Camel rides through the desert, hot air ballooning over the ranges, silver service dinners under the stars, kangaroos lounging on the golf course, bike trails through the bush, rounding cattle at a ranch, experiencing Ayers Rock (one of the seven wonders of the world), enjoying the canyons and gorges, bush music, the casino and beautiful resorts; the Outback has an abundance of unique, once-in-a-life time experiences. If you travel to Australia, the Northern Territory is where you will find the "Crocodile Dundee" Outback culture you think of when you think "Australia". In many ways I can relate, and have experienced, the cultural differences Crocodile Dundee experienced hitting the "big smoke" (large city) in America. So let's go "walk about" via some web links to catch just a small glimpse into the Outback. Hear the Aussie accents of the locals and see pictures of the gorgeous landscapes and abundant wildlife. Enjoy a window into a town like Alice...
Alice Springs, known as the "Red Center," is the heart of the Outback and geographically located in the middle of Australia. Flights in and out of Alice Springs have just been increased making it more accessible than ever. I remember when we would bring our own lawn chairs and "esky" (or ice coolers as they say in America) to the airport to see visitors off, but now they have a beautiful terminal that blends well into the landscape with all the modern conveniences. In and around Alice Springs you can enjoy the rawness of the land and the very helpful, friendly, simple, yet worldly, people. people that are in tune with and at one with the land. people who know how to live a casual, relaxed life. In several series I will take you to some of the very special places and activities I enjoyed growing up.
Firstly, we need to get a feel for the people. stop by The Overlanders Steakhouse web site and make sure you have your speakers on so you can hear the real Aussie accents as you flip through a few of the pages. This fun restaurant is a must for all. This is where some of the band members of the bush band BloodWood taught the patrons and me, the song and dance moves to a song that really sums up how many of the locals feel:
"Give Me A Home Among The Gum Trees"
I've been around the world a couple of times or maybe more
I've seen the sights, I've had delights on every foreign shore
But when my mates all ask me the place that I adore
I tell them right away (what do we tell 'em)
Give me a home among the gum trees with lots of plum trees
A sheep or two, or a kangaroo
A clothes-line out the back, verandah out the front
And an old rocking chair
You can see me in the kitchen, a-cooking up a roast
Or Vegemite on toast, just you and me, a cup of tea
Later on we'll settle down and mull up on the porch
And watch the possums play.
As a child I remember the excitement of folks dancing, hootin', and hollerin' when I first saw "Bloodwood" play on the lawn at the local Camel Farm (look at the gorgeous pics on the camel farm site). To hear some of Bloodwood's music scroll to the bottom of this page. These bush boys could also teach you about authentic bush tucker on how you eat a wichetty grub, damper, and bush apples. Unfortunately, I hear the band dismantled in 2002, but their legend will always live on.
In the first part of this series let me take you to Ayers Rock. Located 485 kilometers from Alice Springs, on a pleasant drive, Ayers Rock is breath taking and almost mystical with its fascinating Aboriginal history from paintings on the Rock to corroborees with the didgeridoo (the instrument I am playing in the picture). The influence of the aboriginal culture in the area may be why I feel so in tune with the land. In Aboriginal, Ayers Rock is called Uluru and the Olga's, Kata Jtuta. Ayers Rock is the largest single rock in the world with only one third of it seen above ground. In warmer months it is much more enjoyable to climb the Rock in the morning. Harley Davidson tours, camel rides, 4wd and bus tours are available. From camping grounds to The Sails in the Desert resort, accommodation is readily available for every budget. Please remember the Aboriginal superstition if you visit though. never take a rock or pebble from Uluru or you will have bad luck until it is returned.
So I guess the song of the Outback still strikes a chord in my heart, the people still influence my life and the landscape still has me mesmerized. If I could wish upon another starry night under that "million-star" sky it would be for you to be able to taste the exquisite delicacy of a night in the real Outback. As they say in the Outback, "The Territory will never, never leave you."
Life is either a daring
adventure or nothing.
- Helen Keller