Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Buy Opal Jewelry From Opalmine.com

Opals can express every color in the visible s...Image via WikipediaDo you want Opal Jewelry?
These wonderful creations that come from the earth really are something to behold.
Many Opal Miners aspire to find the perfect Opal and black is just one of the finest out there!
Now there are many different color opals available and I guess it comes down to your choice?
The photo on the right displays just how beautiful and mesmerizing they can be!

Opal Jewelry
opal-wholesale.com Opal Jewelry by Opal Mine Australia, natures wonder set in your piece of choice!

Are you looking to buy Black Opal or find the perfect opal jewelry? If you are looking for the perfect gift why not buy something that lasts forever!  A gift that last forever could just be the perfect choice, Yes.
Follow the link Opal Jewelry to find out more today!
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Saturday, June 25, 2011

Driving In the Outback Australia

Australia; Outback roads

A lighthearted guide for Europeans intending to drive in the outback

More stories about the Outback!

Alice Springs – Australia's Outback Capital | foxbey.com

The town of Alice Springs is located in the middle of the Australian continent and is the unofficial but undisputed capital of the Australia's vast outback.

Publish Date: 06/21/2011 21:46


Saturday, April 16, 2011

Around Australia using LPG and petrol

Driving In The Outback [Australia]
We spent three days driving from Cairns to Alice Springs, covering thousands of km.

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The Outback Road Story!

Outback Outlook Reloaded - ABC South Australia - Australian ...
If you missed the first half hour of Outback Outlook then you can listen here.. Each weekday morning we reload the first half hour of the show for your listening pleasure! You may have also missed out - Outback Outlook ...
Publish Date: 06/23/2011 10:35

Friday, April 15, 2011

Ayers Rock Should We Climb?

Uluru (Ayers Rock), Northern Territory, Australia's Outback
Find more information about Uluru (Ayers rock) at www.australiasoutback.com Towering 348 metres above the red desert earth in the heart of Australia's Outback, Uluru (Ayers Rock) is possibly Australia's most recognised and most visited icon. The mono...

It is my understanding that traditional owners are in possession of both Uluru and the closest "resort".
Note from B.: The traditional owners don't own the resort. I wrote on the page about the resort that the tourism giant Voyages does: Ayers Rock Accommodation.
I hear that as of two months ago Voyages has sold the resort to "Indigenous Business Australia". But that is still a big industry body, and not the Anangu. (Thank you to the anonymous commenter who for the heads up.)
Uluru National Park is a Commonwealth national park.

ULURU, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 09:  In this hando...Image by Getty Images via @daylifeIf you are going to advertise your "sacred" site to ignorant tourists, whose main reason for travelling 3000km is to climb it, then why kick up a stink about the climb?
The Aboriginal people have more pressing issues than who is walking near the graves of their ancestors, when I die I hope my descendants don't have to pay an entry fee to enter the cemetery where I am buried, and you know what, if my grandchildren find a tree in the cemetery to climb, im okay with that.

Ayers Rock More Than Just A Rock!

Ayers Rock - World monuments | World monuments
Ayers Rock, also known as Uluru, is a huge rock formation, made up of sandstone and is located in the southern part of Northern Territory, central Australia. Uluru is said to be a sacred place for the Aboriginals living ...
Publish Date: 06/20/2011 17:18
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Backpacker Hostels in and Around Australia

"The Red Centre" Vicki's photos around Alice Springs, Australia (delta backpackers ayers rock)
Preview of Vicki's blog at TravelPod. Read the full blog here: www.travelpod.com This blog preview was made by TravelPod using the TripAdvisor™ TripWow slideshow creator. Entry from: Alice Springs, Australia Entry Title: "The Red Centre" Entry: "Next...

There are hundreds of backpacker hostels in Australia, and you can find them absolutely everywhere! Yes, even in the remotest outback regions. This page will tell you how to find them, and how to make sure you get the best prices!
If you are backpacking around Australia, then you'll likely want to stay mostly in hostels. So it's good to know that Australian youth hostels are nothing like the spartan places that you may imagine. (Probably you are too young anyway to remember the kind of places that these words bring to my mind...)
Backer hostels are not only for "youth" either. Australian hostels are modern places with excellent services and amenities, run by people who will help you to organise and book your trips, explore the region on your own, or even find you some work if that's what you are after.
BARCELONA, SPAIN - APRIL 07:  A Barcelona jack...Image by Getty Images via @daylifeBut most importantly, backpacker hostels in Australia are fun places filled with lots of like minded travellers!

Sharing A Dorm!

As long as you don't mind sharing a dorm with a bunch of total strangers, and sharing the bathroom and kitchen with even more, you'll make plenty of friends here. Travelling alone? Not for long if you stay in backpacker hostels in Australia.
If you are already familiar with Australian hostel accommodation, or backpacker/youth hostels in general, skip right down to where I tell you how to best book a hostel in Australia, so you don't pay more than you need to.
If this is your first big trip overseas, keep reading.
Australia is a vast continent, offering many different experiences. Backpacker hostel accommodation varies as much as the landscapes do. In popular places where the competition for tourist dollars is tough, you will often find youth hostels that are more like modern resorts than budget accommodation!
They have tropical gardens to hang out, big pool areas, lively bars, the music is on all day, and they also offer many activities. Free internet access is the standard, but, um, a quiet night not necessarily so.
Many of those Australian backpacker hostels are non stop party places! But fear not, there are always alternatives.
Not everybody wants to party all day every day. I'll tell you below how to best go about finding that lovely, quiet family operated youth hostel that could become your home away from home. They are just as social as the party places.
In fact, that social atmosphere is the best aspect of backpacker hostel accommodation in Australia. You'll make friends, get lots of great tips and ideas, share your own experiences, and if you want to team up with someone, it won't take long to find the right travel partner.
Many backpackers look for hostel accommodation because they are looking for work. If a region offers lots of work for backpackers (like fruit picking), then it will also offer lots of backpacker hostels.
Australian working hostels, as they are called, are a slightly different breed from the above mentioned resort style backpacker hostels. They are usually a lot more basic, and possibly things are a bit more dirty or smelly. (Hard to avoid when everybody is doing dirty, sweaty work all day!)
Not all are, of course! But there is not the same focus on tropical resort style and fun and activity.
If you want to work and travel Australia, the working hostels are the place to go! They often work together with employment agencies or with farmers and employers directly, and they can help you find jobs. You will also meet many other working travellers who are the best source of that priceless information about jobs in other parts of Australia. Wanna know where the work is and what it's like? Stay at the working hostels and you'll find out.
Another good thing about working hostels is that they usually offer long stay rates. You pay a lot less if you pay for a whole week in advance. (Many other hostels on the other hand do NOT want you to stay longer, and in fact have maximum stays of 5 - 10 days!)
And last but not least, at the other end of the population density scale, you just never really know what kind of backpacker hostel you'll find in those remote outback corners... What you do know is that generally there will be a backpacker hostel there! Usually one with lots of character. Whatever that may mean...
The standard backpacker accommodation in Australia is in a dorm: a dormitory, sometimes male or female only, sometimes mixed. The number of beds (almost invariably bunk beds) varies. You may end up in 4, 6, 8 or even 12 bed dorms. The fewer beds in the room, the more dollars you'll spend
Most hostels also offer double or twin share rooms, sometimes even with private bathroom facilities. While pricier than the dorm beds, the rooms at Australian backpacker hostels are still much cheaper than Australian hotel or motel accommodation.
Bathroom facilities are shared, and so are the kitchens.
Many hostels also offer free breakfast. (It's usually made of the cheapest of cheap stuffs you can find in the supermarket, but as a shoestring budget traveller I didn't care. Neither did or does anybody else. It's free.)
The kitchens are usually very well equipped. Everything you need is there. Often there are also shelves and fridge areas with food free food for all, things that other travellers have left behind. Always label all your food with your name so it does not get mistaken for free for all stuff! (And be prepared to find that every now and then food goes missing anyway. Not everybody is as honest as you are.)
Keep that last sentence in mind also when it comes to the gear in your room and your valuables. Lock your bags, and if the hostel offers a safe, get them to lock up your valuables. Otherwise carry them on you. That's just common sense.
There are of course laundry facilities as well, usually coin operated.
Pretty much all hostels also have a communal area with the ubiquitous TV (ugh) as well as outdoor sitting areas where everyone gathers and makes friends.
Prices at backpacker hostels in Australia vary as wildly as the facilities. You will encounter beds from under $10 to well over $30.
Many Australian backpacker hostels belong to either the YHA (Youth Hostel Association, part of the Int. Youth Hostel Federation) or they are a franchise of the VIP Backpackers Resorts. Both organisations offer their members discounts on accommodation as well as on various activities. So make sure you join them, ideally before you leave home (it's usually cheaper) and get your member card. With about 150 Australian youth hostels in both organisations, that gives you 300 backpacker hostels in Australia to choose from where you get a discount. (And still hundreds of others where you can pay full price.)
Now, I still haven't told you how to book a backpacker hostel and where to find the best prices, have I?
The hard part of this is deciding where to go. Booking a backpacker hostel is easy. You can do it through this backpacker hostel search engine. (Bookmark it while you're at it.)
Why should you use that particular hostel search engine?
To start with because it will get you the best rates, duh. That's the main thing when you're on a budget, isn't it? On average the prices you find there are 8.7% cheaper than at other booking sites.
Secondly, the search engine is independent (i.e. it does not try to push you to any particular chain of hostels) and it charges NO booking fees!
Thirdly, other backpackers have rated the hostels for atmosphere, location, facilities, fun, staff, cleanliness, safety and value. So you get a very good idea what to expect.
And last but not least, this engine is also very user friendly. Click around in it a bit and you'll see what I mean. The page I linked to provides an overview of all Australian towns. You can already see an indication of the prices for a bed with either shared or private facilities.
Click on the town name, and you get a list of all the backpacker hostels and other budget accommodations in that town. Again there is an indication of the price, and you also see already what's included (e.g. breakfast, as I had mentioned above somewhere) and how well the hostel has been rated.
Click through to the hostel and you get all the details regarding the available facilities and also a very detailed rating.
Is this hostel booking engine perfect?
No, of course it isn't. Like at all other booking sites, the descriptions of the backpacker hostels are provided by the hostel itself. (So they all sound much the same anyway, and they all try to tell you that they are simply the best...)
Also, the search engine does not cover all hostels in Australia. No online site can or does, as especially the hostels in the remoter regions often just can't be booked online. But then again, you don't usually need to book those ahead!
On the other hand, some hostels are not there simply because only quality hostels are included. So that's not a bad thing.
As far as online hostel booking engines go, this one is as good as it gets.
Bookmark it now.
Because if you travel Australia on a budget, you'll be using it a lot.

