Journey to the Red Centre: Life on the Road in Australia
Gary and Amanda are your true blue Australians, living in and travelling through the Australian outback on a never-ending journey of red dust, sweeping landscapes and many a local pub. They started their blog Outback Travel Australia in the early days of blogging when they discovered they had a wealth of information, knowledge and experience to share.
Gary is a National Park Ranger who oversees the management of a group of parks west of Alice Springs so he is always on the road for work. Meanwhile, Amanda is an anthropologist and archaeologist who runs her own cultural heritage management business and is an award-winning fiction writer. If you think Gary and Amanda are taking life in the slow lane, you couldn't be further from the truth!
We caught up with Gary to ask him about Travel Outback Australia, the best things to do in the red centre and how their adventure began.
What inspired you to start Travel Outback Australia?
Amanda was driving home from Uluru in April 2010 and had a flash of inspiration. We both have really unusual jobs that give us a unique insight and understanding of the outback that we could share with others through a website. So we learned how to build a website, made lots of mistakes, stuck at it and here we are.
How do you manage to run your blog while you are on the road?
When you manage Facebook and Instagram pages, plus a website, getting by with just two people can be tough. So when we are on the road we tend to drop off the website and focus on engaging with our followers through Facebook and Instagram.
What is one of the biggest challenges?
The biggest challenge is, you guessed it, getting online while you're in the outback. At least with Facebook you can schedule ahead for the times when you know you're not going to have access. Instagram however, while allowing you to schedule through third party apps, still requires you to hit the post button at the scheduled time. So while we're in the outback, our page can get a burst of flood then famine, so to speak.
If you could travel to anywhere in Australia for one week, where would it be and why?
The Simpson Desert. Don't need to think twice about it. Why? It's hard to explain without sounding 'spiritual' but it nurtures and recharges the soul like no beach or city can. The solitude and the night sky are something everybody should feel and see. Almost like being there strips out all the bad and the life and magic of the desert seeps in under your skin.
When travelling to Alice Springs and the Northern Territory, what are three things that travellers shouldn't miss?
Hey, this is the Northern Territory we're talking about, just three things? If there is one place that embodies a sense of adventure in Australia, it is the Northern Territory.
- You really can't ignore Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park, that first glimpse of Uluru as you're driving towards Yulara, is only a taste of what you will see and feel once you see it up close.
- Given I was chief ranger in the Red Centre for many years I would also recommend driving the Red Centre Way from Uluru via Kings Canyon and the West MacDonnell Ranges to Alice Springs. From the majesty of Kings Canyon to all the gorges along the West MacDonnell's, this road trip has something for everyone.
- Well I can't focus on the Red Centre can I? Driving north the first thing people notice is the gradual change in the environment as the country changes from desert to the tropics. It can be hot and or humid so one thing visitors look for is somewhere to swim. Now, I've hunted crocs in their territory and it's not a place to become complacent. Go somewhere like Litchfield National Park or Bitter Springs in Mataranka and always be Crocwise. In other places do not swim unless a sign specifically says you can do so.
Your number one tip for people who want to see and travel through the Australian outback?
Be prepared, outback Australia can be an unforgiving place for those that venture into it without proper preparation. Have a plan, make sure your vehicle is in tip top condition and have some way of notifying someone in case of an emergency. Whether this is a simple “If I'm not back by this date..." instruction or taking a satellite phone or locator beacon that allows you to notify authorities, it's your call to make.
You can follow Gary and Amanda on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook. Be sure to check out their blog for tips on travelling in the Australian outback, things you need and special places to visit along the way.