Central Australia Tour

DAYS 1-2

On Sunday morning at 3am, we all met at Norwood in the rain to get on our first bus ride to the airport. It was a struggle to wake up at 2am, but it was worth it to get here! When we got to the airport, we had to wait in line to get checked in for a while, but once on the plane, it was nice to settle in and relax after a long morning. The flights went smoothly, sitting next to our friends, or making new ones in the process! After the first flight, we had some time to spare in the Sydney airport, which was spent buying and eating food, and spending quality time with friends. The second flight was longer, but manageable as we had access to our on-flight entertainment on our own phones. 

When we finally arrived in Darwin, it was a shock to the system stepping into such heat, but a nice change to the cold Melbourne winter! We then drove to our first caravan park – Lee Point Caravan Park, where we learnt how to set up our tents for the first time, and get into our camping routine for the next 12 days. After setting up, we went to the Mindil Markets where we ate yummy food and got to watch the beautiful Darwin Sunset on the beach! We slept great that night after having an extremely long day! 

In the morning, we woke up with a 7am start, and got ready for our first full day together, then headed off on the buses. After a bit of a drive, we stopped by Berry Spring and had a leisurely swim in the pristine blue water, then ate lunch in the park before our 3 hour drive to Kakadu. We are currently in our caravan park in Kakadu, where we have successfully set up faster than yesterday and are hungrily awaiting our delicious dinner! #KeenAsABean #ILOVENORWOOD #Central2K17

Written by: Abby Kiefte and Tam Pappin

DAYS 3-5

Tuesday morning we had another 7am start so we fuelled up with a delicious breakfast for our packed day ahead. We started off with a lovely hike at Ubirr Rock where we saw some fascinating Aboriginal rock art, some of which was over 5000 years old. In the middle of the hike we reached a huge rock looming over the rest of the landscape which provided the perfect opportunity for some selfies, as well as a large group photo superbly organised by Ms Hughes. After absorbing the stunning views, we headed down for a visit to the Bowali Cultural Centre. Here we all learnt some very interesting information about the landscape as well as the native animals.

After a fantastic lunch we headed on another hike to Nourlangie Rock which was nestled between massive rock formations. We saw some more rock art and once again stunning views. There was a quick stopover back at camp before heading out on the infamous Yellow Waters sunset crocodile cruise. We had an awesome time meandering around the river segments and taking in the wildlife. We saw some massive crocodiles, or as the locals call them, ‘salties’. Just once we thought it was over we got to witness a beautiful sunset and the sky lit up with shades of oranges and pinks. We all went to bed that night very tired with our camera memory cards full.

Wednesday morning we were up at 5am (some people even earlier!). Packing up our baggage and tents, we were then hungry for breakfast and with a thirst for the day ahead. We journeyed off to Katherine Gorge where we walked straight off the bus and were greeted by thousands of bats! We grabbed a quick snack from the amazing cook and prepared ourselves for the river cruise. Splitting into two groups, we then each embarked on the water cruise where we saw an eye candy of cliffs, rocks, plant life and a few crocodiles. Traveling from gorge to gorge, we eventually found ourselves on a path that led to the oasis that was the Lily Pond. Beautifully surrounded by a cliff fence and centred by a waterfall, we swam in the cool waters. Everyone even began to throw a tennis ball around making sure to include Shane, our tour guide.

Mr Boyce led the pack to find Nitmiluk Caravan Park, though he made a few wrong turns, extending the time and distance of the walk! We did end up at our campsite though where we ate a great dinner and pulled out the guitar, where talents such as Seb, Aidan, Bowen, Mr Mitchell and Mr Goh showed us their skills and we all had a singalong.

On our 5th day we were lucky enough to have an 8am wake up so we all looked forward to a cheeky sleep in; except we were all woken up at 5am by some noisy bats. Because of the early rise, we went for an hour hike up a ridge to overlook Katherine Gorge. Before we started, Mr Mitchell introduced us all to a fun game you pick a name out of a bag and have the challenge of ‘killing’ that person by whispering to them “you’re dead” without anyone else hearing.

Despite the added stress, we all managed to enjoy a longer bus ride and a dip in the Mataranka Thermal Pools. We also got to appreciate the legendary Daly Waters Pub, where experienced an Australian classic and enjoyed all the memorabilia. We arrived at our camp at 7pm and had the challenge of setting up in the night before another delicious dinner from our amazing cooks.

Written by: Seb Kostas and Riley Underwood

DAYS 6-7

Our morning started with a great sleep in… oh wait, it was actually a 4am wake up! We packed up and before we knew it, we made a start to our 12-hour bus trip. The trip was filled with movies such as “Dear John”, (pleasing the ladies) “127 Hours” and “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”. There were laughs, sleepy heads and many photos of the barren lands around us.

We had a lunch stop at Wycliffe Well, which is renowned for UFO sightings. The place offered us the opportunity to stock up on food for the trip ahead, somewhere to stretch our legs and a chance to say a friendly hello to the little green figures. After the delicious hotdogs, we were back on the bus singing and cheering until we arrived at Devils Marbles. This tourist attraction has a variety of sandstone rocks which have been shaped into large sized marbles over time by erosion and other external factors. After reading about the dream time stories regarding the rocks and embracing the serenity of the destination, we hopped back on the bus eagerly awaiting out next location. Before we knew it, we were in the town of Alice Springs.