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Bicentennial National Trail

Brumby logs National Trail by Myenvironment Inc
A short sequence depicting the grizzly discovery of the woodchippers cutting up Australia's, National heritage, Bicentennial Trail. This track runs from Healesville to Cairns and is the longest horse and wheel track in the world. It was a tourism mec...

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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Booking flight before applying for Working Holiday Visa

In your Working Holiday Visa description it says that "You must not make arrangements to travel to Australia until you are advised that your visa has been granted." But on the application form it asks about your return flight.

Should I go ahead and book my flight to give myself a better chance to obtain my visa?

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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Camper Van Hire WA April - Road Closed??

by Lizzie

Myself and 3 friends are planning a trip from Perth to Darwin from the 2nd April ? 27th April 2009. We were going to hire a camper van but are now not sure if this is our best option, we have been told that some areas up in the Kimberly regions are 4WD only. Is this the case? In particular the Bungle Bungles.

We have also been told that April is the rainy season and that some roads may be closed, please can you advise if there are alternate routes and what areas are closed and how long they are closed for.

We are basically trying to find the most affordable travel options without missing anything out, we have tried looking at tours but they are not within our budget range and we also wanted the experience of doing it ourselves.

Any information you can provide us with would be most helpful,

Kind regards

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Camping in Kakadu during the wet season

by Cindy

I am going (with my boyfriend) to be in Kakadu around the 5 December. We wanted to camp because everything is so expensive but you seem to say that it is not the best thing to do. Could it get dangerous with the storms?
I really hope that we will be able to see a few great places in Kakadu. We are going to be there for three days.
Thank you very much for your help!!!

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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Camping in Nitmiluk

by Hannah

We are going to Katherine Gorge next week, but unfortunately because of the delayed dry season, the overnight canoe trip is off limits.

I still want to camp in the park, and am wondering if there are any other bush camps available or if the only place to camp in the gorge is at the Nitmiluk camp site?

Would love to know!
Also, what a great site! I love your conversational tone.

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Can bar work in the Outback count towards 2nd Year Visa?

by Micx

I have only got a few months left in Australia to complete my first year - I absolutely love the place and have travelled from Sydney right around to Darwin were I have settled for almost 5 months. I don't feel like I got the true Oz exerience.

I would love the opportunity to do some hospitality/bar work anywhere in Oz to meet real people and wonder could it go towards my getting a 2nd year visa? Any help would be great!

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Central Australia in December/January

by Hok Pan Yuen

My family and I are planning to visit Central Australia some time in December and January. But I worry about the temperature. Is it really very hot during that time of the year? Would it make the visit unenjoyable? Thanks for your advice.

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Monday, April 11, 2011

Cheap Travel Australia - Have the Cheapest Australia Holiday Ever

Up until not long ago that headline read "Cheap Travel TO Australia", because the great cheap deals I want to tell you about were only available to Australia visitors from overseas.

But now everyone can get huge savings on their Australia travel bookings! The Aussie Travel Saver Card is finally also available for us Australians.

Did you know that you can easily get discounts of up to 50% on your travel in Australia?

That's right, you can easily get really good deals on accommodation, car hire, restaurants, bars, in theme parks, on tours, cruises, when taking surfing lessons, when going whale watching, shopping... There are thousands of opportunities to save money. A lot of money!

It all depends where exactly you want to go and what you plan to do. But if you are lucky you can save hundreds and hundreds of dollars and have a real cheap Australia holiday.

How do you do it? It's so easy...

The Aussie Travel Saver Card is a special card that in the past only international Australia travellers could buy. And now Australian residents can get it as well!.

Having the card means you can get great discounts on thousands of different bookings and purchases.

The card is cheap as chips. For example a card for one month is $29, and you could do all your big bookings in that one month.

Lets do an example. On accommodation you can get discounts of up to 40%.

Say you need to book a hotel room for two nights, and say the regular price is $100 a night, and you get only 20% off. Over two nights you'd save $40. Already you made your money back and saved extra!
Every purchase or booking from here on saves you money. Lots of money!

Not into accommodation? One 4WD campervan hire company offers a 10% discount for ATS card owners. If you hire a campervan for a week or more you are looking at well over thousand to several thousand dollars. And that means potential savings of several hundred dollars! All with a card that costs you $29...

As you will see below, you can save on so many different things!

Yep, you CAN have cheap Australia holidays!

For people who go on longer Australia holidays there are different cards available:

3 months card: $496 months card: $6912 months card: $98

(On top of that I can also get you a 20% discount on those prices when you buy the card. More on that below.)

When I first heard about all this, I thought it's a bit too good to be true. Except it is true!

And this is how it works...

You order the Aussie Travel Saver Card online (wait with your order until you have read how to get the 20% discount!), and it is sent to you together with a unique identifier code. Every time you make a booking or purchase, you show the card or quote your unique code and you get up to 50% off the regular price. That's all there is to it!

You still get the same value as if you paid full price like everyone else. Only you don't pay full price.

Now, of course you do not get discounts at any and all places in Australia, but only at participating businesses. When I first read about that I thought, "Oh well, here we go. I bet there is nothing available that I would actually be interested in."

But the number of participating businesses is huge! I was totally overwhelmed by what's available.

On top of the obvious things like accommodation, car or campervan hire and tours, there are restaurants and cafes, bars and night clubs, theme parks and zoos, boat cruises, yacht hire and surf schools, hot air ballooning and dolphin swims... there is everything!

Some businesses offer a percentage, some times you get a fixed amount of dollars off the full price, and some places have different offers altogether.

(For example the famous Daly Waters Outback Pub offers you a free beer, wine or spirit with every meal.)

