I See Red

Fed a steady diet of American television, English literature and European film, I was always disappointed that my parents had chosen Australia, and not North American or Britain, to raise myself and my brother in. But since returning to Melbourne after a long stint abroad, I’ve been overcome by an immense curiosity for this wide brown land – a country which I had grown up in but had not paid much attention to.

The Australian experience is a broad and varied one, and I wanted something different to that of surburban Melbourne,  arguably Australia’s most European city. And so, in addition to diving into the literature (Picnic at Hanging Rock and We of the Never Never to date), I decided that it was time for a trip to the heart of the country, the Aussie pioneering experience and Aboriginal culture.

It is the great Australian summer and temperatures in the Uluru desert hovered around 40-43 degrees during the day, and did not fall below 20 degrees at night. Fabulous for a backpacker needing to do a bit of washing most days.  Not so good when you’re traipsing around the 9.4 km Uluru base walk at 8am and it is already in the late 30’s.  And absolutely dire if you’re taking the unprotected hike into Kata Tjuta at around 4pm and are prone to nose bleeds.  After 15 minutes under the merciless sun, blood erupted from my nose and I was forced to take cover under the shade of a small boulder off the track.

Our guide was forever exhorting us to drink at least one litre of water an hour and to let her know immediately if we felt a headache – one of the first signs of dehydration – coming on.  When I saw someone from another tour group by the side of the road furiously vomiting – the next sign of dehydration – at the side of the road, I began to drink in earnest.

It really is a battle between your body and the dry, dry heat in that sun-blasted part of the world where water is king.  My 1.5 litre water bottle was always within easy reach – on nights without air-conditioning, I would wake up, my mouth parched and dry.  I watched birds and lizards boldly nip into the midst of human habitation to drink from dripping taps and air-conditioner condensation.  And at Standley Chasm, the flies headed straight for the easily accessible moisture of my eyes.

But when you feel insignificant and dwarfed by the immensity and age of Uluru, or marvel at the touch of the clear, cool water at Simpson Gap, or laugh at yourself and the hundreds of tourists descending Uluru at sunset and sunrise, or catch a glimpse of wild camels and brumbies galloping in the distance, or wince as your skin comes into contact with the hot, red desert sand, well what’s contending with a little dry heat?

Pics from Alice Springs, Standley Chasm, Simpson Gap, Uluru, Kata Tjuta, King’s Canyon and the Devil’s Marbles.


8 Comments to “I See Red”

  1. Awesome photos! Such great landscapes you found on your trip! I guess that red earth is how Mars looks like!

    Is that a camel with a locking device? Do you need a key to ride it? O.o

    • It certainly is a camel with a locking device… and no key needed (for me)… just someone to lead them! rather bumpy to ride on actually with their long, loping gait. give me a horse or a mule to ride on anytime!

  2. Beautiful pics Ads – it’s bizarre to think you’re there, while back in blighty we’ve got the coldest winter since whenever and temperatures down to minus 21 degrees celcius…

    • thank you, hopscotch… -21 C?! In london?! Surely not! Mind you I was thinking the same thing today, while watching the news on the crazy European weather, and wishing (just a little) that I would be much happier in the freezing English weather, than I would in Melbourne’s 43 degree heat. Just a thought. Actually, I’d much prefer a happy medium.

      • 43 is obscene.
        In London proper I think it got down to -9, but my folks in the north have been dealing with some serious cold.
        I love that little blue bird, by the way – natural comedy.

        • yes, and it was an obscene 35 degrees last night – ridiculous, really. yeah, that bird is pure punk comedy… particularly when chasing a female. His tail feathers reared up and furled and unfurled repeatedly as he attempted to catch the female’s attention. She was quite uninterested and ran away with him in hot pursuit. it was all very pepe le pew.

  3. These photos are fascinating.
    If you don’t mind, I’d like to share them with my students.

    You can find me at Talkin’ Kids.


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