We almost got stuck in the Outback... twice!
November 26, 2020
The weekend started out ROUGH. The drive there was long, and we had to dodge dozens of massive dust devils (more like mini tornadoes) and wind gusts that would cross your driving path and throw the car around the road or into oncoming traffic. We almost got stuck in the middle of nowhere when we needed to get gas… and I mean the absolute desert middle of nowhere because it was so hot outside that we couldn’t pump our fuel at the gas station because the fuel was literally boiling. The gas station attendant was telling us we might be stuck for a few hours! Luckily, another more shaded pump worked.
We finally got to Yulara, the small “town” near Uluru, and it was 108°F out. Because Yulara is monopolized, you have to camp out or pay hundreds of dollars per night for a room, even during these lockdowns. So we camped….and in doing this, we somehow managed to thoroughly piss off our campsite neighbor to the point where they aggressively banged on our van multiple times in the middle of the night to wake us. I honestly don’t know what we did… or if they were maybe alerting us, drinking, or confusing us or something. We figured it was a misunderstanding, but it was jarring.
Finally, despite the absolutely grueling heat, we fell asleep… not well, but we tried! Then we woke up just a couple of hours later to catch the legendary sunrise at Uluru, which was, despite the experience so far, absolutely gorgeous. After the sunrise, we did a few hikes before they all closed at 11 a.m. due to extreme heat… With the hikes closed and not wanting to relive our horrible campsite experience or become even more sleep-deprived… we ultimately wanted to cut our trip short. We decided to heavily caffeinate ourselves and drive back that day.
Leaving that day was another blessing in disguise. On the way back, we were just ahead of a massive thunderstorm that we may have actually become stuck in if we had stayed. And the outback was absolutely GORGEOUS during it. Really, it made the drive a pleasure. The skies were red from all of the red sand getting kicked up, we got a great lightning show in the distance, cars that drove by would pick up the finest dust in the wind behind them and leave red patterns in the road. We made it “home” just before the rain started and in time for an amazing show of lightning in our backyard. Plus, getting to sleep in our own bed instead of an insulated tin can in the desert… UNF…
Uluru and the immediate surrounding area completely missed that thunderstorm… so we were lucky to see it! The next day we got to head out to the “Ilparpa Claypans,” an area where water naturally collects after storms and once again, we managed to find no animals. Upon returning a few days later, though, we did find a few lizards and reptile trails!