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Travel Guides / Australia

Ask the roadtesters: Is the Red Centre and Uluru worth it?

“The closest I would get to Mars”. And other out-of-this-world moments visiting Australia’s most sacred site.

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“My favourite accident – not realising what I signed up for while camping for four days in the Red Centre. Without a tent. And with the knowledge that there were spiders, snakes and dingos out there.”

Nope, not a celebrity ‘Get Me Out Of Here’ jungle quote, but the words of our Work Australia roadtester – Adithi. On why exploring Uluru, Kata-Tjuta, and Kings Canyon is a must on your working holiday in Australia.

Why did you decide to go to Uluru?

My parents and older brother had visited Uluru before I was born. And while they’d only had only stunning things to say about its magical presence and the indigenous significance of Australia’s most sacred site – it wasn’t on my radar initially. But when deciding where to go after working in Sydney, someone recommended a small group Red Centre camping tour and said that September/October was the perfect time to visit Uluru before it gets too hot. I decided to book the trip then and there.

What was so special about the Red Centre?

Flying into the barren Central Outback of Australia (in the know of some of the creatures that I could encounter) made me nervous about what I’d gotten myself into. Alice Springs was surprisingly small, very different from the rest of Australia, and reminded me of Radiator Springs from the Cars movie. From Alice Springs, we drove six hours to Uluru, all while bonding with a group of global strangers that I was going to rough it out with for the next few days. Approaching Uluru felt so surreal because I had only seen it in postcards and pictures from my family. The sheer size, texture and sacred Aboriginal stories that surrounded it, were unlike anything I had seen. It felt like it was the closest I would ever get to experiencing Mars.

We hiked 10 km every day exploring Uluru, Kata-Tjuta and Kings Canyon. A combination of flat terrain, steep rocky hills with insanely strong winds (one was even called Heart Attack Hill), and shifty canyon cliffs. I was not anticipating that rigorousness, some parts even felt like I was in Jurassic Park.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Adithi Kumar

Work Australia Roadtester

It was a tough job, but someone had to do it. Our roadtesters trial and shape every JENZA experience to make sure it serves our travel community first. Because if it didn't fly with them, it's not going to fly with you.

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“If I had truly known what I had signed up for, I might not have done it. I would’ve missed out on one of the most incredible experiences of my life.”

Why is it important to understand Aboriginal culture when visiting Australia?

It was pretty special when our tour guide was showing us around Uluru and explaining Aboriginal stories that depicted a moment in their history. For example, a certain shape in the monolith would depict a result of an argument, or even a part of a body. In this part of Australia, I liked how much care is now taken to respect Australia’s Aboriginal history - especially in Uluru and compared to when my parents visited. For example, people are no longer allowed to climb Uluru due to its sacred nature.

Addressing the lack of creature comforts, and the creatures...

The best way to sum up my experience would be – terrifyingly magical. Every night we would stay at a different campsite near Uluru, Kata-Tjuta, and Kings Canyon. Night one’s main threat were spiders, night two’s were dingoes, and night three’s were brown snakes.

Sleeping under millions of stars without tents while absolutely scared about any creatures getting into my sleeping bag, made me sleep like I was in a straitjacket. I zipped up my hoodie, my fly net, my bag’s zip, and anything else I could think of as tightly as I could. I woke up the first morning after getting two hours of sleep on night one and thinking, “I made it through night one. I’m okay (as I checked for anything in my sleeping bag)”. By the second night, I got exponentially calmer as I got used to the “ignorance is bliss” mindset of the magic of the experience outweighing the fear of it. I couldn’t believe my life in those moments and how surprisingly at peace I felt. My favourite times were waking up to Harry Potter instrumental music around the bonfire, talking about life with people I’d just met while enjoying dinner and drinks around the bonfire secluded from outside civilisation and the distractions of ‘real life’.

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What advice would you give to others thinking of visiting Uluru?

Don’t overthink it Don’t overthink it. Don’t read too much into the tour, your prior camping experience, or how fit you are. Although I am an outdoorsy person, I had never camped hardcore like this before. I had only done some overnight field trips in school and glamping in Africa. Just trust the process and surrender to the experience, you’ll be a changed human, so much more grounded and in tune with nature after these four days. Trust me.

Embrace the un-plan I didn’t plan. That was the best part! If I had truly known what I had signed up for, I might not have done it. I would’ve missed out on one of the most incredible experiences of my life. One that made me feel like I was unstoppable and could do literally ANYTHING afterwards.

Get out of your comfort zone It made me realise that I am capable of so much more than I ever thought. It unlocked a different type of perseverance that I did not know I had in me. I chose to go alone to the Outback, with all sorts of creatures, and camp with a bunch of strangers I had never met before for four days with little to no phone service, electricity, or running water. I was so proud of myself for doing something like this. I carried 8 kilos on my back through 10km hikes in all sorts of terrains for 3-4 hours every day. I woke up at 3:30am every morning in time to catch the sunrise in the freezing and dark cold. I slept in nothing but a sleeping bag under the stars with no tent near dingos, spiders and snakes crawling around. I collected firewood in venomous snake territory. I withstood rundown public restrooms with big hairy spiders and nothing but open holes in the ground in the middle of nowhere to “do my business”. I set up camp, cooked, cleaned and made lifelong bonds with people from all walks of life.

Make new friends This experience is unlike any other that forges such quick and unique friendships with people from all sorts of ages and backgrounds. My favourite bonding moment was when we’d all wake up every morning to the most gorgeous peaceful music from our tour guide’s playlist at a dark 4am around the bonfire keeping us warm in the cold. We’d just sit around groggily, without saying a word to each other, smile, and enjoy the surrealness of that stillness under the stars.

Been inspired to get your rocks off working in Australia? During our JENZA Work Australia welcome weeks in Sydney or Melbourne, the team will be able to give you all the intel on booking extra trips, safaris and transport.

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AdithiK_Profile_JENZA.png

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Adithi Kumar

Work Australia Roadtester

It was a tough job, but someone had to do it. Our roadtesters trial and shape every JENZA experience to make sure it serves our travel community first. Because if it didn't fly with them, it's not going to fly with you.

Watch the video

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