Australian Outback

The “Australian Outback” refers to the remote, interior of this continent.  Also known as the “red center,” “the desert” or “the bush.”

FUN FACT: The term “outback” is used to describe the emptiness, remoteness and huge distances of inland Australia.  The Outback is 2.5 square miles with less than 60,000 people living here, mostly in the “Northern Territory” of Australia.

Look how big the Outback is, most people live along the coast.

FUN FACT: Australia is made up of 6 states and 2 territories.  The difference between a territory and a state has to do with the government influences in that region.

Whatever you call it, it is remote, hot, full of wandering animals like horses, dingos,  kangaroos, and especially camels…lots of bugs ( ants, flies, mosquitoes) and lizards.  Does it sound like a place YOU want to go?  It is very cool to visit but I would not live here.  I can see why it is not that populated.  This is desert that is made up of red sand, HUGE rock formations and lots of vegetation (that the wild animals live on).

IMG_1512We took these photos to show the desert. What you cant see is the flies and the heat. It is actually quite nice to look at.  I will highlight a bit of what we did and where we went. We flew from Cairns to Alice Springs (look on the map above , its in the center of the country). From there we drove to 3 different places over 8 days. IMG_1443

Alice Springs: The most populated city in Northern Territory. We stayed at a campground that had awesome things for kids. Pool, games, etc.IMG_1449We met a lot of kids on this slide, we went down a lot! Even Mom and Dad got in on the fun.  Met other home schooled kids from Australia, they call homeschooling “distance learning” and I played with them.

imageIMG_1447This is the cabin we rented at the campsite, we had to walk across the way to use the toilets and showers. We visited the “West MacDonnel Mountain Ranges ” for some short hikes.  This is me on a “dry” river bed, since it is the summer time here there is a drout, but in the winter the river runs. IMG_1492IMG_1501Here is the only water I saw left in the river. IMG_1482IMG_1484This is the Stanley Chasm. We walked in between the rocks and I yelled a lot to hear my echo.

We went to a Desert Walk, which was like a wildlife center.  We got to walk around and see them on a trail.  I saw my first Kangaroos.  This guy was the leader of the bunch. He was the biggest and taller than me.  Here he is resting under a tree because it was hot.

IMG_1459IMG_1465Baby.IMG_1473Here is a little “joey” drinking from his mom’s pouch. I thought it was cool to see.

FUN FACT: Kangaroo’s legs can only move together and not independent of each other. That’s why they hop.  They only hop “forward” not up! No matter what you see on cartoons, they don’t hop up. A bunch of kangaroos is called a MOB.

I got to see them hopping.

ABORIGINAL Learning:  I sat through a presentation which a woman aboriginal was talking about how her ancestors used to live and survive in the desert.  Aboriginal’s are native Australians.  I learned about the food they found in the desert and what tools they made to survive.  They did NOT plant anything in the desert (too hot) or build shelters, they slept outside. They wandered around a lot and their whole life was survival.  There were different men’s jobs and women’s jobs in the unit.  The men would make and use tools like boomerangs and spears to hunt and the women would dig in the dirt to find grubs and pick berries and seeds. Here is me demonstrating what an Aboriginal Woman wore to go out and find food. They had a bowl of water on their head, which was hard for me to balance. THe wooden basket I am holding was to carry a baby. All of the tools and supplies were from wood.

IMG_1476IMG_1478

CAMEL’s. IMG_1514

FUN FACTS:

Camel do not store water in their hump, they store fat, which they can live off of.

Camels are not native to Australia. They were brought here from Pakistan in the late 1800’s and now there are so many that there is half a million camels roaming around the outback. WE SAW THIs ONE while drivingIMG_1519

Camels have one baby at a time, if they have twins the mom dies.

One hump and two hump camels are different kind of camel. One hump camels live in the hot weather, and two hump camels can live in the cold weather. We rode one hump camels.

You can eat camel burgers.  I tried one and liked it, it was more juicy and a tad spicier than cow burgers.

