Between A Rock And —

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Uluru at sunset.

A hard, hard place. Home.

Most people don’t realize that Uluru is a five hour drive from the closest city, Alice Springs. They also don’t realize during this 5 hour drive they will pass one, maybe two, gas stations. Out there in the bush, you do not want to break down.

This concept, for me, even though I’d traveled the whole east coast, was terrifying. I like people, I like buildings and I like seeing, you know, stuff, around me. 300 Ks of nothing but bush desert? Yikes. But it was something I’d meant to do from the beginning, and because of my stint at Wanderer’s Travel (thanks guys!) I was able to go.

Funny enough, it was actually my first time truly alone for a VERY long time. It felt weird. I had come back to Sydney with the van, back to the house and back to a city full of friends. Before Sydney, I’d traveled in the van with my brother, Crystal and Daniel — all people I knew and loved. Before that, I was in the house in Sydney, again, in a city full of friends. Before that, I was with my Dad in Sydney and New Zealand. And before that, well, 7 weeks with Adam, Dan, Matt, the other Matt, Jules, Amy, Lorna, Will, Lewie, Chris, Sean and the rest of my Oz Experience crew all up the east coast. Even when I arrived to Sydney, the very first time, I was with my Oz Experience crew from Melbourne. Tarina, Gethen and Tom, of course. I walked into my first hostel there and met Jenni and Karen, already moaning ‘n’ groaning in bed. I was never alone in Sydney again.

The last time I had felt alone was October 3rd, 2007, when I stepped on my first Oz Ex bus in Melbourne. It was now February 26, 2008.

So yeah, it felt weird. When I arrived in Alice Springs — a smallish, outback desert town — I was supposed to get picked up by my hostel. Little did I know, my hostel had closed down, and I’d been transferred to a different one! Lucky for me, they had my info. and I hopped on the bus and showed at up at Toddy’s Place 1/2 hour later. There I met a sweet German girl who walked with me to the supermarket. We ate dinner at the hostel at a picnic table out back and talked about her boyfriend in Germany who she missed very much. She’d just come back from The Rock tour, the one I was going on the next day, and had an awesome time. I was leaving at 6 a.m., so I watched a bit of stupid Aussie reality TV and went to bed. (FYI: Do not watch It Takes Two.)

I woke up bright and early and hopped on The Rock bus with many other bleary eyed travelers. I grabbed a seat by the window and promptly turned on my iPod. Waaay too early to make friends. Thank God our guide agreed. Bree (young, blonde, beautiful) told us to sleep for two hours, then she’d wake us up for intros.

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Robin: NYC: Rock -> Melb -> Texas -> Home!

I wasn’t “alone” for long. We awoke to find dry-erase pens roaming around the bus. We were supposed to write our names and our travel plans on the bus window. In back of me was Ed, going to the Rock for the second time with his friend Laura, who’d never been. He’d been volunteer scuba diving to save the reef in Figi, and was now back in Oz for a bit of traveling. In front of me was Julie, a vet-in-training from Vancouver. Next to me, the adorable Irish gals from Dublin. We all chatted, Bree asked for an iPod, I gave mine, and then proceeded to sing along to Peter’s Best of 2007 mix for the next hour 1/2. I hope everyone else enjoyed.

Day 1: We saw the rock. Did a bit of walking, watched the sunset, took a ridiculous amount of pictures with every known camera setting on my camera (thanks Ed, my camera sage) and slept under the stars. I’ve never seen so many in my life. Not even on Fraser.

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Ed and I. Hi fiiiiiive!

Day 2: We woke up pre-dawn to see sunrise at Uluru. Sunset is better. We sped off to walk Katja Tjuta for two hours, then made it to our campsite. Played by the pool for a while, drank a few by the campfire, cooked dinner on the campfire and played a few silly games by the campfire. Night two under the stars. 10 shooting stars a minute, it seemed. Amazing.

Day 3: Wake up pre-dawn once again, and drive to King’s Canyon. Gorgeous 3 hour walk over and around the gorge. Stop to ride camels and eat ice cream at the Camel Farm on the way back to Alice Springs. Spend the night in Alice Springs at The Rock Bar getting silly on champagne from the posh, young British boys.

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Sunrise at King’s Canyon.

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Bree, our guide, Laura and Julie.

Day 4: Goodbyes, again, and off to Melbourne. Funny enough, I was on the very FIRST flight from Alice Springs to Melbourne on Tiger Airways. Hence, party in the terminal! Free food and drinks — can’t beat that, hey?

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