AROUND THE WORLD.ORG

travelling the seven parts of the world
Feb 24th, 2008
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The Australians call their countryside "The Outback". This comprises most of Australian land, except for the parts surrounding large cities like Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, and some of the areas between them, as well as Perth and the southwest corner of Australia.

For the most part, the main attraction of the outback is that there is no attraction. It is mostly flat, some of it is simply desert; other parts are too dry to be hospitable to humans in the dry months, and too wet in the wet months. Very few roads lead through the Outback, leaving most of the exploration to 4 wheel drives. Needless to say, there aren't many people living here.

Our trip through the outback was supposed to consist of traversing the continent from south to north, traveling by car from Adelaide to Alice Springs and Uluru, then by train from Alice Springs to Darwin.

The first part of the section was crushed by the sheer distances that needed to be traveled. We already spent a good 1100 km traveling through the Outback back in Perth, and it really wasn't all that fun, so we really didn't fancy traveling the thousands of kilometers from Adelaide to Uluru then to Alice Springs. In fact, the short drives from Uluru to Kings Canyon, around the Darwin area and the drive around Perth already put the total distance traveled in Australia by car to around 3000 km, which was quite enough. Since there isn't much in Adelaide that attracted us, we decided to fly from Melbourne to Uluru.

The second part of the trip was supposed to be a train journey from Alice Springs to Darwin. Here the problem was price - can you image what 1 night (or less then 20 hours) for 2 people on a train costs on this train line? Over $1400. That would be the single most expensive night I would have ever had in my life. I mean, the money really isn't a problem, if we really wanted we could have done this, its the value for money that puts me off. You get to spend on a train, which isn't exactly that comfortable when you think about, and you have to dish out a fortune for it. To put this into perspective, for $1400 you can fly from Alice Springs to Darwin, spend 5 nights in a 4 star hotel, eat out every day and still have money left for a souvenir.

The other option was to ride in coach class, which was "only $700". This meant sitting upright in a chair for 20 hours. This is what Bill Bryson had to say about the coach class when he went on the train from Sydney to Perth:

Looking up, I discovered with a start that we were in the coach section. I have never felt so stared at in my life. As we followed David through the two coach carriages, 124 pairs of sunken eyes sullenly followed our every move. These were people who had no dining carriage, no lounge bar, no cosy berths to crawl into at night. They had been riding upright for two days since leaving Sydney, and still had 24 hours to go to Perth. I am almost certain that if we had not had the train manager as an escort they would have eaten us.


So we ditched the train because it was a ripoff. The good thing was that this gave us an extra free day to use in Darwin which would have otherwise been spent looking out of the window at not really much at all, as the train passes through a complete flatland.

And so our Australian Outback trip was planned out - we'd fly from Melbourne to Ayers Rock through Sydney, spend 3 nights in Ayers Rock, then drive to Kings Canyon, spend a night there, then drive back and spend another night in Ayers Rock before flying out to Darwin through Alice Springs. There we would spend 4 days driving around to Katherine Gorge, Kakadu National Park and Darwin itself. After that we were going to fly to Cairns to see the Great Barrier Reef, and then back down to Sydney.

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