by Ronnie Charrier & Phoebe Blyth
While I don't always agree with Kerouac's lack of grammatical structure, he was dead on that the best way to truly experience something is to see it for yourself. But where should you go and what should you see? It can be easy to get caught up in the sensation of wanderlust, daydreaming about far off places, but it's the reality of actually picking a destination that can bring you crashing back to earth. That's why, from time to time, we here at Many Many Adventures try and make those decisions simpler, so you don't get stuck in indecision limbo.
For this article I thought we'd focus on my all-too-brief home from a few years ago: Australia. And to bring in an authentic opinion, as well as a much needed dose of proper use of the English language, I've enlisted my witty and charming travel mate Phoebe, to assist.
So let me get out of the way and let her tell you why this year's trip should involve a car and the open road of the land down under.
Uluru At Sunrise
My best friend Sam and I drove from Melbourne to Uluru in 2012 when he got his first job at the radio station in Alice Springs. The stretches of completely empty desert roads and the heat made us a little loopy by the time we arrived, but my goodness was it worth the trip! Uluru (named Ayers Rock by the European William Goose in 1870), is actually a single piece of sandstone rock, looming over the flat desert of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. About a five hour drive from the nearest town of any size (Alice Springs), and a 15 hour drive to the nearest city (Adelaide - it's 30 from Sydney) it is about as remote as you can get, and as beautiful. Uluru has spiritual significance to the Indigenous People of the region, and climbing on the rock is restricted, but most travelers are content to view the eerily vivid colours that play across the rock at sunrise and sunset, and contemplate its awesome size from ground level.
The Arthur Range in Tasmania has some of the best bush walking trails in Australia, as long as you don't mind a bit of mud. The trails themselves may be Spartan, but if the weather is kind, the views are like nothing else. The Western Arthurs are studded with high altitude lakes formed by Ice-Age glaciers - like the one pictured above. Hikers can stay in the little huts and cabins along the trails, but are warned to be prepared for all weather conditions, as the climate in the range is unpredictable.
When Sam and I left Melbourne on our road trip, neither of us had looked too carefully at a map. We knew that Australia was shaped something like a croissant with a bite out of the top, that Melbourne was roughly in the bottom right hand corner, and Alice Springs and Uluru were sort of in the middle. We knew that the roads were few and far between once you got outside the major cities, and were relying on signs telling us "this way to the desert", as we took the highway out of Melbourne. "Let's take the Great Ocean Road" I suggested on a whim, seeing the sign for an exit. Still, neither of us thought to look at a map. 19 hours later, we had driven the Great Ocean Road, and rejoined the highway heading to the center. We were still only 4 hours drive from Melbourne. The rest of the trip took us another 25 hours...
Despite the gigantic detour, it was well worth it. The Great Ocean Road winds ponderously along the south coast of Australia, from Melbourne to Adelaide, passing through lush rainforests and sand dunes, offering beautiful clifftop ocean views, the best of which is pictured above. The erosion of the coast by the fierce Antarctic winds has left behind these teetering slivers of rock, seemingly sulking a few meters out in the ocean.
Grampians National Park
The Grampians National Park is a must-visit for any outdoor enthusiast, but it also holds particular sway for rock climbers. The bright orange face of Mt Arapiles towers above the lush green plains, with some of the best and most challenging trad climbs to be found in Australia. Bouldering enthusiasts flock to the park every easter winter and easter, staying in the basic campsites and enjoying the friendly vibe. If climbing isn't your thing, never fear, you can reward yourself after a hard day of cycling, kayaking or walking with a tour of the local wineries.
I have always wanted to visit the Kimberly. Accessible only by air and by 4WD, many of the beautiful falls and rock formations in the Kimberly region of northern Western Australia have only a handful of tourists every year. Tourism is made difficult by the rainy season, which floods the 4WD tracks yearly, and the vast distances between destinations, requiring a combination of large sums of money, and a willingness to travel somewhat uncomfortably. However, as you may by now have realized, Australia does not give up her treasures easily, and the best views and experiences often require you to go a little farther off the beaten track. In this case, the photo speaks for itself.
What views have you seen when you have ventured away from the big cities and tourist attractions? Is it worth the pain of spending hours in a bumpy jeep or sloshing up a muddy mountain? We here at Many Many Adventures say a resounding yes!