The Earth Sanctuary, which was run on solar and wind power, welcomed us with open arms accompanied by a beautiful sunset. To help fill the silence of the outback, Mr Goh once again played his golden playlist inviting all to dance and sing along. Then along came Rex who showed us native reptiles and reassured us “how lucky we are to live in Australia”. Rex shared his knowledge on distinguishing female from male reptiles, whilst also letting a beautiful rainbow serpent weave around our shoulders, creating what some said was a nice accessory. The sun took its warmth with it as it went down and forced us to layer up for the freezing night ahead. This would mark the start of negative degree nights.

Saturday 1st of June had us touring Alice Springs where we visited the Telegraph Station, Royal Flying Doctors, Alice Springs Desert Park and had some free time to explore the town. At the Telegraph Station we learnt about how the first ‘real’ communications were sent from Australia to London. We delved into the history of sending communications to loved ones and how they used Morse Code to send telegraphs. This process dates back to the 18th century and was used to send messages to and from the North and South of Australia. Georgia spoke to us about the history of the Telegraph Station and how Alice Springs got its name. After our tour, we were free to roam around the exhibitions and even post our own telegraph messages to our family back home. Seeing how Morse Code works and the skills of the men who have been working there for over 60 years was worthwhile enough, but the vanilla slice and souvenirs were the cherry on top of our visit.

Next we ventured to the Royal Flying Doctors. After watching a short film in the theatre we visited the museum where we gained a greater understanding of the important work the Reverend John Flynn started during his missionary work in 1912. In 1912 there were only two doctors who served an area of 300,000 square kilometres in Western Australia and 1,500,000 square kilometres in the Northern Territory. It did not take him long to realise that air transport and radio were needed to break the isolation of the Inland and provide adequate medical care for its people. Now the RFDS provides medical care to remote areas of the country as well as patient transfers between hospitals.

As a school, we managed to fundraise $2554, which we proudly presented to the RFDS on our visit. This donation was from a variety of whole school activities including free dress days and BBQ lunches as well as fundraising by CJ, who decided to create a memorabilia DVD of our 2017 Central Australia trip to sell.

Next was free time in town. We were given an hour to roam around the shops in Alice Springs, a good day to do so considering it was Territory Day! Many made their first stop at McDonalds, then got the necessities to keep warm for the cold nights ahead. Meeting at the library at 2pm, we made our way on the bus to Alice Springs Desert Park. There we listened to Doug speak about aboriginal languages, ancestors and hunting and gathering systems. We then walked to the Amphitheatre and watched the bird show. The birds flew very close to our heads and it was an entertaining show.

After our busy day in town and eating bangers and mash for dinner, we relaxed with a star gazing experience presented by Tom. He taught us how to use the Southern Cross to determine where south was in the night sky as well as how to identify 11 of the 12 zodiac star signs. The night sky in Alice Springs was different to the sky we see in Melbourne as it was very clear and had less light pollution from built up urban areas; it was beautiful to sit back and take it all in. We then finished the night with a bang, with a competitive trivia night, courtesy of Mr Goh’s hard work. Despite the tricky questions and team work being put to the ultimate test, everyone had a marvellous Saturday evening in Alice Springs. #atoe,afoot,atalent #itssimple #gingas

Written by: Jenna Brownlee, Madi Grouios and Cass Tschuma

DAYS 8-10 

Recovering from the previous night that was filled with lots of laughs, we started off the day with a quick visit to Anzac Hill where we read all about the wars Australia has been involved in and got a snippet of the effect these drastic events had for all involved. We then moved on to visit a very chilly Simpson’s Gap that gave us some amazing sights where we took an awesome group photo to add to our collection of unforgettable memories. Although this turned out to be more stressful than planned as we thought that Miss Hughes was going to end up face first in the sand in the process of running from the camera to the group for the photo. After a long, yet fun bus ride which consisted of an intense game of “Heads Up”, we arrived at our next destination: the camel rides! For many this was their first time and guaranteed lots of screaming (not just from the girls) and many laughs.

To finish off the night with a bang, Mr Mitchell set up a campfire where we learnt some fun yet challenging games and were told a number of ghost stories by the teachers, ensuring that we would have very little sleep leading up to our 5:30am wake up!

The next day we set off to climb the incredible Kings Canyon. Starting out pretty confident many of us were hardly challenged by the walk, until we faced the endless amount of steep steps leading up to the first pit stop. Although the walk was tough, it was definitely worth the opportunity to see such incredible views and take some amazing photos. At this point, we thought nothing would top the views from our hike, but we were proved wrong. Our day then continued to get better when we went to the sunset viewing of Uluru where we were totally blown away by the gorgeous views in front of us. Many photos later we made our way back to the campsite and after dinner had another fun singalong. Once again Mr Goh whipped out his amazing guitar skills and voice, bringing us all together no matter our vocal ability (which for some like me is very limited) and making us feel like our own little Norwood family.

Waking up to a very chilly morning, we set off to test our athletic ability while walking around the amazing 9km base of Uluru. Being up close to something so big and so culturally special was incredible, it gave us a completely new perspective on the size and shape of the landmark compared to what we had seen the previous night from a far distance. Although the walk was long and tiring it was definitely worth the sore legs. We then moved on to visit the Uluru Culture Centre where we watched a short film on the significance behind Uluru. In the afternoon we went to visit Kata Tjuta where we tackled yet another awesome scenic walk called “The Valley of the Winds” where we trekked through rocky terrain which lead to many more gorgeous views. All in all, I personally think that the teachers were trying to kill us on our last day of activities so that we would be quiet for the marathon of a drive home.

Written by: Caitlin Jackson