You can easily check first if it's worth for you to get that card. You just go the website and do some searches for things that interest you.

As one might expect, most participating businesses are located in the more populated regions of Australia, along the east coast and down south.

It's so easy to make just one booking and already you saved the price of the card. And from there on, every time you use it you save more. You can't lose. And for people traveling in the more "civilised" parts of Australia, the amounts can quickly add up to some staggering sums!

Go here and scroll down the page to have a look for yourself. (Don't forget to come back to find out how to save another 20% when buying the card!)

As I said, initially I could not believe this. Just too good to be true, I thought!

But I've been in touch with the people behind this card, and not only is it all true, I also managed to negotiate a special offer for you:

On top of the savings you get with the card, I can also get you a 20% discount on the card itself! (At least for now I can. I don't know how long this offer will be valid.)

For example instead of $98 for a 12 months card, you only pay $78.40, a saving of nearly $20 right off the bat.

And all you need to do to get the extra 20% is to go here to buy your card, and in the field "Promotion Code" enter the code ROUTBACK.

By the way, YOU specify the starting date of the card. You can buy a card today and select a starting date for some months down the track.

Keep in mind that you can use the card from home to make bookings for car hire, accommodation, tours and more, so don't make the starting date too late.

Go and make this the cheapest Australia holiday ever.

Get your Aussie Travel Saver Card now and don't forget to enter the promotion code ROUTBACK for your 20% discount.

From today on you don't want to pay full price ever again!

(And if you know anyone else who could benefit from the Aussie Travel Saver Card, send them here so they also can save the extra 20%.)

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Corrugations - The things they do to you.

by Sue
(Victoria Estate Qld)

 A couple of hints for "first time" visitors to some of our country roads. Corrugations are the invention of a particularly fiendish devil and here are a couple of his favourite tricks.

Aluminium cans will abrade through in just a few miles and leave all your beer sloshing about in the bottom of your fridge if you don't wrap them up.

Sharp knives won't cut butter - supposing you have any left that wasn't spoiled by the beer - once again wrap them.

Screw tops will be undone and the contents of jar and bottle mixed in an unholy cocktail - green tomato pickle and Dettol is one that lingers in my memory. Worthwhile spending a few minutes to put a bit of tape on them and it might save you from a life-long aversion to what had been some of your favourite things.

Anything fastened with bolt and nut is fair game-a dab of nail polish helps or at least gives you a clue to what goes where, if you are cunning and use different colours.

Don't get me wrong, corrugations have their uses; they deter lots of people from visiting my favourite places and keep outback mechanics flat out for a good part of the year!
Happy motoring !!!!!!

Photo by RobertPaulYoung

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Sunday, April 10, 2011

Don't ban the Uluru climb!

by Moo

I thought long and hard about whether to climb Uluru or not. My husband and I did the walk around first and were very careful not to photograph the sacred sights.

The climb was opened the next day and we decided to do it - figuring it may be our only chance.

We rationalised the decision based on the fact that the rock was here long before the Aboriginals settled in the area.

I am interested in Aboriginal culture but I am not prepared to live by their cultural beliefs, in fact, many of their dreamtime stories set in the Uluru area are forbidden to be told to people outside of their culture - so even if I desired to have a full understanding I am denied that in advance.

People who are wanting to be respectful and not climb compare climbing the rock to climbing over a church... but I see a stronger correlation with Islam and their ban on showing a picture of Mohammad, not only are followers not allowed to show the picture, NO ONE CAN.

Many people think this is unfair, including some governments.

Some people who choose not to climb Uluru seem to think they are superior to people who do choose to climb against the wishes of the local Aboriginals.

Well, I say there are very few in that number, who choose not to climb, who have any true or profound understanding of what Aboriginal culture is all about themselves, choosing to stay off the climb might make you obedient, respectful and nice but it doesn't educate you and it doesn't make you right.

In my short stay in Uluru I got the impression that Aboriginal culture had a strong series of customs based on exclusion.

They exclude the men from the womens sections and vice versa - the opposite sex may not even view the segregated areas - which is why photographs are forbidden FOR EVERYONE.

The serious and strong attempts to get everyone off the rock is an extension of the culture of exclusion that I don't live by.

The Aboriginals say it best themselves "We don't Climb" That's fine, don't climb, don't allow your families and extended community to climb - stick with your beliefs and don't impose them on everyone else on Earth.

The climb itself was amazing and I feel strongly that people should be allowed to climb if they want to.

I am horrified by the thought that it might be banned, in my opinion that will be a tragedy.

That's all I wanted to say.
Thanks for reading.

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Driving around Australia

by Donna
(Perth, WA)

I am currently in Perth. I plan to leave Perth, drive the west coast to Darwin, over to Cairns then down to Brisbane, Sydney over to Ayers Rock and back to Perth. Do you reckon this can be done in 8 weeks stopping here and there?

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Family of five off to Alice Springs and Uluru from Sydney

by Prinny

We (2a & 3k) plan to go from Sydney to Uluru in 2010 for three weeks. Unfortunately we are limited to school holidays so would you suggest April or July? Also is it feasible in our own 2WD? Could anyone suggest an itinery? Is 5-7 days to get to Alice Springs/Uluru from Sydney sufficient? Allowing us at least a week in Alice Springs, and then 5-7 days for the journey back? We would like to do some camping as well as stay in affordable accommodation.

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Saturday, April 9, 2011

Happy to have climbed Uluru

by Martin Lutterjohann
(Phnom Penh, Cambodia)

 On top of the chain trail

Ever since I translated a story about an illegal climb of Uluru via Ngaltawata in 1976 - I think - for a mountaineering stories anthology, I wanted to climb the rock. Being an enthusiastic and ambitious mountaineer, climbing Uluru appeared a most natural thing to do for me.

When I booked one of the Uluru One Day Tours ex Alice Springs, my first priority was to select an agent that offers the climbing option. But I was warned by them beforehand that more often than not the climb would be closed. Well, I had only that one day (05 May 2009) and that one chance.

I have a sincere respect for aboriginal culture and traditions and would have had no problems accepting a "no" due to ceremonies that prevented people from climbing, but I reckoned that the weather conditions might be favourable on that day. So when our bus entered the Uluru-Kata/Tjuta NP and I saw that the rock was open (which our guides of the excellent Emu Run Tours grudgingly acknowledged), my heart jumped.

I was only worried that our guides would run the schedule in such a way and with so tight timing that the climb might not be possible or closed by the time we arrived at the base. In May days are shorter, but the one day program still follows the year round schedule of things to do. Of utmost importance is the sunset BBQ with bubbly where our guides have the ambition to be the first on site.

So, they managed to let 5 aspirants in our group loose at the start of the climb with a mere 1hr 45min to go. I hurried up the chained and steepest part of the trail and then followed the white marks to the summit. I really enjoyed the views downhill, the clean rock with not a single loose stone, the few pools of water, occasional vegetation, strange rock formations,the short friction climbs up and down the waves of rock at the plateau, I enjoyed the views to Kata Tjuta where we had done the Walpa Gorge Walk 2 hours earlier, Mount Connor and the wide country around the rock.

As I wished to also do a bit of the base walk, I was back at the start after under 90min (as the climb just was being closed ahead of schedule) and walked the base until I saw Ngaltawata, the beginning of my dream, close up. I am grateful to the traditional owners of Uluru and the land around it that they allow us to climb the mountains as they have done from time immemorial.

The chains are great, the marks are clear. The first part is easy but physically tough, fitness and concentration are required, but it is a rewarding trip. Upon reaching the upper part one tends to think the summit is near, but I knew that 2/3 of the climb still lay ahead.

Coming down the chain trail is comparatively comfortable, but that is when accidents can easily happen! So take your time and watch you every step.

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How long do yo have to leave Oz between visits to renew visa?

by Sharon Petherbridge
(Winchester, UK)

You say in your 'About me' section that every 6 months you left Australia and went to Timor, Bali, South Africa and then returned and renewed your visitors visa.

However, how long do you have to be out of Australia in order to return and renew? Is there a minimum amount of time you must be out of the country?

