All Aussie Adventures Chapter 1 Humpalicious Camel Milk (Melbourne-NT Border)
Question: What’s the first sign you’re heading to the true Aussie Outback? Answer: A sign advertising camel milk that is not only in fact milk from a camel but is described as being humpalicious. Thus we had our first truly #straya moment for the trip.
Let me backtrack a little as to how we ended up 1,043 km from home laughing about camel milk. A few months ago my boyfriend brought a Hilux with all the bells and whistles partly because he’s a tradie and the Toyota Corolla wasn’t quite cutting it anymore and partly because it has been one of his dreams to do a 4wding trip through the outback of Australia. We hadn’t really planned another trip any time soon after spending the majority of 2016 backpacking but with me planning to return to study again next year and a quick google search of ‘best time of year to visit Darwin’ being right about now, with about 3 weeks notice we decided to jump in and do it. As usual not so much of a plan as to make it to ‘Darwin and surroundings’. The ‘great Aussie road trips’ lonely planet was purchased and by that point theres no turning back.
The next few weeks were spent working stupid hours to save, Brendan and his Dad putting in countless hours in to preparing the vehicle, me putting my hours in to making sure we had fairy lights to pimp our set up, delicious and nutritious meals for the road and a brand new DSLR camera set up to capture our moments (priorities!). We were initially going to take a swag and some sort of camper trailer which we both agreed would be comfortable enough for sleeping but wouldn’t give us much relief from the weather or relaxation time. So fortunately Brendan’s dad offered for us to take his Caravan, which is a sweet set up. I can tell you at even just two nights in I am already grateful for this as it means we have a bed, an oven, a stove, two fridges(one in the car and one in the caravan), a small freezer and room to bring plenty of things to make sure we’re comfortable.
So after a decent amount of preparation but still a shockingly small amount for most of our loved ones we’d vacuum sealed enough food to sink a ship, brought extra water and jerry cans, pinpointed rough places we wanted to stop, we set off on our first leg. We drove nearly 9 hours straight from Melbourne to the Barossa Valley, as a bit of a different first stop from what the rest of the trip would hold, and to avoid driving right in to Adelaide itself. We enjoyed a couple of nights in a caravan park, checked out a couple of wineries and enjoyed the breathtaking greenery of the region.
The second morning was another early start to drive straight from Barossa to Coober Pedy. This was where things would start to get interesting. We had to calculate fuel stops and allowances, we stocked up on a few last minute groceries and extra-extra water. We were greeted by an amazing sunrise along a desolate road as we drove through the Barossa towards our first re-fueling town, Pt Augusta. Port Augusta is known as a crossroads of the country as it freights goods to WA, NT, Vic and NSW. It is also know as the last civilized city or town before hitting the true outback. We cruised through the Flinders Ranges feeling slightly nervous but excited for what lay ahead. We had donned our his and hers flannelette shirts and our ugg boots in true Aussie fashion. We were heading out back! With poems, songs, myths and legends we had heard growing up. We were also so excited to be heading ‘out back’ with all our international friends in mind, laughing that this is what they have in mind when they picture Australia, and excited to hopefully find that parts of it are in fact, really like that! Barren, croc-infested, red dust, wide-open spaces! Bring it on!
Between Port Augusta and Coober Pedy there was as expected, a whole lot of nothing. The road was all sealed, and the terrain was more scrubby than we expected with small green shrubbery littering the dusty plains. We were driving in super windy conditions, and our fuel stop at Dimboola left us with just 10km fuel to spare at either end of the trip. Careful steady driving was imperative towing the caravan in the wind and we drove about halfway each. The temperature began to heat up the further north we got and we stopped at our first roadhouse for the fuel and a chinwag to the bus full of grey nomads we’d been following up. We spotted a few live emus and lots of dead Roos and even deader caravans. On my stretch of the drive the wind of a passing-by semi trailer was enough to blow our extendable mirrors flat against the car. On Brendan’s stretch he began to fall victim to the classic desert mirage, mistaking trees for trains, shrubs for livestock so we listened to some podcasts to keep our minds focused.
After what seemed like hours (9 to be exact) we pulled up to Coober Pedy, a town famous for opal mining and underground residences and buildings. We set up camp at a free spot a local directed us to and were asleep by 8pm. The next morning we decided to explore the town a little, visiting some underground stores, an underground pub, and an exhibition about the town. After a while we decided there wasn’t really all that much to see and decided to get back on the road. We had used WikiCamps (a must-have app if you’re traveling oz) to pick a camp site around half way between Coober Pedy and Uluru (our next destination) close to the NT border that was free and had good ratings. Neither of us felt like another full day’s driving and we were rewarded with a beautiful little camp spot with a ripper sunset and our first really red soil!
The next morning we got up with the sun and headed across the border in to the Northern Territory! Now the adventure really begins! Stay tuned.