Driving through the Outback is one of those things where advance planning goes a long way. Normally people prepare their vehicles months in advance, schedule each stop, time their trip to coincide with tolerable seasonal weather, and allow weeks or months for the journey. Had we done any of these things, our Outback experience would no doubt have been quite different than it was. Instead our journey was conceived just a day in advance over boxed wine with some of our crazy friends, we could spare only a week for the trip, and our timing during the most sweltering part of summer couldn’t possibly have been worse. Would we ever do it this way again? No way, but there’s also no way we’d trade the adventure we’ve just had for any other.
The reasons to avoid the Outback this time of year are many. The incredible numbers of moisture-seeking flies, we call them “face-landers”, is probably the biggest reason why so few people are here now. There’s nothing that could have prepared us for the relentless bombardment of millions of desperately thirsty flies, somehow programmed over the generations to search every eyeball, nostril, and ear canal for a loose molecule or two of water. The scorching sun is normally a big problem, and one that gave the wagon overheating problems in our first days out here. Luckily we partially avoided the heat thanks to a cyclone now breaking up over Australia, leaving us with some welcomed cloud cover for the past few days.
Nagging complaints like these are always easy to forget, and this time will be no exception… what will stay with us are the positives. We enjoyed the Outback in its most vacant time of the year, meaning even the most popular landmarks like Ayres Rock and Kata Tjuta and their giant parking lots were almost completely vacant. We found some of the clearest skies and most vivid Milky Way views we’ve ever seen, and we got to experience some intensely variable weather that Australia is famous for. But most of all, we found an adventure that would be impossible to replicate anywhere else or under any other circumstances, and that’s what the Outback will always be to us.
After a week in the Outback and over 3000 miles of driving, we’re now taking a beeline back to civilization on the east coast. With almost no cell towers covering the remote parts of the Outback, we’ve been even more data deprived here than we were in the middle of the Pacific…. our inboxes will need a few days of catch up work.