My husband and I live in the UK and are retiring next year. Our long term dream has been to buy a camper van and travel Australia, NZ, USA, Canada and South Africa.

If we left Australia after 6 months travel and went to NZ how soon could we return to Australia and start again with a new visitors visa. How often will the Immigration Service let you do this?

If we could wave a wand we would like to womble the World for about 20 years!
Many thanks for any help you can give. We are struggling to find any help/guidance on the web about what we want to do.
Thanks and best wishes Sharon

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Friday, April 8, 2011

I climbed Uluru in 1984

by Lindsay Quayle
(Isle of Man UK )

I visited Ayers Rock in 1984, before it became a huge visitor centre. There was one hotel, still being finshed off, and contact for bookings was by telegraph.

I was "lucky" enough to climb it, and it is a treasured memory, but in those days I was ignorant of what the Aboriginal people felt about it. Since then I have learned more and would dearly love to visit The Rock again. However, after reading your article and what I know now, I would refrain from climbing it again as I have a lot of respect for the Aboriginal people and their culture.

I walked the Inca trail to Machu Picchu last year. You are only allowed by Permit now as the Peruvians want to preserve the trail for future generations. Perhaps the Aussie government could do the same, no more climbs, but guided tours of the rock from the ground. It is still an amazing experience to see this gigantic Rock and know its history. There is always helicopter and light aircraft flights for those who want to see the top.

Click here to post comments.

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How?
Simply click here to return to Ayers Rock Australia - Uluru Australia.

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Is it right or wrong to climb Uluru? - Have a think

What is right and what's wrong? Every decent person would know the answer, those who don't, well you might have missed something important in your life. I feel sorry for your children.

Just to get the facts right, you can't compare the Central Australia history with the rest of Australia. Some of you know that the Australian history started 200 years ago, which is correct, but not for Central Australia. The story of white man living in Uluru goes back about 80 years ago, when those elderly Aborigines you see these days were still kids running around naked and looking for bush tucker, sleeping under the stars and living life.

Suddenly the invasion of white Australians came and everything changed for indigenous people. Have a think about it. How would you feel in their situation? How would you react if you had to change your complete life style you have been living for more than 60,000 years, change from today to tomorrow to suit the white men profile? Would you really trust the invaders?

I have been living here in Yulara (the resort at Ayers Rock) for more than 5 years, I'm involved in different kind of jobs including working with Anganu people. I had the privilege to learn from the direct source about their culture and how strong they are still connected to the land, respecting it and living with it.

Did any of the guys who climbed the rock ever think why actually the Aborigines don't wont you climb? Did you make the effort to ask somebody why? Have you questioned why the climb occasionally is closed? Why?

Probably not otherwise you wouldn't come up with such absurd comments of the climb being closed. With every ignorant tourist, who is in difficulty while up there climbing the rock, the rescue team has to go up there to rescue them, and they get put into great danger as well because it isn't an easy exercise. Have you ever thought about that?

You guys are not just putting yourself into danger but everybody else with a common sense as well, and you think that's ok! Maybe you're right in saying they shouldn't be closing the climb, with one condition: to ban all rescue attempts for that person who climbs and gets hurt.

In fact, everyone who climbs the rock knows that they do it at their own risk, so why putting somebody else into dangers just because of their stupid behaviour and ignorance? If they get stuck up there than that's their problem and they have to deal with it, they put themselves into that situation.

If tourists get hurt, or worse die while climbing, Anganu people mourn for their families. They feel responsible because that person got hurt or died on their land and they (Anganu) couldn't do anything. If a non-indigenous person dies, because they climbed, their soul stays within the area of the Uluru and they don't belong there, that's what Anganu belief.

Think first before you decide to climb, see the whole picture not just what you see with your eye.

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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Is the Outback Moving to Sydney?

by Angela

 suburban Sydney skyline enveloped in red dust

What goes through your mind when you wake up in the morning and see a thick orange cloth hanging outside the window of your bedroom?

First you pinch yourself to make sure that you are not dreaming and then rush outside to see whether they are shooting a remake of Total Recall on location in your backyard.

The view is creepy, orange turning slowly to yellow, with shadowy silhouettes that gradually materialise as trees and houses.

While the red cloak rises and thins out above the city the dust settles on the pavement, benches, stairs, buildings.

Even the lobbies and elevators have received their share of red sand. And all the cars seem to have just returned from a trip on an unsealed road in the outback.

I read that such dust storms happen often in September around Lake Eyre. This time the strong winds pushed the dust from the outback to Sydney. Is it climate change or just a rare phenomenon? Something to rave about in media or blogs.

So did the outback move to Sydney for the day? Look at the orange photo - if you have never been to the outback, that is how you might imagine it: monotone, just red and very dry. That is how we thought it was before heading to Alice Springs. And what we found was just the opposite - a red centre beaming with life and vivid colours.

But back to Sydney, the dust storm is a rare event, hopefully, and just adds to the excitement of having Sydney as our hometown. We decided to start a new life in Australia and moved to Sydney in 2002. And while we adjusted to our new life and learnt many new things we thought to share them and built a website on how to start a new life in Australia.

We hope to provide helpful information to other people who are thinking to visit or move to this amazing country.

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Is there another way to get a working visa?

by Lance

I'm thinking to travel and work in Australia, but unfortunately my country of origin (I'm currently living in Thailand) was not mentioned on the participating country for the Working Holiday Visa. My question is, is there any other visa type that could be applied? Thank you very much.

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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Jet Lag Remedies - Do They Actually Work?

Jet lag remedies that work... It used to be a dream for me.

But after 15 years of trial and error, and, ahem, some growing up, the dream of beating jet lag came true.

As I am writing this page I have been back in Australia for 72 hours, and over the last three days I did not experience any jet lag symptoms whatsoever. Nothing. Nada. Niente. I'm fine. Cured from jet lag for good.

If you read the introductory page about Preventing Jet Lag, then you know that in the past I suffered from jet lag badly. I also mentioned on that page that I used to do EVERYTHING wrong that you could possibly do wrong if you want to avoid jet leg.

On this page I tell you what exactly I did wrong, and how you do it right, so you too can beat jet lag.

There are two major mistakes I made, mistakes that are easily fixed. And then there is one neat trick that turns the whole program into an effective natural jet lag remedy that works.

In my first few years of flying back between Germany and Australia, this was my biggest mistake. Back then alcohol was still flowing freely on most airlines, and I sure didn't mind a free drink! Or three or half a dozen...

These days the airlines are less generous with their alcohol. But even that glass of wine you have with dinner makes a big difference! Any alcohol is pure poison when flying.

High altitude multiplies the effect of alcohol on the body. Alcohol dehydrates you, it messes up your brain and body chemistry and it disturbs your sleep patterns. Yes, even a little bit of it will worsen your jet lag symptoms. Don't touch it! Don't touch it the evening before your flight either.

Coffee and tea, as well as any sodas with caffeine, also interfere with your wake/sleep patterns and body clock. On top of that caffeine is a diuretic, causing dehydration. And dehydration is your worst enemy on long haul flights!

Instead of looking to stimulants for a jet lag cure, focus on drinking lots of water.

Read through any jet leg tips anywhere, and you'll find the same advice. No alcohol, no other dehydrating drinks and no stimulants. Only drink water, water, water.

Ask the flight attendant for a whole bottle (you'll never get enough if you have to ask for every little cup full). Even better, bring your own bottle. You can't take liquids from the outside on planes, but maybe you can buy a bottle after passing security, or fill an empty bottle from a drinking fountain.

You can't drink too much on a plane. If you have to run to the toilet all the time, all the better. Moving around and keeping the blood circulating also helps with jet lag.

Sleeping medication does not induce a natural sleep. It'll knock you out but it won't alleviate the jet lag symptoms, i.e. the groggyness and headaches, or the inability to sleep at night. Taking sleeping pills during the flight is even dangerous because it affects your circulation. Do you really want to risk a blood clot in your legs or even in your lungs?

(I am talking about standard sleeping pills here, the prescription type barbiturates etc., and also the over the counter histamin based pills. The controversial melatonin falls into a different category.

I used to take it melatonin, but while it helped me go to sleep in the evening, it didn't make me sleep through a night, and I still felt very groggy during the next days. Melatonin sure is no miracle jet lag remedy.)

