Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Outback Part 1: Isn't the Outback supposed to be warm?

(In order to keep the Outback story from becoming an opus of Cervantes-esque length, we've elected to split the up the ten day adventure into five two day stories for your reading pleasure. Here is part one. Enjoy!)

The day started early. Too early for Becca and me as we were packed and waiting inside our hostel waiting area in Adelaide at 6:30am in anticipation for the trip to start. We still weren't quite sure if the trip was such a good idea (10 days with 9 other people can be a LONG time) but we were jumping in feet first. Waiting with us outside was someone in a ranger hat and full backpack chowing away at Subway tuna sub. This was Thorsten, the first of our fellow trip mates we were to meet.

Here's a brief description of our fellow travelers for the next ten days:

Thorsten: (26) German doing a brief working stint in Geelong before heading back to Germany for his PhD. Also a budding photographer and fan of the footy.

Seh Ling: (21) From Singapore and currently studying speech pathology in Melbourne. Razor sharp wit and not afraid to use it.

Wei Leng: (21) Also from Singapore and currently studying speech pathology in Melbourne. Equally sharp wit but a bit kinder in her use of it. Pathologically (and hysterically funnily) afraid of dogs, from rottweilers to chihuahuas

Chu: (21) South Korean currently in Adelaide studying English for ten weeks before heading home

Elena: (17) Swiss-German spending part of her senior year of HS studying in Australia.

Sebastian: (24) German studying Computer Science in Australia

Michelle: (21) Dutch girl who'd just finished up a work program with a travel agency in Sydney before heading back to the Netherlands to finish university.

Jenny: (27) Our token Pom (UK) who'd just finished up teaching math in Sydney and was coming close to finishing her year in Australia with an eye towards sticking around.

Drew: (35) Our fearless leader was a native Australian, Adelaide born and bred. Been doing the route for about 4 years now. Had a wicked sense of humor and his own sense of fashion.

In short, four men and seven women encompassing eight countries thrown together to spend the next ten days and 3,150 kms together in the back of a 4WD. Sound like fun?

After signing all the necessary paperwork and picking up our sleeping bags and swags, we were off. Day one involved a fair amount of driving as we were doing our best to put Adelaide behind us and get into the Flinders Ranges, with our final stop for the night being Warren Gorge. We got to the Gorge in time to do a short (but steep!) walk to the rock pinnacle above our camp. In addition to the exercise and nice views, we got to see a number of rare yellow footed rock wallabies and some emus.

When we set up camp Drew warned us to fold over our swags for two reasons: 1) it was supposed to get cold (three to four below Celsius) the next two nights (see picture above) and 2) it made it more difficult for scorpions, spiders and the like to climb into our swags to stay warm. With those two comforting thoughts in mind, we tucked into dinner and then our swags for a nice night of sleep out in the stars.

Morning came with me quickly realizing I'd lost the swag lottery. Evidently there were two small-sized swags and despite the fact that I was the second tallest person in the group (excluding Drew who has his own king sized swag) I ended up in a midget swag, leaving my sleeping bag, swag and part of my face frosted as well as short on sleep after trying to sleep at a 45 degree angle most of the night. Needless to say during the day I was able to switch with Seh Ling (who checks in under five feet) and get a proper sized swag for the remainder of the trip. This was important, as proper swag technique in this sort of weather involves zipping it all the way up above your head and then flipping the flap over the open end to fully tuck yourself in at night.

Our second day brought visits to the town of Hawker, Wilpena Pound and more of the Flinders Ranges. All of these places gave us a great feel as to some of the varying terrains of the Outback. Wilpena Pound especially was an amazing site as the current formations are the remains (the outside edge/circumferance) of mountains that had been as high as 15km (over nine miles) high long, long ago. Just amazing stuff when you think about it from an ecological perspective. For a little more info on the area, check out this site.

Two days in, we were settling into the day to day life on the road. Dinners were getting cooked quicker (and were DELICIOUS), the cheese toasties at breakfast weren't ending up looking quite so cajun, the swags were getting folded a little neater (despite the bone chilling frost that made rolling them up a dicey prospect) and everyone was looking forward to getting into the "true" outback where hopefully the sub zero temps were a thing of the past. Our next stop? William Creek, population 3. Or 5; depending on how much seasonal help they get.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey guys!! great job!!! i was so impressed by the links and everything..hahaa.. and i laughed a lot while reading it.. hats off to u guys!!
but fyi, *indignant* i am OVER 5 feet!!! i'm 154.5cm.. isnt that like almost 5 feet 1!!!!!