Apparently it rained overnight. I was so tired I didn’t hear a thing - time for breakfast! There was plenty to choose from and we couldn't decide what to have - toasted muesli, yoghurt, porridge, scrambled eggs, usual toast or fruit toast. Most of us had a little of everything. As we were enjoying our breakfast entree we were joined by a rather large insect that began doing laps around the tables at high speed and low altitude. It was big for an insect, maybe it had been having “everything” for breakfast on a daily basis with other tour groups. Anyway on to main. I positioned myself by the toaster and popped in some fruit toast just as the insect decided to take a break from flying right alongside. There were three boxes of Continental Cuppa Soup sitting on the bench so I wedged the oversized bug behind them in the hope it might stay put long enough to get my toast. Domi came over.
“It’s behind the soup boxes”, I warned.
“What is?” she asked.
“The insect,” I replied, and as if on cue all three boxes began moving across the bench. My toasted popped up so I took off and left her to it.
We were on the bus in the dark again and heading for Kings Canyon. Once in the car park we made a toilet stop before setting off. There were no lights and the sun was still tucked up in bed so we used the torches on our phones to find our way around while trying not to think about bugs, snakes or spiders.
The group headed up a thousand or so steps to reach the top of the canyon where they would follow the rim around the top. While I was doing the Kings Creek walk and checking out the South Wall walk the others were traipsing through Priscilla’s Crack made famous by the 1994 movie Priscilla Queen of the Desert, descending into the garden of Eden and returning to the car park completing the round trip in about four hours with plenty of stops for photos and water. It’s certainly the best time of day to out walking - you’re done and dusted before the sun is out in full force. Smart!
We were transporting seven tourists from other tours back to Alice Springs later that afternoon, four of whom jumped on board at Kings Canyon. There weren’t a lot of seats left so the extra space on the back seat for sleeping and spreading out was about to expire. Cue the American and the Brit - they were hilarious. I felt as if I’d walked in on a scene out of The Office. The banter between the two of them was priceless and spilled over into lunch. Another feast back at camp and a birthday to celebrate. Wayne did a great job having found out last minute, placing a handful of sparklers in a fruit cake and rigging up a banner.
As we were about to get on the bus to leave Domi said, “I’m glad I only have to do this road one more time,” - referring to the road into camp. We took the bumpy road out again, a road the made us jump out of our seats and sway about like we were on a camel ride, we were halfway out when one of the girls realised she’d left her phone in the bathroom back at camp.
I suspect lack of sleep was kicking in as Domi turned to me and said, “I can’t do this road again, I’m just going to wait here for them.”
But by this stage Wayne had already found somewhere to turn around and we were bouncing our way back to camp.
A shortcut to Alice Springs via the Ernest Giles Road was a real highlight. I love the Outback, everything about it and I was looking forward to staring out the window and taking it all in for the last part of the journey. Except there was quite a bit of background noise. Most had dozed off but not the American guy. In the four or so hours it took to reach Alice Springs he covered more topics than the Weekend Australian and after a considerable length of time on the lack of caramel popcorn and why we don’t serve popcorn by the seaside I went on a frantic hunt for my iPod.
It wasn’t where I thought I’d put it so I unloaded the entire contents of my backpack on Domi (no spare seat now you see) trying to find it. Turns out I’d put it in the front of my laptop bag for easy access.
Earphones in and still on the Ernest Giles Road I zoned out and had an hour doing exactly what I did when I had travelled through this region thirteen years earlier, the same album, a similar bus and the same beautiful surroundings that clear my mind and make me happy to be on the road.
We stopped at the Welcome to Alice Springs sign and took a group shot before heading into town to change buses. Those who were finishing the tour were to jump on another bus to be transported to their respective accommodation. I left my big water bottle on the bus, I was glad to see the back of it and I couldn’t carry it and everything else anyway. But I hadn’t seen the last of it - as I boarded the next bus one of the other passengers came running over with my bottle. I took it from him reluctantly while smiling gratefully.
My hotel was a little farther out of town and as we pulled in I grabbed my gear, said goodbye to everyone and headed for the main entrance. Just as I was about to go in, another passenger came running up to me with my water bottle.
“You left this!” he said helpfully.
“Thank you,” I said smiling.
This water bottle was a boomerang. I popped it in bin near reception once inside.
I checked in and was asked if I would like to make a reservation for dinner.
“Not unless I need to make one for room service!” I said. I wasn’t going anywhere! It was time to shower, write and reflect - alone.