This one you also find written up in all the jet lag tips: no matter how tired you are when you arrive, stay awake. Don't go to sleep until 10 or 11 pm.

Sorry, but this one I can't do. It's fine for flights with say 12-18 hours travel time. It does not work if you spend 30 - 40 hours door to door like I do.

If you can manage to stay up, great. If you don't, there's still hope.

Stay awake as long as possible, and when you have to crash, make sure you don't stay in bed for too long. Ideally you only have a nap... Just do the best you can do.

I sleep a few hours during the day, and I still sleep at night and feel great the next morning.

So far I just repeated what most people already know. Those points can't be stressed enough.
However, now we get to the jet lag remedies that you do NOT find listed in any and all list of jetlag tips...

Do you like airplane food? Do you mainly eat it because you are starving? I only ate it because I was bored stiff...

Airplane food sucks. But that's not the main reason to avoid it. The main reason is that your digestive system has a LOT to do with setting your internal clock. That's why there is such a thing as a jet lag diet.

Jet Lag diets are specific diets that you have to start four days before departure, and you have to watch what you eat and when you eat it.

But there is no need to make things so complicated. Eat lightly on the day of departure (or the previous day if you leave early). And then just don't touch the airplane food, instead take your own food with you.

Eat as little and as lightly as possible during the flight. The ideal food to take with you is fresh fruit. Also check the special meals your airline offers. On my last flight I flew Lufthansa and they offered fruit platter as a meal option. Perfect.

If you can not take enough food, stick to the very lightest fare available. When changing planes, scour the transit area of the airport for a juice bar or a salad bar.

Be careful with the salads. They likely use ready made dressings full of chemicals and harmful fats. Not good for you digestion and not good for jet lag! Also stay away from salads with eggs, cheese, meat etc. Fresh, raw fare would be best. Just fresh fruit would be ideal.

If you feel you can't go for that long without a "decent" meal, oh well, you'll have to suffer through the jet lag then. Please do not underestimate the importance of this point!

This last point is a neat trick that I picked up somewhere on the internet. And for me it worked.

Have a short fast! Fast, as in have nothing but water, for 16 hours before you have breakfast at the new destination. It improves sleep quality and it really helps reset the body clock.

So regardless of when you leave or when you arrive or how long you are in the air, figure out when you'll have your first breakfast at your destination. Count back 16 hours from that, and that's when you stop eating.

If you have hunger pangs, drink water. If, as recommended, you ate very lightly or fruit only in the 24 hours beforehand, you shouldn't feel too hungry.

If you do, make your choice: a few hours of being awfully hungry, or a few days of being terribly jetlagged. Which do you prefer? If you ever suffered from jetlag like I used to, it's a very easy choice.

Want to be safe? Do it again the next night. Stop eating at 4 pm.

My flight left Munich in the evening. My last meal in Munich was a salad in the afternoon.

Lufthansa served me my requested special meal, a fresh fruit platter, for dinner and breakfast. I also had some fruit with me which I had during my stopover in Singapore. At 4 pm (note: that is 4 pm at my Australian destination), still at Singapore airport, I stopped eating.

I arrived at home in Australia at 7 am the next day and had breakfast between 8 and 9. Then I managed to stay awake for another two hours and eventually I slept. I woke up at 3 pm (set your alarm if you need to, don't get up later than 4 pm).

I had another meal wich I finished around 4 pm. After that I only had water, and I went to bed at 11 pm.

I slept like a baby until 7 am. Thas NEVER happened to me before, even with sleeping pills! I awoke without an alarm clock, fully refreshed. And I was perfectly fine, with a clear head, energetic and happy, for ALL of the next day.

Sure, I did feel that I hadn't slept much in the previous nights. But there was no leaden feeling in my legs or head, no groggyness, no headache, no jet lag symptoms whatsoever! That has NEVER happened to me before.

Try it for yourself. This natural jet lag remedy is free, simple and safe. Even if it doesn't cure your jetlag, it will still make you feel a million times better than you would on booze, coffee and a stomach full of airplane food. You can only win!

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Kings Canyon to Alice via Mereenie Loop

by Neil

Hello, just thought I'd share our trip report on the Mereenie Loop Road from Kings Canyon to Alice Springs for other travellers.

Firstly there are conflicting reports on whether you need a permit or not... We opted to buy a permit ($5.50) from Kings Canyon Resort Caltex Station.

The road itself, don't be fooled. It is harsh, very rough and corrugated. A reasonable level of driver skill is required. 4x4 experience would be very helpful. The road surface shifts from hard rocky surface to smooth sand, then corrugated sand or rocks. Some areas of bulldust.

My advise, keep a reasonable speed, not too slow, not too fast. Tyre pressure down to 26-28 psi (very important to avoid punctures) as it assists traction and makes the ride a little better. For all of you that attempt it in a hire vehicle. Check the spare tyre is ok. Otherwise, enjoy the spectacular scenery. It is some of the most diverse in the world.

My tip... don't stay at the Glen Helen resort... far from a resort. The toilets were dirty, no paper, staff not so friendly. Drive a few more km's down the road and stay at Ormiston Gorge or even better Ellery Creek Big Hole camp grounds. Much cheaper (natioanl park fees) and a better natural view with basic but adequate facilities.

Enjoy the NT!!

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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Kings Canyon, Australia - Watarrka National Park

Kings Canyon is the biggest attraction inside Watarrka National Park, so much so that few tourists know the real name of the park.
They often call it Kings Canyon National Park.

The park protects the rugged and scenic George Gill Range.
This range contains a massive gorge, with red sandstone walls that rise over 100 metres to a plateau of rocky domes and other sandstone formations.

Walks lead along the canyon floor as well as up to the rim and around the full length of the canyon.

Many of my readers name the Rim Walk as the highlight of their trip to central Australia.

I don't quite see it that way, but any experiences that I rate even better require a 4WD, bushcamping and going on long wilderness hikes, or simply a lot more time than the average tourist has available.

If you only have a week to spend in the Red Centre, are stuck with a 2WD and don't really want to hike all day/overnight, then this may well end up being your number one memory, too.

The Canyon Rim Walk is certainly one of the best and most varied walks you can do in central Australia.

Watarrka National Park is in the Northern Territory of Australia. It lies south west of Alice Springs, in comfortable driving distance from Uluru/Ayers Rock.

You can get to Kings Canyon from Alice Springs by 2WD. The distance is 474 km along the Stuart Highway, Lasseter Highway and Luritja Road, all fully sealed.

If you have a 4WD you can access Watarrka National Park via the Mereenie Loop Road, a short cut from the West MacDonnell Ranges to Kings Canyon and Uluru. Saves you a lot of backtracking and it's a very scenic drive to boot. (The distance from Kings Canyon to Alice Springs going that way is 357 km).

To get to Kings Canyon from Ayers Rock/Uluru backtrack about 100 km on the Lasseter Highway and then turn onto the Luritja Road. The whole distance between Ayers Rock and Kings Canyon is 310 km, all fully sealed.

Kings Canyon tours are part of most three day or longer Uluru tour packages. You can find any style, the luxury tours in big airconditioned coaches or the more adventure style camping tours.

You can download and print the official fact sheet for Watarrka National park here (PDF).

It has a map of the whole area (inlcuding Uluru and Alice Springs) as well as a map of Kings Canyon National Park.

Accommodation and a caravan park/camping is available at Kings Canyon Resort (only a few km from the canyon itself) or at Kings Creek Station (on the national park border, about 40 km from the canyon itself).

At the Voyages owned Kings Canyon Resort (that's the same company that owns the Ayers Rock Resort) you find everything from powered sites for caravans and unpowered tent sites, over budget bunkhouse accommodation and standard hotel rooms to their deluxe "spa rooms".

Kings Creek Station also has a campground and accommodation in safari style tents/cabins. (They are made from canvas but have a steel frame and solid floors, plus light and power, and shared facilities).

(The luxury outfit APT - Australia Pacific Touring - also maintains permanent facilities nearby, the "Kings Canyon Wilderness Lodge". It is mostly for their touring clients, but also accessible to self drive travellers if you book ahead.)

