I’ve emerged from the wilderness to the eastern coastal town of Gladstone, Queensland, so I am wrapping up several threads of adventure into this final post from the Outback.
Ever since that song by the ‘80s Australian band “Men At Work” hit the airwaves in America, with that line “He just smiled and gave me a Vegemite sandwich”, my circle of local Texas boys have long pondered “What the hell is Vegemite?” Well, here’s a picture of a jar of Vegemite, “Proudly made in Australia since 1923”. According to my bush guide Matt, all Aussies grow up eating Vegemite sandwiches much like American’s grow up eating peanut butter sandwiches. Except it’s not like peanut butter at all, but rather more like what you would get if you condensed beef bullion into a thick gelatinous paste. I’m sure its healthy stuff, but it would sure take some getting used to, which is surely why the Aussie moms start their kids out early on the stuff. I spread some onto a piece of toast at breakfast time so that I could claim to my “mates” back in Texas that I have eaten a Vegemite sandwich. One will do, thank you.
I visited a kangaroo sanctuary outside of Alice Springs, where a local Zoologist rescues and raises baby kangaroos called “Joeys” that have been orphaned by the carnage that befalls kangaroos along the highways of the Outback. The best grass is apparently found along the roadsides, and the nocturnal kangaroos, not the wisest of creatures, stand in the middle of the road throughout the night eating the roadside grass while curiously marveling at the bright lights that are rapidly approaching. Anyway, this tall lanky animal lover predictably nicknamed “Kangaroo Dundee” owns and runs the sanctuary as a non-profit organization. Visits are conducted by reservation 4 evenings a week at sundown, when the roos are waking up from sleeping all day. You or your kids may have seen Kangaroo Dundee’s BBC TV series that showed in the States last year. If not, it’s well worth looking it up on Youtube.
The bush tour that visited Uluru also included two additional days of bush hikes, and two nights of camping under the great Australian skies, where I laid in my “swag” (heavy-duty Aussie bedroll), looking up at a gazillion stars, including the famed Southern Cross constellation. We hiked through mountainous rock formations that are 400 million years old, including sites known as the Valley of the Winds, and the King’s Canyon Rim Walk. These 3 days were the highlight of my Outback adventure.
After returning to Alice Springs for one final night at the very comfortable Alice Lodge Backpackers Hostel, I headed north and then east for another marathon drive across the 2nd half of Australia, emerging from the bush to reach the Pacific Ocean here at Gladstone. I’ve crossed Australia from the Indian Ocean in the west to the Pacific Ocean in the east in just over two weeks.
This afternoon, November 20, I board a ferry boat to Heron Island, which lies about 30 miles out into the Coral Sea (part of the Pacific Ocean) on the southern reaches of the Great Barrier Reef, where I’ll get in 3 days of scuba diving on the reef. After that, its down to Sydney to turn in my rental SUV and board another container ship bound for Oakland, California, in a far-away land called America.
Below are my wildlife photos taken at various places along the way.