I’ve noticed my nails are starting to turn yellow with grime and I make a quick run for the showers in our new camp on our Nullarbor Traveller tour. We are in the middle of nowhere but at least have eco friendly facilities – which means a kinda self flush toilet, innovative bucket showers and a kitchen. If you’ve read my outback adventures, you knew I am already a pro at bush camps and sleeping in swags. Though I lack the proper bush skills. But let’s just leave that aside.
**** This post came to be through a sponsored trip with Nullarbor Traveller. ****
Through the Alligator
The first day has been full of hikes and exercise. First Alligator Gorge then Dutchmans Stern and now the highlight I am looking forward to is the meal we are preparing.
It’s pizza today in the kitchen. Yesterday it was a chicken on rice, which involved pulling out a table from the side of the bus, setting up a portable stove that is attached to a gas bottle and then the usual. Chopping veggies, boiling water and cooking everything.
While that is going on I am distracting my fierce appetite by recollecting the two day’s memories. The first drive was exactly the same to the one when I headed towards the outback.
We drove through famous wine regions, stopped at a little town Clare for a breakfast grab and passed more farm grounds with golden embers swaying in the breeze. It was raining in the morning but when we got out of the bus, the sun was already blazing hot.
Off we went to walk the round circuit of Alligator Gorge. It was the same as the other times except this time beautiful purple flowers hat shot up due to the recent rains and reptiles were soaking up the warmth of the stones. I finally got to see my first snake in the wild! It was not a dangerous one, though. I guess it was better this way.
The red rocks were towering over us while we hopped from stone to stone in the Gorge and admired the stark contrast of white barked trees growing in all directions, standing in the way, lying about or just modelling for the perfect photo opportunity. The stream was silently bubbling along and making its way over the small terraces and underneath the stones in the middle of the gorge.
Up the Flinders
Having done our 2km walk, we drove up a while and into the Flinders Ranges, which I was super glad about. The last times we were just admiring them from afar and now I finally got to climb them. Even if it was just one mountain.
That mountain had us walking up 10 km to and back, all the while seeding up to fight off vicious ants that were clinging for dear life to our shoes and laces, making their way up to our unclad ankles with a determination that would have been admirable if it weren’t so annoying and hurting. Ants in Australia do quite have a good bite!
Up on the top we were surprised at the sight that unfolded before our eyes. The mountain range down below was beautiful in its apparent smoothness, spectrum of Australian colours (which are yellow and green, if you didn’t know) and sheer enormousness. Did you know it used to be higher that the Himalayas? It is not anymore by far but definitely worth a climb.
On our way down we suddenly found ourselves surrounded by – yes the same vicious ants as well as – a horde of kangaroos. They popped their heads up here and there, watching us with curiosity and hopping around unbothered.
We just walked right passed them – of course, after having taken an amount of photos to last us a lifetime in kangaroo picture supplies. I thought I had reached the point of roo saturation but this time it looked absolutely stunning with the golden sunshine of the fading sun illuminating their fur.
Waking up no Longer a Swag Pro
My back hurts. Lost my swag for swags apparently. It wasn’t a good sign when I unrolled mine to find it sprinkled in bird poo. Then, the tour guide asked me to mark it and all I could say – which made her laugh rapturously – is that it was not necessary since I would recognise it from all the bird poo. I received a new one straight away.
The next one turned out to be a bit tricky for my sleep-deprived brain. I had snuggled into my swag, realising that I basically lay on the ground and already resigning to a night of back pain before I noticed that I was lying underneath the mattress. Of course. That’s so me. (Editor’s note: I did that on the second night as well.)
Just shortly before that incident I had another bright moment. I scrambled over stones, a creek and up a small hill to a bush toilet – all proper Australian bush camp-like. It was already getting dark and therefore I couldn’t close the door.
Pitch black is never a good idea. It would have been only half as awkward had there not been a group of kangaroos standing nearby curiously watching me. Um, some privacy, please?
All sand under the bridge because that’s the Australian experience – not hostel beds and pipe systems. The bush, I tell you! You haven’t seen Australia if you haven’t seen a bush toilet and slept in a swag on the ground.
Beaches, Coasts and Ocean
We quickly rolled up the swags, made some breakfast and headed off to Venus Bay. Such a lovely pristine coastline with fossilised trees alongside the steep cliffs, worn out by the eternally lashing sea and fuelled by winds coming from the Arctic.
The beige sand beneath our feet was silky smooth and little grey, yellow and red bushels were dotting the scenery. Big edgy rock formations were dominating the horizon while we were strolling along, admiring the ever changing view.
So many bays with silky beaches and azure waves hugging the shore and crashing at the rocks, we were quite enchanted. Throughout the year Venus Bay is a prime destination for ocean admirers and nature lovers and while you will only find the 20 residents in town during winter, in summer the many vacation houses will be full to the brim.
We didn’t stay, but moved on to ‘The Tub’. Yet another rock formation that was very special in that it used to be a blowhole turned cave turned ceiling-less cave, hence labelled ‘The Tub’ (which makes more sense in high tide).
On an awkward ladder we climbed down into the former cave and made our way through the rock tunnel and close to the roaring sea. In awe we watched the forces of nature and could clearly imagine how they had formed this amazing natural construction relentlessly over time.
Hop on the Board and Land in the Sand
Our day was not over yet and even though we drove long hours – which is typical for Australia and puts your perception of distance in place – we still had enough time to frolic in the sand dunes.
Producing sand boards out of a bush, out tour Nullarbor Traveller tour guide introduced us to the pleasure of sand boarding even though I was reluctant. I am a bit of a scaredy cow when it comes to steep slopes.
Ultimately I resigned to a less steep slope, which meant me needing an extra push and – being all independent – I pushed myself and got my hand under the board.
No harm done, I just received a nice purple colouring. Everyone else was going nuts with the boards, enjoying the thrill of racing down so much and it being in sand dunes, it was always a soft landing.
It was approaching dinner time by the end of our activity and we made our way to Coodlie Camp where we meet up with another group (which I would join the next day) and the owner himself, who helped us prepare a proper BBQ meal and campfire. This is as Australian as you can get.
By now the meal should be ready and we are passing the time of the last minutes sharing silly stories and discussing my time in Sweden. Two girls in our Nullarbor group are actually from Malmö, where I lived for half a year a while ago. Turns out, I explored more of their city and state than both of them combined. But that’s my job as a travel blogger, isn’t it? (Even though I wasn’t one back then – it was already in my blood.) Oh, there’s the food. Gotta go.
[su_box title=”Highlights” box_color=”#464646″ title_color=”#e6e6e6″ radius=”1″]Hike through the Alligator Gorge – make sure you stop by the terraces (right turn)
Spot the kangaroos in the fields around the Flinders Ranges
Climb up Dutchmans Stern for a great lookout over the Ranges
Walking along pristine coast lands at Venus Bay
Getting close to the forces of nature at ‘The Tub’ of the Talia Caves
Surf through the sand in the high dunes
Have a proper swag night with BBQ and campfire[/su_box]
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Don’t miss out on my other South and Western Australia adventures – read the full diary here: Part 1 (Flinders Ranges and Sand boarding), part 2 (tuna diving and koala spotting), part 3 (treeless plains), part 4 (THE kangaroo beach), part 5 (fleeing the bush fires) and part 6 (digeridoo lessons).