Lessons I have learned travelling in outback Australia

Driving on wide open spacesWell, my first solo outback trip is over. Would I do it again? Definitely. I’m already planning the next trip.

I loved every minute of it. Even the … um … actually there weren’t any “even the” moments. It was all fabulous. There were a few times when I wasn’t sure if what I was doing was right or if the car would make it through, but I survived them all. And so did the car.

Every time I go away I learn something, usually because I did something completely stupid! So what did I learn this time?

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Camp cooking doesn’t have to be boring

There's no excuse to not eat wellWho said you can’t cook and eat well while camping?

When I started travelling with Doc his food requirements were simple – meat, meat, and more meat. All of which got cooked on a barbecue plate. If he wanted gourmet, then it would get a packet of some sauce or other poured over it. Sometimes he’d stop for a meal at a local pub, or a bakery for a pie. When we went to Cape York he did a fish & chips tasting tour (the best were in Cardiff).

But for me, being able to cook while camping and travelling outback is a necessity. I’m vegetarian so stopping for a pub meal is usually not an option. Not unless I want to live on chips and, if I’m lucky, side salad. Or unless the pub is the Prairie Hotel at Parachilna.

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Tips for driving in outback Australia

Birdsville-trackOn this trip I’ve driven the Birdsville Track, unnamed dirt roads between main roads, gorges and canyons in the Flinders ranges, the Strzelecki Track, and the Old Strzelecki Track. I’ve gone through sand, gravel, clay, and water.

And I still don’t know if I’m doing it right.

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The romance of sleeping in a swag

Sunrise over my swag ParachilnaHow romantic is it to throw out your swag and lie there looking at a million stars while you fall asleep?

To wake up with birds singing, and kangaroos hopping around your campsite.

Then get up, rekindle last night’s fire and brew some coffee for breakfast.

Aah, freedom.

There is another side.

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The Corner Store: where all the kangaroos hang out

Three states Cameron cornerI’m sitting at the Corner Store.

Not the one down the street from home, the one at Cameron Corner, where three states meet: New South Wales, Queensland, and South Australia. I’m not sure which state I’m in, or should that be what state I’m in.

And I drove the Strzelecki and Old Strzelecki tracks to get here.

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Women adventurers in the Australian outback

early am swimInnaminkaI’m going to go out on a limb here, commit sacrilege, and say I am sick of boys’ own adventure stories in the outback.

As you do when you’re in Maree waiting to drive up the Birdsville Track, I began re-reading Tom Kruse’s story of forging the Birdsville Track for the mail run from Maree to Birdsville.

I heard and read a lot about Burke & Wills’ (doomed) expedition, Ludwig Leichhardt’s disappearance somewhere in the desert, Reg Sprigg’s crossing of the Simpson, Charles Sturt, early pastoralists battling the elements to open up the outback, and a seemingly never ending parade of other blokes doing bloke stuff.

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