It was another 5:30 am wake-up call. After a quick breakfast, we were n the truck by 6:45 am. The last available seat was in the middle of the very back row. A lot of people didn’t like this seat, but I didn’t mind it. That row was slightly higher up than all of the other rows, and I could stretch my legs forward because the aisle was in front of me.
Alex sat to my right, and we chatted. He was in his late 30s to early 40s, thin, had cropped blonde hair, and was short. He was a high school history teacher in Oxford, United Kingdom, at a private school. Alex told me that after working as a teacher for so long, he doesn’t care for it anymore. It’s the same thing each year, and it takes over his life during the term. The school he works for is a for-profit school, and he’s trying to transition into the business side. Alex was on a five-week holiday and had been on the first leg of the trip from Perth to Broome.
After a short 15-minute drive and a 10-minute hike, we arrived at warm springs. They aren’t very hot, so they are called the warm springs. There were small pools that cascaded down the side of a hill. I was happy that Damien made us get up early to avoid the crowds because the spaces were tiny.
We relaxed in the water, which felt like a warm bath. Suzanne wanted champagne, and we joked that we all needed a spa day with manicures and pedicures.
We got back into the truck and continued driving to our next campsite. After a couple of hours, we stopped for fuel, and most of us bought some food and snacks. Then an hour later, we stopped for lunch. It was only 11:00 am, and we had been eating lunch at around 2:00 pm, so several of us made a wrap to-go because we weren’t hungry.
Once we were back in the truck, I talked with Kayla, Linda, and Grace about bears and moose in Alaska. I told them about the precautions you have to take when you hike in bear country or if moose are nearby. The U.S. and Canada have bears, so I explained the difference between black bears and grizzly bears. I showed some pictures and videos of when I was in Alaska and Canada and saw wildlife on the side of the road.
Because I was higher up on the back seat, Glenn could hear everything I said about the animals. He later told me that he was going to have nightmares about them after hearing my stories.
We made a stop at a lookout point to stretch our legs and then drove to our next hiking destination. When we arrived, we hiked 4.5 kilometers (2.8 miles). The hike was beautiful as usual. The giant red mountains and relatively flat path around them reminded me of Valley of the Winds in the center of Australia.
During the hike, I talked with Armelle about the Aboriginals. She learned that they don’t like women being in certain sites they consider sacred, like Valley of the Winds. I told her that when I was there, there wasn’t a sign about it. There was a sign about not taking photos in certain areas because they’re considered sacred. We talked about the differences between the Aboriginal people in Australia and the U.S. because she has read a lot on the subject.
After the hike, we drove for 30 minutes to our next campsite, which was in the bush. There were a couple of other tour groups in the distance, but nobody around our site. It was extremely dry and dusty. There was a “drop toilet” (like a wooden porta-potty), a water spout, and no shower facilities or sinks. We’d be staying there for two nights. We all looked around with hesitation. Damien warned us about the dust and told us to prepare for bush camping. His description was definitely accurate.
We ate spaghetti for dinner, and then it was time for bed. I followed Sophie’s lead and took a chair to the water spout. I used my washcloth and rinsed my arms and legs off because they were covered in dust. I didn’t even need a towel because the dry air immediately absorbed the water.
I decided to sleep in my swag for the next two nights and enjoy the stars. This location was supposed to have great views of the night sky and the Milky Way. Suzanne wanted to sleep near me, and we found a spot slightly under one of the enormous trees in the middle of our campsite. I was snug inside my swag when someone said they saw a huge Wolf Spider on the tree earlier. I couldn’t help but think the spider would fall on me, so I got up and moved further out near the bush with Suzanne.
I laid down, determined not to let my fear of spiders and nighttime creatures get the best of me. Right before Suzanne got into her swag, she shined her light toward a section of brush about 30 feet away (she was always afraid of the brush). Suzanne insisted that she saw something with large eyes peering out. I thought she was hallucinating, but then Alex walked over with his flashlight. As he got closer, he jumped back and said, “Whoa! It’s a cat!”
Great. On another tour, I was told that the feral cats the Europeans brought over have now been in Australia for 100 years, so they’ve adapted to their environment. They are now massive. They are a nuisance to Australia, killing and eating their natural inhabitants. I was also told that two feral cats could jump a dingo and actually kill it. I laid down and tried not to think about the huge beast lurking around.
Shortly after, we heard a dingo howling in the distance. Dingos are wild dogs, and they are very dangerous. They are known to kill humans (“A dingo got my baby”). I wondered if the dingo would get us, or maybe there would be a battle between the feral cats and a dingo. Not to mention the bats that were around.
At some point in the middle of the night, I woke up coughing from the wind and dust. I tried really hard to stop coughing so I wouldn’t wake anyone, but I didn’t have my water near me. I fell back asleep and woke up when others started coughing. It was almost like it was in unison. That night was a typical Australian Outback adventure.
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Post Edited By: Mandy Strider