Hitching to Perth Part 5 – Extra 3000 km detour to Ayers Rock / Uluru

It is a tough morning. Shortly after the sunrise I leave the sheep shed where I spent the night and start to hitchhike in a middle of nowhere.

Hitching middle of nowhere
Hitching middle of nowhere

I’m waiting an hour before a car stops. Slowly I make my way back to Quorn. Shopping and a quick shower. Minette drops me at the exit route of town. I give her a big hug and say few words of gratitude. Within 5 minutes I catch a ride to Port Augusta.

I was able to sightsee Flinders Ranges in record time. It helps me make a decision. I want to see outback. I heard from many people about Ayers Rock and Alice Springs. I decide to give it a shot. I have no idea how easy or difficult it will be. It means I need to add extra 3000 km to my trip. It’s not an easy road either. Sounds like a challenge. I’m hyped.

I hope to reach Cooper Pedy. It means 540 km on top of 140 km already done. There is a small problem. Most drivers going North already left in the morning. 2 hours of heat and no result. I decide to wait until 3 pm. Not many people drive after dawn in this area. Animals come close to the route and it can be dangerous. Small private cars tend to follow road trains, big trucks are clearing the way. Next morning dead bodies of kangaroos are marking the road. Eagles and crows feast on their bodies.

Phil is late. He just bought a car, he plans to deliver it to Cooper Pedy. It is a present for his parents. You can imagine my smiley face when he stops and offers a lift. It’s good to have a company for a longer journey, someone to keep you awake, an extra set of eyes. Win win situation for both of us. When an Emu jumps out and starts to run in front of the car my jaw drops. I admire the vast horizon full of salt bush, scrub and dried out salt lakes. I’m tired and fall asleep.

Cooper Pedy is an unique place. The largest opal mining site in the world is populated by dugouts. Buildings situated partially underground protect from harsh weather and provide comfort. Post apocalyptic image completes a wreck of a spaceship from a Pitch Black movie. I decide, I will give it more time on the way back.

Pitch Black spaceship
Pitch Black spaceship

Early morning I am back on the road dancing. Numerous bush flies make me jump like crazy and wave my arms. Luckily for only 2 hours. I am already a bit worried when a camper van with a Dutch family picks me up. They are heading to Ayers Rock, called Uluru by Aboriginal people. I am treated with lunch and dropped at Erldunda Roadhouse where they are staying for the night. I don’t want to wait. I still have 3 hours until sunset. 10 minutes later I catch a lift to Yulara, a service village for Ayers Rock. 750 km done, great day.

Roadhouse
Roadhouse

I want to see the sunrise by Ayers Rock, the spot is 20 km away. At 5 am with the head torch on, I try to catch a lift. Stars, moon, tourist buses and cars speeding for sunrise, a shady figure waving hands. Me. Family of four delivers me to the right location.

Ayers Rock \ Uluru
Ayers Rock \ Uluru

Ayers Rock \ Uluru is spectacular. This rock formation is not only beautiful but mystical. I sit down, enjoy the sunrise and let my thoughts flow. The flora in nearby area and the sunlight passing through, create marvelous scenery. I am not looking at the rock anymore. I concentrate on the view of wheat, tree and playful light. I am laughing loudly happy to be able admire what I see. Once other people depart, I start to explore the area properly. I have my breakfast and pleasured my eyes with the view of surroundings.

Ayers Rock \ Uluru surroundings
Ayers Rock \ Uluru surroundings

I take few short rides to explore the area around Ayers Rock. The colour and surface of rock, the caves and flora around it, I am impressed. The only nuisance are bush flies. Most tourists are wearing hats with fly nets to protect their faces. I act like an asylum escapee and somehow manage to survive.

Ayers Rock \ Uluru cave
Ayers Rock \ Uluru cave
Display in Cultural Centre
Display in Cultural Centre

I decided to make my way to Alice Springs the same day. Oven, Zane, Mark and Alicia. All my drivers are freaking amazing. I arrive to the town in the evening. I’m welcomed by Sam, my host in Northern Territory.

Alice Springs sunset
Alice Springs sunset

I quickly realise, I don’t have enough time to sightsee the area properly. I could easily spend a week hiking local hills. I decide to keep it easy.

Alice Springs Todd River
Alice Springs Todd River

A short walk around the town and a view from Anzac Hill.

Alice Springs town centre
Alice Springs town centre

I meet Vanessa. She hitchhiked to Alice Springs from Adelaide. Oh yeah, girls are crazy too! We enjoy lunch together and a short hike outside the town. We share some stories and travel tips, great time.

The sunset and howling dingoes. I make my way back to see Sam. My couchsurfing host is a nice guy. Pizza, homemade beer and great company, you can’t ask for more.

Most of the traffic is heading North and hitching South is more difficult. It takes a while to get out of town. Once at outskirts I struggled again, bush flies. I am rescued 45 minutes later by James. My first truck driver this journey. Smiley, friendly, intelligent and happily married, an opposite of stereotype. James is transporting furniture to Aboriginal community. We get along and share our biographies during 250 km ride.

20180415_152104_hdr-1-5444972.jpg

Kevin served as a soldier for over 30 years. He is heading to Canberra for the Anzac Day, a national day of remembrance. Over 2 days we travel together 950 km. We stop for the night in Cooper Pedy. I have time to visit underground church and hotel.

Cooper Pedy underground church
Cooper Pedy underground church

I am back at Port Augusta. I have no host and it is too late to continue hitchhike West. After a quick visit at local Dominos, I’ve decide to find a campsite. On the way to outskirts of the city, I pop into the library to enjoy free WiFi. On the way out, I am approached by Erin who noticed my accent and backpack.

-Do you need help?

From word to word she offers me an accommodation for the night. I get into her car and after few minutes, I am in front of her house. We are welcomed by one of her sons. Half naked 3 year old is full of enthusiasm and runs out to say hi. Josh is seating on the sofa, reading a story to a younger son. He hasn’t winked, it isn’t the first time his wife decided to invite stranger into their house. A hot shower, cold beer in my hand, stories and jokes while watching TV. 3000 km in 6 days, I’m freaking good. The clock is ticking. Nullarbor Plain / Desert is the next challenge.

My journey
A) The middle of Nowhere B) Cooper Pedy C) Yulara \ Uluru \ Ayers Rock D) Alice Springs E) Port Augusta

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