The two most popular walks in the park are the short, easy stroll along the canyon floor and the much longer, in parts strenuous but very, very rewarding walk up to and along the canyon rim.

Kings Creek Walk - 2.6 km return /1 hr

The first part of this easy stroll is accessible by wheelchair. The walk follows the canyon floor for a bit and has some signs and displays explaining the vegetation on the canyon floor. It leads to a lookout point from where you have nice views of the towering walls.

Kings Canyon Rim Walk - 6 km loop/3-4 hr

This is the real thing, the walk that everyone raves about. It requires an average level of fitness. I can't find anything hard about it, but I guess it does take a few hours, and there is that initial steep climb to get up tp the rim...

The path is a lot less steep where it comes down again on the other side, but you are only allowed to follow the walk in a clockwise direction. So there is no avoiding the steep climb...

It's not difficult at all, there are steps where necessary. (About 500 of them...) Just start early and take your time. If you are out of breath just pretend to admire the views. They are impressive after all!

Once you reach the rim it's easy. You initially follow the northern rim on a flat path over weathered and flaky sandstone, with great views into the canyon and to the opposite wall.

At the top end of the canyon the ground becomes more uneven. As you follow the walk around you find yourself between the weathered sandstone domes called "The Lost City".

There is also an opportunity to descend into a very sheltered valley with a permanent water hole, called "The Garden of Eden".

You really should not swim here for environmental reasons, but everybody does anyway...

I find this part of the walk is the most scenic, up and down and up again through same narrow gaps and rugged valleys... (There are boardwalks and stairs for the steep sections.)

Others consider the views from the southern, second half of the walk towards the northern walls the most spectacular part of the walk...

It certainly is a very, very varied walk. The scenery changes all the time, and each part of it is impressive.

Take plenty of water and plenty of time!

Kathleen Springs Walk - 2.6 km return/1.5 hr

An easy (albeit open and sunny) stroll to a permanent, spring fed waterhole, starting about 7 km from the Kings Canyon National Park entrance. The signs and displays along the way explain a bit about how Aboriginals used the area and also about the history of the early settlers. (There are remnants of old cattle yards and other signs of the early cattle industry.)

Giles Track - 22 km/2 days

This is an overnight walk for experienced bushwalkers only. It connects Kathleen Springs and the Rim Walk, following the top of the ranges. I haven't done it yet but look forward to doing it next time I'm down there.

I should also mention that there is a range of guided activities as well. The Kings Canyon Resort offers tours similar to the way they do at Uluru. For example the Sounds of Silence becomes the Sounds of Firelight dinner...

They won't carry you up to the rim, but they do transfer you from the resort in an airconditioned luxury coach and guide you on the Rim Walk, and if you really don't want to exert yourself at all, you can do a helicopter flight from Kings Creek Station instead.

Kings Creek Station also offers quad bike rides and camel rides on their land.

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Living Earth

by Lisa

Yes, I really felt that the Earth itself was alive, sitting up there on the Uluru.

Despite having been brought to Uluru by a tourist bus (that was in 1986, and Ayer's Rock was still the official name), I managed to find myself on my own both on the Uluru and among the eucalyptus trees beside the big rock. It was so very quiet, but somehow very alive. It made me convinced that every rock and plant really contains a spirit. Those spirits probably just have fled the busy and polluted areas of the Earth!

Mind you, I also loved the Olgas. They were beautiful, the walks were interesting, and the swim in the waterhole (is it still there?) was divine. But there I did not have any "spiritual" experience.

It might have been different if I hadn't been surrounded by ten people all the time. The red earth and the blue sky of central Australia really caught me in their web, and I can just hope that I will still be able to go back one day. (BTW, I sign this "Lisa", as that's what I was called there. Nobody could pronounce my real name :-). Somehow I preferred Lisa to the other option, Jack...)

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Monday, April 4, 2011

Melbourne-Perth-Burrup... too ambitious?

We have three weeks and we want to visit siblings in Melbourne and Perth. I would love to visit the Burrup. Would it better to fly everywhere seeing as time is limited? The idea of some driving appeals though.
Are we being too ambitious do you think?
Many thanks

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My country

by Mark Freier
(Murwillumbah, NSW, Aust)

I was first drawn to the rock as a 20 year old man. I some how knew that I would always go there. That I would go to the highest point of it. That I would lie face down on it and feel the heartbeat of my mother, my country, my people. It was the most significant spiritual moment of my life.

I am returning now, 20 years later with my family so that they may have the same experience.

I despise the arrogance and racism of the aboriginal argument that they somehow have a better capacity to love this land because of their Aboriginality.

It is not possible to love this land and its people any more than I do - only as much. To any one who does, I embrace you as my brother. We are on the same team.

I am of English, Irish, German, Aboriginal heritage - a pure Oz snapshot of evolution how it actually is.
The rock and freedom to walk this land on my own spritual journey is my birthright because I am Australian not because I am part Aboriginal.

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Sunday, April 3, 2011

My Trip through the Outback

by Melanie
(Toronto, Canada)

Over Easter of 1995 I did a 8 day camping tour from Darwin to Alice Springs. I was there on University exchange and this was part of my holidays. I did an 18-35 tour and it was one of the highlights of my time in Oz.

My favorite parts of the tour were the cruise through the Katherine Gorge, and camping under the stars.

The highlight however was staying with a community of Aboriginal people one night. We had a traditional dinner with a family and sat around the fire for story time. As we sat with the kids and listened to the dad tell the stories and play the didgeridoo - it was magical and I will always remember the magic of that night.

After dinner we slept under the stars replaying the stories in our heads.

It was incredible!

Melanie from http://www.excellent-vacation-ideas.com/

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On the way to Alice Springs...

by Nancy
(California )

My mother and I took a bus tour through Australia's Outback in 1980 to experience the various places, see Ayers Rock and the Olgas. There were hardly any people there at the time.

We were given a tour around the base and it was explained to us how important Ayers Rock was and we should treat the area with respect. Which we did. No one ever mentioned climbing Ayers would be disrespectful.

I ventured as far as "Chicken Rock", the first out-cropping before the chain started. As we walked around the base the ranger told us about certain areas that were considered religiously important to the Aborigine.

One thing I remember was that there was a house built near the base, but it seemed everyone lived outside. The ranger explained that the while the house had been for the Aborigines who lived near there, a dog had died in the house and now they couldn't live in it.

At the time there was an airplane that offered a short tour of Ayers and the Olgas. We took advantage of that and the fly-over beauty is one I'll always remember.

Actually I found the Olgas to be much more interesting and even pretty with the vegetation growing around the crevices.

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One man, a four wheel drive and ten thousand kilometres of dusty tracks and dirt roads...

by Birgit

Hot - Life in the Australian Outback

Back in 2009 Dutch travel photographer Thijs Heslenfeld contacted me to let me know that his latest photo book is due out soon.

Hot - Life in the Australian outback, came hot of the press in November 2009 and was instantly (Jan 2010) voted the best Dutch photo book of 2009.

Thijs was so kind to send me a copy of it, and it arrived as a surprise. Wow! (Thanks again, Thijs!)

Now, before I tell you about the book, I have to tell you that I know and understand nothing about art. I can't rhapsodize as lyrical as some other reviewers do.

I can, however, tell you, that this is a book like no other.

"This book is a showcase of everything I met on my way that touched me - people, wildlife, insects or beautiful skies. It is not a romanticised image of what the outback could very well have been. It is a picture of what it in fact is: a vast, inhospitable and beautiful piece of our planet"
(Thijs Heslenfeld)
When I first received the book I only had time to leaf through it once, just absorbing the images. Even the quick glance left a big impact.
The next day I went through it again, this time also reading all the descriptions, the stories, the experiences that Thijs shares.

I was impressed and surprised at the same time. Lost for words actually.
This was so totally different from any photo book I had ever held in my hands.?Very uncompromising, just like the country it portraits. It captures the harshness of it in high definition. It makes you not only see it, it makes you feel it, at times in an unsettling way.

It's a totally different version of outback compared to what I am used to or what you will find in other Australian photo books.

Thjis took his photos as he crossed Australia from south to north, from Adelaide to Darwin, but not on the tourist route. He will take you on the unsealed outback tracks that criss-cross the hottest and most remote part of our continent.

