On the 20th of June, 2019, 87 other students and I along with the teachers, bus drivers and cooks began our long but actually very enjoyable journey to Central Australia. The few days that followed were mostly spent on our buses, in which we faced each other in intense Uno matches, sang along to Minecraft parody songs, watched a bit of Brooklyn 99, chatted to friends and, to those that could ignore the loud voices and off-key singing, slept.
The rare moments that we spent off the buses proved to be just as enjoyable. We climbed the Northern Territory and South Australian border, played like little children in various parks, and visited Coober Pedy, a small town famous for its beautiful opals and underground houses. Here is where the luckiest of us met the legendary tour guide Tanya, who seemed more interested in which celebrities she had touched and her son Frank than she did about the town’s history.
Our accommodation greatly varied between the two nights - the first night at Burra being almost too comfortable with multiple rooms, a kitchen, and Wi-Fi, whilst the second in Coober Pedy being less comfortable in a crowded underground bunker with curtains being used as makeshift doors. Regardless, most of us found a way to make both nights enjoyable with our friends.
After three long days of travel, we finally reached Alice Springs, where we set up and slept in tents for two nights. The time we spent here was pretty action-packed; we began by watching a didgeridoo show, which ended in us playing (or, more accurately, trying to play) the fascinating instruments. We visited and admired the marvellous Standley chasm and learnt about the amazing work that the Royal Flying Doctor Service and the School of Air did to help people in the outback. A highlight for many of us was certainly the reptile centre, in which we interacted with the animals and were taught many important lessons - how to avoid getting bitten by a snake, where to actually hit a crocodile if it attacks you.
Once our time in Alice Springs was spent, we embarked on our next journey - the Kings Canyon Rim Walk. Although many of us were tired after climbing “heart attack hill” and completing the 7km walk, we could all agree that experiencing the mesmerising nature and spectacular view of the canyon made the 3 hour walk worth it in the end.
Shortly afterwards, we packed our bags up from our short visit to Kings Canyon and buzzed in the anticipation of seeing what all of us were really here for - Uluru. After a few hours on the bus, in which we kept our eyes peeled for the giant rock, it finally crept into view, slowly growing larger and larger as we travelled towards it. Once we arrived, we got the opportunity to take many, many photos in front of the rock as the sun set, capturing some really sweet memories with our friends. Once the temperature fell lower than most of us could bear, we hopped on our buses and headed off to our accommodation for the last two nights - large, 5 person tents.
Our time at Uluru was well spent and full of new, wonderful experiences. We went on a walk around the base of Uluru where we got to see sacred places, ancient Aboriginal art, and be told the fascinating Dreamtime stories about the famous rock. The longer but just as beautiful Valley of the Winds walk gave us stunning and close up views of Kata-Juta and the surrounding nature, whilst again teaching us many interesting things about the history of the sacred site. Our nights at Uluru were mostly spent huddled around the campfire - playing the guitar, singing, and toasting marshmallows before we begrudgingly headed off to our tents for a (hopefully) good night’s sleep.
On our last day of camp we started packing our bags, many of us torn between feeling upset that the fun was coming to an end and excited to finally be sleeping in a warm bed. As the majority were hauling their suitcases onto the buses, a few of us managed to sneak in a short camel ride around the paddock before we were finally pulled away, taken to the Ayers Rock airport, and flown home to our families.
I’m sure that many can agree that Central Australia camp was, at times, a conflicting experience. Singing along to songs with friends on the bus was enjoyable, yet the length of the bus rides was frustrating. The stunning views may have been unique and beautiful, but the pain in our feet after walking for hours on end was certainly not. However, the positives of the camp very much outweighed the negatives - we travelled to places we may not have thought to ever go to before, made new friends and reinforced our relationship with old ones, and shared and made so many memories, learning new things along the way.
By Nora Lazovic