Let’s Talk Aussie Adventures!
The LLLT Travel Aspiration Interviews
With the Dawe Family
“Live for the moments you can’t put into words” – Unknown
So full disclosure, this weeks LLLT Travel Aspirations Interview is written by my sister, Kaddie, for two reasons: 1. Because she is amazing 2. Because her, Shane (her fiance) and their two boys had the most incredible Australian experience two years ago when they went from Gladstone in Queensland, to the red centre of Australia, taking in Uluru and other amazing landmarks along the way!
I’ll admit, while traveling this big, wonderful world of ours, I have been rather neglectful of my own country, and seeing the adventure that Kaddie and her family undertook, really made me realise how much more I have to see. I cannot wait to add more of Australia to our list of experiences we have had!
This was a monumental trip for Kaddie, Shane and the boys, as not long after they returned home, Shane was diagnosed with Acute Myloid Leukaemia and the memories that they had made gave them hope and a goal to travel more in the future.
After an incredible fight, they received the amazing news that Shane is in remission but it’s absolute proof that you never know what is coming in life, and you need to treasure every moment.
1. How long was your trip out west?
21days – 6,786Km
While we had an itinerary, it didn’t eventuate as planned. We used the WikiCamps app and although some free camps had good reviews, they were literally gravel patches on the side of the road which were hot and noisy so we’d move on. We also found places we loved and spent more time there so made time up the following days etc. It was a guide to work with as Uluru dates were firm, everything else we winged along the way and were flexible to accom options etc.
2. Where did you go?
West from Rockhampton through to Longreach, Winton, up to Mt Isa then onto the NT border. Down through Tennant Creek to Alice Springs. West to Kings Canyon on our way to Uluru.
Left Uluru to Kulgera, visited the geographical centre of Australia to Mt Dare then headed east through the Simpson Desert to Birdsville. Then north-east to Barcaldine and then back east towards Rocky.
3. What was the highlight of the trip?
There were many. Every day we were astounded by a different beauty of our country.
Uluru literally took my breath away. We were keeping a keen eye out to see who could first spot it.
When we did, OMG!
We set up camp and went for a drive and I’ll never forget the moment we saw the whole rock in the flesh. We drove around it, continually gasping and its beauty.
We parked the car at one of the shorter walk entrances around the back and we sat on a bench approx 3pm in the afternoon. The sun had shaded the side of the rock. The birds chipped then there was silence. I had goosebumps and tears welled in my eyes. It was such a profound experience and at that moment, definitively felt the spiritual connection of Uluru. (I get emotional remembering the moment).
The NT was much more than I expected. So many beautiful places to see & we only touched the surface.
The dinosaurs at Winton was pretty cool! To see what they’ve found out there is so amazing and having a budding palaeontologist in the family, it was a no brainer that we’d stop there. Great for the family & so much to take in – in a good way!
The Simpson Desert – incredible stars!! I was a bit apprehensive about the Desert as it’s so secluded and no help etc if we needed it but Shane’s knew what we needed to do and he’s very mechanically minded so could do repairs if needed etc (thankfully they weren’t needed) and I was pleasantly surprised. There was not a soul in sight for hours on end and definitely an adventure!!
Stood at the Poeppel’s Corner spot where Qld, NT & SA meet.
Lambert’s Centre was pretty cool too. The geographical centre of Australia. When we opened the google maps, we were literally dotted in the middle of the country 😱
Dalhousie Springs at the start of the Simpson Desert. A hot, fresh spring literally in the middle of nowhere.
So much history and so much to learn!
4. What was it like traveling with kids with long periods of no internet and no technology to entertain?
We broke the trip up so there were only a few days with long hours in the car. Even then, there’s so much to see along the way you can break the trip up.
We’d stop at random places to make lunch (we carried everything we needed so made sandwiches, wraps, leftovers etc wherever we stopped). We’d wander whilst eating so explored random little places along the way – abandoned buildings, small farms etc.
Kids had iPads which they played games from time to time. We were busy most days – walking tracks, trekking, museums, shows etc so when we weren’t in the car, they were occupied. A few places we stayed had pools so swimming was always a highlight. We had some tv shows downloaded so at night, we’d watch a show before bed. Apart from a few nights where we stayed in a cabin, we had no television so the iPad shows were a treat lol.
No internet wasn’t an issue.
We always let family know what our plans were in case we didn’t have signal.
We also hired a satellite phone – especially in case we had trouble in the Simpson Desert. It was piece of mind that we thankfully didn’t need.
5. As a family, did you learn anything about each other that you didn’t expect?
The boys were amazing really. We all walked miles, literally climbed mountains etc and they never whinged. They embraced the opportunities and enjoyed it all. Shane conquered Uluru – he was the one of us that wasn’t sure if he wanted to climb it, but the only one who did the full climb (possibly with the onset of Leukaemia too mind you).
6. What would you say to someone who might be considering the out west adventure?
DO IT!!!! Without a doubt.
– There was so very much to see. We can’t wait to have enough long service (or Lotto) to do so much more. We have an incredible country that has so much to discover.
– Even though you can’t climb Uluru anymore, honestly, it’s not an issue. There is so much to experience around Uluru/Kata Tjuta that you don’t need to climb the rock. And, once you there and experience the beauty and have that connection, you honestly second guess climbing it anyway. (We’d go back again in a heartbeat)
– If visiting during holiday times, you need to book Uluru well in advance. It gets very busy and accommodation can be expensive. The Campground was fabulous for us. I think accom only cost us $124/3nts for the 4 of us. Very clean amenities and staff were really lovely.
– We used swags for this trip which were great – we had camp set-up, packed up within half an hour. However, if we again, for longer periods, we’d invest in a van.
– Always carry plenty of water as some places are restricted – probably even moreso now with the drought. Through the desert, we carried nearly 100L. That was for drinking, showering, dishes etc (but always better to carry more just in case).
– Travel in the cooler months – the NT is hot!! (However, the Simpson Desert can get very cold so if you do that leg, be mindful).
– Only carry what you need. We packed soooooo much less than we ever do when we go camping regularly. (We were mindful of weight in the desert so didn’t have anything that wasn’t necessary).
– Let someone know where you are/heading as some places are quire remote and you don’t see people for quite a while.
– Some tourist places are quite expensive but all that we saw were worth it. Some places you can book in packages to make it cheaper (Ie Longreach – Hall of Fame & Qantas Museum)
– Buy locally. Spend money in the smaller towns to support them. Again, sometimes a little more expensive but it their livelihood! (On that note: Fresh fruit, veges & dairy are hard to find the further inland you go – it’s all part of the experience).
– Research! Shane spent a lot of time learning about the Desert so we’d be prepared. He was on many facebook pages where people shared stories, tips etc. We planned out route, we looked at Wiki reviews in planning where to stay etc. Talk to people along the way. We got told about some incredible spots along the way by talking with other travellers, locals etc – things which aren’t on maps etc. It also gave us an idea of how much things would cost along the way so there weren’t too many nasty surprises.
– Embrace the experience!
– But, DO IT !!!