And barren, barren South Australia...
Thjis did an amazing job of capturing it, capturing not only the beauty but also the desolation, the looming threat of it.

You may wonder why and how people would live there, but they do. And you will meet them as well, in Thijs' images and in his words.

And since I can't do the book justice with my words anyway, I suggest you visit Thijs' site and let the images speak for themselves instead.

I vote this the most uncompromising book about the Australian outback I have seen to date.

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Saturday, April 2, 2011

Spiritual, Magical Uluru

(Reader Submission from Australia)

A few years ago, I went to Uluru. I was on a very low budget, but I went there, thinking the climb was closed a decade or two before. I was surprised by the fact there was a choice.

I'm an earthy person, and I know the aboriginals see all who climb Uluru as disrespecting their culture. As a spiritual journey, I climbed it, but not just for the sake of climbing it. It was a very tough climb. During the climb, it made me feel human and almost like a grain of sand on a beach. Seeing, what I only believed were little stone statues created for some aboriginal activity, I found this curious and amazing.

The views from the climb and at the top, are some of the most amazing I've seen anywhere - Emptiness with tiny little mountains / rocks for over 300km & further - It was so amazing.

Being a very depressive & lonely person a lot of the time, nature helps. I believe in past lives, and at the top, looking out, I could almost feel the spirits. It was the most spiritual feeling & place I've ever been up the top. It felt like home.

When things go wrong, or I'm feeling down, I shut my eyes and go back in time to my happy place and time - the top of Uluru, to how I felt there. A feeling I've never had anywhere else at any other time in my life. It felt like home, like a belonged, like most religious people get from church or a divine miracle or something. I breathed in the fresh, spiritual air at the top for nearly one hour before heading down.

After my experience, I'm so glad I was allowed this amazing spiritual experience & opportunity. I guess it was my version of what the muslims would feel for their Mecca. It really helped me feel the same way for this rock, as the aboriginals feel for it.

For me, experiencing this climb, is one of the key things that made me feel Australia can only ever be my only home. No other country or place can ever compare to up there for me. It was like my spirit was home, like the only place I've ever belonged, just me and her - mother earth of Uluru top.

I believe I've had many past lives - one or many of which from there many generations ago. Sounds weird to most, since they've never felt this at any place or time - but if you do have that feeling of any person or place, you will know.

Sadly most people who climbed it at the same time as me, I overheard & saw many people reach the top look around 30-60seconds, saying - that's nice view, we've reached the top & head down, without a care to the spirits up there - to me that seemed more contemptuous and selfish reason, like not a care for the meaning or spirits of this amazing and spiritual place.
Do I believe Uluru climb should be closed forever? No.

I believe maybe they can limit the climb. I believe that maybe instead of free climb for themselves, those who want to climb can maybe be led up there at certain times of the day only, led by a local (preferably full blood) aboriginal person, at certain points on the way up, and at the top, the aboriginal climb leader/s can talk about uluru, the spiritual and cultural signifcance about uluru and how it is used in their legends and dreamtime.

This way, those who climb can learn and understand by the locals the meaning of this amazing place.

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Friday, April 1, 2011

Stranded in Old Andado

by Lisa

Another story about Central Australia in 1986...

We left Alice Springs for Oodnadatta without a worry. After a fairly long drive our bus got stuck in a dry river bed. That meant a fly filled hot stop while the crew tried to call for help.

Finally, it became obvious that rain was to be expected and there was no help coming any time soon. So everybody went and pushed, and yes, the bus got loose. Happily we continued our drive.

When darkness fell, we also found ourselves in the middle of lightning. There was lightning everywhere - but no rain yet. We were hurrying to get to Old Andado Station before the rain. We made it to the station - and it started to pour.

It rained and rained, and then the desert was totally wet and there was no way a bus could get anywhere on the tracks. So we stayed at the station - where our only link to the outside world was the old radio transmitter.

Some people were desolate and couldn't quite handle being stranded, others were happy and made the most of it.

Personally, I thought it was great. After the rain it smelled so good. The flies came back, but took their time. The nights were so clear and beautiful, and it was wonderful to see all the stars shining above the darkness.

We waited for the track to dry for some days (three or four?) and then we took off. At each bigger puddle everybody got out of the bus and the driver drove through as fast as he could. At the end we all had red shoes and legs, but that was a great souvenir :-).

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Taking the family pet dog

by Janet

We are hoping to travel outback later in the year with our four kids in a camper trailer. We would love to take our dog but don't know if that would be sensible ie: do many camp grounds allow dogs etc. We are very aware of keeping her away from wildlife and cleaning up after her.
Thank you for your informative site,

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The best way to do the big Red Centre three

by Rebecca

Hi. I'm trying to work out the best way of planning a trip to Kings Canyon and Uluru from Alice Springs.

We fly in from Darwin on 16th Sept and fly on to Cairns on 21st. We want to visit Kings Canyon, move on to Uluru and return to Alice. I was looking at hiring a 4x4 with camping equipment but some of the tours might also be an option. It is our first trip to the area. What is the cheaper but also the most enjoyable way of two adults doing this? Thanks for any pointers.

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The Climb

by Janet (toptourist)
(Perth WA)

I am about to visit Uluru BUT I will NOT be climbing the rock.
A few years ago I studied Tourism studies and learnt a lot I did not know about the history the heritage and the beliefs of the Aboriginal people of the Uluru area. From that I learnt, I would never invade their privacy and beliefs by doing so.

It would be like people going to St Paul's cathedral in London and tourists starting to climb up the outside of the dome. I don't think so!!!
And I know for sure it would not take the English bobbies long before they had the climbers arrested.

So my tip is read and learn about this wonderfully sacred place and the owners of this land and then THINK TWICE before you disrespect them both.

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Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Olgas - Kata Tjuta, Australia, NT

Kata Tjuta, formerly calld "the Olgas", is the second major feature and attraction of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. (The main one is of course Uluru.)

Kata Tjuta consists of 36 steep sided monoliths, which, just like Uluru, look most impressive at sunrise and sunset.

And just like Ayers Rock, the Olgas also have an official sunset viewing area that you have to use if you want to see the spectacle.

There used to be twelve different walks here, winding through the valleys and gorges between the rocky domes. Today only two remain. The others have been closed, in part to protect the fragile environment, but mostly to allow the Aboriginal owners of the land to conduct their ancient ceremonies.

The area is not only closed for white people, it is also off limits for Aboriginal people who have no business there. Only those who are inducted to the necessary level are allowed to access certain places and only for the required ceremonies or as otherwise specified by the cultural law, Tjukurpa.

As you can probably imagine, no more traditional ceremonies are held amidst the carnival at Uluru... The Anangu have shifted everything over to Kata Tjuta.

Uluru is impressive to look at, but I have to say, in my experience Kata Tjuta has more power.

I felt that way long before I found out about the ceremonies, and I had similar experiences in other parts of Australia: a certain place would touch me and make a big impression for a reason I could not explain. Just that it had "something".

And invariably I found out afterwards that it is an area where the Aboriginal owners still have a strong connection with their land and still look after it.

Call it the dreamtime spirits or nature spirits, call it what you like, there is something that disappears when too many people trample through a place that they neither understand nor truly appreciate for all its values.

By the way, I regularly receive email from readers who report similar feelings: that somehow the Olgas were the stronger experience for them....

Ok, after that little interlude, lets get to some more practical information.

(If you want some background information about Kata Tjuta, say how old it is or how it was formed, that is explained in the geology section of the Uluru facts page.)

The Olgas are part of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park in the Northern Territory of Australia, about 460 km south west of Alice Springs by road.

If you come from the main highway or from the Ayers Rock Resort, as you enter the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, turn right/west shortly after the gate. There is a big sign and intersection. You can't miss it.

If you are coming from Uluru, just head back towards the park exit and turn left at the intersection before the gate.

The Olgas are a 53 km drive from Ayers Rock and about 51 km from the Ayers Rock Resort.

And don't worry, those roads are all wide and well maintained bitumen highways...

Beyond Kata Tjuta the road continues as the unsealed "Great Central Road". If you have a 4WD you can leave the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park in this direction and drive through the desert to Western Australia and Perth... (permits required, more info here).

