I always wanted to go to the Northern Territory.
Like anyone who’s seen tourism advertising with all that open space, rust-coloured rock and star-flecked skies, it has held residence on my travel bucket list for years. But it kept getting nudged down the pecking order by competing destinations. It felt like a big trip. One needing (and deserving) several days — the number of holiday-days we Australians often reserve for international trips and extended summers near the ocean.
But this year, for me, serendipitously it kind of just fell into place.
At the start of May, between this job at Concrete Playground and my previous one, I gave myself the gift of five weeks of unemployment. And, with the rest of the world off-limits, the stars aligned, the state borders were open (temporarily), the fly nets were purchased, and I made my journey to the Red Centre.
Uluru at dusk, by the author
It is breathtakingly, movingly, exceptionally beautiful, just as the aforementioned tourism ads promise. And yet I completely underestimated how extraordinary an experience Central Australia is for an Australian.
The connection to place, to this ancient part of the country, to the Indigenous culture and the significance for the people, stories and places is powerful. And that is thoughtfully communicated to visitors. It is thankfully protected and owned by the traditional custodians of the land, who generously and patiently share the culture, language and tradition with visitors.
Driving through the desert, past an epic span of cracked, dry salt lakes seemingly in the middle of nowhere, through some of the most extraordinary natural structures on earth, hiking canyons and tracks to views you can’t experience anywhere else in Australia let alone the entire world… It’s deeply special. I found it a changing experience, one that shifted my relationship with living in Australia.
I also got to spend a couple of weeks wearing nothing but Tevas, oversized shirts and a Bunnings hat (no spon! Just a great hat!), all of which you’ll glimpse in the photos that follow with a few highlights from my journey.
Note: Concrete Playground has a partnership with Tourism Central Australia but the trip detailed below happened prior to the partnership and no elements were paid for or gifted by any third party.