.
Anyway, our first stop on Fraser Island was a place called Lake Makenzie, which is simply breathtaking. It’s the only lake of its type, and I made sure to get in and swim, despite the water being approximately freezing.
After our stop, I climbed back in the front seat and we headed down to the resort for lunch.
Luckily, at lunch, two people happened to sit down next to me. Two Scottish people.
You all know that I love Scots.
So I immediately introduced myself and quickly decided that we were going to be best friends despite any evidence to back this up. (Hi Katie! Hi Shuaib!)
These two were traveling up the East Coast, the same as I was, and we bonded over our shared interests while continuing to journey around Fraser Island. Late in the second day, we met Katie and Cassi, when we attempted to break into the bus and accidentally ended up breaking the bus instead.
Anyway, Katie (the second Katie) is from Brighton and Cassi from New York, and we all ended up sitting together at dinner, spending several hours chatting before heading off to bed.
I’d like to note here that the rooms were advertised as quad rooms, but with the exception of me, every other group had two to a room. I’m sure my roommates were pleased when I third-wheeled on.
Tomorrow I’ll bless you all with more extraordinary photos of Fraser Island’s extraordinary features.