And of course, if you come from that direction, Kata Tjuta will be the first thing you see as you enter the national park.

Walpa Gorge Walk

2.6 km return/1 hour

This short, easy stroll leads up a rocky, gentle slope and then into a shady, moist gully.

It ends on a viewing platform between the towering domes.

Valley of the Winds Walk - 7.4km circuit/3 hours

To me this is by far the best walk in all of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. It retains a sense of wilderness and the scenery is just spectacular.

Kata Tjuta is nowhere near as busy as Uluru. If you pick a good time (like very early or late in the day) you could be alone for most of the walk, even during the busier times of the year.

The Valley of the Winds Walk is a little more demanding than all other walks in the park.

Rather than being a wide, well maintained gravel path as you find around the Uluru base, this one quickly turns into a narrow trail.

It involves a fair bit of up and down, there are some steeper sections as well, one even requires a little bit of scrambling (for three seconds or so).

If you are running short of time you can also do just a part of the walk.

The first section is not part of the circuit. The first lookout, Karu, is only 1.1 km from the car park.

To get to the second lookout, Karingana, follow the southern part of the loop walk.

This is the more difficult section (difficult for unfit people or people who never walked anywhere but a formed path...) but the effort is worth it.

This second lookout is a narrow gap in the rocks, high above the valley that stretches beyond it...

You can see in the photo where the path continues at the bottom of the valley.

At this point you have done less than half of the circuit, but the second part is a lot easier, so you may as well continue...

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To climb or not to climb, what was the question?

by Christopher Burns

Tis funny how cultural significance changes over the years. The current guardians of Ayers Rock (Uluru) have brought forward opinions in the past 15 years about not climbing due to cultural significance and a purported fact that only male elders were permitted to climb the Rock.

If this is the case why were tribal elders quoted in many journals and papers 20 years ago and more as not caring whether or not the rock was climbed? There are several culturally significant areas around the Rock that have been off limits to white people, women and non local tribes people for generations and these have been clearly marked, documented, researched and closed off.

Why the change in attitude since the hand back in 1985?
Could this be a case of, "We have the stick" so show us the respect?
Climb away I say...........

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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Travelling from Perth up the west coast to Darwin via Broome

by Derek

I am planning on leaving Perth in the next 2 weeks and would like to get to Darwin then over to Cairns. I want to go to all of the places in have seen in the outback guide from the Pinnacles Desert up to Broome then on to Darwin.

I am driving a small Ford car and I am wondering would you recommend doing this trip in such a small car or would I need something bigger. I have about 6-8 weeks to get to the east coast so I don't think I am really pushed for time.

We are planning on camping most off the time weather permitting, so would this be a good time of the year to do such a trip?

I have seen pictures of Alice Springs and all the different places in the Red Centre, but I don't think I would be to pushed on going there

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Uluru frequently unanswered questions

by Roy Broff


Swim between the flags!

Beauty, bans, fines, nonsense & superstition... National or Aboriginal park? Aboriginal culture ? the invisible side.... Is it really worth a visit?

After nearly 2 decades of listening to other people's contradicting stories I finally decided to hop on the car (alternative options such as fly + car hire + .... seemed well outside of my budget) and find out what it really is.

Like many others I happened to live on the east coast and had to allow for 1 week driving (return, driving alone), 3 drums of petrol and topped-up credit card. The roads are OK and the drive was fun. The desert is boring and monotonous but at least easy to steer ... Please remember ? stay safe! Just hundred meters from the road, hidden behind the bushes we found several stolen & torched cars! The Wolf Creek film is a grim warning to those who forget about the dark side of our convict origins...

If you can, time your arrival for the sunset (if you're lucky to get a good one) ? the rock is really impressive in red!

$25 gets you 3 days access to the park, and you follow the crowds into the stylish cultural centre (I didn't forget about the information centre ? there is none...) Besides some astronomically priced souvenirs/aboriginal art, boomerangs & the likes, the rest of the building is devoted to stories. Unless you are expert stone-age historian it is very unlikely that you'll get any sense or wisdom out, nor you'll be able to read, memorize or pronounce any of the names...

The best thing about the centre is that it has TOILETS (please note - they are of non-aboriginal origin)! You may laugh at me, but they are the only ones in the park (except for the Olga's ones which are about 40 km away). If you think that you can do it in the bush (after several hours walking or climbing) ? think twice! The walks are heavily patrolled by an army of rangers, not to mention the crowds of other tourists desperately looking for the same thing! Before you decide to hop over the fence and disobey the hundreds of warning signs at least make sure that the site is not sacred (most of them are) and not already an excrement minefield...

True to his explorer genes my son happily ignored the signs and climbed on one of the so called sacred sites ? a rock feature about 200 m above the track. After a while he came back laughing... He discovered some mysterious artifacts: a broken beer bottle, used condom & bikini... No carbon dating was necessary.

If you are serious law-obeying tourist ? please leave your CAMERA in the car (never leave any valuables anywhere else in Aus.). Huge areas of the rock are declared sacred and penalties for photographing such areas ($5000 or 6000) can make you broke in no time.

The same rule shall apply to your climbing BOOTS ? the climb to the top is seriously discouraged and frequently banned for a range of often ridiculous excuses/conditions (e.g. high winds or temperatures at the summit where there is obviously no anemometer or even a simple thermometer). Failure to comply with the ban shall get you another $5500 fine... SAFETY is very convenient excuse, although the climb to the top is not a big deal for any fit person (I'm 53 and did it "hands-free" ? this is no use of hands or chain). Please note ? this is only so during the (southern) winter months ? I wouldn't advice anyone to go there any other time!

If you're lucky to win the obstacle race and make it to the top ? the Olga's views aren't too bad and there is a lot to explore off the marked path. We spent a whole day discovering heaps of interesting plants, herbs, animals, birds, bugs, holes, mini-caves, views, waterholes, crevices, rocks, etc. Believe it or not my son swam into some of the waterholes ? depths can be more than 2 m. but the water is quite cold!

If you take your binoculars/zoom lenses and go to the far end you may see some real/contemporary aboriginal culture not mentioned in the cultural centre or even marked on the tourist map. This is Mutitjulu ? the aboriginal settlement right next to the rock. Do not waste your time trying to see it any closer ? tourists are not allowed (another $1000 fine). If you think you may get a permit ? prepare yourself for a fair bit of writing, 4-6 weeks waiting and 99+% chance of SORRY answer... This seems to be the modern Australian version of apartheid...
The glamorized aboriginal culture described in the cultural centre and so many other places around this country doesn't seem to fit the reality we are not allowed to see just a few kilometers away...

So, what are our options?

Have a 3 hour walk around the base (it is not bad but there isn't much else to do now) and then get back home trying to work out why the aboriginal culture or this park never stepped out of the stone age? (think of superstition and isolation)

Or make a real National (as opposed to the current aboriginal) park & attraction where millions of people from all over the world can worship &/or enjoy whatever they like - nature, Australian (aboriginal & other) culture, lifestyle and have serious fun.
How about removing all ridiculous signs & bans, allowing free access, camping, hiking, photography and so much else. Building tourist facilities such as chair lift or tube (so everyone can get on the top), toilets, shades & shelters, climbing, abseiling, hang & paragliding sites, mountain/BMX bike tracks, water slide, roller coaster / toboggan rides, kid's playground, mini/desert open range zoo, etc. None of these shall spoil the natural beauty or endanger the rock in any way (well, not more than most other national parks) Would such option bring much more visitors & joy, and much less disappointment? How good such modern park would be for our struggling tourist industry?

What you think?

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Uluru: Climb or not

by Ross
(Anchorage, Alaska USA)

No, I would't "march into a Buddhist temple in shorts and hiking boots because the monks hadn't pressured "me" not to". But I certainly would do so dressed appropriately while conducting myself in a respectful manner!

No I wouldn't "walk up to the altar rail in an English cathedral to take a flash photo of the communicants", but, again, I would visit the cathedral.

The analogies are inappropriate. With Uluru it's all or nothing in a sense. Isn't there a way in which visitors could visibly demonstrate their respect yet still make the climb? Should there be? What might it be?

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