August 14th 2016 – Outback Tour Day 5 of 10

Today we woke up at 530. Someone’s alarm was going off at 5. Nobody turned it off for over a half hour so I went and turned it off. I had toast and coffee for breakfast. We packed up and left at 6:30pm. We stopped in Katherine to fuel up, and I purchased Simon and I a coffee.

The next stop, an hour away, was bitter springs. Bitter springs is a naturally occurring hot spring, with a temperature of around 32-33 degrees. It’s cooler than the hot springs I’m used to back in Canada. The hot springs had almost no sulphur smell. We originally were supposed to stop in Mataranka Hot Springs, but decided to stop at Bitter Springs instead because it’s less commercialized. Mataranka is busier and the springs are enclosed in concrete instead of being naturally occurring. Bitter Springs is located in Never Never Land, which revived its name from a train that was always late, which ran from Darwin to Alice Springs.

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We then drove about two hours to Daly’s Water’s Pub, where we had hot dogs and salad for lunch. It’s a very historic pub and the small town is literally located in the middle of nowhere. 

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We then drove to Dunmarra, about a half hour away. We got to hold and touch a few snakes. Dunmarra got its name from a telegraph lineman named Dan O’Mara. He vanished without a trace in this area, and his skeleton was found in the 1930’s with the help of the local Jingili Aboriginal people. Their attempts to say his name sounded like Dunmarra.

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We then had a two hour drive to Banka Banka, where we were staying tonight. Banka Banka is an old cattle station that was used during the Second World War. There was a baby cow there named Fugly. The poor guy had one of his ears bitten off by a dingo. There was also some cute family of three frogs that lived in the back of the toilet in the building that the kitchen was located in. We had delicious pasta and white sauce with chicken for dinner. After dinner we all sat around the fire and played some games and were told some scary stories from the area. The site at Banka Banka that we were staying at was a school that had a mass murder occur at it. A teacher and three students were killed. It’s been said that some people can hear and see children at night occasionally. I don’t believe in any of that stuff, but that’s what we were told.

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Today we also learned a few more interesting facts. Australia has 254 different “countries” or language areas of indigenous people. Their history dates back over 60000 years, virtually unchanged. They still live virtually the same lifestyle as they did back in the days, some with a few modern luxuries. Ayers Rock is also known as Uluru. It is considered highly offensive to climb on Uluru and it’s said to cause bad luck if you do. People would climb it in the past and pee and poop at the top, which would run off into the water holes and make the animals sick in the area. In fact only about 10 percent of the local animals to the area are still left because of this. Another fact we learned was that it’s highly frowned upon to take rocks from the area. If you do they are called sorry rocks because they typically cause bad luck to the point where some people who have taken them have actually sent them back in the mail to the park. The last thing we learned was that Eucalyptus trees need smoke to germinate their seeds. 

We went to bed at about 10:00pm. Today we drove about 650km. Tomorrow we get to see the Devil’s Marbles!

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August 13th 2016 – Outback Tour Day 4 of 10

August 13th 2016

Today I started the next part of my outback tour. The tour is a three day trek to Alice Springs called the Cicada Tour. Our tour guide, Simon, picked us up from the Youth Shack hostel at 6:30am. The Youth Shack was pretty bad. It felt like it was a University dorm room with a bunch of party animals. I’m very glad that I had my own private room, because one of my tour mates showed me how disgusting their shared room was. Despite having my own private room I still was woken up plenty of times by yelling and screaming. 

For this part of the journey we had 19 people. 11 of them are carryovers from the last three days. We drove about an hour and a half to Adelaide River for a coffee and a rest. We had been here before on the previous tour. The next stop, Pine Creek, was an hour and a half away as well. We stopped here for fuel and a rest.

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After that we headed towards Katherine Gorge where we had sandwiches for lunch. Four of the 19 of us went on a kayak tour, while the rest of us (myself included) went on a 4.8km walk to a viewpoint overlooking the Katherine River. The view was great!

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This tour is called the Cicada Tour, which is named after a moth, which is the size of a human hand. Cicada’s can live in a tree or underground for up to 13 years, then they come out and have sex and then die. Not the most spectacular life, but maybe it’s not that bad? The Katherine River, also known as the Cicada River, is located in Nitmaluk National Park 

At 5:15pm we left Katherine Gorge and stopped in Katherine to pickup liquor for the next two days. We arrived at our camp site at around 6:30pm. Our camp site is located in Spring Vow, which is only about ten minutes outside of Katherine. The camp site was a fairly substantial RV park about four years ago, but was closed to the public due to sewage problems. The site couldn’t handle the amount of sewage that people produced so the decision was made to shut it down. Way Outback tour group has a special agreement with the owner of the land so we essentially get private access to this huge facility. 

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We made a campfire, and prepared a dinner of steaks, sausages, potatoes and onions with cheese cooked over the fire, and salad. 

We learned about a few interesting facts about Australia. There was a secret war in Laos around the same time of the Vietnam war. The United States dropped so much Napalm and so many Cluster Bombs in Laos that their soil was so polluted and destroyed that nothing was able to grow there, until eucalyptus trees from Australia were planted in the land. Eucalyptus trees are very hearty and can withstand some pretty harsh conditions. This plan worked and over time the trees actually made the soil good enough to actually be able to grow vegetation and food again. The other fact we learned was that Australia invented the boxed wine about 51 years ago. 

We went to bed at about 10:30pm. I slept in a swag, which is essentially a bag that you zip up all around you and has a pillow and a thin mattress to sleep on. It was surprisingly comfortable! Throughout the night wallabies were walking around everywhere. Today we drove 350km. 

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