segunda-feira, 7 de dezembro de 2015

Outback – more than 20 new experiences to be made, impressed and seen there

Starting at the end, I can assure that it was for sure my best trip in Australia so far. I am not telling you that I didn’t like the others, but I really loved the new experience I had there and also I wasn’t expecting so much beauty. My objective of this post is to encourage people to go there and see the marvellous treasure Australia has with your own eyes.

Before travelling to Outback, the first thing came to my mind when I heard the word “Outback” was the amazing international restaurant I used to go in Brazil (by the way it is not from Australia). The second thing was the big rock and red sand. Every tourism agency I went to I could see packages selling attractions to the big rock and one day without thinking too much, I decided to give it ago. When I researched what to do there, I was impressed by the number of things the Northern Territory has to offer.

Sunrise - Uluru (left) and Kata Tjuta (right) - separated by 30km
Outback is the colloquial name for the vast desert region that comprises most of Australia’s interior (the arid Red Centre in the Northern Territory) and some of the most iconic landmarks in the world including Uluru (Ayers Rock), Kata Tjuta (the Olgas), Watarrka (Kings Canyon), Karlu Karlu (Devils Marbles), the ancient Aboriginal rock paintings at Kakadu National Park and south of Tennant Creek. You will see hundreds of waterbirds and wildlife, the sandy red desert and lush parks and waterholes, vastness in land and diverse in culture.

The population is only 230,200 spread all over the Northern Territory, which means too much land for too few people. The number of males to females is the highest of any state or territory and the median age is the lowest in Australia (31,2 years). The proportion of aborigines is 30% (the highest proportion of all the states and territories).  Some research I did after the trip ;).

Northern Territory can be divided into 4 regions from North to South: Darwin Region, Katherine Region (Katherine Park), Barkly Region (Tennant Creek) and Central Australia Region (Alice Springs).

I did 10-day tour from Darwin to Alice Springs with Wayoutback Company. You can camp, track, cruise, spot wildlife with someone experienced. I also stayed 2 more days in Alice Springs and 1 more day in Darwin, but if I could do it all again I’d separate at least 3 extra days in Darwin and 4 extra days in Alice Springs not a part of the tour. During these “free days” you can get to know better the local culture, try the local food, visit aboriginal sites, explore the region according to your curiosities and I assure you (100% guaranteed) that you will be surprised by this experience. I confess that this region also reminds me a lot of my Country, Brazil. For example, places like Chapada Diamantina (BA), Bonito (MS), Mato Grosso (MS), Manaus (AM), Piratuba, (SC), etc.

It was in the Northern Territory where I had the opportunity to do and try many things that I’d never experienced before or at least it had been a long time since I had done them, such as:

1. Some of the most well-known and spectacular sights in Australia including Uluru, Kakadu National Park and Katherine Gorge and some of the sixty national parks and reserves in NT.

2. Spectacular breathtaking sunset and sunrise. OMG! I was on holiday, sure, but watching the sunrise and sunset was “a must do” every day. The colourful of the sky was indescribable. Every day, every minute, one unique show. 

3. Signs were everywhere. Seriously… even if I wanted to hide from them I couldn’t because I was surrounded by arrows. There were signs for lifts, stars, bridges, cigarettes bins, drinkable water, ecological toilets etc.  This really surprises me as I’d never seen such a good organization in such a remote area.

4. Eat green ants alive or if you are very lucky, the honey ants (I’ll be really envious of you if you could do it haha). For who wants to know the taste of green ants is a superpower citric which is impossible not to make a face while eating them. And the honey ants, people told me about, as I didn’t get a chance to try them, taste like honey with lemon, like a strong Chinese tea (Honey Lemon Tea). The aborigines eat honey ants as the honey ants stock honey in their bodies which is normally to be shared with the other ants if they don’t have enough food to eat.

5. Be shocked by the biggest castle of termites. I was so impressed that I wrote another post just telling a little bit what I learned about termites there. You will see thousands of them when you visit the Northern Territory and it is impossible not to ask questions about the tallest non-human constructions on earth.

6. Be surprised with the poorest and driest soils in Australia where plants, animals and people have created clever ways of surviving in such a harsh environment. Look outside the airplane how the desert looks like a big red ocean, which it once was in the past.

7. Sleep in the swag and wake up every hour to contemplate what my eyes couldn’t believe – the stars. I also couldn’t believe looking at people sleeping with ear plugs and eye patches!!! Waking up with a kangaroo near you in the middle of the night is amazing. 

8. Get a chance to know a little bit more about the stars, as you are in one of the amazing spots to look up the stars. Another point to make here is that the moon is different from my country. While Brazilian moon is a letter “C”, Australian moon is a smile J.

9. Ride a camel and learn the importance of this animal for this region, how people domesticate the wild camel. On this topic I can suggest the documentary “Track” about a girl that spent 10 months with 2 camels crossing the red centre. And there is also my favourite documentary called “Whipping Camels”.

10. See wild, pet, tiny and huge snakes all over the northern territory and witness the aborigines happiness when they find one to eat or show to the tourists.

11. See plenty of others animals in the wild or in the captive. See them in a way you’ve never seen before, kangaroos, wallabies, emus (the largest bird of arid Australia and well adapted to life in the desert), dingos, frogs that look like plastic or are fluorescent, touch lizards like blue tongue or the bizarre Thorny Devil, thousands of colourful parrots, visit a croc by taking a cruise along the Mary River or at night near your camp (their eyes are red with the flashlight). See the cane toad, a big pest that was introduced to Australia from Hawaii that spread all over the territory and neighbouring states killing native animals.

12. Cook food on the fire and try the yummy bread (called “damper”) in a pot on the fire. Eat fresh nuts from the Lily Water (aquatic plant looks like “Vitoria Regia” from Brazil) while you are doing the crocodile tour. Try bush tucker (bush tomatoes, quandongs, bush banana, etc. Learn more about bushtucker (another post) and how aborigines survive in the desert.

13. Be testimony to the numerous intentionally bushfires in order to manage bush and don’t feel bad about that. See many birds waiting to eat smoked BBQ.

14. Camp, find the best wood to make the campfire and assure that you are not going to be freezing at night.

15. Learn about aboriginal culture. Be reminded that you cannot explore all over the country as there are many areas that belong to Aborigines. Learn traditional dot painting and the symbology of the drawings.

16. Try to play or listen the enchanting didgeridoo. In this region one can do a workshop and realize that it is not as easy as you thought that it could be.

17. Learn how to throw a boomerang, the instrument used to kill animals to be eaten.

18. Stop and have a seat in the fascinating bush pubs and historic stock routes, talk with the owner, learn a little bit about the place.

19. Climb the gorgeous red earth bizarre rock formations as you are in a natural playground

20. Feel homesick. As I told you before, many areas reminded me of my country, Brazil.

21. Soak in the spectacular waterfalls or hot spring water.

22. Learn that Opal is not only a card to travel on transport services in Sydney but one of the 10 most expensive stones and from Australia.

I really encourage people to go there instead of focusing only on the coast. It is a true blue fair dinkum aussie experience for who wants to know more about Australia. The outback is unforgettable. And if you want some tips and keen on to give Outback a go, I wrote more a little bit (Darwin and Alice Springs) to be done and seen there.

Hope I could encourage you to visit Australia’s amazing red centre.