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Ayers Rock & Beyond Safari 2018

Ayers Rock & Beyond Safari 2018: Our Story of the Port Augusta to Longreach Safari

Starting in Port Augusta, SA, 37 members all came together for a 21-day tour travelling north through the centre of Australia.We all met at Spear Creek Caravan Park, a beautiful little park nestled in the base of the Flinders Ranges. The park is based on a working sheep farm which is quite unique and made for a great first stop on the safari. Some may be discouraged by the rough road into the park, which included some gravel, but once you get past that you can settle down on the grass and unwind amongst the shady trees. In our case, we also got to meet the attendees on the safari, making friends and enjoying a few yarns.

We arrived a day earlier to ensure we were prepared for the exciting tour ahead and to our surprise, most of our new friends were already on-site getting to know each other. The following day, we kicked off our first happy hour, using the opportunity to get to know each other better. Happy hour was followed by a delicious barbecue meal that we all shared together, and at that point, I had a feeling this was going to be a trip to remember.

We were en route to Coober Pedy on our first day on the road. Due to the distance, we had an over night stop at Glendambo Roadhouse, passing through Woomera on the way for a scrumptious lunch stop. The next day we awoke early and continued our journey to Coober Pedy. We spent a few nights in the area, as we had plenty of tours organised to soak up the rich history of the region. Whilst in Coober Pedy, members had time to explore at their own leisure, partake in opal cutting and mining, explore an underground house and mine and visit the famous Dingo Fence. The fence was one of the many highlights during our stay here, as it was built during the 1880s to control the movements of dingos and wild dogs across the region.

Upon leaving Coober Pedy, we set our sights for the township of Yulara (located on the outskirts of Uluru). We travelled over three days, stopping at some interesting places along the way. We first stopped at Marla Roadhouse and enjoyed the afternoon together forming a circle around the grass enjoying some laughs. Some members thought the local establishment looked like a great option for dinner, and we’re thinking they must have really enjoyed their time there as one member managed to misplace their motorhome after they left. Luckily, we managed to locate the vehicle. The next day we continued north, in anticipation of indulging in the famous chicken burger from Erldunda Roadhouse. The burger was just as delicious as we were told it would be, and after filling our stomachs, we set up camp for the night on-site. We had a relaxing afternoon and evening, enjoying a magical sunset to see the day out.

The following day, we arrived in Uluru. This was one of the major highlights of the trip, and something we were all looking forward to very much. Here we stayed at the Ayers Rock Campground for 3 magical nights. Our first day in Uluru was HUGE. We woke up early for a spectacular sunrise tour, where we enjoyed coffee and biscuits and took in the majestic scenery. After our early morning tour, we participated in a guided tour around the rock itself, which was lead by our trusty tour guide ‘Driver’ (yes, that was his name!). Afterwards, Driver dropped us back at camp where we had a couple of hours to relax before we headed off for our afternoon activity. The Olgas was a perfect way to spend the afternoon. We enjoyed wine and canapés, and sadly it was too overcast to enjoy the sunset over the rock.After the busy day before, the next day members had the opportunity to relax and explore other parts of the region at their own leisure. Members took the opportunity to participate in camel rides and helicopter and scenic plane flights. After another day of exploring, we were all ready to enjoy a night excursion to the fabulous ‘Field of Lights’ exhibit.

When our time in Uluru came to an end, we headed for Kings Canyon. During our time at Kings canyon Resort, members had ample free time to explore the canyon. Members could either partake in the 6-kilometre walk of the rim or enjoy the gorge walk. Approximately 15 of us braved the 500-metre climb to start the rim walk the following morning and the rest enjoyed the relaxing gorge walk instead. We all enjoy dinner together at the Outback BBQ (at the resort), where the food was delicious, and the live music was fantastic.  
The next couple of days on the road saw the group heading towards Alice Springs. On our way we visited the Karrke Aboriginal Cultural Experience, where we heard from the traditional owners about bush medicine, traditional food, hunting and dot paintings, just to name a few. We all thoroughly enjoyed this experience and the way that Peter and his wife explained the traditional customs was very informative.
En-route to Alice Springs, we once again stayed at Erldunda. Once we reached Alice Springs, we enjoyed 3 nights in the town, which gave everyone ample time to rest, rejuvenate and absorb our trip so far. We hired a mini bus and ferried members to the shops and some local attractions, while others decided to take in some extra tours, camel rides, cultural visits and a drive through the East or West MacDonnell Ranges in their own vehicles or hire cars. Whilst we were in Alice Springs, we remembered our Anzacs at a dawn service on Anzac Day. One of the members on the tour shared a very informative story about the role women played during the war. During out trip we decided to collect all cans and bottles, and while in Alice Spring, we took our collection to the recycling centre and donated the money we received in return to the Royal Flying Doctor Service.From here we headed to Mt Isa. This was a long stretch of the trip, and we had three stopovers before our arrival. The first stop was at Devils Marbles Roadhouse, where we enjoyed a fantastic dinner (the chef being awarded top chef in NT). The following morning, we stopped at the Devils Marbles, which is an absolute must on this part of the journey. Continuing north through Tennant Creek, we visited the old Telegraph Station for lunch. Here we farewelled one of the members as they left our convoy heading north towards Darwin for a further six months on the road. That evening we free camped on the Barkly Highway, where we enjoyed happy hour, ignoring the heat, wind and flies.

The next day we embarked on a bus tour taking in the Outback at Isa experience and had a delicious lunch there, then we headed out to lovely Lake Moondarra. This lake was built for the mines and is in fact the largest water scheme funded by private enterprise in Australia. It is quite spectacular and well worth a visit. Once again we said farewell to a member who was leaving us to head north towards Cairns.

As we were nearing the end of the safari, we headed towards Winton. This ended up being one of the highlights of the trip as we visited the newly opened Waltzing Matilda Centre. We took a tour out to the Australian Dinosaur Museum, where we visited the collection centre and Dinosaur Canyon.  What an amazing place this was, and we highly encourage you to visit.  We were treated to a beautiful sunset and nibbles, and we enjoyed each other’s company watching the sunset from the top of the jump up.As our time together was quickly coming to an end, we headed for our last destination, Longreach.  En-route to Longreach, we stopped overnight at the Walkabout Creek Hotel, made famous in the movie ‘Crocodile Dundee’. The flies were bad here, so most of us opted for dinner in the pub and a few games of pool. We shared a lot of laughs, it was a great night. The following day we arrived in Longreach and spent our last happy hour together.

Our last day of the tour gave members the opportunity to explore time the Qantas Museum and Stockman’s Hall of Fame. On this last night together, we all enjoyed a sunset cruise on the Thomson River.  We all had a great final meal together and enjoyed the entertainment at Smithy’s Outback Show.

See you somewhere around the campfire,

Andrew and Renee

Page Last Updated: Thursday, 24 May 2018 12:51 PM, Session: Public