Concluding my study abroad program in New Zealand, I traveled to visit my good friend Jesper in Australia. Together with my brother Daan, we went on a slightly crazy road trip from Melbourne to Uluru (Ayers Rock) and back again. It took us 11 days to complete the 6,500-kilometer journey.
In addition to the Great Red Outback, we tried to include as many scenic routes and attractions as possible. Along the Great Ocean Road to Adelaide, we admired the coast and beaches, lighthouses, koalas, wallabies and of course the Twelve Apostles. We made time for short walks to Blue Lake, a crater lake, and the caves of Naracoorte.
Following the wheat fields north of Adelaide, we drove the long red straight stretches of Stuart Highway, with temperatures rising to 43 degrees Celsius. To escape the heat, we slept in an underground motel in the fascinating and messy opal mining town of Coober Pedy.
Having passed many dead kangaroos, road trains, and a few thousand kilometers of red dirt, it was surreal to arrive at Uluru. The sunrise at Ayers Rock did impress, but maybe even more so the hot desert hikes at Kata Tjuta | The Olgas, King Canyon | Watarrka National Park, and Rainbow Valley, with their alien-looking rock formations.
After crossing the Tropic of Capricorn, just north of Alice Springs, we turned back south again. I will remember driving the complete 600-km unsealed Oodnadatta Track with a 2-wheel drive, in one day, as one of my boldest adventures. 13 hours of mud, clay, dust, corrugation, rocks, potholes, dips, and floodways surely took its toll on both the car and our nerves.
The last stretch back to Melbourne, via Flinders Ranges National Park, provided us with a much more gentle route and many curious kangaroos along the way. In total, this was a true adventure to cherish, even though I would do things totally differently on my next road trip through Australia.