When I rode the camel it was a bumpy ride and I liked pretending I was an early explorer adventuring into the outback.  Getting on the camel was cool, it had to kneel down and then it jerks you up fast. I learned a lot about Camel’s and I’m a camel expert now.  The picture of the small camel is a baby at 3 months old, and its as big as me!!! THe skeleton bones are of an adult male. HUGE>IMG_1573IMG_1578

————————————————————————————————————

KINGS CANYON WE drove from Alice Springs to Kings Canyon (4 hours) On the way we saw wild horses (yes they do roam the desert) and 2 dingo’s and a dead camel on the road.imageIMG_1523The horses were beautiful, It’s hard to believe they are wild. They were in group of 6 or 7. The photo of the dingo mom took is for her friend lisa M  image

FUN FACT for Lisa about the Dingo: Their ears are always up straight

The Kings Canyon reminded me of the hike at Grand Canyon, we had to walk at least a thousand stone stairs and on rocky ground for 3 hours.  The first day I was sick with a fever so Mom and I stayed in. I slept and walked around the campsite, there was hardly anyone there.  I saw a lot of weird bugs that you wouldn’t see anywhere else . In the bathroom ( that was in a separate building) I saw a preemantis 8 inches long . And a ton of big moths. Lots of ants and one time a large grasshopper landed on me. I freaked out. IMG_1531 IMG_1530This is the campground that is usually filled but it is summer so LOW season and hot. We had a room at the site. THe next day we all went on a hike, it started to rain and the hike was harder , it rained so heavy we had to find shelter when we could. We pretended we were Aboriginal’s and took cover in the caves. image

The cave had slippery rocks , towards the last hour there were waterfalls falling over the rim of the canyon, we were drenched!!!! Felt like I went swimming. This picture is taken from the internet because we were in a rain storm.  The canyon is so steep and when you get to the top this is what you see.  No barriers, just huge cliff.  Of course, mom only let us go no where near the edge. 

———————————————————————————————

The Olgas:  Kata Tjutu National Park

IMG_1554IMG_1551

The Olgas are made up of 36 Enormous rock formations in the middle of the desert.  IMG_1557Up close they have a lot of caves, holes and indents in the rock.  I think they were formed from rock falling off and erosion.  What I find weird is that this entire park had only 2 trails, we hiked both of them, we kept looking in the rock crevices to see a “rock wallaby” but did not see any. It is really impressive that these rocks are in the middle of nowhere. IMG_1566We had to wear a fly net over our hat because the flies are so annoying in summer. Dad had at least 100 on his back. the fly nets are very helpful to keep flies out of your face, if it weren’t for the fly net we couldn’t do these hikes.imageimage

——————————————————————————————————

ULURU:  Ayers RockIMG_1549

FUN FACT: What we see is actually on the tip of Uluru. The rest of the rock goes down under the ground for 5 Kilometers.  ITS HUGE. Geologists study it.

Uluru, I was very excited to finally see Uluru. I’ve seen the pictures and was excited to climb it, only to find out that as of last month you can’t climb Uluru anymore.  There is a temporary arrangement between the Aboriginals and the Australian government to close it for a while, (they consider this a sacred site). So for now, no climb. IMG_1585This is the path up that when opened you can take . But not now. On the path there is a rope and it is steep. My parents climbed this in 2000. I wish we could have climbed it. They were here in the Australia winter (July) and it was way more crowded and cool breezes.  Its deadly hot now, empty,  and they said they would never return to the Australian desert in  summer again because of the heat and flies.  BUT, they are glad they got to show us these amazing sites.

Uluru is so impressive. The biggest ROCK IN THE WORLD.IMG_1584There are fallen rocks, caves and you can really see the erosion. There is water hole but totally dried out in summer..  I personally like the view better from a distance but was cool to see up close and touch it. The rock is really RED.IMG_1539IMG_1545The black lines are from where the water falls down after a rain storm. IMG_1549

We walked a little around it (it is 9.4 km) and 100 degrees so we did not walk the entire thing, only a little, we drove around it and stopped to look at the massive size.  I wish we got to rent bikes but there was a problem with our reservation and we were told the wrong time so we couldn’t rent the bikes.IMG_1581We are a day ahead of NY so we want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas.

————————————————————————————————

The Southern Hemisphere: Sky

Our trip to the Outback was very educational. We learned a lot of things. On the last night we did a night time Astronomy Lesson with 2 Astronomers.  We walked into the desert, had a talk about the constellations, the southern sky , the stars, planets and moon.  Then, we got to look at the moon, certain stars and nebula’s with the high powered telescopes they had.  We looked for an hour. We saw stars that shined like a rainbow, The planet Mercury, 2 stars that circle each other, constellations and how to navigate using stars as reference points.  I learned a cool thing about the moon that I will do a project on. I asked a lot of questions to the Astronomers. My Mom’s cousin , Russell, would have loved this presentation.imageTHis photo of the moon was taken with Mom’s I phone through the telescope lens.  the last photo is taken from the internet of the southern hemisphere sky from the Outback in Australia.

I can be reached at rileymeckley@yahoo.com